Not Quite Crazy Page 2

“Monica isn’t buying it.”

“Monica doesn’t have to buy anything.”

“Like it or not, my wife cares. Neither she nor Mary will rest if they think you’re alone for Christmas.”

Since Trent and Monica had spent Thanksgiving in Texas with Monica’s sister and her family, and Glen and Mary were enjoying fried turkey on the California shores with Mary’s best friend, it was safe to assume Christmas would include someone in Connecticut. “So are they picking straws to see who is sticking around for Christmas?”

“We all are.”

“So why are they worried I’ll be alone?”

“They’re not. But Monica is going to come over this weekend to plan, and chances are, she’s going to read you the riot act for not joining Robert and Liz for Thanksgiving.”

“She’s coming to the ranch?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Because you have the biggest place, and if you’re hosting, you can’t flake.”

“I’m not a flake.”

“Easter.”

Jason thought back to the previous spring. “I was in London.”

“And what, you couldn’t get a flight home?”

“It didn’t make sense for me to fly home for dinner when I needed to be in meetings the following week.”

“Meetings you arranged at the last minute that only included a sprinkling of employees.”

“Fine.”

“Fine what?”

“We can have Christmas at the ranch.”

Trent laughed. “Was I asking?”

No, and he didn’t have to. The ranch was as much Trent’s as it was his.

“I have one condition.”

“Condition?” Trent didn’t sound convinced.

“Yeah. No blind dates.”

When Trent didn’t comment, Jason knew he’d pressed a button. “Trent?”

“I won’t set up anything.”

“You won’t let your wife set up anything either.”

Trent belly laughed. “Have you met my wife? I don’t tell her what she can or can’t do. It’s what keeps me aboveground.”

“I mean it, Trent. No setups in my own house.”

There was a pause. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Jason moaned.

“If you just brought your own date . . .”

“Yeah, yeah.” Outside his office window, he noticed the sky growing lighter. He stood at the glass and looked up. “Are you home?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Is it snowing?”

“Started about a half an hour ago.”

Jason frowned. “Was it in the forecast?” He usually paid attention to those things.

“Couldn’t tell you.”

He returned to his desk and clicked around his computer until he found his weather station. From the looks of the sky, he’d already lost his opportunity to helicopter home.

“If there isn’t anything else, some of us have to work.”

The sound of Trent’s dogs barking brought a smile to Jason’s face. “See ya.”

He hung up and found his eyes drawn to the window again. The season’s first snow was most often welcomed, but the last one was cursed . . . especially if it extended into spring.

Resigned to the long drive home, he returned to his desk and turned to the never-ending stack of papers he needed to sign.

Everything was fine, peaceful even, until Rachel reached the city limits. How so much snow could pile up in only five hours, she didn’t know. She hugged the right lane and let the natives in the area buzz past her on the left. She’d already sent a text to Owen, letting him know she would likely be home late. He responded with half a dozen emoticons ranging from snowflakes to snowmen. For him, the snow would be nothing but a reason to put the video game aside and get outside.

On the highway, the snow fell at a slow, even clip . . . almost like a sprinkle of rain. When she reached her exit, those tiny flakes turned into quarter-size monsters that settled on her windshield wipers like drifts of sand that didn’t want to wash away with the tide.

It didn’t take long for the asphalt to disappear, only to be replaced by the tracks of previous cars that had driven ahead of her.

“Slow and steady,” she repeated to herself.

Each stoplight was met with apprehension and white knuckles.

“Stay green.”

Her foot hovered over her brakes until she passed through. When she drove through the last town before the long stretch of nothing leading her home, it was after seven. Thankfully, the roads were all but empty.

She reached a stop sign at a crawl. For one brief moment her tires locked up, and she slid.

Her heart squeezed in her chest, even though there wasn’t any opposing traffic to hit. Rachel pumped her brakes until she managed a stop.

Closing her eyes, she sucked in a deep breath and continued on even slower than before.

“First thing tomorrow, chains.” Not that she knew how to put them on. How hard could it be?

Less than five miles from her neighborhood, Rachel loosened her grip on the wheel. Confidence that she wouldn’t be the California girl taken out by her first snow washed over her.

The two-lane road with its tiny hill gave her pause. She felt her tires spin at the base, and instead of staying in the slick tracks of the drivers before her, she inched to the side of the road and let her chainless treads grip the fresh snow.

Lights from a car behind her came up fast. Well, fast for the crawl she was doing.

One eye on her rearview mirror, one eye on the empty road in front of her, Rachel mentally told the other driver to go around.

She reached the top of the small hill as the driver behind her moved in close.

Lights blinded her briefly before the other car shifted to the side to pass.

At the crest of the hill, with no other illumination in sight, the other driver pulled around.

One second she was releasing a long-suffering sigh, the next her heart kicked hard in her chest.

The other driver lost traction, and the back end of their car started to slide.

Rachel hit her brakes, realized her mistake as it happened.

Everything spun a full circle before she managed to regain control. When she did, she was headed straight into the other car, which had settled in the ditch on the side of the road. She swerved, missed the car by inches, and came to rest beside the same ditch without dipping into it.

Her heart sped, her hands held the wheel in a death grip.

Lights from her rearview mirror told her the driver behind her hadn’t fared as well as she had.

She shoved her car into park and jumped out. The boots on her feet were meant for the office. She slipped as she walked back to the other vehicle.

“You okay?” she asked long before she reached the passenger door. For a brief second she didn’t see the man inside moving. She grasped the door handle and pulled.

Locked.

Then he looked up and shook his head before disengaging the lock.

“Are you okay?”

“Great, just great for a guy with his car in a ditch.” He looked up, and Rachel forgot to breathe.

Chapter Two

Jason wasn’t sure which had zapped him more, the fact that he’d managed to ditch his car or the bright blue eyes of the woman staring him down. No jacket, her light brown hair hung close to her face while snow settled on top of her uncovered head. Her cheeks were flushed with the cold, her lips . . . good lord, he needed to look past her lips or he’d start talking like a teenage kid with an instant crush. He blinked, breaking the contact, and moved to unbuckle his seat belt.

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