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Online Romance Novel — Chapter 5
Moonlight On Snow: A Love Story
“Storm? Snowbound?” He frowned, not seeming
to understand the significance of the situation. “What storm? It’s just
snowing. What do you mean we’re snowbound? People don’t get snowbound in this
day and age.”
“Storm, as in blizzard. That’s what’s happening
outside.” Haley sighed and returned to the stove. “Let me guess. You
didn’t bother checking the weather report before you embarked on this little
“Right,” he muttered. “Guess that’s
mistake number three.”
“Good thing this isn’t baseball,” Haley
said, grabbing a potholder. “You’ll learn in this country never to set out
on a trip without checking the forecast. It’s an unforgiving climate.”
She lifted the percolator and poured scorched coffee
into two of the tin mugs. “Here. Come fix your coffee. It’s going to be a
long day. A very long day.”
He took the mug. His nose wrinkled in distaste. He set
it on the table. “You’re not going to drink that, are you?”
Oh, brother was it ever going to be a long day, Haley
thought. “We both are.” At his frown, she said, “I know it’s not
some fancy schmancy cup of gourmet coffee, but it is hot and liquid, and it
will warm you. So bottoms up.”
“Couldn’t you make us some fresh coffee?”
He sounded so morose at the prospect of drinking less
than perfect coffee that Haley had to smile. Patiently, she explained,
“The water pump’s probably already frozen. These gallon jugs of
water,” she pointed to the dozen plastic jugs lined up on the pine table,
“are all we have so it’s no point in wasting the coffee because it’s a
He sniffed. “Overdone? You mean burned.”
“Hey, this may be the only coffee you get today
so don’t knock it.”
“Why don’t I just drive back to that little town
I passed and get some more water?”
“You really don’t get it, do you?” She sighed.
“That’s how I normally take it, but answer my
question first please.”
Haley sprinkled powdered creamer and a bit of sugar
into her mug then did the same to his.
“Look, mister–” she broke off and frowned.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know your name?”
“Jeff,” he said, making a face as he
reluctantly picked up his mug and swirled the contents.
Haley noticed he didn’t take a sip though. “Where
are you from, Jeff?”
“Not Montana,” he said.
The heartfelt longing in his voice surprised a chuckle
from her. “That explains it I guess. A blizzard is no ordinary storm. It
could blow for three hours or three days.”
Haley ignored his interruption. “Blizzard is wind
and snow and ice. It blows so hard you could get lost going from the front
porch to your car. And you could die out there. Snowbound means you’re stuck in
one place until it stops blowing.”
“We can’t be having a blizzard.”
Haley rolled her eyes. Surely, he wasn’t all beauty
and no brain. “Believe me. That’s what’s happening. You’re not going
anywhere until this stops.”
“You’re kidding, right? You’ve got to be
“No, Jeff, I’m not kidding.” Exasperated,
Haley added in a snide tone, “You won’t be charming any other ladies with
your dirty dancing for a couple of days.”
“There you go again about dancing.” Jeff
crossed his arms and planted the edge of his hip on the kitchen table. He
studied her intently. “Why on earth are you ranting about dancing all the
Haley frowned. “You are the stripper my sister
sent me for my birthday, aren’t you?”
“The what?” Jeff exclaimed.
Haley nearly dropped her cup of coffee. Judging by the
way his mouth dropped open, he wasn’t a bump and grind expert.
Embarrassed by her leap to a faulty conclusion, Haley
carefully set her cup on the kitchen table before asking. “If you’re not
my birthday present, just exactly who are you?”
“I’m Jeff Talent.”
Haley frowned. He’d said that as if she should know
who he was. She picked up her mug and sipped the thick coffee. “Jeff
Talent?” The name did sound familiar.
His lips twitched as if he were straining to hold back
a belly laugh. He fished around in his pockets and pulled out a small white
rectangle. “My card, Dr. Gant.”
“J. William Talent,” she read. Her eyes
widened. In shock, she stared at the EnviroMed logo. The card fluttered
from her hand to the floor. “You’re–!”
“The corporate bean counter you want to
impress,” he said with a definite smirk on his face and amusement in his
Haley didn’t know if it was the smirk or the simmering
humor beneath his words, but her temper went from zero to sixty in a nano
second. “How dare you make me think you were . . . were…!” The
enormity of her mistake hit her. Her mouth shut with an audible snap. Crimson
stained her face.
Jeff grinned. “A male stripper? Hey, that was
your imaginative leap to a weird conclusion.”
Oh, if the floor would only open and swallow her, she
prayed. Her eyes narrowed. Her spine stiffened, and she drew herself erect. She
stepped closer to her new boss and came out verbally swinging.
“It’s bad enough that I have to endure your
checking up on me, Mr. Talent, but it’s unpardonable that you show up, invading
my privacy, a week ahead of schedule. Just what do you mean by barging in here
so late at night?”
“Don’t get your microscope all steamed up,
doc,” Jeff said easily.
“It’s Dr. Gant,” she snapped. “Not
doc.” Unfortunately, she thought, that seemed to amuse him even more.
“Dr. Gant, for the record, I don’t want to be
here any more than you want me here.”
“Oh, well, don’t let me keep you. By all means
leave, Mr. Talent. Please.”
“Hey, I’d be glad to. Just figure out which snow
drift out there is my rental car, and I’m outta here!”
Haley didn’t have an answer to that one. She tried to
control her temper. “We’re stuck with each other so we might as well be
“You first, doc.”
At the word doc, her eyes narrowed. “Apparently,
I am first. I asked you not to call me doc. At least I’m making an effort to be
civil. Which is more than I can say for you. Since you’ve arrived, you’ve
misled me, insulted my coffee, and laughed at me.”
“Settle down, Dr. Gant. I didn’t intend to insult
you. I’ll be on my best behavior from now on. I just can’t believe that we
might be holed up here as long as you said. This is the twenty-first century
for Heaven’s sake. Won’t someone come looking for you?”
“No. I hate to tell you this, Mr. Talent, but
you’re not in New York City. There’s no Starbucks around the corner and no cab
to call to make a quick exit. So let’s just see if we can get along.
“What about sending an email message?”
“Sorry. My laptop battery died just before you
“And my cell phone has been useless since I left
the car rental agency.” Jeff sank heavily onto one of the kitchen chairs
at the table and lifted his cup of coffee in a silent toast. He sipped. A
grimace that suggested pain creased his forehead, and he set the cup down and
shoved it away. “Maybe we should just get down to business. Perhaps you could
explain your failure to follow company procedure.”
“What? I’m exhausted. I’m certainly not going to
sit here and be grilled over not filing some report for an office-bound
“Let me get this straight. Are you calling me an
office-bound pencil pusher?” Anger colored his voice.
“If the Italian loafer fits,” Haley
muttered, staring at the expensive shoes on his feet.
From there, things went progressively downhill. Their
voices rose steadily as they argued about Haley’s refusal to send periodic
reports as requested by the company.
“Well, what about the end of year report you’re
supposed to file?” Jeff asked. “Are you going to just ignore that
“Yesterday was the end of the year,” Haley
snapped. “So technically, that report is not due until today.”
“So are you saying you have it ready to turn in
“Not yet!” Haley snapped. “I’m working
A huge blast of wind shook the cabin, making them both
jump. Jeff rubbed the back of his neck tiredly. “I’m beat. Let’s call a
truce. Why don’t we table this discussion until later? If you’ll point me to
the bathroom, I’d like to wash up then get about forty winks.”
The expression on Haley’s face aroused Jeff’s
suspicions. She smiled. Not just any smile. She beamed. Uh oh.
“What?” he asked, warily.
“I imagine you do want to freshen up.”
“Yes so just point me to the bathroom.” He
looked around and frowned.
Haley’s lips twitched. She pointed. “See that
quilt on the wall?”
When Jeff nodded, she said, “There’s a door
behind it that leads onto a tiny enclosed back porch protected from the wind.
Go out the back door and straight down the path. You’ll see the privy in a
stand of loblolly pine about fifty feet away.”
Jeff blanched. “You’re jerking my chain,
Haley said nothing. She just shook her head.
“But… but… it’s winter outside.”
She nodded. “Yep, and it doesn’t have central
heating or running water.”
“You said there was a blizzard. If I can’t get to
my car, how can I get to an outhouse?”
Haley struggled to hang onto her laughter. “Ever
heard of a chamber pot?”
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