Published By: Harlequin
Published: Nov 01, 2007
ISBN # 9780373714544
Available in: Secure Adobe eBook, Secure Adobe Epub eBook
Snowbound by Janice Kay Johnson - Romance>Drama
When a blizzard strands Fiona MacPherson and her students in Oregon's Cascade Mountains, their only hope of survival is to seek shelter at Thunder Mountain Lodge. Their host is John Fallon, a handsome, enigmatic war veteran haunted by secrets and scars that may never heal.
John Fallon never imagined he'd be playing host to this captivating teacher and her eight teenage charges. But when his solitude is shattered by their arrival, his world shifts on its axis. He needs Fiona-but does she need him? There's only one way to find out. The ex-soldier must find the courage to reach out to the remarkable woman who has transformed his life....
Fiona Macpherson was starting to get scared.
The rhythmic thwap, thwap, thwap of the tire chains helped her shut out the chatter of the eight teenagers behind her. With the snow falling so hard, she felt as if she and the kids were in a bubble, darkness all around, the headlights only reaching a few feet ahead. Snow rushed at the windshield, a white, ever-moving veil.
She shouldn't have taken this route--a thin line on the map that promised to cut north of the projected path of the storm.
"This way's good," Dieter Schoenecker had said, when she told her vanload of students what she intended to do. "We cross-country ski at a place up near High Rock Springs."
Hadn't she been a high school teacher long enough to know better than to take a sixteen-year-old's word for anything?
Not fair. She was responsible, not Dieter, and she had had some doubts about whether the line on the map was too skinny. But it was a highway, it headed westbound, and they should have been able to make it across the Cascade Mountains before the blizzard arrived.
Only, they hadn't. They'd left Redmond, out in the high desert country of eastern Oregon, hours ago, right after the Knowledge Champs competition had ended. They should have been close to home in Hawes Ferry south of Portland by now, or at least descending into the far tamer country in western Oregon. Instead they were in the thick of the storm. Fiona was struggling to maintain twenty miles an hour. It had been at least two hours since she'd seen another vehicle.
We should have turned back when we stopped to put on chains, she thought. And when they realized they no longer had cell phone reception.
The voices behind her had died out, Fiona realized. "You okay, Ms. Mac?" one of the boys asked. Despite the fact that her neck and shoulders ached and her eyes watered from the strain, she called back, "Yep. You hanging in there?"
Nobody had time to answer. A jolt shuddered through the van as it hit something and came to a stop, throwing Fiona against her seat belt.
"What happened?" Amy cried.
"We probably went off the road," Dieter said. Fiona made everyone but Dieter stay in the van. She and he put on parkas and got out. With the engine turned off, it was utterly silent outside, the headlights catching the ghostly, slow fall of the snow and the white world they found themselves in. Tree boughs were cloaked with white, as were rocks and shrubs and ground.
"Awesome," he said.
She opened her mouth to snap at him, then stopped herself. He was young. She should be grateful he didn't realize how frightening their situation was.
With the single beam of light from the flashlight that had been in the glove compartment, they could see that the van's right front wheel rested against a mound. Turning, she cast the thin beam in a semicircle and realized that the road--or what must surely be road-- curved. She'd gone straight.
"Try reversing," Dieter suggested. "A couple of us can push, too."
Moments later, they were on the road again. Fiona waited until the boys clambered back in, bringing a burst of cold with them and shaking off snow. This time, Dieter got in the front seat.
"You know the rules," she began.
"Yeah, but maybe I can help you see."
After a moment, she nodded, then with a hand that had a fine tremor put the van in gear and started forward.
Where were the snowplows? she wondered in frustration, but knew--they would be working on the more traveled highways.
I've endangered these children's lives with my bad decision. She felt as if ice were running though her veins.
"What if we get stuck?"...