Snow Bound

By: Dani Wade

With a lazy stride to the window, he flicked the blinds apart just a touch and stared at the white sheeting outside. The snow came down in large, glob-like clusters, racing to the ground as if weighted. He stared for long moments, absently rubbing his palm in a circle on his chest, trying to reconcile the sight with the fluffy, featherlight snowflakes he’d seen over the years. Yep, this was gonna be a doozy.

Squinting in an attempt to see clearer through the darkness and little white bombs, he studied the distance between his yard and his neighbor’s place. Unsure at first, his brain finally registered the sweep of light in the backyard, near the tree line of the woods that covered most of the property surrounding them. A flashlight beam probably, since the illumination was low to the ground, obviously portable, and concentrated in a straight line. Not a particularly powerful one, like his Maglite.

Now what was Miss Priss up to?

The light was pretty far away from the farmhouse she lived in—by herself, the last he’d heard. Had she forgotten to store wood on the back porch for the fireplace? Hell. Looked like he’d be making a trip over there in this god-awful weather. As much as he’d like her to learn a lesson by having to deal with it herself, his mama would be sorely pissed if she were still alive.

Thoughts of his mother and Miss Priss together hit a bit too close to home. Both southern. Both sporting the innocent and vulnerable look. His sorrow over the pain his mother had endured throughout his childhood bloomed in his chest. Luckily his bastard of a father had died soon enough to give her a few years of peace before losing her battle with breast cancer.

Exchanging the sweatpants for jeans and adding his work boots, Damon headed downstairs to top off with his heavy coat. Miss Priss was one woman he’d avoided since the first time he’d met her. He could spot the type a mile away—manicured nails, skirts and sweater sets, never a blonde hair out of place. She had the fragile bone structure of a Southern Belle and the perfect facade of a beauty queen. When one of the guys in town mentioned she’d been head of the cheerleading squad in high school, Damon hadn’t been a bit surprised. But all that femininity usually went hand in hand with neediness. And he needed a helpless woman calling him at all hours like he needed another bullet wound in his body.

He much preferred the hardier, earthier stock that hung out at Benji’s on a Friday night. Sexy in a straightforward—okay, blatant—way and sturdy enough for him to ride all night. Not about to take crap from any man. No strings attached. Just the way he liked it.

Nope. Miss Priss was not his type. It didn’t matter that those eyes were bluer than blue and that mouth was made to wrap around his— He shook his head. Nope. Not for him. He might muss her hair if he got too raunchy with her, he thought with a grin, only to have it snatched away as he stepped out the back door.

The sting of freezing air and wet snowflakes, in contrast to the warmth of the house, took his breath. He didn’t bother with the flashlight. The land between the houses rolled gently but was clear of trees and brush. With a coating of snow already crunching under his feet and white clouds of it surrounding him, what little light there was reflected exponentially. He’d spent enough time on covert ops to make his way without wasting battery life, so his strides were smooth and purposed, eating up the distance despite the less than ideal weather conditions.

The bitter cold had him breathing heavier by the time he breached the yard area, and he noted a soft glow that was probably candlelight in the upper window on this side. Miss Priss’s bedroom? That thought prompted a spark of heat he firmly squashed, since this was one woman whose bedroom he would never let himself visit.

Pausing near the edge of the covered porch, he surveyed the darkness, trying to separate the swirl of the snowflakes on the air with human movement. Not detecting anything, he moved farther across the crackling surface away from the house, this time focusing on the ground in search of footprints that might have survived the rapid downfall. The muscles along the back of his neck tensed, sensing something wasn’t right in the empty space, when just minutes before he’d seen a flashlight. With a last glance he turned toward the house, deciding he’d check in and see if Miss Priss had somehow managed to hightail it back inside since he’d stood at his bedroom window.

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