by Karen Legasy
Josephine Lavigne lives a contented life with Mollie, her golden retriever. Jo’s forestry consulting business is the perfect career for her love of the boreal forest.
Samantha White, a big-city criminal lawyer from Toronto, heads north to her recently inherited cottage to spend a month of respite alone at the cabin. Sam has no experience in northern winters and recklessly puts her life at risk.
Rescued by the moody and attractive forester, Sam is immediately drawn to Jo who sees her as an untrustworthy heartbreaker. After two nights snowed in together at the cottage then relocating to Jo’s house, the women begin to forge a friendship that scares them both.
When a woman with a broken heart meets a woman with a history of breaking hearts, sparks fly. But will there be enough kindling to ignite a fire in this tumultuous winter romance?
FROM THE AUTHOR
"Being born and raised in northern Ontario, it seemed only natural that I’d write a lesbian romance set there. Kindling for the Heart is really at the core of my heart. I’ve always loved the north with its four distinct seasons, big backyard of natural wilderness, and small town spirit.
After finishing My Forever Hero, which is set in Australia, I wanted to write something closer to home in Canada. That the story takes place in the dead of winter was very intentional as well. I love the summer, but after long periods of intense heat like we’ve had this year, I often begin to crave cooler weather. Winter is a cozy time and a great season for cuddling.
One of the struggles for a lesbian living in a small town is that a community of like-minded women can be scant. The chance of meeting someone special is often a challenge and especially for a woman like Jo, who has given up on love after having her heart broken. Sam, on the other hand, lives in a city with lots of opportunity for meeting a woman to love. Her challenge is that the right person for her is in northern Ontario.
The two main characters are thrown together by fate and that’s how life sometimes sorts itself out. Kindling for the Heart is also a Valentine’s Day story. There’s often Christmas in July so why not have a Valentine’s Day this August, or September, or whenever your heart desires?"
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Samantha White teetered in the fresh snow on the seemingly frozen lake in front of her cottage, alone and about to sink into her favorite childhood swimming hole. It was the first week of January and the temperature was well below zero. The lake should’ve been frozen solid by now, but the abnormally mild start to winter hampered its progress.
Sam had only taken a few steps from the dock when the ice beneath her feet started to crack and water began seeping up through her aluminum-framed snowshoes. Her foothold finally crumbled in the slush and she dropped into the frigid water.
“Oh shit. Somebody help me! Please!” Clawing at the ice, feet and legs thrashing in the water, she struggled to stop herself from going under. “I’ve fallen through the ice. Help!”
Her shouts went unanswered. It was a Friday morning and no one else was on the deserted lake, other cottages closed for the winter. Sam’s mitted fists dug into the slush, her feet flailing in the open water as she tried to heave herself up onto the fragile surface. Her legs were heavy, winter footwear and snowshoes dragging her down as her wet skin stung from the glacial water. She kicked off her boots, braced her hands on the ice, and in one desperate thrust, pulled her legs up out of the water, then rolled away from the hole.
“Shit. Fuck.” Blinding light reflected against the sparkling landscape left by the first big snowstorm of the year. Her eyes hurt, sunglasses lost in the scuffle. She lay on her back, thankful for the thick wool socks as her feet dropped into the snow like cement blocks. Shore wasn’t far, and the sun beamed warm rays against her red cheeks as she breathed hard in relief.
Sam turned over to try to crawl to safety then realized she could barely move. Her wet snowsuit pants were heavy and stiffening in the frigid air. The sun would be setting soon—she desperately needed help to get back to the cottage. Warm tears crystalized on her eyelashes.
“Help! Is anyone out there?” Sam shouted into the stillness as her teeth began to chatter from the cold. The reality of her predicament renewed whimpers of dread. Was this how it was all going to end for her? Freezing to death because of a stupid mistake? Is that what she deserved?
Then, through the silence, she heard a dog bark.
Josephine Lavigne stopped to study Mollie. Her golden retriever had suddenly come to a standstill, sniffing into the wind before barking wildly. The only tracks in the snow were hers and Mollie’s, but something was obviously amiss.
“What is it, Mollie?” She lowered her hood and removed her toque to listen. Except for a few chattering gray jays, all was quiet. They were close to a small community of cottages closed for the season, but she’d been walking for the last hour and was far from any roads that would have been kept cleared.
Then Mollie was off, barreling through the snow as though on a mission to find some buried bone or hidden treasure. Josephine followed as close as she could, trying to listen for what Mollie must be hearing. Nothing.
“Hello! Is anyone around?” Jo called.
“Help me.” A distant voice echoed through the trees. “Please.”
“Where are you?” Jo shouted back, surprised at the reply of a woman in distress.
“I’m on the lake.” The yells were barely audible in the quiet forest. “I’ve fallen through the ice.”
Jo’s heart began to race. She knew the ice was still too thin to walk out on. “I’m heading your way. Hang on.” She motioned to her agitated dog. “Come on, Mollie. Let’s go.”
There was no clear trail, and Jo had to maneuver her snowshoes through thick bush and over fallen trees to find the quickest path. She was an expert navigator in the boreal forest, but her legs and hips ached as she hustled through the deep snow toward the lake. Mollie was used to accompanying Jo and found her own pathway through the fluffy powder.
It was a small lake, spring fed, and Josephine knew it well. Fifteen cottages lined the shore; she had once considered buying one. When Jo reached the shoreline, a red jacket stood out against the snow. It was near one of the cottages on the other side of the lake. She saw movement.
“I can see you,” Jo called out, trying to catch her breath. “Stay still and I’ll make my way along the shore.”
“I will,” the woman yelled back. “All I can see is the sky.”
“Are you hurt anywhere?” Jo squinted to get a better look at the woman in distress, but the sun obscured her view. “Should I call for help?”
“I’ll be okay if I can get back to solid ground.”
“I’ll be there in a minute. Hang tight.” Jo raced along the edge of the forest, Mollie close at her side. She knew it would have to be a snowmobile or helicopter rescue, if one was needed, because the road into the cottages hadn’t been plowed after the recent snowstorm. There wasn’t time anyway for saving someone right now on this deserted lake. Jo was her only hope.
Samantha’s feet were numb and her toes all but frozen. At least she’d worn heavy snow pants and a down parka, but she was starting to shiver. Uncontrollably. Smoke from the cottage chimney teased her nostrils as she envisioned the warm crackling fire within the pine walls. She shifted her shoulders and slush stung her neck. The ice was giving way again.
“Oh shit,” she said. “I’m sinking. Hurry.”
“Just hold on.” Crunching snow and heavy breathing were getting louder. “I’m coming!”
“There’s nothing to grip!” Sam flailed her arms, fruitlessly searching for something to grab onto as she began to slide into the water. “I’m falling in!”
The woman was close now, the ruffling of her movements giving Sam hope.
“Stay, Mollie.” Who the hell was Mollie? Sam heard barks and panting. Ah, the dog. “Grab my hands.”
Sam began hyperventilating as she struggled to reach out, the weight of her soaked snow pants pulling her into the water. “I can’t.” The ice crumbled more. “Help me! Please!” Her arms thrashed through the air, unable to reach anything.
“Let me try something else. I’m going to crawl out to you.”
“No, you’ll fall in too.” Sam heard the swish of something being flung toward her.
“Just wait.” There was another crunching of snow. “I’ve thrown my snowshoes onto the ice. I’ll use them for support as I crawl toward you.” Sam felt a tug at the hood on her parka. “I’ve got you. Reach back and grab my arms.”
Sam reached backward over her head and clamped onto arms. “I’ve got you.”
“You’re pulling me in!” Sam felt the woman wriggling and started to let go. “No, keep holding on. Come, Mollie. Help me.”
The barking dog got closer, and then began to growl as though tugging at a toy. “That’s it Mollie. Pull on my snow pants. Pull.”
“I think this is working.” Sam shifted her hips as she slid out of the water and along the snow. “Pull, Mollie! Whoever you are.”
“She’s my golden retriever. Your savior.”
“Who the hell are you then, besides my guardian angel?”
“I’m Josephine. You can call me Jo. What’s your name?”
“Sam. Samantha White.”
“Try to help me more, Sam.” Her voice was comforting, encouraging. “I know you can do it. Keep moving your hips and ease back toward me. That’s it. We’re almost there.”
The hard wooden boards digging into Sam’s shoulders gave her a sense of security, despite the pain. Arms jammed under her shoulders and then hoisted her up onto the snow-covered dock, where she rested for a moment, breathing. Alive.
Then Sam rolled around and clung to the woman who’d just saved her life. “Thank you.” She buried her face into a strong shoulder and kissed the fabric of a navy parka.
“We need to get you inside.” The woman began pulling away and stood. Sam watched her grab snowshoes from the ice then stand, dangling them at her side. A goddess dressed for the cold, fluffy white fur surrounding red cheeks buried in the navy hood, strands of blond hair sticking out onto her forehead. Blue eyes twinkled in a ray of the fading sun. A snow queen had just rescued her.
“Good girl, Mollie.” Jo bent over and hugged her dog, its tail sweeping snow on the dock. Her attention went back to Sam, the blue eyes piercing. “Can you stand?”
“I think so, but I’ll need some help. My pants are starting to freeze.”
Jo’s gaze followed the trail to the cottage then settled on the smoke coming out of the chimney. “How long have you been on the ice?”
“Not long at all.” Sam struggled to get up, the rigid legs on her pants restricting her movements.
“Let’s get these off.” Sam felt hands reaching up inside her jacket, undoing her heavy pants, and then yanking them down. Her jeans beneath were damp, but not yet frozen. “See if you can stand now.” Sam grabbed onto Jo’s arms again and managed to stand.
She let out a deep breath, giddy with relief. “Thank you, Jo. I can’t wait to put another log on that fire.”
Jo held onto Sam as they made their way up to the cottage. “We might have to spend the night. I don’t imagine your road has been plowed out, and it’s a long walk back to my truck. I’d rather not do it in the dark. I hope you have an extra bed.”
“Nope.” Sam hobbled toward the cottage, feet numb in her wet socks. “You’ll have to sleep in mine. With me.”
A warm fire was still crackling in the woodstove when Jo maneuvered Sam into the cabin’s pine-paneled interior. Daylight was beginning to fade, so Jo clicked on the kitchen light to brighten up the small room that smelt of smoke. Mollie plopped next to the fire while Jo helped Sam to the nearest chair and began to undress her.
“I think this is a first,” Sam said through chattering teeth. “We’ve known each other less than thirty minutes and you’re already taking my clothes off.”
“Very funny.” A sudden awkwardness descended. Jo’s gaydar had never been all that great and the last thing she was looking for now was another partner. That is, if Sam was a lesbian too.
Jo looked up. The woman was indeed attractive, with her piercing brown eyes, short, disheveled hair, and dimples that expanded with every smile.
“How old are you?” Sam asked.
“Wow, I thought you were younger.” Sam hugged herself and shivered as Jo helped her out of her wet jeans. “You have a great body for an older woman.”
“Are you always this direct?”
“Why waste time? I’m thirty-seven, in case you’re interested.”
“Well, I’m not.” Jo grabbed an old quilt draped over a rocking chair next to the woodstove. “Let’s get you wrapped in something warm. I’ll hold up this blanket while you strip out of your underwear.”
“Aren’t you going to help?” Sam smirked.
“No.” Jo fought off the urge to walk out on this preposterous situation. She looked over at Mollie relaxing by the fire while Sam finished undressing.
Sam took hold of the thick blanket and wrapped herself in it. “Thanks. It feels good to be out of those wet things.”
“I’m wet too.” Jo’s cheeks burned at her bad choice of words.
Sam held out the edge of her quilt. “Well, why don’t you strip then, and we could keep each other nice and toasty under here.”
Jo folded her arms across her chest, trying to control her anger. “You’re unbelievable. You don’t even know me and have no right to be making those kinds of remarks. Keep it up and I’ll walk through the bush in the dark to get back to my truck if I have to.”
“I’m sorry.” Sam lowered her head, cheeks reddening. “You’re right. I don’t know you. You just saved my life and I guess I’m still in shock.”
“That doesn’t give you the right to make assumptions about me.”
“I know.” Sam dropped into the rocking chair, her dimples deflated. “I’m sorry for being so crude. I have no right to be like that. Please accept my apology.”
Jo shrugged and sat on the floor next to Mollie. She began to massage her dog’s floppy ears, taking comfort in the soft skin and fur. Her clothes were still damp, but she was damned if she’d try to get out of them now. She should have been almost home by this time.
“Can we start over?” Sam fidgeted in her chair. “I promise to be good from now on. Besides, I’m getting hungry. We should eat. I made a pot of chili this morning—it’s been warming all afternoon. I hope you like chili.”
So that’s what was cooking. The garlic aroma had been teasing her taste buds ever since they got inside. “I’m vegetarian.” Jo kept her focus on Mollie.
“Good. It’s vegetarian chili.” Sam’s chair squeaked against the floor as she rocked.
“You’re a vegetarian?”
The dimples broadened “No, not at all. I’m a carnivore, but I prefer vegetarian chili.”
“What can I give Mollie? She’s used to dog food. She needs a water dish too.”
“Grab some bowls out of the cupboard.” Sam motioned to one with the door slightly ajar.
“I wouldn’t want to use your dishes for my dog.” Jo caught a faint whiff of varnish as she pulled open the door to three small shelves of mismatched dishes.
“I don’t have anything else,” Sam said. “Besides, she’s special in this cottage. Get water from the tap and grab a steak or two out of the fridge to feed her. She can sleep in my bed, too, if she wants. You can put her between us if you like.”
She actually expected them to sleep together? Jo took one of the bowls and gave Mollie a drink then looked in the crowded fridge. A big carton of orange juice almost fell out as she tried to find something for Mollie. “Is anyone else staying here with you?”
“Nope. Just me. I’ll be here for a while, so thought I’d stock up.” Sam’s chair kept up a steady rock.
“I see.” Jo took out a plate of cooked chicken breast covered in cellophane and held it up. “Okay if I give this to Mollie?”
“For sure. Give her whatever.” Sam stood, her chair continuing to rock without her as she clutched the quilt. “I think you should get out of your wet clothes too. You’re shivering. I have extra sweats and shirts in my room that should fit. I’ll get them.”
Jo followed Sam into the tiny bedroom that smelled sweetly of damp pine. It had a queen bed in the middle, a small chest of drawers against the wall, and hooks full of clothes behind the door. A window looked out over the lake, light fading with the setting sun.
Sam handed Jo an armful of clothes. “You can have a hot shower before changing. My grandfather had a well and septic system installed years ago, so it’s not really like roughing it.”
“That would be nice,” Jo said, “but I think you should go first. You’re still full of goose bumps.”
“All right. Please make yourself comfortable. Eat whatever you want and relax by the fire. I won’t be long.”
Jo left the dry clothes on the bed and sat by the woodstove while Sam went into the bathroom. She realized she’d better call her mother to let her know she wouldn’t be home tonight. They didn’t live together, but since Jo often worked alone in the bush, her mother insisted she check in at the start and end of each day she was out by herself. She pulled out her cell phone—three bars. It was usually harder to get a good signal this far out.
Her mother picked up on the second ring, TV blaring in the background.
“Jo! I’m glad you’re home. It’s supposed to snow again tonight, and I was beginning to worry about you getting stuck in the bush.”
“I’m not at my place. I’m staying in a cottage at Button Lake.”
“Button Lake.” Her mother gasped and the television suddenly silenced. “Nobody stays there in the winter. What happened? Did you get stuck and have to break into a cottage?”
“No.” Jo sighed. “It’s a long story. I had to help a woman at one of the cottages. There wasn’t time to get back to my truck before dark and she offered to let me stay.”
“She’s out there by herself? Who is she?”
“Her name is Samantha White, and she’s at one of the cabins on the south side of the lake.” Jo looked at the small Arborite table beside the kitchen counter. “She said it was her grandfather’s.” She glanced toward the bathroom door, the taps turning on. “It has running water and everything. It’s really cozy on the inside with pine walls and ceilings.” Jo scanned her surroundings, a few framed bird prints hanging by the woodstove—probably pages from an old calendar.
“I know that cottage,” her mother said. “The owner’s name was Roy. I heard his granddaughter is a lesbian.”
“Mom, you say it like there’s something wrong with her. Don’t forget that I’m a lesbian too.”
“I knew it.” Sam stood outside the bathroom door, a large towel wrapped around her.
Jo cringed. “I have to go. I’ll call you later.”
“Be careful, dear. You don’t know this woman.”
Jo put the phone down, cheeks burning. “I thought you were in the shower.”
“I almost was, then remembered the chili needs a stir.” Sam smiled. “Do you still live with your mother?”
“Of course not.” Jo’s jaw tightened as she moved toward Mollie. “I needed to let someone know where I am.” She knelt on the rug and reached for the soothing fur. Mollie’s back was hot from the fire.
A spoon clanked against the pot as Sam stirred the chili. “So you live by yourself?”
“No.” Jo turned away, hoping Sam would just go back in the bathroom.
“Well, who do you live with, then?” Sam hovered in the doorframe.
“That’s none of your business.” She lived with Mollie, which was enough. She didn’t want to talk about her love life, or lack thereof, with anyone, let alone this strange woman.
“I’m trying to make conversation, that’s all.” Sam retreated into the bathroom, the door closing. Water splashed as the shower turned on.
Jo sat by the fire and contemplated walking to her truck in the fading light instead of spending the night sleeping here with Sam. Her clothes were wet, though, and it wouldn’t be safe. She was stranded for the night.
The bathroom door eased open and a refreshed woman emerged from the mist. Jo had lingered in the shower, and Sam was pleased to see her looking much more relaxed after a long soak.
“It smells so good in here.” Jo’s nostrils flared, her stomach growling loud enough for Sam to hear. “Oops. Sorry.” She patted herself.
Sam lay sprawled on the floor beside Mollie and the fire, petting the tail-thumping golden retriever. “You have a beautiful dog. How long have you had her?”
Jo knelt beside Mollie and stroked her. “It’s already been three years. She’s a good friend. The best, actually.”
“I can see that.” Sam tried not to stare at Jo’s feathery blond hair, the tips still wet from the bath. “She’s so gentle and well-behaved.”
“Golden retrievers make good pets and are great companions. She’s very smart too.”
“It was unbelievable how she helped you on the dock. You must have trained her well.”
“I had to. She’s often my only partner when I’m working in the bush. We rely on each other.”
“And when you’re not working in the bush? Who’s your partner then?”
“I think it’s time to eat.” Jo stood and shuffled to the kitchen stove. She stirred the chili, sniffing a steaming spoonful. “Mmmm. I can’t wait.”
As they worked in silence to get things ready for dinner, Sam contemplated Jo’s reluctance to discuss anything personal. She sensed sadness in Jo, the way she ignored the question about having a partner. Had someone broken her heart?
It took less than five minutes to set the small dining table, including lit candles and full wineglasses that gave a romantic aura to the comfortable cottage in the middle of the bush. Mollie stayed next to the fire while Jo and Sam ate.
Jo dipped a piece of bread into her bowl. “This is really good. I love chili with bran and lots of vegetables. You’re a good cook.”
“Thanks.” Sam smiled.
“I don’t picture you as the type of person who likes to cook.” Jo sipped her red wine. Her cheeks were beginning to flush an attractive shade of pink.
Sam nibbled at her bun. “My talents are better outside the kitchen, but I do have a few favorite recipes I can manage to whip up.” She looked up and caught Jo’s gaze. “Do you like to cook?”
“Sometimes, especially in winter. It always helps warm me up when I eat a good hot meal on a cold day.”
“Like today?” Sam sure felt like Jo was warming up, the way she seemed to be enjoying dinner. Heck, so was she. She was certain she was blushing.
Jo cleaned the bottom of her bowl with the last of her bun. “Yep. This was really good. Thanks.”
“What kind of food do you like to make?”
Jo played with her paper napkin, straightening out the wrinkles and folding it into little squares. “Just about anything vegetarian. I especially like Asian and East Indian dishes.”
“So do I.” So they shared similar tastes in food. That was a plus.
Sam listened to the fire crackling and Mollie’s soft snoring from her place by the stove. It seemed surreal, as though their meeting was meant to be.
Jo got up and began to clear the table, a perfect guest. She carried their bowls to the kitchen sink and filled it with soap and water. She found the small dish drainer in the cupboard beneath the sink, putting it on the counter as though a familiar routine.
Sam got up to help, taking the rest of the chili out of the pot and putting it into a bowl for the fridge. There was barely enough room for the two of them to work together in the small kitchen as she constantly hit against the table edge in her effort to give Jo some room.
Sam was impressed with the way Jo took control. Her confidence, her bravery out on the lake this afternoon was outstanding. And now here she was again, taking lead on the simple task of initiating cleanup after supper. She seemed so self-assured, so in control.
“Who else do you cook for, besides yourself?” Sam asked. She was going to find out if this woman was single, dammit.
Jo buried her hands in the suds. “I often make extra for my mother.”
“Does she live near you?” She picked up a dishtowel and dried a few utensils.
“Not really, but it’s all relative, I guess. Timmins isn’t that big, so it doesn’t take long to run back and forth between our places.”
Sam reached for the bowl, dripping and still warm from the water as she began to dry it. She felt like they were on a first date—a good one at that. “What’s your place like?”
“I live on a five-acre property.” Jo started washing a wineglass as the blackened window above the sink covered in steam. “It’s on the outskirts of town.”
“Wow. But don’t you find it lonely living in the country by yourself?” Sam liked living in a city, even though she was enjoying being out in the bush right now.
“Not at all.” Jo glanced toward the stove where Mollie lay on her side, legs stretched out and eyes closed. “I have Mollie to keep me company, and my life’s too busy to get lonely.”
Sam tilted her head. She was so glad this confident and attractive woman had come to her rescue. “What keeps you so busy?”
“My work. That’s my life these days, and I love what I do, so it’s a good fit.”
“Were you working today?”
“Of course.” Jo tackled the big pot from the chili, water splashing as she scrubbed at the bottom. “I noticed you have a lot of food in your fridge. How long are you here for?”
“For at least the next month.”
“Okay.” Jo rinsed the pot and handed it to Sam to dry. “And then what?”
“I’ll go back to my place in Toronto.” She didn’t want to think about that for now. Her life back there was so pathetic, given her recent breakup and history of superficial relationships with younger women. Now, as she chatted with this self-assured woman, Sam felt herself warming to the prospect of getting to know someone so much more mature than what she was used to. It was even a bit intimidating.
“When did you bring all of your stuff here?” Jo finished with the dishes and went over to wipe down the table. She was clean too—another mark in her favor.
“I drove it in on Wednesday, before all the snow.” Sam put the pot away and hung her towel to dry. “I thought the plows would have been here by now.”
“They don’t keep this road plowed in winter,” Jo said. “Didn’t you know that?”
“Wait, what? You’ve got to be kidding. I can’t stay out here all winter.”
“Well, your car will have to unless you pay someone to plow it out.” Jo folded her arms and leaned against the counter in front of the sink.
“It’s not a car. It’s a four-wheel drive SUV. I thought it would be good for northern roads and that’s why I bought it. Shit. What am I going to do now?”
All of her plans, out the window. She had planned to go into town every few days, do some shopping, stock up on groceries. Maybe even have a coffee in a place that vaguely resembled civilization. Now…
Jo was looking down at her cell phone. “We’re getting more snow tonight. I can put you in contact with a grader operator if you want. It probably won’t happen for a few days, though, because everyone will be busy opening up hauling roads. Even my truck will most likely be snowed in for a day or two.”
Sam squeezed her fidgeting hands together in an effort to calm down. “How did you drive your truck out here today?”
“I took one of the logging roads on the other side of the lake.” Jo clicked off the light over the sink and headed toward the woodstove.
“I could use the logging road to get in and out of my cottage, then?” Sam followed as Jo sat down on the braided rug beside Mollie.
Jo shook her head, patting the dog’s side. “I doubt it, unless you’re good with a compass and want to hike for over an hour each way through thick bush. Wow, I can’t believe how hot she is.”
“What if I have a compass?” Her grandfather’s was on the bookshelf, beside his binoculars. Surely one of the books would teach her how to use it.
“I don’t imagine you have a block heater and even if you did, there’d be no place to plug your vehicle in.” Jo folded her knees under her arms. “When the temperature drops out here, you’ll never be able to start it without a block heater.”
Sam plopped into the rocking chair. “I’m really fucked, then. I thought I could stay out here for the month and go into town every few days. I have no intentions of becoming a hermit. I need Internet access and there’s none here except for my phone. Which doesn’t always get the best signal.”
Jo shrugged her shoulders. “I guess you’ll have to go back to Toronto, then.”
“Nope. Not happening.” She would find a solution. She had to. Going back after everything was just…nope. Not now.
“Then you’ll have to find a place to rent in town, because you can’t stay out here unless you want to buy your own grader.”
“Maybe I’ll get a snowmobile,” Sam said.
“My suggestion would be to rent a room in town and buy a pair of snowshoes so you could hike in on the weekends. What are you doing out here by yourself, anyway?”
“I needed to get out of town.”
“So you’re hiding out.” Jo rested her chin on her knees, looking almost like a kid, gazing up with those big blue eyes. “You’re not running from the law, are you?”
“No.” Sam sighed. “It’s…complicated.”
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