Home > Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)

Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)
Author: Carian Cole

Chapter One

Sometimes, when I’m driving alone, I go into what I call the ‘road coma’ where I suddenly become acutely aware that I have no recollection of the past, say, twenty or so miles of driving. I can’t remember a darn thing. Not the road, not stopping at stop signs, not what was on the radio… It’s a total blank. A quick flash of fear will grip me, and I’ll think what if I ran someone over and don’t even know it? Surely, if I had, I would have experienced a quick bump and thump and snapped out of it.


I blink and clutch the steering wheel, suddenly realizing I am driving on a winding, narrow mountain road that’s covered with snow. When I left the house an hour ago, the snow was barely coming down. I glance at the GPS, which hasn’t said a word in a long time. The little blue arrow is pointing to what must be nowhere, because I don’t see a thing up here except for trees. And snow. Lots of snow. I swallow hard and wonder if the GPS has been talking to me while I was in a road coma and I just ignored it. Michael promised me when I left the house earlier, there was no way I could get lost with this tiny digital device, but now I am having serious doubts.

I grab my cell phone to call him and tell him I am, indeed, very lost, but the phone is in SOS mode. Sighing, I throw it back onto the passenger seat where it bounces and lands on the floor. I reach down to grab it and inadvertently, turn the wheel and the car starts to slide. Being the pinnacle of panic that I am, I jerk the wheel back and hit the brakes, and the car goes into a total spin. The snow is coming down hard in a violent zigzag and all I can see is a spinning white blur as I try to get the car under control. I’m not even sure what side of the road I’m on anymore or if I’m even going in the right direction. The car and I are like a feather in the wind, gently blowing this way and that, twirling in the gusts, until we finally come to an abrupt and final stop in a ditch, my head bouncing lightly off the steering wheel. I force my eyes open and peer around. No, it wasn’t a crash. Not really. It was a rather anti-climactic stop after all the spinning. The car just came to a stop—nose first off the side of the road. And while I am thankful the car isn’t totaled with half my head sticking out of the windshield, I am most definitely stuck, tires spinning.

I reach for my cell (again), silently praying for a signal, but there is nothing. Zero bars. I try to remember if I passed any houses or gas stations while in my driving-induced stupor, but I can’t remember the last time I saw any signs of civilization, which really enforces the fact that I am most likely nowhere near the posh hotel where my business meeting is being held this weekend. I am lost and stuck. Lost and stuck. My heart starts to pound faster. Lost and stuck. Stuck and lost. Zero bars.

Okay, Evelyn, stay calm. Deep breaths.

“Hey, you okay?” The pounding of his palm on the window scares the heck out of me. I jump and scream. Sasquatch with a black cowboy hat and a long black coat, his eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth is now trying to break into my car.

Oh, my God! Psycho kidnapper murderer in the snowstorm.

“Hello?” he says again. He opens the car door and snow falls into the car and onto my lap. I cringe away from him, smashing myself up against the middle console of the car seat. I sneak a peek at him and see he has a piercing in his eyebrow.

What makes people want to stick strange metal objects into their face?

“Don’t touch me!” I scream. I wish I had a gun. Or a knife. But all I have is a pack of orange tic-tac’s, and although I did get one stuck in my throat once, I doubt I could use them as a self-defense weapon right now.

“Okay, lady, just calm down. Did you hit your head?”

Lady? Who’s he calling lady?

“No, I didn’t hit my head.” Or did I? I reach up and start touching my head. There is a little sore spot. And it feels wet. I pull my finger away and examine it. Blood!

“Oh, my God. I think I cracked my skull open!”

“No, you didn’t. It’s just a little bump.”

“It’s bleeding!” I rummage around in my purse and pull out a crumpled tissue and blot my head. It’s just a tiny bit of blood, but still. Sasquatch watches me with an amused smirk, then reaches out his hand and pushes my hair away from my forehead.

“You’re okay,” he says. “Just a tiny bump.”

I cringe away and curl my lip up like a rabid dog. “Don’t touch me. Please, get your head out of my car.”

Laughing, he kneels down next to the car and rests his arm on the inside of my open car door as if we are just hanging out having a chit chat instead of sitting on the side of the road—in a blizzard—in a ditch. I’m sure he’s insane.

“So... What are you doing way out here?” he asks casually.

“My car is stuck! Hello?” What is with this idiot?

“Yeah, uh... I can see that. I meant, where were you headed before you got yourself stuck in this ditch?”

“To the Falls Inn.”

“The Falls Inn?” he repeats and lets out another laugh. “Baby, you ain’t anywhere near the Falls fucking Inn. It’s about fifty miles away. I guess if your car had kept going about fifty miles through the woods, you might have landed there. Is that what you were trying to do?”

Damn GPS! I should never have relied on that useless device. My situation is starting to feel worse by the minute. Where the hell am I and how am I going to get to my meeting? Or home for that matter. I can’t even call my boss and tell him I’m delayed or call Michael to come get me.

“—and it’s about a few miles up the road.” Oh. Sasquatch has been talking to me during the conversation inside my head.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” I ask him. Snow is accumulating on the brim of his hat. Almost a quarter inch it seems. That can’t be good.

“I said I have a cabin a few miles up the road. We can go there and wait the storm out. My truck is parked on the road. I pulled over when I saw you spin out and crash. You almost hit me, ya know.”

Oh, hell no! The old ‘cabin in the woods’ story. I wonder how many psychos have used that line. It seems to be the basis of many a horror movie or creepy novel.

I shake my head. “I don’t think so, but thank you for the offer.” Yes, be polite and maybe he will go away without killing me and leaving my body bloody and beaten in the snow on the side of this mountain.

“Well, I can’t fuckin’ leave you here. This snowstorm is supposed to go on for almost the entire weekend. They’re expecting almost two feet of snow or more. You could freeze or starve to death out here. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Oh, so murdering psychopaths announce their intentions to their victims now?” I lower my voice to a mock man’s psycho voice. “Excuse me, miss, but I shall commence killing you now. Please, remain in the vehicle until I have reached the designated killing area.”

He lets out a deep laugh and a long sigh.

“You’re cute... but I’m not a psycho. I’m just the moron who was driving behind you when you lost control of your car. And, I might add, you should be grateful I’m even here. Not many people drive this road.”

Terrific! Backwoods road that no one ever uses! The murder scene could not be planned out any better.

I stand my ground. “I’m not going anywhere with you, so you can just get yourself out of my doorway.”

He lights up a cigarette and takes a few long drags before responding to me. “Look, I’m not leaving you here. I don’t know if its cuz you hit your head, or if you’re just mentally unstable, or what... but I sure as shit am not leaving you here in a blizzard, no matter how annoying you are. So, stop being unreasonable. A friend of mine owns an auto repair shop in town. I’ll call him when we get to the cabin and have him tow your car out of here when the storm is over.

I know Sasquatch is right. I can’t stay in the car and just wait for someone to find me or hope I might get more than zero bars on my cell phone. I can either stay here and surely die or go with him and hope he isn’t some deranged killer on the loose.

“Fine,” I mutter in defeat.

He stands up and brushes the snow off himself and shakes his head, flinging snow everywhere, then takes his sunglasses off to wipe the snowflakes off them. “Let’s go.”

I squint up at him, thinking I might be hallucinating. He’s wearing black kohl eyeliner under his incredibly emerald green eyes. Seriously, eyeliner?

“Excuse me... Are you wearing eyeliner?”

He rolls his eyes and shrugs. “Never mind that. Let’s just go already.” He puts his sunglasses back on.

I can’t let it go. “Are you some kind of cross-dresser or something?”

“Fuck to the no.”

“Then why are you wearing eyeliner?” And wearing it very well, I might add. I can never create the smoky, perfectly smudged look that he’s got going on.

“It’s part of my persona. Can we talk about this shit later? We’re in the middle of a fuckin’ blizzard. Not exactly the time to be talkin’ about makeup.”

I suppose it’s part of his weird Goth look, which I’ve only really seen on TV in music videos and vampire movies. Maybe he’s a Twilight fan? Good lord, I hope not.

He holds out his hand to help me out of the car, a polite gesture that doesn’t quite match the rest of him.

“I can’t walk in the snow,” I say meekly.

“Huh? Why not?”

“Because I’m wearing heels.”

“Heels? Who the hell wears heels in weather like this?” He throws his hands up in exasperation. “Fuck my life!” he screams up into the snow-filled sky.

“It wasn’t snowing this bad when I left, okay? Yeesh. What the hell do you know about fashion anyway?” I nod my head at his ensemble of faded ripped jeans and work boots, which in reality is much better than the business pant suit and high heels I’m currently wearing.

“I’m going to have to effin’ carry you to my truck then.”

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