Snowbound Sweetheart. Judy Christenberry
“You’re sure? I’ve never—”
“We’re not moving. Look for yourself.” He didn’t point out that her doubting his word was as insulting as his telling her what to do.
She took the map from him and studied it. Then, with an apologetic smile, she said, “You’re right. Now, if the traffic will only move a little bit, we can get out of this maze.”
“Just don’t be surprised if half of these drivers have the same idea,” he warned her.
“If half of them had the same idea, we’d at least be moving. I’m afraid the snowstorm will catch us before we can get out of town. Look at those clouds.”
She gestured over her shoulder and he realized she’d been watching the weather in the rearview mirror.
“Pretty ominous,” he agreed, “but maybe it’s lake effect clouds. I’ve heard it can increase the amount of snow. By the time it hits though, we should be out of Chicago.”
“I hope so. I think I’ll try to catch the latest weather report.”
She fiddled with the radio for several minutes, finally settling on one playing music. “I think this station gives a weather report on the hour.”
He checked his watch. They’d left at one-thirty and it was already almost two. They’d only gone a few blocks.
The weather report wasn’t good. It seemed the storm predicted for that evening had strengthened even more and was picking up speed. Now its estimated time of arrival was three o’clock.
Gil’s stomach clenched. He hadn’t been with a woman in a long time, but his wife had made little moans in bed when they’d first married, when making love had been important to her.
He didn’t want to be reminded.
“What’s making you tense?” he said.
She turned startled eyes on him. “I—what are you asking?”
“When I asked for a map, you said you were tense about something, but you stopped before you finished your sentence.”
“I really don’t think that’s any of your business,” she said stiffly.
“I guess not. But it made me curious.”
“I didn’t offer to satisfy your curiosity. Just to drive you to Oklahoma.” She stared straight ahead.
“Fine.” He crossed his arms over his chest. He didn’t need to listen to her problems anyway. He had some of his own.
“Where in Oklahoma do you live? Is it close to Interstate 44?”
“Yeah, pretty close, but if you get me to any major city, I can catch a flight out.”
“With the holiday traffic, that might not be true. What town do you live in?”
“You won’t have heard of it. It’s a little town south of Oklahoma City. Apache.”
“That explains it,” she said, a disgusted look on her face.
“You wanted to know what was making me tense? It’s going home to my brothers.”
“You don’t like your brothers?” he asked, even as he wondered why they were back on this subject.
“I love my brothers. But they’re always bossing me around. Just like you. That’s why I’m tense. And we live near Duncan, a few miles from Apache. I guess that’s why you remind me of them.”
“Then we’re even,” he replied, his voice tight. “Because you remind me of my ex-wife, Amanda.”
She turned to gape at him, her eyes wide, just as the driver behind them sat down on his horn.
The traffic had begun to move.
Gil sighed. It was going to be a long ride home.
Lindsay glared in her rearview mirror at the impatient driver behind her. Not that she could blame him, but she didn’t like his rude reminder.
It made her think of the man sitting next to her.
She inched the car forward. “Why did you say that?”
“Because it’s the truth.”
“I didn’t know you’d been married before. Kathy never mentioned it.” She reviewed their conversations about Gil. Kathy had raved about her wonderful brother, but a sister-in-law had never been mentioned.
“You and Kathy discuss me?” His question was abrupt, clipped, as if the idea of her discussing him offended him.
“No, I don’t discuss you, but Kathy talks about you a lot.”
“Maybe the subject didn’t come up because Kathy hated my ex. Especially after the divorce.” He stared out the window. “Madison is just ahead.”
His reminder irritated her even more. “I haven’t forgotten.”
Nothing more was said until after she, along with a number of other cars, made the turn onto Madison, but their speed did pick up from a standstill to a slow crawl.
“Why do I remind you of your ex? Kathy and I get along just fine,” Lindsay said.
“You remind me of my ex because you’re wearing a dressy suit to make a fifteen hour drive in less-than-pleasant circumstances.”
Lindsay stared at him. “Your ex-wife made a lot of long drives in suits?”
“You can go now,” he said, nodding to the road in front of them, not answering her question.
Lindsay kept her gaze on the road, determined not to be caught lagging again.
She was startled when he actually answered her question. She hadn’t expected him to.
“My wife didn’t make long drives. But she always insisted on being fashionably dressed no matter what the circumstances.”
Lindsay thought the man was being rather hard on his ex-wife. After all, there was nothing wrong with wanting to look one’s best. But she wasn’t going to argue with him about it.
“Look at the map and figure out which road it would be best to take to get to the highway,” she suggested, keeping her gaze on the traffic. “The sooner we get on the interstate, the better off we’ll be.”
“And you’re willing to take my word for it?” She ignored the temptation to glare at him. If she did, she’d get honked at again. Or barked at by her companion.
He studied the map and suggested she take the next crossroad, Central Avenue. It only took a couple of minutes to reach the intersection and make the turn, but she gasped as she swung the car into the appropriate lane.
“What?” he asked sharply, staring at her.
“The snow’s here,” she muttered, watching a large flake settle against the windshield.
After a moment of silence, he asked, “Want to turn back? Have you changed your mind?”
“No! I’m going on, but you can change your mind, if you want.”
“Not me. I want to get home.”
“Why did you come to Chicago if you hate it here so much?” It wasn’t that she didn’t understand his attitude toward big cities. Her brothers all reacted the same way, even to Oklahoma City, which couldn’t compare to Chicago for traffic jams and hordes of people.
Even she—But she shut that thought away. She couldn’t afford to admit her