Playing Hooky Setting: A Winter Wonderland


Picture credit goes to A Few of My Favorite Things blog


Research taught me that I can't just add a bunch of snow and cold wind and call it an Alaskan winter. Negative 40 degrees requires special gear: thermal long underwear, polar jackets, lined rubber boots... And that's just to go from your car to the grocery store. Any long-term exposure needs a lot more planning.

Cattle are kept indoors during the winter, and skis are used to navigate the university campus in Anchorage. Studded tires are an absolute must for your car.

I discovered that an Alaskan winter is really a whole new world, and I wish, wish, WISH we could live there. I want to stay on Kodiak Island, where Emma & Jason are from, and go to the week-long Whale Festival and hike in the woods to see the Kodiak bears.

I want to go fishing and mountain biking and kayaking like Emma & Jason do every summer, and I want to get all bundled up and drink hot cocoa in the winter.



EXCERPTS:

EMMA'S POV
TALL WITH WIDE shoulders, Jason is muscular from hard labor (construction and welding) and athletic adventures (kayaking and mountain biking). The perpetual scruff movie stars work hard to perfect shadows his jaw, and his tousled black hair kept short. He cuts it every week because it grows too fast, like at least a half inch a day. With the hazel green eyes and the confident grin he usually wears, he’d make any girl swoon.


Well, any girl but me. I’d more likely hit him upside the head with a broom than swoon over him.

“Coffee’s in the kitchen. I need to get dressed and showered; then we can go for pastries at the bakery around the corner.” Just off campus, there’s a scrumptious little shop, but I never have time in the mornings. I turn back to my room but then stop. “Oh, how do I need to dress for the day?”

“Sure.” He runs his hands through his hair, but his eyes are too busy following my ass to pay attention to anything I said.

“Jason.” I snap my fingers. “Up here. What do I need to wear?”

His gaze shifts to my face, and he grins, not even having the decency to flush. “Dress warm.”

Good. So we’re going to have an adventure.


JASON'S POV
OUTSIDE, A BRISK wind brushes against my skin, bringing the flavors of winter—cold snow and log fires and something ancient that stirs a longing in my blood.

But today, Emma is with me, and I can ignore the hollow ache around my heart. The angry fire burning inside my gut calms in her presence.

She’s short, barely coming up to my shoulder, and she has the cute little nose and the short, blonde curls of a cheerleader. Only hers are uncombed and wild.

If I told her how she’d make a cute cheerleader, she would tear me apart. She could flay a man alive with that sharp tongue of hers. And I love every stormy minute of having her as my best friend.

Leading her out to my truck, I watch her hips sway and appreciate how she fills out her faded jeans—the ink stains on the thighs and the dirt at the cuffs indicate she grabbed them off the floor of her room. She’s bundled into her white ski jacket with the fur trim, and the only patch of skin I can see is around her eyes, but I can’t help but think of those pink cotton panties riding up her right cheek and giving me a glimpse of the best ass I’ve ever seen.

My big blue truck with its studded tires waits in the back of the parking lot. My mom has loads of money, but I bought a fixer-upper, an old run-down truck with even more broken parts than rust spots.

With a shiny coat of blue paint and the Hemi engine I added, you’d never know what a sorry state it was in when I first dragged it home by way of tow truck. Mom only shook her head and said, “Just keep it simple.”

She meant don’t add any magic to it, but she needn’t have worried. I wanted to make it run using sweat, grime, and my own two hands. Now I own my own car shop, and I do paint detail work and restore old cars, turning junk into art. Then I sell the cars on eBay and ship them all across the country.

Fixing and customizing cars—that’s my winter job, when tourist season is over and the snow traps me inside, but all summer, I lead tours around our Kodiak Island. People pay loads of money to anyone who will help them take pictures of whales and bears or find the best fishing spots.

“How forlorn he looks. I think he missed us.” I pat the roof of the truck.

“It’s a car.” Emma laughs and tosses two sets of skis into the bed of the truck. This is Alaska. Don’t leave home without them.

“Shh, it’s a truck and you’ll hurt his feelings.”

“I thought cars were all female.”

“Without boy cars, how will you get any baby cars?” I waggle my eyebrows at her and lean forward to catch a whiff of her scent. No perfume, just raw Emma scent.

She arches an eyebrow. “Oh, you finally figured that out, did you?”

I grin down at her. When we were kids, she explained the birds and the bees to me, but I insisted I washed up on the ocean beach. Emma never believed me.

When I got older, I learned we were both right.







Playing Hooky

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Valentine’s Day.

And my 21st birthday.

Whoop-de-doo.

Just another college day full of classes and more homework than is humanly possible.

…until Jason, my best-friend-since-kindergarten, shows up to take me out for the day.

Like old times: the two of us on a wacky adventure, playing hooky from real life. With his lopsided grin and tickets to a circus full of misfits and monsters, he introduces me to a whole new world—one full of magic and mystery—and turns my reality upside down.

Except nothing goes as planned, and we end up running through the city to find a missing siren before someone brews a love potion with her blood.

Sirens and love potions, witches and elves, and Valentine kisses. Nothing will be the same for me again.

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