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Cabin Fever

Snowed In

By Brin J.Published 2 years ago 13 min read
6
*google images*

We drove up the snowy, winding road towards the cozy A-frame cabin.

My breath caught at the sight of the snug little residence settled within the picturesque winter wonderland.

"Aw, it looks even cuter in person," I chirped aloud, pleased with my choice of a secluded holiday getaway.

Harley gave a low, gruff woof that I translated to mean he was in agreement.

The driveway's steep incline made me nervous, but I pressed on until I brought the Cherokee to a stop just in front of the cabin's entryway. My face split with a victorious smile as I shut off the engine, then mentally prepared myself for the wintery climate. As happy as I was to be here, I wasn't eager to unload everything in the freezing cold.

I opened my car door, and sure enough, a waft of bitter air rushed into me. I bit back a curse as I hurried toward the trunk, but my lack of caution caused me to slip on the icy pavement. My yelp of alarm drove Harley to investigate for any signs of danger.

"I'm okay," I reassured him as I righted myself. He barked once and hopped out of the vehicle after me, diving paws first into the fluffy, white substance. I glowered with envy. The cold didn't even penetrate his thick fur. Since he's part husky, he probably feels right at home.

I chuckled and gave myself a minute to watch him enjoy his first encounter with snow before turning to bring our things in. Thankfully, instead of a key, there was a lock code that the Airbnb host had given me when I booked the place two months ago. The limited contact with them made it seem more exclusive. Which I was all for.

"chusky"

After I finished carrying everything inside, I called for Harley when a sharp gust of wind blew into me. I squinted heavenward to find dark gray clouds looming overhead. I heard on the news a storm was coming and that it would last my entire weekend here, so I knew there was a chance I could get snowed in, and almost decided against coming. But I needed this change of scenery. I couldn't spend another day alone in the house I grew up in. It hasn't been the same since my mother passed away, and there's no one aside from me occupying the massive space. I have no siblings. No kids. No husband...

Lead settled in my stomach as I thought about David. It's been a year, yet the wounds from his infidelity and betrayal of our marriage still haven't healed. Mostly because of how he justified it with the last words he said to me. "You're thirty and still believe in fantasies, Lindsey. No one wants to be with an adult child. You need to grow up and start thinking more practically."

The sound of a door closing snapped me back into awareness. I looked up to see that an SUV had parked next to mine. Unease crept into my bloodstream. How'd I miss that!? I couldn't have been that zoned out.

A man who looked to be in his mid thirties circled the front of his vehicle. My mouth dried at the sight of him. He portrayed every woman's ideal lumberjack fantasy. Tall, grisly, and well-built. I instantly started thinking about how he'd make a great character in a romance novel I could write while I'm here.

I blinked out of my trance and scolded myself. This is exactly what David meant when he said I spend too much time fantasizing. That I'd rather imagine writing my next book than focusing on reality.

... Maybe he was right.

The man strolled toward where I stood, and my delayed panic surged as I finally registered my situation. Hunk or not, a strange man just showed up at the Airbnb where I'll be staying alone for the next three days.

"Who are you?" I demanded, trying to front confidence, but my shaky tone betrayed my courage.

The man stared at me with stark displeasure. His lips were pressed into a firm line and his jaw ticked like he was chewing on which words he wanted to deliver. "I could ask you the same thing, seeing how you're trespassing on my property."

Sparks danced beneath my skin at the deep timbre of his voice. I fought to keep a clear head as I processed what he had just said. "Trespassing? But I booked the cabin for this weekend." Did I reserve the wrong dates?

He quirked a dark eyebrow and pulled his phone out at the same time I did. My hands shook as I fumbled with the device, and frustration over the touch screen not recognizing my cold fingers only made them tremble harder.

He managed to pull up the messages before I could, and muttered a curse under his breath. "I'm sorry. I usually have these dates blocked out," he murmured, confirming that I wasn't crazy and here unpermitted. He sucked his lower lip into his mouth as he contemplated. "I don't mean to be an ass, but would you mind rescheduling? For free, of course, since this is a mistake on my end."

My stomach sank. The idea of returning to my mother's desolate house for Christmas made me sick with dread. I had been looking forward to this trip even though it took four hours to drive here. Now I need to turn around?

Feeling resigned, my shoulders sagged in defeat. As much as I wished to stay, I'd leave without complaint. Guilt would nag at me if I ended up ruining this man's Christmas for my own selfish reasons. And my mother raised me to be conscious of other people's emotions. He's not being rude or inconsiderate. He offered to give me a free stay on a different weekend. I could tell he was here in need of solitude, much like myself. How could I steal that from him when I was in the same situation?

"Sure," I answered and tried to give him an understanding smile so he didn't see just how disappointed I was.

His muscles relaxed marginally as he sighed in relief, and his cloud of breath stirred little white speckles of snowfall surrounding his languid face.

There was something about the scene that made my chest throb. I had heard that there's magic in snow, and this little moment proved it for me. I knew right then that I needed to capture the significance in writing, describing in vivid detail just how achingly beautiful such a simple act could be. Of course, the moment in my book would be far more romantic.

I tore my gaze away before I made him uncomfortable, and looked for Harley. Only, he wasn't next to the Cherokee where I saw him last.

"Harley?" I called out.

He didn't come.

Nerves ate at my stomach and I peered up at the sky again to see the storm rolling in. We needed to hurry if I wanted to make it off this mountain before it hits.

"Harley!" I tried again, more frantic this time, and scrambled to check behind my car.

"Is Harley your dog?"

My heart pitched into my throat. I hadn't noticed that he was following me. "Yes, he's a mutt. Part husky, part chow." And full rascal. I thought the last part to myself.

"I'll help you look for him," the man grumbled and strode off before I could respond. If it weren't for the fact my only companion in the world was missing, I'd feel bad about how this was inconveniencing him.

I searched for about twenty minutes before the wind picked up and pelted against me. My face stung from the icy bite of frost. I could tell my skin was going to end up chapped if I stayed out here any longer, but I couldn't leave Harley. The thought of not finding him forced up a wave of nausea. Tears pricked in my eyes and I barely managed to hold them back. I adopted him right after David left. He was the only constant I've had this past year.

My anguished thoughts were interrupted as a harsh blast of wind assailed me from behind and shoved me into the snow. A numbing cold instantly seeped into my bones.

I swore between my teeth as I weakly rose. Seriously? First, my vacation gets rescheduled, then my dog goes missing, and now this? How much more bad luck could I take in one day?

Though if I were being completely honest with myself, this whole past year has been nothing but misfortune.

"Lindsey!"

I turned to find the man shrugging through the hailing snow in my direction. Before I could be suspicious about how he knew my name, I realized he probably saw it in the email. "I found Harley. He was stuck in a shallow pond, nearly frozen. I brought him inside so he could get warm and dry." My head grew dizzy as both panic and relief warred inside me. "The storm arrived sooner than I expected. If we stay out here any longer we're going to end up buried," he continued, and the surly expression on his face refocused my attention. "It's not safe to leave. You're going to have to stay until the storm clears."

A humorless laugh escaped me. Snowed in with a stranger for an entire weekend? No way in hell.

"Thank you for finding him, but I think we should leave," I answered, and began to slog towards the quaint little cabin to retrieve Harley.

The man easily stayed in step with me, walking as though he were strolling through a park instead of grappling against the gale.

"Look, I know this isn't preferable, but you need to think about your dog. Your neglect nearly cost him his life once already. If you end up stranded somewhere for the next three days and lose the heat in your car, he might not make it."

It was that argument that brought me to my breaking point, and finally, the tears I had been holding back fell. My entire body shook as I sobbed, and I didn't care what the man thought of me. The fear of losing Harley was unbearable. If he dies, then I'd truly be all alone. Besides, the man was right. It was my fault. But he didn't have to be so mean about it. I already felt horrible.

At some point, I must've stopped walking, because the man sighed and scooped me up with impatience, and continued the trek toward his cabin.

"I can walk," I snapped, trying to hold onto what little dignity I had left. My protest earned me a glare.

"Barely," he retorted. "I'm trying to get out of this blizzard, and I get the sense you're not familiar with snow storms, so let me illustrate for you how quickly a person's body can go into hypothermic shock when exposed to extreme frigid climates. Minutes. And I noticed you had been exhibiting symptoms since the moment I pulled up," he expressed condescendingly, and if I had more energy, those words probably would've had more of an impact. "What were you even doing standing outside staring at the ground? Waiting for a flower to sprout?"

I fumed. Twice now this stranger has made me feel ashamed, and my mental health was none of his business. My mom told me before she passed that I'd have episodes where I'd just... go somewhere else. And I knew why. I'd space out because of stress, or trauma over my abandonment issues... It's been happening more often since she passed.

Before I knew it, we were inside the cabin, and the man closed the door with his elbow before dropping me down on a wooden bench next to the entrance.

The warmth of the room instantly worked to thaw my joints, and I noticed a fire already kindling in the furnace with Harley swaddled in blankets right in front of it. His tail wagged feebly in an attempt to greet me, but other than that and a few blinks he didn't move. Once again, I was overcome by an onslaught of grief. I couldn't believe I almost lost him.

I faced the man as he kicked off his ice-covered boots. "Thank you again for rescuing Harley."

The man peered up at me from under a scowl and grunted in response.

I ground my teeth in irritation. Never had I felt more like a nuisance than I did at this moment. I get it, this wasn't ideal for either of us. But it wasn't entirely my fault we were in this situation. He didn't have to be so rude about it. He also hadn't even told me his name, yet he knew mine.

"So, uh, do you have a name?" I asked with more bite than I've ever conveyed.

The man arched a brow at my tone, but amusement lit in his eyes. "Nash. Sorry for not introducing myself properly," he said with feigned politeness.

This guy was making me testy.

Before I could make a snide remark, he gestured toward the loft. "There's only one bed, as I'm sure you're aware since you planned to board here for the weekend. You can have it, I'll take the couch."

My gaze fell on the plush two-seater that looked way too small for him. "No offense, but I don't think you'd fit, let alone sleep comfortably. I can take the couch, it's closer to Harley. You can have the bed."

He nodded, then studied me for a moment. There was less bitterness in his expression, and I got the impression he had something else to say but was holding back.

"What?"

He shook his head like he was having a one-sided conversation with himself. "Nothing."

I decided to let it go since I respected people's boundaries. Ultimately, it's his choice if he wanted to voice his thoughts. And I told myself, I didn't care to know what he was thinking anyway. Not at all.

Suddenly I felt hot. The idea of being stuck together alone for the next few days made my stomach squeeze with anticipation. It'd probably be best if I maintained a safe distance from him.

My resolve wavered as he shrugged off his coat to reveal a strong, athletic build under a tight Henley sweater. He looked like every sinful thought I ever had.

Damn him.

Mercifully, the sound of roaring and groans from the onslaught of the storm outside gave me something else to focus on. As much as I welcomed the distraction, it was also chilling. Like the universe was screaming in agony.

"Is your cabin going to survive the storm?" I laughed nervously while finally mustering the energy to remove my wet boots, followed by my scarf, and coat. I hung them up on a coat rack and turned to find Nash staring at me.

It felt like the air had been ripped from my lungs. The way his dark gaze bored into me made me think I had just stripped naked instead of out of my jacket.

He cleared his throat to answer my question. "These storms come annually. The cabin always holds up."

I blew out a breath. "Well, that's good to hear."

An awkward silence permeated the room. He abruptly strode over to the furnace to stoke the flames. The focused expression on his face held no more invitation for conversation.

I tried not to overthink his behavior, but his ambivalence had my head all twisted. He was perhaps the moodiest person I've ever met. Bright side? At least I won't die of hypothermia.

No, you'll just suffocate from the thick tension in the air instead. My thoughts countered sardonically.

Out of nowhere, the power cut off, causing me to jolt. I squinted in the unexpected darkness, and turned towards the only source of light in the entire cabin.

Nash muttered a curse and straightened from where he had been tampering with the flames to grab a lighter off a nearby shelf. "This storm is worse than I thought. We probably won't have power until it's over."

I groaned in disappointment. A normal person would worry about losing heat or communication at a time like this. Not me. My concern was being unable to edit the book I had been working on since my work is exclusively online.

Great. Just freaking wonderful.

This was quickly becoming the worst vacation I'd ever had in my life and I'd only been here a few hours.

"Don't look so distraught. It could be worse," Nash said as he started lighting candles.

I scoffed. "How could things be worse?"

He shot me a disarming, cute-as-hell smirk over the flickering orange glow of a candle, illuminating him against the absolute darkness, making my insides melt. "You could be completely alone. Just think how boring that would be."

Was he... flirting with me?

A lump formed in my throat. That was what I originally wanted, wasn't it? To be alone? Yet as he pointed that out, I found myself grateful that I wasn't.

If he hadn't shown up, I'd have lost Harley. If he hadn't shown up, I'd have caught hypothermia. If he hadn't shown up, I'd be by myself, stranded in the mountains with no power or knowledge of how to care for myself. Now, I couldn't help but think his appearance was a blessing in disguise. Sure, he was a bit of a brute. But as he said, it could be worse.

My mind whirled as his words played on repeat inside my head. Heat simmered down my spine as I made sense of our previous tension. He was attracted to me, too.

The thought made warmth rise to my cheeks. What a shocking turn of events. It felt like my reality had suddenly become a romance novel. And surprisingly, I already had the perfect title...

Cabin Fever.

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6

About the Creator

Brin J.

I have a few stories and poems inside me that I want to share. Maybe, if I'm lucky, they'll reach people who'll enjoy them. 📖

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (5)

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  • Babs Iverson2 years ago

    Fabulous story and read!!!💕😊❤️💕

  • Dana Stewart2 years ago

    Great tension between Nash and Lindsay! Soooo glad Harley got pulled from the cold water. Enjoyed this one a lot!

  • Heather Hubler2 years ago

    What a rollercoaster of emotions! I was concerned for her when the strange guy showed up, then I was so worried about Harley, and then you dropped that storm and turned up the heat! Loved it :) Such an enjoyable read.

  • John Eva2 years ago

    Really gripping. I can always get behind well written chemistry like this!

  • Natasja Rose2 years ago

    Nice!

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