Soul Bonded - By Meghan Malone Page 0,1

that problem. She had no idea how many more days she could survive with no food and only melted snow to drink. As it was, the idea of stepping outside into the frigid wind exhausted her—and it wouldn’t get any easier if she waited. This was truly a now or never kind of situation.

“Damn it. I don’t want to.” She’d been talking to herself a lot over the past few days. The sound of her own voice comforted her like nothing else could. Proof that she was still alive, she supposed. What could be more comforting than that?

Not going outside, her brain supplied. Staying in the car. Her fingers were already frozen, she’d been trembling for what felt like weeks, and all the clothes from her suitcase couldn’t keep her warm even within the confines of her car. If she got wet or even lingered outside too long, she might never warm up. Hypothermia was a serious, persistent threat, and going out into the weather could mean speeding up the process of freezing to death.

Then again, doing nothing might easily lead to the same fate, if the starvation didn’t kill her first.

“Damn it,” she whispered again. Mustering the very last of her energy, she fumbled through the small mountain of clothing she’d piled on top of her body to stay warm. Her mind was cloudy and her movements felt sluggish, like she was a children’s toy that was slowly winding down. Worst was that she couldn’t stop shaking. “Focus. Focus.” If she was going to clear off the car, she needed to get as much extra clothing on her body as possible. Anything to keep the heat she had left from escaping into the frigid Northern California air.

Layering shirt-upon-shirt, she stopped only when it became too difficult to move her arms. Pants were even harder to manage. She tugged on a pair of pajama bottoms over her jeans, but she couldn’t fit another pair of jeans over those. The final touch to her ridiculous outfit was the adorable blue hat and gloves set that she’d purchased especially for this trip. At the time she’d thought the snowflake pattern was darling. Now she no longer cared how well the color complemented her auburn hair and fair complexion. If she never saw another snowflake, it would be too soon.

Girls’ weekend had been a bust in every way—this was just the icing on the cake. She’d arrived full of pride about her booming web design career and excited to catch up with college friends, but by the end of the first night, it had become clear that she was the pathetic old maid of the group. At least that’s how the rest of them treated her. Stripped of the vibrant, unique personalities she remembered from school, now each of them seemed singularly preoccupied with alternately bitching and waxing poetic about the men in their lives. And when they stopped talking about their love lives, they’d start in on Katie’s. After just twenty-four hours, their repeated, well-intentioned reassurances that she’d find someone, too, threatened to drive her crazy. None of her many accomplishments mattered to those people. Just the fact that she was thirty-three and perpetually single.

Katie tugged the snowflake hat onto her head, then scowled at the gloves. They were totally impractical for this situation. Knit wool was adorable in the store, but it would never keep her hands dry. Leave it to her to buy stupid, girly, useless gloves.

“Worst weekend ever.” She took a deep breath and opened the car door. Or tried to, at least. It moved less than an inch, then got stuck in the snow that had blown and drifted over the past few days. She grimaced as a stream of powder fell over her hands and onto the car seat. “Shit!”

She pulled the door closed with effort. The car was covered, all right. And she was trapped inside.

Katie lay back against the seat and closed her eyes. Every bit of her energy went toward not bursting into tears. She didn’t want to cry. It wouldn’t help, and even if the hot tears felt good on her skin for a moment, they would quickly freeze and make an uncomfortable situation even worse.

Exhausted by the effort she’d just exerted, Katie struggled against the seductive pull of sleep. The last time she’d roused from a nap, hours ago now, she’d promised herself she wouldn’t fall asleep again. Not until she was rescued. She’d worried that next time, she wouldn’t wake up.