❆ chapter nine

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When the sunlight had filtered through the windows, illuminating the row of mattresses and the bodies that lay on top of them, the rest of the household finally began to stir. Nevada had managed to wriggle out from beneath Sam, and she had escaped his grasp without alerting him to their compromising position. When the others woke up, the only ones who knew how they had ended up the previous night were Cassidy and Nevada; she wasn't sure Sam knew himself.

Within the next half hour, Sam and Nevada had dressed and made the trek up to the lodge. Helen was waiting for them the moment they stepped into the lobby, and Nevada didn't get the chance to brace herself before Helen strode into their line of sight.

"Hello, you two!"

Her bright grin was almost infectious, and she might've returned the smile if she'd felt more alert. The truth was that she could've used a few more hours to sleep, but once she had realized that Sam had fallen asleep on top of her, it had been impossible to push the thought from her mind. Every movement she made forced her to become keenly aware of his nose nuzzling her shoulder – of his leg rubbing against hers.

"Sleep well?"

Sam gave her a slow nod, though his own grin faltered. "We're good. You asked us to come over?"

"Yes." Helen waved them forward, and they followed her to the front desk. The receptionist glanced up once Helen clicked her nails on the counter, and she made the connection as to who they were. "This is Felicity."

"Hi, Felicity."

"Hello! We wanted to formally apologize to you and the rest of your cabin mates for the malfunction." She waited for Sam and Nevada to nod before continuing. "We've called for a technician, but it seems like something has come up. He won't be able to make the trip until tomorrow."

Nevada grimaced. The chill had begun to seep into the cracks of the cabin, forcing her body into permanent shivers. The fire wasn't enough to ward off the cold air, and she had hoped that someone would be able to look at the furnace as soon as possible. With each day that passed, it only prolonged the discomfort.

Helen caught onto their expressions. "We are very sorry about this," she said with a wince. "It wasn't something we knew was going to happen. But we can work around it for the time being. Felicity said that you can stay in the lobby tonight."

Though the offer was appreciated, Nevada couldn't see the difference between staying in the cabin or the lobby. It would provide more work for them, and the difference in temperature would be miniscule. Her gaze flickered to Sam, and it was clear he shared the same sentiment.

"Uh ... we appreciate the offer," he said. "Really. But I think we might just stick it out in the cabin. I mean, we have the fire running, so we should be fine."

Helen and Felicity exchanged a look.

"Are you sure? It wouldn't be a problem, Samuel."

"We're sure."

Nevada nodded, and it was her response that encouraged Helen to let it go.

She dropped her arm from the counter, her eyes flicking between them, then she gave them a quick nod. "If you say so. The technician will definitely be there tomorrow. In the meantime, feel free to call me if you change your minds. I'm always available – even if it's completely unrelated to this situation. I'm a call away."

"Thank you," Sam said, his voice genuine. "We do appreciate it."

"

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