Argeneau 15.5, The Bite Before Christmas Page 0,1
flaky snow to the driver’s side of the pickup, leaned his shovel against the truck, and then brushed away the snow until he could find the door handle. He had some thought of starting the pickup, plugging his phone in the car charger, and turning on the heat and defrost so that the windows could thaw out while he shoveled the driveway. But he’d locked the truck’s doors last night and the lock was now frozen . . . and the de-icer was in the glove compartment, where he’d tossed it while packing the vehicle for the trip. Not terribly bright of him to forget to bring it in last night, he acknowledged with a sigh.
“This just isn’t your day,” Teddy muttered to himself as he turned to glance toward the road. The driveway was narrow and wound through the trees, which was great for privacy, but it was also long, which was terribly inconvenient now. It would take hours to shovel the way clear himself. Fortunately, he was hoping he wouldn’t have to do more than clear off the pickup and a bit around it. Marguerite had said the county cleared the roads and there was a handyman who cleared the driveway and took care of other matters for the Willan sisters, who owned the cottage he was renting.
Hopefully, by the time the road was clear and this handy feller could get in to clear the driveway, the door lock would be thawed enough that he could get the door open. Teddy supposed the best thing he could do was fetch some firewood from the shed, start a fire in the cottage’s fireplace, and warm up while he waited.
But some coffee would sure go nice with that fire, he thought and glanced toward the road again, wondering what the problem was with the power. Never one to sit around and wait on being rescued, Teddy started up the driveway. He’d just take a look and see what the situation was. If the road was clear, he’d go back, build a fire, and wait for the handyman to show up. If it wasn’t . . . well, he hoped it was.
It seemed to take forever to make his way to the road. By the time he reached the end of the drive, Teddy was sweaty and panting. His knees were also acting up and complaining over the walk, something they wouldn’t have done forty or even twenty years ago. Getting old kind of sucked, he thought grimly as he surveyed the road, noting that it hadn’t been cleared yet. At least it hadn’t been cleared all the way to the cottage. The road twisted out of sight just ten feet from where he stood.
Sighing, he considered what to do. His stomach was gnawing with hunger, his legs aching from trudging through the snow, his mouth was dry, and while he was hot and sweaty under his clothes, his face was beginning to burn with the cold. Teddy readjusted his scarf to give his face more protection against the low temperatures and then forced himself to continue on. Another ten feet, he told himself. He’d just walk to the bend, take a look up the road, and then head back to the cottage and build a fire.
Once he reached the bend, Teddy almost wished he hadn’t made the effort. The sight of the white-coated road stretched out before him was a truly depressing thing. Not only wasn’t it shoveled, but one look was enough to tell him that it wasn’t likely to be for a while. Either there had been a fierce wind with the snow the night before, or the heavy snowfall had been too much for a couple of the older trees. Two had fallen that he could see: one just ten feet past the bend where he stood and another farther up the road. They would have to be shifted before the snow-removal vehicles could clear the road to his driveway.
They were also the reason the power was out, Teddy noted as he saw the downed lines the first tree had taken out. That wasn’t going to be a fast fix. It was looking like he’d be without power for a bit . . . if he stayed, he thought with a sigh. Maybe once the trees were removed and the road was cleared, he should just turn around and start the six-hour trip back to Port Henry.
The thought was a depressing one. It was two days before