Home > Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)(5)

Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)(5)
Author: Carian Cole

I nod at him and then realize I also have to go to the bathroom. This is not good at all. There has to be over a foot of snow on the ground by now. And I’m still wearing these awful shoes.

“Um, Storm? I have to go to the bathroom, too.” This is so incredibly awkward. I just want to disappear.

“Well, damn. That’s a problem.” He runs his hand through his hair and chews on his lip. “Okay, lemme do this. I’m gonna take Niko out and shovel the truck off. Then I’m going to shovel a path a few feet away with a little area you can stand in. I’m going to have to carry you. Again.”

“I seriously can’t believe this.”

“Well, that’s all we can do. Our options are a little limited. I have some napkins up front.”

I am sure my face is a million shades of red. “Fine... Thanks. Be careful out there, okay?” The last thing I need is for him to fall and get hurt.

He pulls on his coat in the cramped space and nods at me. “I’ll be back in a few minutes to get you.”

While Storm and Niko are outside, I try to mentally get my shit together. I’ve never even been camping. Taking a pee outside in a blizzard is not something I ever thought I’d be doing. My friend Amy is going to laugh her ass off when I tell her about this. From the shoveled-off window, I watch Storm roll up some snow and throw it for Niko, and he bounds after it, biting the snowball, and then racing back to Storm. I can’t help but smile. I can see the love between them. Storm is laughing and rubbing Niko’s head, the dog’s tail wagging excitedly, anticipating another snowball to chase.

After he shovels off the rest of the truck and makes a little path, he opens the truck door. “Okay, sweet cheeks, let’s do this.”

“Storm, this is really humiliating. I really don’t want to be carried outside to pee.”

“Okay, I get that, I really do. Let’s just get it over with. The snow is coming down pretty fast again and the path I made is gonna get covered up. I’m just gonna carry you over there, stick you on the ground, and then come back for you, okay? No big deal.”

So let’s just say being carried around by a guy, then standing in the snow freezing your ass off, and taking a pee outside is pretty much the most embarrassing thing ever.

When we get back to the truck, Storm rummages around in the back where he has one of those big metal toolbox things, only I guess, instead of tools, his is mostly filled with groceries. His arms are loaded with stuff when he climbs back in. He drops it all on the seat between us. Bottled water, potato chips, granola bars, cookies, crackers, and cheese. We take turns feeding big dog biscuits to Niko, and I watch in awe when Storm takes one of the water bottles and gently tips it into Niko’s mouth and the dog actually drinks it.

“Wow. Now that’s pretty cool. How’d you teach him that?”

Storm is all smiles, beaming over his cool dog. “We travel a lot and sometimes I forget his bowl. So we improvise.”

I eat three granola bars and sip some water. I’m actually afraid to eat too much because I am afraid of having to pee, or even worse, out in the damn snow. I shudder at the mere thought of it.

“I have orange juice, too. Want one of those?”

I shake my head. “Let’s have that tomorrow for breakfast. You don’t happen to have any coffee back there, do ya?”

He grins and stuffs a cookie in his mouth. “See? I knew you were one of those latte drinkers! I had you pegged right from the start.”

“Okay, so that’s my one addiction. I love white mochas. I have one every single day and I am completely jonesing for one.”

“I can’t get on the coffee train. I drink juice or water.”

“Do you work out?”

He quirks his eyebrow up at me and gives me that wicked crooked grin. “You’ve been checking me out?”

I roll my eyes. “Dream on. I could feel the muscles through your jacket, and I can see how big your arms and shoulders are just with that sweater on.”

“Yes, I work out when I have time. I use my hands a lot for work and I lift a lot of heavy shit.”

“How many tattoos do you have?”

Again, I get the sexy, smirk of a grin. “You have been checking me out.”

He takes a sip of water. “It’s okay, baby. I know I’m irresistible.”

“Really? Are you always so into yourself? Trust me, I’m not one of those chicks who’s gonna jump into bed with you for a hot one-nighter.”

“I know. That’s why I like you. And I have a shitload of tattoos, to answer your question. Wanna see?”

“No—” But before I can even get the word out, he’s pulling his sweater off, and yeah, he’s covered in tattoos. His arms are fully sleeved, his chest is covered, his sides and his back, also covered in artwork. I try to take it all in, crosses, castles, words, faces. I even see one of Niko. And beneath all that is dark, muscled skin. And I mean big, sculpted arms, broad chest and pecs, and a hard six pack. The guy is ripped. I have to look away. “Okay, Storm, put your shirt on. I’ve seen all your tattoos and they’re beautiful.”

“Did you see my muscles, too?” I watch him pull his sweater back on and can’t help but laugh at him. He’s just so strange.

“Yes, I saw your muscles. Happy now?”

“Yes. I work hard to look like this. A little appreciation would be nice.”

“Storm, I have no interest in appreciating your body. Can we please talk about things a little more normal, like when the hell do you think we’re going to get out of here?”

“Hopefully, soon. I brought you something.” He tosses a black sweatshirt at me. “I figured this would be warmer and more comfortable than the blouse you’re wearing.”

“Oh. Well, thank you.” He’s right. The blouse I’m wearing is useless so a nice big cozy sweatshirt would be much more comfortable. “Turn around so I can put it on.”

“Hey, you got to see me shirtless.” He is lucky in the short time we’ve known each other, I have figured out he is pretty harmless. But obviously, a wicked, sarcastic flirt who is used to getting attention. If he were anyone else talking to me that way, I would have kicked him right in the balls. My glare is enough to get him to turn away while I quickly change. The sweatshirt is huge, like three sizes too big, but it’s really soft. There’s a big emblem across the front of it that looks like a scrolling A and E.

“What’s the logo?” I ask him.

“It’s a rock band, Ashes and Embers.”

“I’ve never heard of them. Are they one of those bands that just scream and you can’t even hear the words? I hate that crap.”

His laughter fills the truck. “Yeah, I guess they do scream. But at least the shirt is nice, right?”

“Yes, it’s very comfy. And warm. Thank you.”

I pick up all the wrappers from the food we ate and put it into the plastic bag he took it out of and put it all on the floor. I am really starting to worry about how long we’re going to be stuck in here. Having the food definitely makes me feel better, but seriously, how long can we stay here? Michael must be worried sick by now. I’m sure he must have called the hotel and realized I never showed up, so he must be looking for me. But, according to Storm, I wasn’t even near the hotel so how would he even know where to look?

“Evie, I can see your little mind going over there. Stop it.”

“I’m worried. No one knows where I am.”

“You’re fine. I think the snow should stop tonight and then tomorrow at some point the plow trucks will come by, and I’ll get us out of here, okay? Just trust me.” He pulls out his cell phone and after pressing a few buttons, music starts to play. “Hey, so no connection, but the music I have saved on it will play. Until the battery dies, anyway.”

Soft acoustic guitar music fills the truck, and I find it to be calming. Outside, the snow is coming down, but it’s slow now, as if it’s falling in slow motion. The passenger side windows are not covered yet, so the snow must be falling at an angle from the wind. All the trees and their branches are covered in white so everything looks like it’s made of crystal. I have always loved how trees look the morning after a snowstorm, like a winter wonderland. I love the quiet after a snowstorm too, as if the world went into a whisper.

“What are you thinking about?”

“I feel like we’re in a snow globe. When I was little, I had one that my mom gave me. I loved it so much I kept it next to my bed all year round. I just loved to watch the snowfall. The snow is peaceful, don’t you think?

“I do. That’s why I was coming up here to spend a few days at my cabin. I wanted to veg and watch movies while it snowed and just enjoy some friggin’ quiet time alone with Niko laying on my damn feet.”

“I’m sorry I ruined your plans, Storm.”

“You didn’t. Anyway, at least you make me laugh, which I haven’t done in a while. You’re all feisty and snarky, but kind of sweet and innocent, too. It’s an interesting mix. Not like most chicks I know.”

“Thanks. I think?” I smile over at him and squirm in the seat. My legs are falling asleep. I can’t even imagine how uncomfortable he must be with his long legs.

“Your legs hurt, too, Evie?”

“Yeah. It’s like constant pins and needles.”

He motions at me with his hand. “Come here.”

“What do you mean?” I narrow my eyes at him suspiciously.

“Lay against my chest like you did yesterday, and then we can both stretch our legs out. More you than me, since you’re like a frickin’ midget, but maybe we can at least be comfortable for a few minutes.”

Oh, no. No. No. No. I can’t snuggle with him all up in this backseat. Especially after seeing him with no shirt on. I’m not sure what it is, but he has some kind of strange, sensual magnetism about him. I can feel it bouncing off him like little Ping-Pong balls

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