Home > Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)(9)

Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)(9)
Author: Carian Cole

“What? Why?” I sit up straight, fully awake now. “Why are you leaving him here with me?”

“I don’t want you here alone. I may be gone for a while. I want him to sit back here with you and keep you warm.”

I shake my head. I don’t mind the dog at all anymore, but I don’t like being left here. “Storm, what if something happens to you?”

“I’ll be fine. I have to go out there and see if that’s the truck. Don’t worry, okay?” He actually leans over and ruffles my hair. “I’ll be back and we’ll be outta here. Call Niko back here when I’m gone, okay? Promise me.”

I nod nervously. I don’t want him to go. “I promise.”

And with that, he’s gone.

I watch him walk out into the white and up the hill until I can’t see him anymore. I stare at the space where he disappeared for a few moments and then turn to the dog in the front seat.

“Niko... Come here.” I pat the space next to me. The fluff monster stares at me for a few minutes like he’s not sure if he should or not. “Come on.” I raise my voice a bit to sound happier, and that does it. He wags his tail and leaps into the back seat and snuggles up right against me. The size of this animal is immense. He must be over a hundred pounds. I gently stroke his head and he lays his head on my leg. To think of someone abusing this beautiful dog and starving him almost to death just sickens me.

I have no idea what time it is or how long Storm has been gone, but it feels like forever. Not having a watch or any way to tell time is a really disturbing feeling. This experience has really shown me how much I rely on technology.

Niko’s head suddenly pops up and his ears tweak around like little fuzzy antennas. Off in the distance, I can see Storm walking toward the truck. My hearts starts to race a bit. Please let the plow truck be here! His boots and jeans are covered in snow up to his knees. The poor guy has to be freezing his butt off.

When he opens the door, he has a huge smile on his face. “See? I told ya I’d get us out of here.”

“The plow truck is here?” I’m so excited I want to bounce up and down.

“Sure as shit is, and it’s my buddy John driving it. He’ll take us to my cabin and plow my driveway, too.”

“Thank God!”

“So here’s the deal. I’m going to have to carry your ass to the truck—”

“No! I’m sick of being carried around!”

“Evelyn, don’t even start or I will leave your ass here. I’m freezing and I want to go home. So just shut the fuck up, no chattering, no debating. All right?”

“Whatever. Fine. Let’s just go. And you’re nasty.”

“Good. And we’re going to have to leave our stuff here. I can’t carry you and all the crap, and there is no damn way I’m making another trip. I can barely feel my feet as it is. John is going to come back and get our stuff and bring it to us.”

“Okay.” I know there is no sense in arguing. All that matters is that we are getting out of here.

Storm has to carry me piggyback style up to the road because of the deep snow and the incline of the hill. I’m not too thrilled about straddling his back like a koala bear, but he threatened to dump me into a snowdrift if I didn’t shut up. I am once again impressed at the strength of this man and how he can carry me on his back through the snow and up the hill. I’m pretty sure Michael wouldn’t be able to carry me up this hill.

When we reach the truck, Storm gently puts me down and stomps the snow off his legs and boots. He is completely soaked from the knees down and I am worried about him getting sick. We all have to cram into the front seat of the plow truck, but right now I don’t even care because all I can think about is that I am one step closer to getting home. John, the plow truck driver, is nice, telling us how lucky we are to be alive. It seems that he and Storm know each other pretty well.

“Am I taking you both to Storm’s place or do you want me to take you to that little hotel in town?” John asks. Hmm. That’s a question I didn’t even think about.

I feel Storm’s hand touch mine, between us on the seat. “I was thinking you could stay at my place for tonight. If the phone isn’t working, I’m sure John can call Michael for you when he gets back home, since he lives in civilization, and let Michael know that you’re okay. Tomorrow we can get your car towed into town and get that taken care of. If you go to the hotel, we don’t even know if they have any rooms. It’s a small mom and pop hotel, not a chain.”

Is he trying to tell me he wants me to stay with him? That’s the vibe I’m getting, and I have no idea what to do. He’s right about the hotel— there might not be any rooms. Then I’m screwed. But staying with him at his place? I’m not so sure that’s a great idea. After what happened in the truck, I’m not so sure we should be alone together. He’s ignoring the look on my face though, and just keeps talking.

“I’ll cook us dinner, you can take a hot shower, and I have a nice room you can have. Tomorrow, more of the roads should be cleared off. I’ll take you into town and you can call Michael and have him come pick you up.”

“Um, how are we going to get to town? Both of our cars are stuck.”

He flashes me his grin. “I have another truck at my place. It’s in the garage.”

“Yeah, Storm has a lot of cars,” John interjects and I catch Storm giving him a dirty look.

I let out a big sigh. “All right. I’ll stay at your place then. Thank you.”

When Storm said he had a cabin in the woods, I was picturing a really small, summer cabin where hunters hang out in for the weekend. I was not expecting this modern log cabin with floor to ceiling windows, skylights, and beautiful angles with a three-car garage, and surrounded by pine trees. I stare up at it and wonder how a guy who looks like Storm can afford a swanky place like this. It must be his parent’s place. After John plows the driveway and shovels a pathway for us to walk to the front door, he jumps back in behind the wheel. “I’m going to get your stuff and bring it back. Gimme about half an hour.”

I nod my head at him. “Thank you. I really appreciate your help.”

“No problem at all. Storm and I go way back.”

I figure if things are weird with Storm when we get inside, then when John comes back with my stuff, I can always ask him for a ride to town, and then I can just deal with hotel crap once I get there.

Storm helps me out of the truck and I smack his hands away. “I can walk to the door myself, Storm. John did a great job shoveling.” I have had it with being carried around and I damn sure did not want him carrying me into his house.

“Fine, but if you fall on your ass, I’m going to laugh at you.”

Whatever.

Niko obviously recognizes he’s home because he races us to the front door, and then he sits there all impatient-like, lifting his front paws up and down waiting for Storm to unlock the door.

“He loves it here,” Storm tells me. “We hang out here a lot to get away from everyone.”

I’m not sure exactly who Storm feels the need to hide from, but he’s mentioned it enough to pique my interest to make sure I find out.

Chapter Five

Storm unlocks the door and we go inside. And it’s freezing.

“I thought you had heat?” I yell at him. He flicks on the light, but I’m so mad at him I don’t even bother to look around. “It’s fucking freezing in here, Storm!”

He throws his hands up. “Calm your shit. I haven’t been up here in months. I don’t leave the heat on full blast if I’m not here. I’ll turn it up now and light up a fire. It’ll be warm in here in no time.” He disappears down the hallway to turn the heat on I presume.

I finally take in my surroundings. The place is gorgeous. It’s all open-concept with a large living room, a huge wraparound couch, a big stone fireplace, a dining room area, and a gorgeous kitchen. The vaulted ceilings and skylights give the rooms so much depth. It’s definitely not a small place. In fact, it’s bigger than the condo Michael and I live in. I take a few steps further into the living room. A huge flat screen TV is on the wall, surrounded by pieces of artwork. The decor is very earthy with some Native American accents.

Storm reappears from the hallway and motions at me to get out of the foyer area. “Evie, come in and sit. I’m going to light a fire.”

I sit on the couch and bend over to take my shoes off. “I am never, ever, wearing these shoes again.” Storm is kneeling in front of the fireplace trying to get the fire started. “Good idea.” He says over his shoulder at me.

“Why don’t you have one of those fancy electric fireplaces?” I ask, rubbing my cold and sore feet.

The fire is lit now, orange flames dancing. He steps away and watches it for a few moments. “No way. There’s nothing like the smell of a real fire.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. This place is beautiful, Storm. Is it really yours?”

He spins on his heel to stare at me and runs his hand through his hair. “What? You don’t think someone who looks like me can have a nice place?”

“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that...”

But yeah. He looks like a construction worker. How much money could he make working on motorcycles or whatever he does?

“Maybe I’m a trust fund baby, Evelyn. Did that possibility ever cross your little judgmental mind?”

“Actually, no. Sorry.”

Awkward.

He goes into the kitchen, and I hear him filling Niko’s bowl with food. I’m starving, too. I wonder if he’s still going to feed me even though I’ve insulted him. What I really want is a shower, though.

“Storm... Can I take a shower?

“Yeah. Let me get you some clothes to wear.” He disappears back down the hallway and comes back a few minutes later with black sweatpants and a fleece hoodie. “This stuff will be huge on you, but it’s all clean. The bathroom is the first door on the left, just help yourself to whatever—there are new soaps and shampoos under the sink, and I think there’s a hair dryer in there, too. Oh, and there are some new toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet. Just take one.”

   
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