Thank you to everyone who has been reading my books, promoting my titles, and writing reviews. You are appreciated more than you realize! I have a new release just about ready and will fill you in within the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, take a break and enjoy a flash fiction smile.
A Blessing in Disguise
After her five-hour, white-knuckled trip, Mandy pulled into a semi-plowed parking space. With a sigh of relief, she turned off the car’s engine. Big fluffy flakes of snow were beautifully swirling. Sliding around the highway, however, was no way to enjoy the scenery.
Though a snowstorm had been predicted, its magnitude was a surprise. A multitude of accidents made driving treacherous with drivers unable to maneuver the roadways. Even the snowplows were having trouble navigating.
On her way to look at a house for sale in a new town, Mandy was disappointed that driving conditions forced her to get a hotel room, yet relieved to have found a hotel. She was trudging to the back of the car to get her luggage when a ball of snow whizzed past her ear and splatted against the rear window. Exhausted and one-hundred-twenty miles from her planned destination, Mandy was in no mood for a snowball battle. With a scowl, she turned to locate the origin of the icy, white missile.
Covered in snow, a laughing woman waived and approached Mandy.
“Sorry! I was aiming for the lamp post.”
Despite her initial irritation, a smile tugged at Mandy’s lips. “No problem. Are you the welcoming committee?”
“I am today,” the lady answered. “I’m Bev.”
Bev’s forest-green eyes radiated warmth despite the frigid temperature. Her cheeks were the same shade as her red parka. Dark, damp curls escaped the hood of her jacket, and were fringed with snowflakes.
“Hi, I’m Mandy.”
“Where are you headed?” Bev asked.
“Lewistown,” Mandy answered. “I’m looking for a new home there.”
“I live in Lewistown,” Bev said. “Maybe we’ll be neighbors!”
“It’s possible,” Marcy said. “I’m still house hunting.”
“I can fill you in on all the Lewistown gossip.”
Mandy opened the trunk and like an old friend, Bev reached for the duffle bag. Mandy grabbed her briefcase and an overfilled tote. She followed Bev toward the hotel’s entrance.
“After you check in, you can help me finish my snowman.” Bev pointed to a mound of snow.
Aware that the ache had disappeared from her forehead, Marcy said, “It has been years since I built a snowman.”
“Then it’s time for you to re-visit the joys of frosty fingers and a runny nose.” Bev tilted her head. “Listen!”
Mandy listened, though for what she didn’t know.
Bev scrunched her forehead and pursed her lips. “I thought I heard something earlier, but it stopped before I could figure out where it was coming from.”
Then Mandy heard a squeak that became a soft wail. Motionless, the women tried to pinpoint the source.
“There.” Mandy pointed to a dark-colored Buick parked in snow that rose halfway up the tires.
Bev dropped the duffle bag in front of the hotel’s revolving door and strode toward the icy car. Mandy dropped her luggage and followed.
After shuffling through the deep snow, Bev scrunched down and looked under the vehicle. She reached behind the car’s front wheel and captured a limp, soaked, gray kitten, covered with tiny ice balls.
“You poor little thing,” she murmured, and held the baby toward Mandy.
Mandy took the half-frozen creature, wiped away the snow and ran her fingers over the cold little body to loosen ice chips that stuck to the fur. She unzipped her jacket and tucked the kitten inside. Nestled between her flannel shirt and wool jacket, the shivering creature would warm up in no time. Mandy pressed her hand against the outside of the thick jacket to support the baby and pulled the zipper halfway up to create a cocoon.
“I wonder how long she’s been under there?”
“There aren’t any kitty footprints and I’m sure that car has been here all night. I would guess she’s been hiding since the storm started.” Mandy felt a slight vibration as the kitten purred. “Let’s hope this place allows pets. If they don’t, I’ll be sleeping in my car.”
Always an animal lover, it still surprised Mandy that it took her all of twenty-five seconds to fall in love with the warm little fur ball.
“Under the circumstances, I’m sure the hotel will be glad for any business,” Bev said. “Besides, she is adorable. Can you keep her?”
Mandy hesitated. With an upcoming move and a new job, how would she manage having a kitten to care for? And then she felt tiny needle-like pricks against her diaphragm. The kitten was getting comfortable and kneading the flannel shirt where she snuggled.
With a wide grin, Mandy said, “Of course, I’ll keep her.”
“In that case, consider her a housewarming present,” Bev said. “I’m in room 827. Call me when you get settled in.”
Without waiting for a response, Bev snatched the duffle bag and went inside. Still supporting the tiny ball of fur, Mandy hoisted the tote bag over her shoulder, grabbed her briefcase and strode to the front desk where her duffle bag was waiting.
“Good afternoon,” the desk clerk greeted. “Welcome to the Amadeus Hotel. How long will you be staying?”
“One night, if my colleague can stay, too.” She unzipped her jacket to allow a glimpse inside.
“No problem,” the clerk smiled.
Mandy got a turkey sandwich from the vending machine, then went to her room and fed some turkey to the kitten. She dumped the contents of her briefcase on the table, lined the empty case with a flannel shirt, and put the exhausted kitten in the impromptu bed, where the little critter promptly fell asleep. She called Bev.
“Hi,” Bev answered.
“Let’s make the best snowman ever!” Mandy replied.
“Afterward, we can have dinner and I’ll fill you in on life in Lewistown,” Bev said.
With a lopsided grin, Mandy dashed outside. The snowstorm that wrecked her plans for the day had been a blessing in disguise. She had a new furry roommate, she liked Bev, and it had been a long time since she’d played in the snow.