Copy of Winter Storm by April Kelley - PART 3 & Giveaway
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Josh Ainsley is one of those teachers who goes above and beyond. When he agrees to deliver a day’s worth of homework to a student’s house, it’s not exactly out of character. So what if the student’s father is one of the hottest people Josh has ever seen? Operation homework drop turns into a rescue mission when he gets caught in a snowstorm and subsequently snowed in with one sexy dad. Who says good deeds go unrewarded?
For Max, snow meant extra money in his savings account. Throughout his years, he had learned not to rely on the money he made from plowing driveways. Some years the snow barely fell, and other years he couldn’t move it fast enough. But he had limited his clientele to only a few when Lenn got sick and hadn’t increased his clientele even years after his husband’s death.
Single parenthood had taken a lot more time and energy than when Lenn had been alive. Max hadn’t appreciated how plugged in Lenn had been as a parent. Not telling him how thankful he felt was one of his biggest regrets. So much so, if he could go back just long enough to say it and maybe kiss him one last time, he would give almost anything.
Max already had his truck in four-wheel-drive, so he backed out of the driveway and headed down the road.
As soon as it stopped snowing, he would have at least two days of work clearing his clients out. First, he had to save Ari’s very hot teacher.
Max hadn’t had the time to even think about dating and hadn’t wanted to after Lenn died. It didn’t matter if death separated them. They would always have love between them. So Max wasn’t exactly trying very hard.
He would make time for Josh Ainsley.
He’d never met a prettier man. Even Lenn would have agreed. Hell, they would have had a conversation about it in the truck on the way home. Max could practically hear Lenn in his mind. He would have started the conversation. Max would have agreed, and then Lenn would have said they needed to rethink dating as a couple. They both would have chuckled, and the subject would move on to something else until the next time they saw Josh again.
Max smiled at the same time he rubbed his chest. He missed Lenn. They’d been great together.
Max’s street hadn’t been as bad, but then the wind had been in his favor. All that changed as soon as he turned onto the main road. The drifts were bad enough that a person needed four-wheel-drive. Anything less would get them stuck. And then the wind blew the snow around, making visibility low at best and nonexistent at times.
Those who were out in this mess had to make the trip home from work. Everyone else was inside their houses. The lack of vehicles made it feel apocalyptic, but it did every year when winter was fierce.
Josh hadn’t been very far away. Maybe three miles from Max’s house, and he was easy to spot even with the blowing snow because his car was right where he said it was, and it was also black.
Unfortunately, Josh had driven right into the ditch. Because of where the car sat, Josh probably had no idea where he was. A tow truck would get him out as soon as the weather cleared enough. The car appeared undamaged, but time would tell for sure.
Max had to park his truck further away than he would have liked. He would have probably made it through but taking the chance of getting stuck seemed counterproductive. He parked the truck without shutting off the engine, making sure his hazard lights were on, and then braved the icy cold wind.
The snow came to his knees in some places. Thankfully he had the right clothing, so he would keep from getting chilled and wet. The air felt like ice on his exposed skin, whipping against him, making each step difficult.
As soon as he got to Josh’s car, he pulled open the driver’s side door. A warm blast of air washed over him as he leaned in, and Josh blinked at him.
He had a cell phone up to his ear and said, “Ari, your dad is here. Thank you for staying on the phone with me.” A second later he pressed the button and put his phone in his bag.
“Go ahead and shut off the engine.” Between the blasting heater and the wind whipping around outside, Max had to yell.
The whole time Josh moved around, turned the key, and put it in his bag, Max assessed what Josh wore. He hadn’t exactly dressed for knee-deep snow. At least not from the waist down. He had dress pants on. They would get wet for sure.
Max held out his hand when Josh appeared as if he were going to get out of his vehicle. Josh took it, and Max did his best to stabilize him. When Josh stood, Max let go of his hand and wrapped his arm around Josh’s waist. He closed the car door and lifted him as much as he was able, although it wasn’t enough to keep Josh from having to wade through the deeper drifts.
Josh clutched his bag in one arm and clung to Max with the other. When his gaze met Max’s, his expression was one of shock. Max wasn’t sure if Josh had figured out where his car was or if it was the snow’s depth.
Max tried for a smile, but with his face half-frozen and red from the cold, he probably looked weird.
Josh smiled back right before he spoke, but the wind stole the sound.
Max leaned in until only an inch separated them.
“Thank you for coming,” Josh repeated.
Max pulled away just enough to meet Josh’s gaze and nodded.
Josh’s skin grew wind-burned the longer they stood there. Snow clung to his cap and parts of his scarf. They both must look as if they were two minutes away from hypothermia, but it didn’t seem to matter. Max couldn’t look away.
He wanted to kiss Josh, but he wasn’t sure of his welcome. It wouldn’t make a difference anyway because his face was so numb, he doubted he would feel the kiss, which would defeat the purpose of finding out how soft his lips were.
He averted his gaze, focusing on the task at hand, which was trudging through the deepening snow.
He wanted to kick himself for even thinking about stealing a kiss. He should at least know whether Josh was single and would welcome Max’s advances. Did he even want to date? Maybe he wasn’t looking for anything more than friendship.
And the bigger question: was Josh even attracted to men?
Max used to have good gaydar, but he hadn’t exactly honed that skill after meeting Lenn. He hadn’t needed it. Even after three years without him, Max hadn’t felt the skill was necessary. Meeting Josh changed his mind, though. There was something about Josh. He was willing to step out of the dark for one date, even if it didn’t lead anywhere.
His stomach knotted, thinking about putting himself out there again. He knew Lenn would like the path he was on, and maybe there was a level of comfort in that. He didn’t feel guilty and didn’t think he should. It was more about taking the chance on someone else, and his heart getting broken again because, yeah, Lenn’s death had shattered him.
What if Josh was worth taking the risk? That’s what he needed to find out, and the only way to do that was to take the leap and ask him out.
Max sighed, glad he couldn’t be heard over the wind. It was a cycle of fear he wasn’t sure he wanted to enter, although he had a feeling he already had.
After about halfway to his truck, Max had to set Josh on his feet. He winced when Josh shivered and cursed. Max wasn’t physically able to hold him for longer. They were about the same size, although Max was a couple of inches taller. He probably had a few pounds on Josh, but not enough to carry him for very long. Josh had a lean build, but he must work out because he was still mostly muscle, so he was heavy.
Josh was a trooper, though. He fisted his gloved hand around a section of Max’s coat to stabilize himself and kept pace. Max helped by keeping his arm around Josh’s waist.
It was slow going, but they made it to Max’s truck. He opened the passenger’s door for Josh and helped him inside before closing him in the warmth of the cab. Max walked around the front of the truck to the driver’s side and climbed behind the wheel.
Josh had his gloves off, and his hands cupped near one of the vents, taking in the warmth from the truck’s heater. His pants were wet from the knees down. He shook as the heat worked the ice out of his core.
He turned and smiled at Max. “That was a journey.”
Max chuckled and pulled his seatbelt around himself, clicking it into place.
Josh did the same. “Thanks again for coming to my rescue.”
“I’m glad you’re safe. Could have been worse.” Max put his truck in gear, backing up until he was away from the bigger drifts. He turned in the road since no vehicles were around.
“Unless you live close by, I’m going to go back to my house. If you have no objections.” He wasn’t sure what the road conditions were anywhere else and didn’t want to take the chance of putting them both at further risk.
“No, it’s fine. I live by the lake, and I can imagine how much worse the whiteout conditions are over my way.” That gave Max some idea of where Josh lived, so he knew he would have to drive by the lake. He could imagine what the roads were like there but didn’t want firsthand knowledge.
To Be Continued… on December 19th
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Thank you for reading Winter Storm, a MM small town romance novella. If you liked the book, please take the time to review it.
Don’t miss April Kelley’s next release, A Tarnished Strength. It’s the fourth book in the Pickleville Series.
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COPYRIGHT (c) 2020 by April Kelley
Cover Art by Once & Books
Cover content is for illustrative purposes only, and any person depicted on the cover is a model.
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the author’s written permission.
Published by Hard Rose Publishing
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
April Kelley is an author of LGBTQ+ Romance. Her works include The Journey of Jimini Renn, a Rainbow Awards finalist, Whispers of Home, the Saint Lakes series, and over thirty more. She’s a main contributor at Once and Books. April has been an avid reader for several years. Ever since she wrote her first story at the age of ten, the characters in her head still won’t stop telling their stories. If April isn’t reading or writing, she can be found taking a long walk in the woods or going on her next adventure.
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