The Bite Before Christmas - Argeneau Series - Book 15.5


Teddy woke up to find himself burrowed under the covers like a mole dug into the ground . . . and cold, which was unusual. He normally kicked off his blankets rather than burrowed, and he never woke up cold.

The heat must have gone off in the night, he realized. Tossing the blankets aside, he sat up and peered around the room. Stark sunlight was pouring through the window. It made it easy to see the cloud of mist that formed in front of his mouth with each exhalation.

Oh yeah, the heat was definitely off, he thought with a grimace and quickly slid out of bed. The carpet was cold underfoot as Teddy hurried up the hall. It opened into the main room at the end, a combination living room and kitchen/dining room. The left side was the carpeted living room area with a sofa, two chairs, a fireplace, and entertainment unit. The right side was a tiled kitchen and dining space.

Teddy’s eyes automatically sought out the digital clock on the stove as he moved to the wall thermostat, but he paused when he saw its blank face. His eyes then shot to the DVD player on the television, but it, too, was blank. Teddy was pretty sure what was wrong, by this point, but couldn’t resist flicking on the light switch at the end of the hall, just to be sure. He wasn’t surprised when nothing happened. It wasn’t just the heat that was off, but the power itself. There was no juice at all.

“Great,” he muttered with disgust and hurried back to the bedroom. It was cold in the cottage and likely to get colder, at least until the problem with the power was fixed, which meant he was wasting precious body heat standing around barefoot in his flannels. He needed to dress quickly, pull on his outerwear, and head somewhere warm to call Marguerite and find out whom he should contact about the power.

His suitcase sat on a chair in a corner of the bedroom he’d chosen. Teddy lifted the lid and grabbed the thickest pair of socks he’d packed, and then grabbed a second pair for good measure. He started to turn away, intending to sit on the bed to don the socks, but paused as his gaze slid out the window.

It had been dark when he’d arrived last night, and Teddy had marveled at how beautiful it all was as his headlights slid over the ice-encased branches of the trees and the deep snow on either side of the cleared driveway. It had all sparkled under his pickup’s headlights like precious jewels. It wasn’t such a grand sight now, he decided, as he peered at what had to be at least two feet of fresh snow on the driveway and yard. His pickup was now a small snow hill beside the cottage.

“Damn,” he breathed and then returned to the matter at hand as his brain revised what had to be done. Dress warmly, find a shovel, dig his truck out of the driveway, and then head to town to find someplace warm with coffee and food, where he could call Marguerite in comfort.

Or maybe he should try to call Marguerite first, Teddy thought as he finished with his socks and dragged on jeans and a sweater over his flannel pajamas. It was going to take a hell of a long time to dig his way out of the driveway. By that time, whoever was supposed to fix the power might be here if he called before starting.

Deciding that was the better plan, Teddy finished dressing and headed out into the kitchen to find his phone. He’d plugged it in to charge before going to bed last night. Unfortunately, the power must have gone out shortly after that, because the battery was even lower now than when he’d plugged it in. The warning that the battery needed recharging was all he could get before it shut itself off.

Muttering under his breath, Teddy shoved it in his pocket, dragged on his coat, scarf, and boots, then grabbed his gloves and opened the kitchen door. If he thought the cottage was cold, the mudroom was positively frigid, and Teddy grimaced as he stepped into it. He didn’t slow, however, but tugged on his gloves, grabbed the shovel leaning against the wall, and headed outside.

The moment he stepped off the deck he was knee-deep in snow. Teddy trudged through the flaky snow to the driver’s side of the pickup, leaned