The Millionaire's Snowbound Seduction

By: Sandra Marton

The old man had been right. She’d been stupid not to have rented a car with four-wheel drive. Who was she kidding? She’d been stupid to have decided to come to the cabin at all.

Everyone had tried to tell her that. Not just the guy at the gas station. The clerk who’d rented her the car. The traffic cop in Burlington, when she’d asked for directions. Even Belinda, her agent, who knew as much about New England as a vegetarian knew about a pot roast, had blanched when Holly had said she was taking off for a few weeks in Vermont.

‘Where?’ Belinda had said incredulously—but Belinda figured that civilization ended once you took the Lincoln Tunnel out of Manhattan.

‘It’s a place called North Mountain,’ Holly had replied. ‘I’ve rented a cabin.’

‘You’re going to spend a few weeks in a cabin?’ Belinda repeated, the way someone else might have said, ‘You’re going to spend a few weeks on the Moon?’

‘That’s right. It’s very luxurious. There’s a Jacuzzi, a huge stall shower, a big fireplace in the living room…’

Belinda snorted. ‘Try the Waldorf. It’s got all that, plus room service.’

Holly did her best to offer a cheerful little laugh.

‘I need a change of routine,’ she said. ‘ A real one, before I start on the next book. You know how hard I’ve been working this year, and there’s a whole bunch of ideas I want to try before I begin writing…’

And then she stopped, because she knew she was babbling, because she could tell from the look on Belinda’s elegant face that she knew it, too.

‘Poor darling,’ Belinda crooned. ‘You really do sound exhausted.’

‘Oh, I am,’ Holly said quickly, because it was true. She was stressed.

That was what she told herself, at first.

She’d been working hard. She had been for the past seven years—well, six years, ever since she and Nick had been divorced. Her parents had wanted her to come home and pick up her life as if nothing had happened but something had happened, and Holly wasn’t about to pretend otherwise. The last vestiges of girlhood had fallen away the day she took off her wedding ring. So she’d explained, as gently as possible, that going home just wasn’t possible. She’d refused her father’s offer of financial support the same as she’d refused Nick’s, and set out to create a life for herself.

And she’d done it.

The little column for the Green Mountain Daily had blossomed into a monthly feature for What’s Cookin’? magazine, and it led to the contract for her first cookbook. Holly had found herself on the fast track, and she loved it. She could put in six hours in the kitchen, another two at the computer, tumble into bed and wake up the next morning, eager to start all over again. At least she had, until a couple of weeks ago.

The first time she’d awakened in the middle of the night with a knot in her belly and another in her throat, she’d figured it was a sign she’d put too many capers into the Putanesca.

By the fourth time, though, she knew it wasn’t a recipe gone wrong that had awakened her.

It was her dreams.

She was dreaming of Nick, which was ridiculous. She hadn’t done that in almost six years, hadn’t seen him in almost six years, hadn’t thought about him in almost six years…

It was a long time. The realization hit at three o’clock on a cold December morning, when she awakened with Nick’s name on her lips. That wasn’t heartburn she was feeling, it was anger. And why not? She was coming up on the seventh anniversary of what had begun as a marriage and had ended as a disaster.

Holly rose from bed, wrapped herself in her robe and padded out to the living room. She clicked on the TV and surfed through a bunch of movies that had been old before she was born. She zipped past a pair of talking heads that were deep in what she’d thought was a discussion of ghosts, then zipped right back when she realized the ‘ghosts’ they were discussing weren’t spooks at all but memories, unwanted ones, of people in a person’s past.

‘So, Doctor,’ the interviewer chirruped, ‘how does one put these memories to rest?’

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