Authors: Lynne Connolly
Tags: #Paranormal; Supernatural; Shifter; Vampire
The Thorndyke Trilogy 2:
DANCING AT MIDNIGHT
The Thorndyke Trilogy 2: Dancing at Midnight
Copyright © October 2014 by Lynne Connolly
All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
Image/art disclaimer: Licensed material is being used for illustrative purposes only. Any person depicted in the licensed material is a model.
Editor: Kierstin Cherry
Cover Artist: Dar Albert
Published in the United States of America
Loose Id LLC
PO Box 806
San Francisco CA 94104-0806
This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
This e-book contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language and may be considered offensive to some readers. Loose Id LLC’s e-books are for sale to adults ONLY, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.
* * * *
DISCLAIMER: Please do not try any new sexual practice, especially those that might be found in our BDSM/fetish titles without the guidance of an experienced practitioner. Neither Loose Id LLC nor its authors will be responsible for any loss, harm, injury or death resulting from use of the information contained in any of its titles.
“Damn, damn, damn!” Kristen thumped her fists on the steering wheel. Not that it helped ease her temper or improve her position. She was still stuck in the middle of nowhere in a car that was effectively dead. In the worst freeze Michigan had seen for years. Snow lay inches deep, and it was still falling in soft, white flakes. Pretty and cold. Possibly lethal.
Sighing, she slipped off her driving shoes and tugged on the boots she’d put on the passenger side of the car. Then she grappled with coat and hat, struggling into them despite the restrictive confines. After that, she put on her gloves.
Only once she’d made certain she was as snow-proof as she could make herself did she pop the hood and get out. She’d done a basic maintenance course. With any luck, the problem was something simple she could fix.
She peered under the hood at the steaming engine, checked the oil level as she’d done before she left home, and the water to ensure the antifreeze was working. Using her flashlight, she examined the parts she knew how to fix, not seeing the point in looking for things that might need soldering or replacing.
Basic maintenance didn’t help her. She couldn’t see any reason why the thing had stalled and then refused to start.
She took the outer clothing off again, shook off the worst of the snow, and threw it in the car before getting in and slamming the door.
. She should have sold this thing and used it to buy airfare. It had glugged gas like it was sharing with its friends, and now it had died on her. Soon it would get too cold for her to stay here.
As she picked up her phone to call for help, it rang. Seeing her brother’s number, she thumbed the Answer button.
“Hi, sis. Hey, any idea what time you’ll get here? It’s getting late.”
Running her fingers through her hair, she tried to sound confident. “The snow’s coming down fast.” She paused. She had to tell her brother her situation in case something went wrong. “I’m about thirty miles from the city, and I went through a one-horse town called Liston about ten minutes ago. It had a motel, though I couldn’t see the name. The sign was smothered with snow. The car’s broken down, and it won’t start. I’m going to call a tow truck.”
She didn’t want him to worry, but she was glad she’d told him. At least one person would know where she was. They could find her body via her GPS. Shit, this kind of weather did terrible things to her spirits. It destroyed them completely. “There’s a motel a mile or two back. I’ll check in for the night.”
He paused. “Is there nowhere nearer?”
“Not that I can see, and I don’t want to walk on in case there’s nothing ahead. I’ll be fine,” she assured him. “At this rate, I won’t make the audition.” The reason for traveling to Chicago, her audition with the ballet company. She couldn’t afford to think about that now. Survival was her first priority.
“I’ll call you on my first break.” His worry clearly came down the line.
“It’s okay. There’s a place closer if I don’t make it. Some kind of private estate.” She remembered the pair of gates half a mile or so back, but she’d get to the motel fine. The breakdown guys would give her a lift there. “So don’t worry if I don’t make it tonight. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Uncle Mike gave you a heap of rust from the back of his car lot, didn’t he?”
“Yep.” She barely refrained from thumping the dashboard. Again. It only hurt her hand. “It was nice of Uncle Mike to give me the car, but I thought he’d give me something better, not the hunk-a-junk he couldn’t sell. Still, times are hard, and he probably couldn’t afford to give me anything else.” Uncle Mike probably hadn’t expected a snowstorm of this ferocity either.
“Maybe he shouldn’t have let you take it in this weather. No snow tires. Am I right?”
She’d been slipping and sliding a bit, but not too badly. “He filled the tank and put antifreeze in for me. I’d have been okay if it hadn’t snowed so hard. The forecast said snow, but not this. Cold, sure, and a few snow showers. This storm only hit in the last couple of hours.”
The wet, white stuff was coming down thick and fast. If she didn’t move soon, she’d be snowed in. “Gotta go. See you soon.”
Despite his worry, she cut the call. She needed the cell battery to call for some assistance. She checked the Internet for a list of local towing companies. By the time she’d reached the third, she was down to one bar. No problem. She had a spare battery. Maybe she should call her brother back, tell him where she was, and let him phone somebody for her.
Everyone she called said they were busy or they were snowed in themselves.
The battery was nearly gone, so she opened her bag to find the spare and swore. “Fuck, the little shit swapped it out.”
Her sister was always using her cell, and recently she’d bought a battery on the Internet that had turned out to be the wrong one. Since Kristen had the same model, her sucky little sister had taken Kristen’s spare battery and switched it with her own.
. So now she was stuck with one bar on her phone and a piece-of-shit car that wouldn’t start. The temperature was dropping rapidly around her. She had to get out of here and keep the phone for one last call. An image appeared vividly in her mind, of her lying in a drift, desperately calling for help.
No help was available, so she’d have to go to the motel.
. She was not looking forward to this.
Her boots were warm, her coat thick but slightly damp from her previous trip into the snow. After pulling on her knit hat and gloves, she checked that she had her flashlight and shoved her cell deep in her pocket, saving it for the last emergency call. Dusk was shading the sky, as if a dimmer switch was being slowly turned down. She had to make a move.
Bracing herself, she heaved open the door. If she’d put off getting out the car any longer, she wouldn’t have been able to do it, but she put her back into it and got the door open far enough for her to slide out. The rescue guys would have to dig the vehicle out.
Slinging her bag over her shoulder, she walked back in the direction she’d come.
She had the world to herself. Snow drifted down, a quiet blanket of white rendering the landscape monochromatic. Deceptively beautiful and dangerous as hell. The muffling effect of the snow made her feel she was the only person in the world. People died in these snowstorms.
. Kristen shook herself.
Not going there; not thinking that
. Cold water squished between the toes on her left foot. Shit, the boot had sprung a leak. At least the water warmed up pretty fast, and it wasn’t too bad. She considered stopping and plugging her boot. Maybe a bandage from her first-aid kit would hold it.
No, she’d cope. She’d get to the motel soon.
Although she shook her head from time to time, it was inevitable her hat would get soaked and cold. Half an hour later, Kristen wasn’t as close as she’d wanted to her destination. She started to shiver.
Trying to control the shaking, she tramped on, stamping her feet to keep the circulation going. The best way to keep warm was to walk.
She stopped at the huge wrought-iron gates she’d passed earlier, staring at them through snow-clogged lashes. If this was half a mile, she’d only come a quarter of the way to her goal. No way would she last the rest of the way. Her legs ached, and her toes were numb, the lack of sensation creeping up toward her ankles.
When she moved to one side, a glimmer of light caught her attention. Was it people or a security light? There was only one way to find out. She didn’t have much choice. Her shivering had grown worse, and now she had leaks in both boots. She couldn’t feel her fingers.
Blinking the snow from her eyes, she studied the gates to find a bell or a knocker or something. A small piece of overhung metal indicated the presence of a bell. When she staggered closer, her elation rose. It was a phone, not a bell.
. She picked it up, and it clicked and buzzed. Not just a phone, but mother of mercy, a live phone.
Fumbling in her bag, she found her flashlight and shone it on the phone. Only then did she see the two buttons beneath. She pressed one, then the other. Then pressed and held both of them.
A man’s voice yelled down the receiver. “Who the fuck is that? Stop that, will you?”
Relief swamped her, making her dizzy. “Can you help? My car broke down about half a mile along the road. I had to walk, and I can’t get a tow truck to come out.”
“You could have called the emergency services.”
“I’m guessing they’re a tad busy. If I’d stayed in my car, the police helicopter would have rescued a popsicle in the morning.”
A heavy sigh gusted down the line. “Okay, I’ll open the doors. Keep walking toward the light. Then you’ll see the house.”
Wondrously, the gates swung open, shoving a drift of snow to each side, leaving a clear path for a couple of feet. Right until the snow started up again. Kristen trudged through, her heart lighter. Maybe she wouldn’t die tonight after all. Snow like this? Yeah, it could kill, and she hadn’t seen a car the entire time she’d been walking.
The snow came over the tops of her boots as she pushed her way through the piles of lethal, white beauty, getting closer to the light.
The house must be a hundred yards from the gate
. If it was this hard to get here, then she’d never have made the motel. Fuck, she really could have died. The realization hit her hard, making her catch her breath.