The Millionaire's Snowbound Seduction

By: Sandra Marton

Nick’s hands tightened on the steering wheel.

Memories were all they were, foolish shadows of a dead past, and they made no sense because he wasn’t in love with the woman in those memories. Not anymore. Not ever, when you came right down to it. Holly, herself, had been an illusion. A fantasy, conjured up by the lonely kid he’d once been.

He needed closure.

Nick almost laughed. Closure. The most popular word in the good old U.S. of A. Every two-bit TV talk show, every tune-in-and-spew-your-guts radio shrink, went on and on about closure. And, yeah, dumb or not, maybe that was what he needed. No point pretending that the seventh anniversary of his failed marriage hadn’t affected him. How could he not be affected by the death of a dream?

Nick shifted his long legs. Okay. He’d go to the mountain, spend a few days, and find ‘closure.’ He’d bury his memories the same way his crew would bury the cabin, once Spring came, once his attorneys got things sorted out. The mountain was Nick’s, but there’d been a rider attached to the deed, a ‘no commercial construction’ clause the owner had tacked on before he’d sold.

No problem. His people would find a way around the stipulation, and he would find a way around the memories. He’d see the cabin, walk the mountain one last time—and then a construction crew would come in, level the place and start building the most luxurious ski resort in New England. It would be the newest, finest Brennan resort in the chain and all the ‘closure’ a man could possibly want.

And, in the process, he’d have himself a weekend off. Time to unwind, enjoy a break. No boardrooms. No meetings. No desk heaped with memos. Not that he’d be cut off completely. A three-room cabin high on top of a Vermont mountain, no matter how plush, was not an eight-room penthouse, or three floors of office space on Fifth Avenue, but Nick had come prepared. He had his cellular phone in his pocket, his portable computer on the seat beside him, and his wireless fax on the floor.

The guy behind him honked again.

Nick felt his blood pressure zoom. For one sweet moment, he thought about getting out of the Explorer, marching back to the jerk’s car, banging on the window and asking the guy if he really, honestly thought things would go any faster with him leaning on his horn…

The breath hissed from his lungs.

Closure was what he needed, all right.

He was angry at Holly, angry at himself, and he had been for six long years because he’d never had the chance to tell her the truth, that he’d never loved her, not really, that she wasn’t the only one who’d made a mistake.

Not that he’d ever get the chance to tell her anything. But going to the cabin, to the mountain, would be the next best thing. He’d feel better, afterwards. He wouldn’t snarl at Ellen, bark at his staff, sit in traffic with his adrenaline pumping as if he were a boxer waiting for round one to begin.

The tail lights ahead of him winked. Slowly, miraculously, the line of vehicles began moving. Nick downshifted. It was one of the great mysteries in New York, how you’d be creeping along, measuring your success in inches and all of a sudden, the road would open up. It was like life. You’d plod along and then, wham, wings would sprout on your feet and you’d find yourself flying, measuring your success in millions of dollars instead of the twenty bucks still in your pocket after all the bills were paid…

Measuring it alone. Always alone, no matter how many well-wishers crowded around, no matter what the papers said or how many gorgeous women you were with, because the only woman you’d ever wanted to share your success was gone, had been gone for six years, would always be gone…

The horn sounded. Nick shot a look at his mirror and glared at the guy in the Chevy. Then he shot into the fast lane, poured on the gas, and let the Manhattan skyline fade into the fast-gathering darkness of the winter night.

* * *

Holly Cabot Brennan figured she’d reach the top of North Mountain in two or three millennia.

She frowned, bit down lightly on her bottom lip, and tried to see through the whirling snow.

At the rate she was going, even that might be too much to expect.

The old guy at the gas station had tried to warn her. He’d looked at her, her rented car and the sullen sky through rheumy eyes and announced that she’d need more than a full tank to get much further.

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