l_r_bauer presents: Snowed-In

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In retrospect, spending Valentine's Day alone in a cabin in the middle of the woods was not the best decision Sophie Perkins had ever made. When Anjalee, her best friend from high school, had offered up her husband's cabin as a writing getaway to finish her book, she'd described the house as rustic.

"It'll be perfect," Anjalee insisted when she handed over the keys and directions to the cabin. "There won't be any distractions."

During the two-hour long drive, Sophie had pictured herself curling up in front of a fire with a glass of wine and her notebook. Visions of the perfect writing retreat vanished when she'd arrived at the cabin to discover it had no internet and the heat wasn't working. She'd tried calling Anjalee for help fixing the heat, but the cabin was located too deep in the woods for her phone to get a signal.

"This is how horror movies always start," Sophie muttered to herself as she pulled on her winter coat and shoved her feet into her boots before stepping out into the cold night to collect wood from the wood pile behind the cabin.

Staggering a bit with the weight of the logs loaded into her arms, she trudged back through the ankle deep snow. Large fluffy flakes continued to fall from the sky. She paused a moment to admire the snow which covered the tree branches like icing. Despite being a pain to drive through, Sophie adored the way snow transformed the world into a magical wonderland. The cold began to seep into her fingers a minute later. Shivering, she hurried to the back entrance of the cabin and shouldered open the door.

Sophie heard a man's voice yelp in surprise right before the two of them collided into each other. She landed hard on her back, the pieces of wood flying from her arms. Wincing, she pulled herself to her feet. She snatched up a log and held it like a baseball bat as she approached the man who lay face down on the kitchen floor.

"I don't know who you are or what you're doing here, but I'm warning you that I'm armed," Sophie said, her voice shaking. She cleared her throat, striving to sound confident. "You have until the count of three to leave before I call the police."

She instantly regretted the threat when she remembered that her phone didn't have a signal. He doesn't know that though, she reminded herself. Stay calm, be firm, and don't panic.

"One."

The man stayed on the floor.

"Two."

He hadn't moved since he'd fallen. Oh no, had she killed him? Hesitantly, she knelt beside him to check to see if he was breathing.

"What happened to three?" the man asked with a groan as he rolled over onto his back.

Sophie gasped. "Max Gerhardt?"

"Sophie Perkins." A grin spread over his face.

"What are you doing here?"

Max pushed himself to his feet. Sophie noted with a frown that he towered over her. They'd been the same height in high school, but he'd grown a good six inches since she'd last seen him at their graduation ten years ago. "Could you please put down the log? I'm finding it hard to concentrate with the threat of you knocking me unconscious looming."

Not even realizing she still held it until he mentioned it, Sophie blushed in embarrassment and set the piece of wood she'd been brandishing on the countertop. "You didn't answer my question about what you're doing here. How did you get in? I know I locked the door."

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