Chapter Six – Oh No!
by Barbara Edwards
Mitch turned the heavy glass in his fingers before he slammed it down on the counter. Adding alcohol to an already explosive situation was the wrong move. He’d bustle that tempting bundle into the spare room. If she wanted to stay up, he’d see about getting the generator started.
The small battery-operated weather radio on the counter crackled to life. “…long range forecast predicts this storm will hover over western Georgia for the next forty-eight to seventy-two hours with accumulations up to three feet…”
“Oh. My. God.” Candy stalked into the kitchen, grabbed his glass and drank it in one gulp. Her watering eyes searched his. “What are we going to do?”
“I’m going to get the generator started, and you’re going to bed, princess.” Mitch put the whiskey bottle in the cabinet and closed the door.
Candy squared her shoulders so abruptly he thought he heard tendons snap with outrage.
“Stop calling me princess, like some kind of reverse snob. My name is Candy.”
Mitch wondered if helping this woman was punishment for old sins. He inhaled her sweetness and wanted to run his tongue over the soft skin exposed by the drooping collar of his oversized shirt.
Instead he slapped the flashlight into her hand and pointed her toward the spare bedroom. “Go!”
Candy watched Mitch disappear quicker than a tax refund. She wasn’t tired enough to sleep, so she wandered back into the living room and slowly piled more wood on the fire. Major sprawled like a lifeless bearskin rug in front of the hearth. He didn’t move when she stepped over him. The howling wind scraped on her nerves like sandpaper. Despite Mitch’s outrageous remarks, his strength and positive attitude kept her fears at bay.
She turned slowly, studying the masculine furnishings in the flashlight beam. The overstuffed leather sofa and chairs suited him. To her surprise a large fir tree stood in the corner, partially decorated. She no longer bothered to decorate her apartment for the holidays, and the idea of celebrating made her stomach clench. Maybe he’d had company for Christmas. Everything else in the room shouted bachelor. Even the heavy photo frames perched on the mantel looked like he’d picked them out. Without stepping up onto the hearth, she couldn’t make out the details, but they looked like outdoor scenes.
A loud thump followed by a muffled curse from the basement made her smile as she stifled a yawn. Finding her bed sounded more and more enticing. She wandered down the hall, looking for the guest room. After briefly glancing into Mitch’s room, she snapped the door shut. The king-sized bed covered with a fluffy goose-down coverlet looked too inviting. Her breath hitched at the idea of Mitch waiting underneath.
Candy shook her head. She had to stop thinking of him as an attractive, sexy male. As she opened another door, several lights flickered and came on. A computer screen turned blue as electronic equipment hummed to life. A fax machine spat out a page. They must run on a backup battery. The office was better equipped than her office in Manhattan.
She resisted the urge to check it out, slowly backing away. For a small-town tow truck driver, Mitch had an enormous amount of high-tech equipment. She rubbed her forehead. He seemed, somehow, more than he presented.
The next door opened into what was obviously a guest room. The double bed stacked with pillows called her name.
Mitch noisily climbed the basement stairs.
“Candy,” he shouted. “I started the generator. The furnace will kick on in a minute and warm the bedrooms.”
“That’s great. I was just thinking about going to bed.” Only not alone. She rubbed her arms as she walked back toward the front room.
Mitch stood next to the door. She glanced past him at the swirling snow visible through the tiny window. Wind rattled the pane. A horrendous tearing, snapping roar shook the earth.
Mitch stepped back, pulling her with him. The sound of metal crunching and glass shattering made her cringe. After a minute, he cautiously pulled open the door.
Snow blew in chilling her to the bone.
She stared at the enormous tree flattening Mitch’s truck.