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Fire and Ice

By: PS Cassidy
Published By: Blushing Press
Copyright: © 2016 Blushing Books® and PS Cassidy
10 Chapters / 59,400 Words
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It was supposed to be a ski trip. Their friends said it would be fun, just like the old days. But Nick is a broken wanderer. He doesn't feel like having fun. And he especially doesn't want to be anywhere near his fellow wanderer, the emotionally wounded Jasmine. Leave it to their meddling do-gooder friends to drag them both along. The party arrives at a remote, frozen place, and then their fun-bunch friends decide to take a side trip, leaving Jasmine and Nick alone with only one instruction: “Don’t kill each other.”

And then it snows. And it snows. Their friends will not be back any time soon. Nick and Jasmine need each other to survive, but what they find is much more than the realities of life and death. In that frozen place, they are forced to confront their fears, and their demons, and find a way to make a peace – or they will surely be buried under the crushing weight of the past, and perish in the snow.

Publisher's note: This story contains explicit sex scenes between a dominant male and submissive partner that include erotic spankings.

 

"Nick, Nick, I promise you. It'll be just what you need."

"How do you know what I need?"

Julia looked at the man. He was wearing a flannel shirt and cutoff shorts. His thick, wool socks went almost up to his knee—one black, one argyle blue—and he was wearing a pair of worn sneakers. One of the shoes was wrapped in duct tape. His lips were moving like he was talking in his head, but there were no words.

Julia said, "Did you forget to shave again?"

Nick rubbed his chin. "Yeah, maybe I did. Fact is, I pretty much forgot to shave all week, if you want to know the truth. What's it to you?" His words were pointed, biting, but in spite of his defiant words, his head lolled forward.

Julia waited for him to look at her, but when he didn't, she spoke to him as if she wasn't talking to the top of a man's head. "It's been four years, Nick, and you're mad. And you miss her. I get that. We all do. But maybe, just maybe, it is time to rejoin the human race."

"I don't know."

Julia's voice grew louder, sharper, "She was my best friend, you know. And I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure she wouldn't have wanted me to mope around like a zombie just because she's gone. She was so full of life. Don't you remember? She was like the original seize-everything-girl."

"Yeah, I remember. She had a lot of life all right. That's about all I remember. There was a life and then it was gone."

"Nick, with all due respect, and I'm not trying to take Brigitte away from you, but you act like…you act like…when Brigitte left, everything went with her. It's like you don't think the sun comes up anymore, like there is no more beauty left in the world. You act like her death meant all of us died. And frankly…" Julia came closer to Nick, and put her arm out to touch his shoulder, to lightly embrace him. Nick instinctively pulled away, turned to face the wall. She continued talking to him, addressing his back, "Frankly, Nick, I'm ashamed of you. Brigitte would have been, too."

"Shut up. Just leave me alone."

"No, Nick. I don't care if you listen to me, but you're going to hear me. For you to throw away your friends like this, for you to swear off love, life, everything? Well, that's totally against everything she stood for. Do you remember her going to the hospitals? Or the time she went to DC and got a rubbing of a name off The Wall. Remember that? You know who he was, the soldier's name she got? It was a guy who was nice to her when she was a kid, a guy who showed her some kindness before he went off to Vietnam and got killed. And years later, his kindness meant enough that she wanted to keep that guy's memory alive, the memory of a man long dead, simply because he had once touched her. Do you know what I'm saying? Maybe Nick, just maybe, you could start to live for what she was instead of what she's not."

Nick was still facing the wall. It was dark in the room. All the blinds were shut tight. He stood in silence for a minute, and then he said, "Who's going?"

Julia shut her eyes. Nick couldn't see her long face, or her grimace. She said quietly, "Well, Jack and Nancy of course. Charlotte said she and Bryce will come. Kahlil and I are going. Annie's coming. You can't keep her away from a party. I'm pretty sure Nathan'll come and probably Robbie. He said he'd come if he can get off. And oh, Jasmine. She wants to come."

Nick had been quiet and still until Julia mentioned the last name. He wheeled around, "Did you say Jasmine, that stuck up little bitch? All that mindless thing wants to do is have fun and party." He spat out the words. "She'd be the one dancing when the world's falling down around us. I think this trip just got too stupid for me."

"Come on Nick. I know you've had problems with Jazz but she really wants to come, and everybody else is okay with it. The thing is you're putting me in a bind because I really want you to come, and I want her to come because she really wants to fit in. And yeah, I know she has a lot of energy, but she's a fun girl. I don't want to antagonize you, but you do understand that hiding from our problems, running away, is not the best way to handle things either. You get that, right?"

"How long?"

When Julia just looked at Nick, he repeated the question. "I want to know if I go on this thing, how long I have to be locked up in a cabin with everyone."

Julia sighed and forced a smile. "You know we used to do this—all of us—and we called it having fun. No one ever called it being locked up in a cabin. I mean we're just trying to do some cool stuff like we used to do. If you're going to be such an ass about it, maybe you shouldn't come."

Nick said glumly, quietly, "I'm sorry, Julia. I'm kind of afraid of fun, you know, it's like if I enjoy myself, if I let myself have a good time, it makes me feel, um…"

"Guilty?" She reached out, tentatively at first, but this time Nick's legs went soft and he fell into the hug. She whispered in his ear, "You're not alone. That's why we have to do this. It's the first time we've gone out—all of us—since, well, you know."

Nick's grip was firm, his head on Julia's shoulder, his hands around her waist. She was wearing a crop top sweater, and his fingers had found their way to her smooth warm skin. She didn't stop him or reposition his careless fingers. They were friends.

"Do I have to talk to her?"

Julia didn't answer right away. His voice sounded shallow, far away. She just held on to him. And then, as if she had just heard him, as if he had just spoken, she answered in a whisper, "Jasmine? Are you talking about Jazz?" And then she expelled some air, the best she could do for a laugh. "You can talk to anyone you want to, and I guess that means you don't have to talk to anyone at all. Your choice." Her voice trailed off. She hugged him again, and then she said, "What is it about her? I mean, really, for the life of me, I can't see what it is about Jazz that's got you so dead set against her."

"You should have, um, you didn't tell me she was coming," Nick released Julia and stepped back, "I mean, I don't know. I just kind of have a hard time being in the same room with that girl let alone being locked up in a, I mean, you know, stuck with her for two weeks."

Julia went over and opened the blinds. She said, "If it is any consolation, Nick, there'll be ten other people who'll be stuck with you."

"Yeah, they will," Nick pointedly re-closed the blinds. He looked up at Julia, menacingly.

The room was gloomy again. Julia stood for a long moment in the dim half-light, as if she was assessing whether it was worth giving the blinds another shot. Finally, she pulled the hem of her sweater down, and said, "I don't know how to tell you to go forward Nick. The truth is I really don't know. It'd be the blind leading the blind. But I'll tell you this much: We are going to load up the cross country skis and the snowboards into our cars and we're going up to the lakeshore, and then we're going to ski some trails, snowboard some slopes, have a bonfire, and, you know, have some fun like we used to do. That's the plan." She paused. It was already a gray December day, and the sun was sinking fast. Nick was just a shadowy outline. It was hard to tell if he was looking at her, or if he was even listening. If there was anyone in the room who could hear her. But she kept speaking in a clear steady voice. Even if Nick had checked out, even if he wasn't listening, she'd be able to hear her own words. Words she couldn't understand much better than Nick could.

There was movement across the room. It looked like Nick had gone to the side of the window, like he was peeking through the blind at the twilight. She said, "So you'll come?"

There was a sigh, a long release of air. His words came slowly, "I don't know if Nick Bosko will be there or not, but I'll get in the car. I'll let you drive me to the lake. Can't guarantee I'll ski or do any of that shit, and as for the whole having fun thing? Don't hold your breath." There was a feeling that the tension was seeping out of the room. Julia took a couple steps toward him, got close enough to reach out, in the dark, and touch Nick's elbow. He said, "I'll get in the car all right, but please, not Jasmine's car. Okay? All right?"

Julia laughed. It was almost like having the old Nick back, if only for a moment. "Well," she said slowly, "I'm not the cruise director, that's Kahlil's job, but maybe if I slept with him, I would have some pull. Would it be all right if you rode with us, me and Kahlil?"

"Yeah, that'd be okay, just so Jasmine's not in the car. And I mean it about the fun thing. Like don't count on me to get all happy and be some kind of party guy, or to have all kinds of fun. Not even sure if I'll ski, but well, I'll go. I mean you might want to quit while you're ahead."

"You know me Nick. I'm the optimistic one. It's a long ride up there and I wouldn't be entirely truthful to you if I don't tell you straight up that part of me—maybe just a sliver—doesn't hope something happens on the trip, that somewhere, somehow, someway—yeah I don't even know…pretty vague on that part—but that maybe we'll have a good time and maybe it'll spark something in you. A girl can hope, you know."

"I knew it. Damn it, Julia. You'd better get that shit out of your head. I mean it. Get over it. I don't want to disappoint you but if you talk like that…if you go on and on…you're putting a weight on me, and you are going to be disappointed, just like I did. Just like—"

"Stop it, Nick. We haven't even left yet and you've got a whole scenario running through your head. You've played everything out to its miserable conclusion, and you're missing, you're missing, well hell, you don't even open your blinds. Bet you didn't know the sun's come out and it's a nice day out there."

"I don't want to see nice days. Don't you get it?"

"Hey Nick," Julia forced a smile, "You remember that time when we went up there, and you and Nate came up late. We were on that big inland lake, remember that? In the morning, the rest of us got up and skied down to the river, went into town—"

"Yeah, I remember, got up and there were just ski tracks going off on the ice and disappearing. Me and Nate strapped them on and headed across the lake. We found a little tavern over there that had a fire going. Got a couple beers and called you guys for a ride but we couldn't get an answer."

"Yeah, that's right. We were in town, trying to find you 'cause we wanted a ride back, but your cell had gone out and we ended up hitching a ride with a farmer in his pickup truck, except, except—"

Nick nodded, "Yeah, I remember, Brigitte. She, oh hell, why'd you bring that up. Look, I'll go with you, but it might be better if no one talks to me. Just leave me alone."

* * *

Three days later, a caravan of cars pulled up in front of Nick's little house. The lead car, a white SUV, was towing a trailer loaded with two snowmobiles. All three cars had skis on top. Kahlil and Julia got out and knocked on Nick's door. They were joined by Charlotte, from the second car. In the driveway, Jack and Nancy had gotten out of their car and they were standing together, leaning on their sedan, nestled arm-in-arm with their matching jeans, and their matching coats blending together with the folds overlapping. The couple looked like an amorphous two-headed being. After a minute Nate and Annie emerged from the back of Kahlil's car, and joined the group. They were all a tableau, a small mob waiting on and around Nick's tiny porch. A weather front had moved in overnight, and the air was cold, the sky a steely gray. In the pre-dawn gloom, the gray was made even darker. It was deathly quiet as the assembled party waited.

Kahlil said, "Don't hear anything. Bet he ain't coming."

Julia waved her gloved hand at him. "He's coming. Nick doesn't do sad well. This has all been really hard. The thing is no one really knows what we'll do, how we'll act, when the world starts to come apart. I can't say that I'd do better if—" she looked at Kahlil, and then quickly back at the door.

Kahlil turned to her and said, "You're right. He's not trying to be a dick. He's just kind of miserable. It's different." Just then they heard a noise and the door opened. Nick was standing in front of them. He wore thick leather boots, and had on a fur-lined parka. Behind him was a duffel bag.

Nick had shaved. It was the first thing she noticed, and he almost looked like the dashing figure she once knew, the one who was always ready to go at a moment's notice. She glanced at his eyes and she could see the uncertainty. It wasn't quite the old Nick. That was for sure. But it was clear Nick was trying his best to act like he was that guy from the past, and Julia loved him for that. He just stood there at first, and then Julia realized he was looking over her shoulder, at the cars. Julia couldn't help but turn her head, to pick up his line of sight. In the back of the third car, she saw the motion, the dark head. Jasmine was looking at them through the window. Jazz was watching them all right. Julia was sure of that.

Nick nodded at Julia, as if to acknowledge she had upheld her side of the agreement, and that he was prepared—reluctantly maybe—to fulfill his end as well. He reached back and grabbed his duffel bag, and then he mumbled something.

Julia didn't understand him at first, and then as if he had said it again, more clearly, she knew what Nick had told her. To Nick, she said, "Will you open it?" and to Kahlil, "he'll get the garage, his skis are in there." Before she was done speaking, the door began to whir. The garage was opening.

They secured the skis on the rack with the rest of them. The car was crowded. Nick looked at the gear squeezed in the back, "You guys forget I'm going? Julia made a big deal out of it, made out like you couldn't do the trip without Nick, but by the looks of it, the way this car's been stuffed, looks like I was kind of an afterthought." Nate was sitting behind Kahlil and Annie was next to him, in the center. Nick slid in beside them, pushing a couple bags to the floor, so he'd have a place to rest his elbow. "Are all the cars like this? I'll bet the princess has got a lot of room in her palace back there."

Julia swiveled around from the front seat, "Come off it, Nick. We had to—"

Kahlil jumped in, "We got enough food for all ten of us for three weeks. It's got the snowmobiles packed in. There are bags all over the back of Jack and Nancy's car. Look, we haven't even left your driveway and it's eight hours to Marquette, so it'd be really, really nice if you at least tried to have a good attitude, Nick. Julia told me that you assured her that you have no plans to have any fun, and I get it, but—"

Julia took over, "But on second thought, maybe Nick's onto something. There might be some extra room in Bryce's car. I'm sure Jazz wouldn't mind if you sat next to her. You could be in the palace, too."

Nick glowered at her.

Julia went on, "I thought so. Listen, no one's going to force you to have fun, Nick, but please, I beg of you, don't try to ruin it for everyone else," she paused, waiting for Nick to say something, but he just kept glaring at her. She began again, quietly, softly, "I asked you to come because I wanted you to come. And I meant it. That hasn't changed. And yeah, I thought going with us might do you some good, and that hasn't changed either. Call me stupid or silly, but I still believe it. But please, Nick, don't make the rest of us miserable. You're better than that. I know this because you're our friend and I don't make friends with cruel people."

Nick hung his head when she had finished. Finally, he said, "Three weeks? I thought we only had to…I mean I thought we were only going for two."

Julia said, "Huh?"

Kahlil answered her, "He means the food…the three weeks of food. Relax, Nick. It's for just in case. Maybe a bear'll break in and make off with a bunch of our food. You never know in the north woods."

Nick replied, "I hate it when you guys act so much like a couple."

Julia whispered just loud enough for him to hear, "I know."

The caravan was underway. The sun came up as they headed north, but the sky was still gray and murky. It was a shapeless day with no clouds in the sky, just the one gray blanket in every direction. The sun was a shimmering white light that crossed the sky overhead. It was neither warm nor colorful, but as stark as the winter's day. Nick spent the first hundred miles looking out the window, watching the dark barren trees go by, the brown landscape with a dusting of snow, the slushy ice at the side of the road, the lonely scattering of houses—some with a light in an upstairs window that Nick would focus on as they passed—but there were no people. There was no humanity. They passed empty farms with fields that had no crops, but only ragged rows frozen stiff and made neat by troughs of snow that gave it a kaleidoscope effect. There were barns—brown and red—but no animals in the field, at least none that Nick could see, except for one. Clear on the other side of a field, Nick thought he saw a horse, but he wasn't sure. Nick liked this world, scraped clean of humanity as it was.

Seventy miles from the bridge, all three cars stopped for gas. There was a combination hamburger joint-deli tacked onto the station, and when they had gotten out of the cars, the group walked across the parking lot, stiff-legged, to fill up on burgers and coffee. Nick lingered behind, looking at the other two cars.

Charlotte and Bryce were coming toward him. Charlotte was smiling like she always did. She waved at Nick and he waved back, looking behind her. He saw Robbie emerge from the car, but there was no one else. Robbie hustled passed him to catch up with Annie. Nick turned and followed the others into the station.

The whole group bought steaming cups of coffee, except for Julia, who got a mug of hot cocoa. Kahlil chided her, "Starting early?"

"Yeah, you caught me. My favorite part of going up north is the hot chocolate. Oh, and watching the snow."

"Well, pace yourself," Kahlil looked around, "And I just hope the weather paces itself."

Julia smiled. She said in a singsong voice, "Yeah, I know the drill. You want just enough snow to make the skiing great."

"Preferably some fresh powder," Kahlil interjected.

"But not so much snow you can't chop your precious wood, or we can't play in it or do anything else that's fun."

"Did you mention drive in the stuff? We do have to get home, you know." Kahlil reminded her.

She said, "Poot. We always make it home. Seems like we always used to have this discussion and then we'd go up there and it'd be a great time, and we'd drive home, snow or no snow."

"Well that's on account of Brigitte. When it came to fun, that woman had no fear. She'd squeeze the fun out of a pile of rocks."

Julia said somberly, "Well, she's not here. I guess we're going to have to do it in her memory," she smiled, "I'd like to think she taught us well."

Kahlil looked again at the darkness gathering to the west, and said with mock-official seriousness, "Okay. We'll have a good time for Brigitte," and then he took Julia's hand and they went to the table where the others were sitting.

Nick was on the end, silently chewing on a hamburger. Jack and Nancy were in the middle of the group, but they were carrying on a private conversation in public. Annie was talking to the gangly Robbie. Nathan was sitting with Charlotte and Bryce. Julia smiled at the couple. When the coffee and hot chocolate had been consumed and the trash thrown away, the group got up to leave. But it was Nick, silent for the whole break, who went to Julia and asked her if she'd please wait for a second, and at her request, the group waited while he went back to the counter to order some more things.

Julia said, "Guess someone's hungry after all."

When Nick returned, he gave the sack to Charlotte, along with a cup of coffee. He tipped his finger just a bit, toward the door, and said, "Take these to her."

Charlotte looked in the direction he was pointing, but she didn't have to. Nick somehow knew that Jasmine had lied to her friends, and told them she wasn't hungry. Nick had somehow felt the weight of the lie all through lunch. "Please," he said softly, "don't say anything. Just give them to her."

Charlotte nodded. She had been joined by Bryce, who was staring at Nick like he was a curiosity. Nick kind of liked Bryce, but they weren't friends. Bryce's relationship with Charlotte was still new and fresh, and the excitement of a string of firsts still showed on their faces. Nick knew in another time, they probably would have been good friends, but not now. There was an unseen barrier that had Bryce keeping his distance.

On the way back to the car, Nick noticed the woman who had been left behind, and she was now standing by the car. Charlotte gave her the sack of food and the coffee. Nick pretended not to look, but he wanted to be sure Charlotte had kept her promise, her vow of silence, and when Jasmine didn't look over, he was satisfied that she had. But without turning his head, Nick kept one eye on her. She had wispy honey-blonde hair. She had a nice figure, even in her winter clothes. Nick couldn't see her eyes from where he stood, and he was glad of it. A quick image, a memory, flashed through his mind. Her eyes were a shiny blue color, which darkened a little, turned almost a hazel under certain lights. Nick shook his head to get rid of the image, and he got back in the car without looking again.

The farmland gave way to pines that lined the road. While Annie, Julia and Nathan were having some sort of round-robin discussion that seemed to have no beginning and no end, Nick looked into thick forests of pine trees they were going through. He imagined the trees, the rolling hills—glacial moraines—as wild unspoiled lands, and that no humans had yet seen these trees, touched them, cut them, and that the terrain was brand new, unspoiled, untainted, and the land was fraught with endless possibilities. All the man-made trappings of life were still ahead of them in this endless unspoiled land.

The reverie was broken when Julia exclaimed, "There it is. The bridge."

They were cresting a hill, and she was right. It wasn't untouched land after all. Humankind had made a bridge, connected two great peninsulas. And Nick, suddenly sullen again, thought about the road ahead, the future. There would not be many great forests on the other side of the bridge, at least for a while. They'd have to cross an area that used to always depress him, even when Brigitte was by his side. It was a long stretch of sandy, weedy-looking slopes and dunes, an area that had been changed forever by an age of men who had a thirst to log the forests. Up around Munising, Nick and Brigitte had once climbed a spongy bluff that overlooked Lake Superior. And then they realized what it was, what made that hill feel soft and springy. It was a huge mound of sawdust. Brigitte had called it a 'saw dune.' And then she cried. Nick thought it was funny, her crying for the departed forests. Funny memory. Nick glanced up just as their caravan started across the long bridge. He had a single tear dripping down his cheek, as they continued north. Nick wiped it off before anyone noticed.

They pulled into the park with the bridge overlook. It was a tradition that they had begun quite by accident the first time they had made this trip. Someone had to use the bathroom, and it was the first thing they saw, after the bridge. Ever since, when they made the journey, the assembled group would pull into the overlook, and they would all spend a reverent moment looking at the bridge. It was often in the late afternoon by the time they made the crossing, and the light would glitter off the water. But on this trip, with the grey skies, the bridge just looked like a set of hulking grey towers lurching out of the water, standing guard.

Nick didn't get out of the car. He just shut his eyes, leaned back in his seat, and let the others carry on with the ritual. But it didn't last. There was a knock on the window. It was Julia. He pretended to be asleep, but she knocked again, louder. That woman wasn't going to let him be. Last time, when they stopped for gas, he got out and Jasmine stayed in the car. He thought he'd return the favor. It was only fair. Besides, it was Jasmine's first time at the overlook, and then he shuddered that he was even thinking of her like that. It'd be better if he just blotted Jasmine out for two weeks. And then they'd all go away, let him get back to what was left of his life.

Julia knocked again, and he opened the door a crack. "Nick, she's way over there, all by herself. Nobody's going to bite you. I know this thing's been hard, but this isn't like you. Remember when you used to play the great explorer, and you'd go up on the hill to claim everything the eye can see and you'd say, 'Hey, what's that bridge doing here?' That'd always crack us up."

Nick laughed. "All right. If it'll make you feel better, I'll come out." He straightened up, pushed the door open, and got out. The group was milling around in the crisp air, a light snow falling again. He ascended the bluff like he used to do—the great explorer come home. When he got to the top, and looked down on the straights, there was Jasmine leaning on a boulder, sitting by herself, enjoying the view. Nick took another couple of steps down the hill. It was just him and Jasmine now. She wore a scarf that set off her pink cheeks and her hair. Her arms were sheathed in long leather gloves. They were separated from the rest of the group.

"I was going to claim these lands, these lakes, for the king, but you know how just when you're going to go do something, someone always beats you to it, gets in the way," he paused and looked towards her. "Guess I can't discover something you've already found." He fell silent and took one more step, and then stood with his hand on his hips, looking past her at the bridge. He spoke again, softly, "Why'd you come?"

She didn't answer, just leaned against her rock and shared the view.

Without raising his voice, he said again, "Why?"

There was a bird squawking overhead. The snow was coming a little harder now, the rocky crags on the slope were dusted white. Nick glared at Jasmine but she didn't look back, didn't look up. He started to take another step in her direction, his frustration bubbling up. But before he could do anything else, she said, "It bothers you, the silence, doesn't it? You want to come down here and shake me, make me speak, don't you?"

Nick sputtered, "I just—"

"You don't need to explain anything, Nick. I know that's not you, a controlling man, a bully. Nobody ever said that about Nick Bosko, did they? But that's not what you asked me, I know. You want to know why I'm here. Why I came, right? Maybe the better question is: Why did you come? It's not really about me, is it? I mean that's the question you can't answer. You're on the way to bum-fuck nowhere with a girl you can barely stand and a group you don't really want to be around. But, Nick, if I may say so, it isn't this trip, is it? This isn't just about me. It's not even about you."

She quit talking and turned back toward the bridge, but it was gone. The murky gray blanket had moved forward, and she could barely see the outline of the lake or the land. The hulking bridge had disappeared into the mist. There was just a fading hint of the first tower rising out of the white water into the shapeless clouds. They were both quiet until she said suddenly, breaking the silence, "Now's the time Nick. Quick, claim this land, the lakes, everything the eye can see for the king or whoever the hell you want to claim it for, because the bridge is gone. There's nothing there. It's all been wiped clean, Nick."

Nick took a couple of steps and came up behind Jasmine, who was standing now, looking into the vast mist, "Damn you," he said, "I just asked why you had to come. I didn't want to know about…didn't want you…damn it, this is why I didn't want you to talk to me." He turned to face her. Her eyes were big and bright and full. He looked away. "Don't look at me like that. I wish I could. I wish I…" he reached out and grabbed her wrist, his nostrils flaring. Their eyes locked, and she held his gaze, unblinking. He said, "Didn't Julia tell you to stay away from me? I thought she did."

Jasmine said in a small, steady voice, "Yes Nick, she did. That is why I was sitting over here, away from you on this rock. It is why I was sitting way over here when you came over and starting talking at me."

Nick's grip on her wrist tightened, and Jasmine stopped talking. She stood looking at him. Her eyes were moist when her knees buckled beneath her. She slowly sank to the ground, while all the while keeping her eyes fixed on Nick's. As her skirt folded beneath her on the snowy ground, Nick released her wrist. Jasmine bowed her head and said, "I'm sorry, Nick. I can't say I really understand what's wrong with you, but I promise I'll stay away from you. I'll let you be. I hope somehow you find the answer to your question." She looked up and found his eyes again, "So I guess this is good-bye. Maybe there'll come a time when we'll talk, who knows. But just remember, there was a time when there really was nothing here, no explorers, no Indians, no nothing, and when the people came they had to build a whole world, make bridges and paths where they had to, all of it to answer the questions that burned in their hearts, the same question that burns in yours."

When she had finished, Nick took a step back, wheeled around, and started to walk back up the slope. Jasmine sat on her knees, watching him. When she stood up, she turned her head to look at the bridge again. It was still mostly gone, but she could make out a faint outline.

Pico1 on 07/31/2016 04:58am
A really good story about two likable people who have been badly damaged by past relationships – Nick’s beloved wife died, Jasmine’s boyfriend left her. They find themselves stuck in a cabin when their friends left them to visit a nearby city and a huge snowstorm left them stranded. In the effort to survive the storm they had to work together and learn that life was worth living and could go on happily if they were together. I enjoyed both the story line, the relationship between the characters, and the ultimate result.
Pico1 on 07/31/2016 04:58am
A really good story about two likable people who have been badly damaged by past relationships Nick۪s beloved wife died, Jasmine۪s boyfriend left her. They find themselves stuck in a cabin when their friends left them to visit a nearby city and a huge snowstorm left them stranded. In the effort to survive the storm they had to work together and learn that life was worth living and could go on happily if they were together. I enjoyed both the story line, the relationship between the characters, and the ultimate result.

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