Felicia Rawlins ran across the open parking lot, face turned away from the wind and flurries coming at her sideways, hard and fast. Her stylish high heeled boots slipped and slid in the deep snow as she closed the distance to her parked car.
“Oh shit,” she groaned, looking at the mini snow bank in front of her, the cute cherry red paint completely obscured by white.
She hit her remote and heard the door unlock as she picked her way over and around the ruts created by all the other employees who’d fled work before her. Using her arm, she swept the snow off the driver’s side window and cleared the door, opening up the red paint as if she’d just ripped wrapping paper down a box.
She had to pull on the door, hard, to break the ice seal between the door and frame. Hearing the interior chime and seeing the lights come on inside, made her day. When she dropped into the seat, there was no cushion, no give of springs. She might as well be sitting on a block of solid concrete.
Exhaling warm steam into the cold compartment, she shoved her key home and leaned in, stroking the dashboard, her voice coaxing. “Come on, baby. Start for me.” The engine roared to life and her shivering body sagged with relief. “Yes! I knew you could do it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Felicia cranked the defrost, directing whatever heat the engine would eventually generate at the windshield. When she climbed out of the car her foot slipped out from under her and she had to grab the frame to stay upright. Okay, now her heart was pounding. She was lucky she didn’t twist her ankle. Taking another icy breath, she reached behind the front seat for the scraper. It took five minutes to clear the snow from the car and windows. More than happy to call it good enough, she dove back inside. The rest would blow off as she drove—hopefully.
The interior was far from warm, but at least she didn’t see her breath anymore. She shook the snow off her head and hair then tapped her boots together on the floor before putting the car in gear. Fortunately, the parking lot was nearly empty so she was able to pull straight forward.
She glanced in the rearview mirror and noticed another car coming up behind her, both of them headed for the service road. Nothing was plowed yet. No doubt, the crews were focused on clearing major roadways first. As long as she took it slow and easy, she’d be fine.
Her first mistake was stopping at the parking lot exit when it was clear there was no one coming on the road. Not only did she lose her momentum, it was a jerky, sliding stop, and threw her back end to the left before the tires swung right again, in line with the front end. The car behind her slowed considerably, the driver shaking his head at her stupidity.
“Yeah, yeah,” Felicia muttered, pissed at herself.
She pressed the gas and her tires spun. Shit. Easing off the pedal, they finally grabbed and her car left the parking lot, moving straight even though her steering wheel was cranked to the right. Panicked, she gave it more gas and the entire car went into a wide spin. She saw her office building go winging by. Everything shifted on her so fast, and yet, she still managed to make eye contact with the other driver before he spun out of view. It was hard to say whose eyes were wider, hers or his. She was fairly certain she was the only one who screamed.
And then she stopped, her front end buried in the substantial snow bank running between the parking lot and the service road. The guy was out of his car, running and sliding toward her, his hands making loud contact with metal when he reached her fender. He patted his way to the driver’s side and she rolled her window down, feeling really stupid now.
“Are you all right?” he asked, clutching the neck of his coat closed tight around his throat. The guy needed a scarf.
“Yes. I’m fine. Buried, but fine.”
“Hang tight. Let me take a look.”
She nodded and closed her window a little to keep the blowing snow from coming in on her. Through her swishing wipers, she watched him bend over to investigate. He raised his head and looked at her, the thumbs up he flashed reassuring.
He staggered and stumbled back to her and she opened the window again, flinching from the sting of cold snowflakes hitting her in the face.
“How bad is it?” she asked.
He hugged himself, his thin leather gloves running up and down his arms. “Not too bad, dented license plate, that’s all. You should be able to back out of it. Just take it nice and easy and try not to spin your tires.”
Felicia nodded and shifted into reverse. Having seen her winter driving skills, he moved clear and watched from a safe distance.
“Slow,” he repeated.
“I got it.” The coast was still clear so she pressed the pedal and…nothing. Her wheels spun, but she didn’t move.
He held up his hand, slipping and sliding his way over. “Let me give you a little push.”
As soon as he’d climbed/crawled his way in front of her hood, not looking too pleased about it, he put both hands on her car and nodded. “Try again. Nice and easy.”
She gave it more gas while he shoved and slid, turned, and put his back into it. Then he held up his hand and worked himself back to standing, coming out from around the car.
“Let’s see if we can get it rocking. Work with me, not against me.”
“I know how to rock a car.”
“Good.” He slogged his way back into position and leaned on the car with both hands. “When I say go, give it gas. Watch me. We’re going to do this.”
“Ready when you are.”
“Now!” He actually moved her car on his own. She stomped on the gas and the car shot free, backing across the road at high speed before it buried the rear bumper in the opposite snow bank. She realized the car was slightly askew. One tire had apparently left the pavement.
“Oh god, no,” she groaned.
Then she noticed the poor guy working himself up from the snowy road, his entire front white. He’d left an imprint when he’d fallen flat on his face. A reverse snow angel. She couldn’t help herself. She burst out laughing.
Shaking his head, he brushed himself off and made his careful way over to her. Only then did she realize he wasn’t even wearing boots. Hers might not be meant for winter, but at least they were boots. With heels…and no tread. Okay, she guessed they were even after all.
“Are you okay?” she asked, still giggling a little.
“Just my pride.” He looked at how she was hung up and swore. “Turn your wheels in the direction you want to go. I’ll push.”
He trudged around to the back, clearly tired of this already. By now, he was probably sorry he’d stopped to help. Ugh.
Because of how the rear of her car was embedded, he had to stay behind the right rear tire.
“Give it some gas,” he yelled.
Felicia pelted him with snow and he leaped clear, wiping out on the curb. She covered her mouth, horrified and strained to look behind her, watching him come back to his feet in her side mirror.
“I’m so sorry. Total accident, I mean it.”
He rolled his eyes and climbed up the bank so he’d be in the center of the back bumper this time. She knew exactly when his leg sank deep. Even backward in the mirror, she had no trouble reading his lips when he cursed. His choice of words was obvious.
“Do you need a minute?” she called to him.
“No.” He waved her off and planted his hands on her trunk. “Ready? Go!”
She kicked up a lot of snow and ice chunks, but the car didn’t budge. Glancing in the mirror she saw that muttered curse again.
“Are you in low gear?” he asked coming around to peek at her dashboard himself.
She threw up her hand, feeling a little defensive all of a sudden. “You didn’t tell me to put it in low.”
“Shift it all the way down and you should be able to inch your way out of this.”
“Okay, okay. Chill.”
“I’m frozen.” He was kinda sexy when he gritted his teeth like that. Even with ruddy cheeks, he was starting to look hot. Maybe it was the hero thing. Irritated, annoyed hero thing. She’d always been a sucker for those.
“Sorry.” Feeling bad for the guy all of a sudden, she was determined to get out of it this time.
He climbed back behind her car and gave her a nod. “Now!”
She gently pressed the pedal and to her astonishment, the car inched off the curb and back to the street. He came walking after her as she rolled to a stop.
Coming up to her window, he said, “I’ll follow you home. Make sure you get there safely. Now I’m kind of invested in seeing this through.”
They both chuckled.
Charmed even more now, she smiled and offered her hand. “That’d be nice. I’m Felicia, by the way.”
She tugged him close and stretched up in her seat to give him a soft kiss through the open window.
“Maybe you could stick around, for a while. I’ll put on the kettle. Bring you a blanket. We’ll warm you up.”
Indifferent to the snow pelting him, he squeezed her hand and smiled. “Maybe I should.”
*I asked my good friend to help me come up with a title for this little ditty. He suggested, You Don't Bring Me Plowers Anymore. I loved it. Unfortunately, it speaks of a relationship with a history, rather than possibilities. I still wanted to mention it though, because it delighted me so much. Thanks, Mark.
(Photo: Chad Routh | Flickr)