Home > Away Game (Scotia Storms #1)

Away Game (Scotia Storms #1)
Author: Cathryn Fox








I know we get bad storms in Boston, but come on, this is ridiculous. I lean forward and peer out my icy window, but I can barely see two feet in front of my Jeep. My wipers are on high, yet they’re unable to keep up with the heavy flakes coating my window. Everything from my vehicle to the road and trees are covered in inches of thick, wet snow, making this journey treacherous, and nearly impossible.

I drive by a sign on this narrow back road in Nova Scotia, but it’s whited out and unreadable. Even if the words were visible, I’m not from around these parts, so it wouldn’t mean much to me. Still, I’d like to at least know my whereabouts, should I go flying off some cliff and somehow—miraculously—survive.

Seriously though, I have no idea where I am, or if this winding road leads to Halifax. Christ, I’ve never heard of the Trans-Canada highway shutting down before, the four-lane freeway completely impassable, forcing drivers to take these backwoods detours. Then again, I’ve never been in stormy Nova Scotia during the dead of winter either.

If I had it my way, I’d be back in Boston at the dorm, getting ready to fly home for three days, for a short break before we gear up for the playoffs, but I had no choice in the matter. This is the only time I could join the Scotia Storms for practice and decide whether I want to stay and play hockey at Boston University or join the Storms, a top Atlantic university hockey team in Halifax.

My buddy Brandon raves about the Scotia Storms—now I see where they get their name—and the top-notch education at the Academy. He says the downtown nightlife has a great vibe, with genuine people, and the city, by far, has the hottest women on the planet. I don’t really believe that. I think it’s just his way to lure me here. Although Brandon would never lie to me. The two of us go way back to our kindergarten years. Our dads played together for the Seattle Shooters, and yes, we both feel the pressure that comes with our father’s high levels of achievement.

But speaking of Brandon, he could have at least warned me that the roads were going to be deadly. Last I heard there were over fifteen-hundred vehicles stranded on the Trans-Canada. Shit, he probably thinks I’m one of them and is no doubt worried sick. No way can I take my hands off the wheel or eyes off the road to message him and I don’t dare pull over in these conditions. It’s a total white out. I can’t even tell where the road ends and the ditch begins. Not that I think I’d have service out here in the middle of nowhere—and yes, it’s true, I’m the only idiot on this particular back road.

I grip the steering wheel tighter and blink, trying not to get snow hypnosis and veer into a tree. I turn my high beams on and off. It does nothing to help with my visibility. The road curves and I ease off the gas to coast around the turn. From my peripheral vision, I spot movement and shoot a fast glance to my right. What the hell was that? I adjust my rear-view mirror and catch a flash of something…or someone. I pinch my eyes shut and open them again. I must be imagining things. No one would be standing on the side of the road in the middle of a storm…unless.

I slow to a stop, and back up. My tires spin the whole way, and when I see movement again, I shove my Jeep into park and hop out. My boots sink into the snow, slowing me down. I circle my vehicle and that’s when I realize there’s a car in the ditch, and my spraying tires just soaked someone standing a few feet away from the vehicle’s flashing brake lights. I quickly take in his splayed arms, and the way he’s gasping as slush drips from his winter coat.

“Are you okay?” I yell, but my words get carried away in the wind. I step closer to the motionless figure, and come face to face with Frosty the Snowman. Technically it’s a person, but all that’s missing to complete the children’s beloved character is the carrot nose. You know what’s not missing? The eyes made out of coal. Yeah, that’s right. This guy has two black eyes peering out from a snowy hood tugged tight and if looks could kill I’d be a goner. I’m guessing he’s not about to come to life and spread good cheer. Can’t say I blame him. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to soak you.”

“It’s okay. It’s not your fault, but dammit, isn’t this day just getting better and better,” the guy—or rather the girl—says as fat snowflakes coat her lashes.

My gaze races over her shivering body, as she shifts from one foot to the other. She’s all bundled up so I can’t tell if she’s injured from the crash. “Are you hurt?”

She wraps her arms around herself and her breath turns to fog as she speaks. “No, just cold and wet and late.”

I understand late. I pull my phone from my pocket to check for service. Zilch. Not only that, I’m down to one bar. “Do you have service?”

“No. I can’t even call for a tow truck, and the closest town is a few miles down the road. I don’t think I can make it on foot.”

At least one of us knows where we are. I’m grateful for that. I shake my head as a cold shiver goes through me. “Here I thought I was the only idiot on this side road.”

“Did you just call me an idiot?”

“What, no.” Way to make a first good impression, Chase. “I didn’t mean that. I’m the idiot. I should have turned back instead of taking the detour.” I gesture with a nod to my Jeep. “You’d better get in and we need to get off the road before someone takes that corner too fast and crashes into us.”

“I…” She glances at the tail end of her car sticking out of the ditch, the brake lights fading to black. She groans and looks back at me. It’s easy to tell she’s not comfortable climbing into a car with a stranger. I don’t blame her.

“I’m not a serial killer,” I say, hoping to ease her worries.

“Which is exactly what a serial killer would say, but under the circumstances, I’m safer with you than in this storm.” She eyes me for a second, like she’s committing my features to memory. “Just so you know, I know judo.”

I hold my hands up, palms out. “Duly noted.”

I shuffle my feet in the snow to make a path for her, and she follows me to the passenger side. I open the door, and a burst of snow follows her in. My gaze moves over her for a second. How the hell did I think she was a guy? She’s so petite, it’s a surprise her feet reach the floor. Once she’s secure, I trudge through the wet snow again and climb into the driver’s side, cranking up the heat to melt the snow covering her coat.

She tugs off her mitts and holds her quivering hands over the vents to warm them, and I resist the urge to take them in mine and create heat with friction. That would be inappropriate, and something tells me she’d judo me right in the nuts.

“I am so cold.” I flick on the heated seat and after a few moments, she wiggles. “Oh, that is so nice.”

As soon as we’re both buckled up, I cast her a quick glance. “Ready?”

She nods, and I glance around to make sure the road is clear behind me before I hit the gas. My wipers squeal as they struggle with the snow and I lean forward to concentrate on the road. “How far did you say the next town was?”

“Just a couple miles. Not much there, but there is a gas station, and a small motel. It could be full, or shut down. Storms like these tend to knock out the power for days.”

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