Monday, January 9, 2012

Beach Musings Monday: "Warm Hands, Cold Heart" a super-short romance

          Caitlyn wrapped her hands around a mug of steamy coffee, inhaling the fragrant aroma of roasted Arabica beans.  She absolutely loved the smell of fresh brewed coffee, but detested the taste.  The only reason she’d brewed a cup was to have something to warm her hands on.  She had never been so cold in her entire life.     
          Having been born and raised in the sunny southern California, she was suffering her first winter on the desolate prairies of Nebraska.  The job offer had been too good to pass up, and being two-thousand miles away from Derek, that cheating skunk of an ex-fiancé, was an added bonus.  But she hadn’t realized how brutal winter could be until the first blizzard of the season hit and the furnace conked out.       
          Caitlyn glanced around the room and took a mental inventory of what furniture she could burn in the old stone fireplace, if it should come to that.  She’d purchased the house furnished—more like cluttered—from Miss Jamison’s estate.  Plenty of old wood furniture to burn as Caitlyn had no sentimental attachment to any of it.  Except for the 17th century secretary with the light oak maple finish that had lots of hidden drawers and secret compartments.  She wondered if some old secrets weren’t tucked deep inside and planned to investigate but hadn’t had the time yet.  Caitlyn would save that piece for last, but if that’s all that stood between her and freezing to death…
          The whine of a snowmobile drew her attention back to the window. Hallelujah! 
Help had arrived!
          Caitlyn set her mug on the windowsill and ran to open the front door.  A swirl of snow ushered two bundled-up bodies into the cloak room.  As scarves were unfurled and hats tugged off, two men emerged.  One was short and stocky and possibly eligible for an AARP membership while the other tall and trim closer to her own age. 
          “Ms. Greer?” the shorter man asked. 
          Caitlyn nodded.
          “I’m Wesley Thompson, from Thompson’s Furnace Repair.  Sorry I couldn’t get here sooner, but a snowplow ran into my truck when it was parked.  Flipped it right over.  And Merle and his tow truck are busy pulling travelers out on the highway so it could be tomorrow before it’s set back on all four wheels.  I was just about to call you and tell you I wouldn’t make it out this afternoon when my son Andy here,” he nodded towards his tall companion, “stopped by on his snowmobile.  I worked in this furnace plenty when old Miss Jamieson owned the place.  I’ll have it fixed in a jiffy.”
          Caitlyn listened to the man clatter down the rickety wooden steps to the creepy old basement, but her attention was riveted on the man shrugging off his parka.
          “Some storm, isn’t it?” he said.  “Haven’t seen this much snow since the winter of eighty-seven.”  His eyes crinkled as he smiled.  “A blizzard like this closed school for an entire week.  I thought my mother was going to go out and hand-shovel the streets just to get them reopened so that my six brothers and I would be out of the house.”
          Andy shook the snow from his coat and hung in on a peg by the door.  “You’re new around here, aren’t you?”
          Caitlyn nodded.
          Andy held out his hand.  “Nice to meet you,” he said. 
          “I’m Caitlyn Greer.  Nice to meet you, too.”  She allowed her fingers to be swallowed up in his smooth, strong grip, enjoying the warmth not offered by a mere cup of coffee.
          “Your hands are like ice cubes,” Andy said as he smiled down at her.  His left hand slipped around the back of her right and began to slowly rub some warmth into her frozen extremity, which did more than warm her hand.  Her entire body began to thaw.  Except her heart.  Caitlyn doubted it would ever be warm again after the pain she’d endured when Derek had betrayed her. 
          She tugged her hand free and tucked it into the back pocket of her jeans.
          “I appreciate you coming out in this weather.” Caitlyn backed into the living room.  Andy followed.  “I was afraid I’d have to burn Miss Jamieson’s heirlooms if it got any colder.”
          “Don worry.  Dad will have that old monster up and running in no time.”
          Caitlyn shivered.  “I hope so.  This is my first blizzard.  I’ve never had to do more than add an extra blanket to the bed in the winter down in San Diego.” 
          “‘I wish they all could be California girls,’” Andy sang in an off-key falsetto. 
          “Beach Boys fan?”
          “Big time.  That’s all dad played when we were growing up.  I think he hoped his us kids would make our fame and fortune in a boy band like that, only none of us have a lick of musical talent.”
          “I saw them in concert a few times when I was a teenager.”
          “No way.  That had to have been awesome.”
          “It was.  Let me fix you a cup of coffee and we’ll talk.”
          The two threaded their way around the abundance of antiques and into the kitchen, where Andy hitched a hip onto a barstool.  Caitlyn busied herself making another cup of coffee and setting out a plate of snicker doodles that she’d made as an excuse to turn the oven on after lunch.  The two soon fell into a companionable conversation about music and movies and pop culture in general.  They had a lot in common.  It wasn’t long before the conversation took a more personal path.  Gentle probing on Caitlyn’s part revealed Andy to be the owner of her favorite local restaurant and, more importantly, currently unattached.
          “I’d invite you to dinner,” he said.  “But this storm’s got the town pretty well shut down.  Maybe I could bring over the ingredients to fix you spicy shrimp scampi over linguine tonight?  A little toasted garlic bread?  Maybe a salad with pine nuts and a mustard vinaigrette dressing?  Sound good?”  Andy wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
          Caitlyn’s stomach rumbled loudly and she laughed.  “On behalf of my empty stomach, I accept.  That sure beats the pickles and potato chips I was going to have.  I didn’t get to the grocery before the storm hit,” Caitlyn admitted. Now that she understood the power of a blizzard, she’d be sure not to make that mistake again.
          With a loud shake and clatter, the boiler in the basement roared back to life.  Soon the radiators started crackling as steam heated the metal.  A few minutes later Wesley Thompson poked his head into the kitchen.  “Ready to go, son?”
          “How much do I owe you?”  Caitlyn grabbed her purse form the counter and fished out her wallet.
          “Three dollars for the new fuse,” Mr. Thompson said.
          “It took you two hours to replace a simple fuse, Dad?  You must be slipping in your old age.”
          “No, it took me five minutes to fix the fuse,” his dad answered with a shake of his head.  “It took you two hours to ask this pretty lady if she’d like you to cook her dinner.  I’ll meet you outside.”
          Mr. Thompson clomped out of the kitchen and towards the front door.
          Andy walked around the counter and stopped in front of Caitlyn.  He placed his hands on her shoulders before slowly sliding them down her arms until their fingers were entwined.  “I’ll bring back everything we need for a romantic dinner.”
          He lifted her hands to his mouth and placed a soft kiss on the back of each one.  His eyes held promises of more to come.
          Caitlyn smiled as she realized that his warm hands were starting to thaw a tiny corner of her cold heart. 

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