Title: Forever in a Moment
Author: Charlotte O’Shay
Genre: Contemporary Romance
A stormy encounter...
Samantha DeMartino's Christmas wedding is two weeks away when her fiancé calls the whole thing off. Word on the street: his cold feet are being heated by an old flame. With her well-ordered world in complete disarray, Sam's friends convince her to go on her honeymoon—alone. A week at a charming Vermont inn away from the city and her demanding corporate career could be just what she needs to figure out her next steps.
Between his twenty-four seven work schedule on his family's dairy farm and teaching tourists to ski, Jed Armstrong's too busy to think about how lonely he is...until Sam sings her way into his life during a Christmas blizzard. Now he has to figure out a way to convince her to stay.
Can a vivacious city woman find forever with a reclusive farmer? Will her secret keep her from trying?
Oh, for the love of Christmas, my phone’s battery just quit.
No! Whether from the freezing cold or the fact that like the gas gauge, I haven’t given the care and feeding of my device a thought since I started driving the SUV, the face of my phone is now as blank as Ben’s was when I asked him if he ever really loved me.
More cursing makes me feel marginally better but also fogs up the windows. My options are painfully obvious. Stay in the car and wait for help, or start walking.
If I stay in the car, I may freeze. No, I’ll certainly freeze. It’s Christmas night after ten p.m. No doubt most people are in post-Christmas celebration mode, feet propped, warm drink in hand, and if they’re lucky in front of a fire. The rest are asleep.
If an emergency road crew comes along to clear the road, I will be seen. I check the road but it’s impossible to determine when the crew came by last. The driving portion of the road is packed snow. The sides of the road are piled several feet high with snow the plows pushed there.
How long will it be before the next time a snowplow comes down this road? I’m on the main road into town so maybe soon but it’s equally possible the plows are busy in the outlying areas near the mountains. Maybe the town issued a warning and all the citizens of Willow Springs, sensible country people as they must be, heeded those warnings and are sitting tight, riding out the storm.
After another round of cursing, I come to a decision. It was never my nature to wait till something happens, and to the extent I ever wait, I always regret it. I’m cold and I’m already wearing all the outerwear I have. I’ll warm up if I walk briskly. I walk to work every day and at most the inn is two miles away.
“You got this, Sam,” I murmur.
I’m not the type of person who talks to herself. In New York City that kind of behavior is actually not so unusual but nevertheless frowned upon in professional circles of every kind.
I pull my fleece-lined ski hat lower over my ears, and wind my scarf, a beautiful Italian wool my mother gave me several years ago, around me till it covers my chest and chin. Then I zip my ski jacket up to my neck. My gloves are on and I decide to check the trunk in case there’s a blanket or something else useful inside.
Score! One blanket and two flares. The blanket is the silver, high-tech body heat preserving kind people wear after marathons and it will do fine as a cape. I pull it over my shoulders before I position the triangular flares in front and in back of the vehicle. I debate how much damage it might do to the SUV’s interior cables and wires if I open the hood but then I do it. The mammoth white vehicle is already covered in snow but maybe this way whoever drives by next will see it before they crash into it.
It’s still windy and I’m not sure but I think that means the storm is still a ways from over. Tiny pinpricks of icy flakes pelt me sideways, at such a fast pace they steal my breath and I’m forced to walk with my head down to avoid the gusts. Head down means it’s a challenge to walk a straight line as the wind pushes me toward the snowdrifts at the side of the road every few steps.
My boots, which are more après-ski than hiking style, are doing a valiant job keeping me warm but stepping into snowdrifts every couple of feet has pushed snow down past the shearling lining to my socks.
I start to sing.
I guess I am one of those people, after all. I decide if the last words I utter on this earth are Christmas carols, then so be it. I refuse to allow Ben to make me hate a holiday I’ve adored since I was a toddler.
“Stop it, Sam,” I mutter. “Don’t be morbid.”
I lose track of time. Has it been minutes or am I approaching the half hour mark? I should be a grownup and wear a watch but my phone usually suffices. The lights from the inn should be in view any moment. That sight will surely give me the energy to power my way to the finish line like I do when I see the final mile notice pop up on the treadmill.
But I don’t see the lights yet so I keep singing. I almost don’t hear the sound over my piercing rendition of “Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go,” which is more Thanksgiving song than Christmas carol. But I’ve already run through all of my usual repertoire.
It’s a truck, not a tricked up SUV like I was driving but a humongous Ford pickup. It passes me though, and I can’t believe I drowned out the sound of its approach with my singing. I turn, raise my arms and wave them frantically, shouting, “Stop, Help, Come back,” like a doomed character in a thriller.
The truck was going slow and now it’s stopped. As I watch, the driver executes a perfect three-point turn, which I admire since I have firsthand knowledge of the slippery consistency of the snow under tires and my boots.
I’m trembling now and I pull the silver thermal blanket closed over my chest again. The slippery blanket thing won’t stay knotted and I realize for the first time the value of those Scottish kilt pins I thought only had decorative appeal.
The truck rumbles to a halt beside me and the window, which was cracked an inch, rolls down all the way.
For a long moment we both stare at each other.
He has the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen on a man. Scratch that. On anybody. And that’s not because he’s almost certainly rescued me from premature death. His face has the perfect proportions of a Grecian sculpture. His eyes are dark or they seem to be in the shadow of the glare of the dome light obscuring my vision. Chiseled lips make up a wide mouth over a square, granite hard chin. One thing is certain. His eyes are annoyed as they narrow in on me while my gaze lingers on the unruly strands of hair escaping one of those ball caps you see all the time on Brooklyn hipsters. But the ball cap doesn’t look ironic on him. It’s grungy, ripped, and looks like it’s the only one he owns. As I watch, his ruddy face whitens and his lips thin into an angry line.
All of the sudden I’m nervous because surely this person knows I need help. He doesn’t mean to do me harm, does he?
I straighten my back to my full five feet five and stick my chin out. The authoritative effect I’m going for is spoiled by the snow, which chooses the same moment to slide off my hat and onto my face.
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Share a holiday family tradition:
From birth through many years of my adulthood, we celebrated Christmas at my aunt’s house. (Years later I and my husband inherited the tradition and later still my cousin.) My favorite part of Christmas Day is after dinner when we roast and eat chestnuts and sing hymns and carols while one of my talented relatives plays piano and/or guitar. We also burn clementine peels in the fireplace. The sounds and scents of those memories are my happy place.
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
You mean aside from all the snow? *smile* This romance is about family and traditions, in particular having the courage to forge new traditions and find new family. It is also most definitely about hope. In my dedication to the story I say:
I believe in destiny.
I believe we drive the car
but fate takes us on uncharted roads.
I believe in the hope and fresh start of every New Year.
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Runs December 1 – 31.
Drawing will be held on January 3, 2020.
Charlotte O’Shay and her suit and tie wearing corporate warrior live in Manhattan with their last child, a black dog who thinks he’s a bear. One of her happiest days ever was when she decided to trade writing legal briefs to penning happily ever afters.
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