Roxanne Hudson does not like Christmas. It’s cold, and quaint, and it comes with too many family obligations that take her away from where she really wants to be: continuing her trajectory as a rising star at her high-end fashion job in New York City. She’s got it all: a great job, a literally model-perfect boyfriend, a closet full of designer labels, and a brand new car that she hasn’t even bothered to drive—plus she just handed off some of her own fashion sketches the head of fashion at Vogue.
But this year might be Grandma Myrtle’s last Christmas, and Roxanne’s parents have begged her to spend the holiday in the family cabin at the foot of the Green Mountains. With her boyfriend Hunter away at a photo shoot overseas and her best friend Spencer coaxing her to take some time to herself, Roxanne decides to leave the comforts of the city behind and brave the Christmas commute—and the wilderness—to spend Christmas in Vermont. But when an uncomfortable phone call from Hunter starts her drive off the wrong way, Roxanne doesn’t anticipate the blizzard that will take her by surprise on the snowy roads—nor did she pack for it. When she finds herself rescued by a handsome park ranger who’s the exact opposite of everything she’s been working so hard to achieve, Roxanne might just discover there’s a little bit of Christmas magic waiting for her after all.
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One more time for those listeners just tuning in, the announcer boomed, his polished radio vibrato hammering into Roxanne’s ears on her now too-loud radio, we’re expecting at least a good 18 inches tonight, more in the mountain areas, and it won’t be stopping anytime soon. Expect roads to be closed north of Burlington, and forget the mountain passes. Buckle in, folks. It’s going to be a very cold and a very white Christmas. Ho ho ho!
The tight feeling in her neck had returned, and by the time the DJ’s voice had been replaced by a new tune–Winter Wonderland, Roxanne realized with a grimace—the snow was coming down so heavily that she could barely see the front of her car’s hood. Visibility was pretty much nonexistent, so she slowed to a crawl and flipped the windshield wipers as fast as they would go. The defroster was on full blast and barely making a dent in the frost accumulation on her windshield. She checked the in-dash navigation screen and saw that she was less than twenty miles from the turnoff to her family’s cabin. For a moment she felt the sweetness of relief, but it was short-lived when she checked her phone and discovered she had no signal…and that her battery was nearly dead. She must have been so distracted after the call with Hunter that she’d forgotten to attach it to the charger, not that it would do her a lot of good without cell service.
Roxanne grit her teeth and wished she had laser vision to cut through the sheet of white in front of her. If she could make it just a few more miles, she’d be there. If not, well, she just hoped that one of the two people she’d told where she was going would think to check on her and report her missing at some point before her body froze over in the Vermont tundra. Of course, Hunter was still in Europe and Spencer already imagined she’d be roughing in the wild so he probably expected she’d be out of reach anyway. Her parents would just assume she’d ghosted them.
Great. She imagined that meme of Jack Nicholson from The Shining, frozen in the topiary.
The snow kept falling faster and thicker, and the BMW’s slick city tires were having a hard time maintaining their grip on the icy road. The speedometer was hovering just below the 5mph mark and Roxanne was entering the last stretch of her drive when a dark blur moved suddenly across the windshield. It could just as easily have been a tree as a deer, but it was wider than a tree and larger than any deer she’d ever seen. Still, anything that cast a shadow that size was definitely not something that Roxanne should be driving toward. Out of instinct she stomped her foot on the brake, and immediately felt the car give way beneath her as it slid out of control. She spun once, then twice, each time skidding loudly to the right. Roxanne screamed in fright, and just as the car was making its third rotation the driver’s side slammed into something hard and unseen, causing an abrupt stop. Her head hit the window, a curious sound of sleigh bells jingled in her ears, and then everything white turned instantly to black.