Dashing Through the Snow
Saturday, December 21, 1985
The snow swirled across the tarmac as Amanda watched from a large glass window.
“I’m sorry. It’s my fault we’re stuck here.” Lee placed his hands on her shoulders, gently massaging the knots of tension with his thumbs.
“You couldn’t predict the storm.” She stared at his image in the glass to keep herself focused, his thumbs and fingers were magic and it wouldn’t take much for her to melt into his arms.
“No, but it was one of my family members who brought us to Vermont in the first place. I could strangle Sammy for making us come all this way for nothing.”
Amanda placed her hand over his. “It wasn’t his fault he accidentally used the wrong code. His wife just had a baby, and when you have a newborn in the house all sense of what’s normal goes by the wayside. Besides we still might be able to get a flight out, they haven’t shut down the airport yet.”
Lee turned around and began to pace behind her running his hand through his hair. “I know. But it’s four days till Christmas and I know how much you love to spend the time with your family.” He plopped down in a seat.
Amanda sat down next to him. “We’ve got plenty of time. I won’t miss anything with Mother, or the boys. And if it hadn’t been for this trip, I wouldn’t have been able to get Optimus Prime for Jamie.”
Lee smiled. “I’d forgotten about that.”
“It’s lucky I saw that toy store after we left Sammy’s and we stopped.” Amanda glanced down at the package nestled between her feet. She’d been all over Virginia, Maryland and the DC metro area searching for the elusive Transformer. Everywhere she’d checked had been sold out. If Lee hadn’t suggested she join him, she never would’ve found it.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” a voice came over a loudspeaker. “We regret to inform you that all flights have been cancelled.”
Lee groaned and went up to the attendant at the check-in counter. He returned with his brows furrowed and scowling. “It looks like we’ll have to spend the night here,” he sighed heavily. “There aren’t any rooms available at any of the hotels.”
Amanda always tried to look at the bright side. “If that’s the case, then we’ll be the first ones out when they reopen in the morning. Why don’t we get some coffee, then find somewhere to rest for the night.”
Lee grabbed their two overnight cases. “I guess so.”
Amanda picked up her package and Lee guided them into a restaurant. After sitting down, a waitress came over to their table. “What can I get you two?”
“How about a room for the night?” Lee cracked a small smile.
Amanda rolled her eyes and checked the waitress’ nameplate. “He’s teasing, Donna.”
“Yeah, I’m just not fond of sleeping on cots,” he mumbled.
“Oh dear, with it being a holiday week there aren’t any vacancies anywhere. But, wait a minute.” Donna’s forehead wrinkled as she tapped her pencil’s eraser on her ticket book. “I’ll be right back.”
“Should you call your mother?” Lee drummed his fingers on the table.
“No, I told her I might have to spend the night. It’s a good thing we packed overnight bags, just in case.”
“I figured we might have to stay one night, but not because of the weather and not at the airport.”
“You’re in luck,” Donna said when she returned to their table. “I called my Aunt Sally, who owns the Country Lane Inn, and someone cancelled earlier today because of the weather. You can have their room.”
Lee rose from his chair, placed his hands on her arms, and kissed her cheek. “Donna, I love you.”
“Listen the roads are getting worse by the minute and the inn is a half hour drive on a good day. You’d better get going.”
“Thank you.” Amanda rose and hugged the waitress.
“Let me give you the directions.” Donna tore off a ticket and turned it over to write on. “Here ya go.” She handed Lee the paper. “I hope you have a peaceful night.”
“We will now.” Lee handed her a folded up bill.
“You didn’t order anything. I can’t accept this.”
Amanda had seen Lee take the money out of his pocket and agreed with him, wholeheartedly, that the woman deserved the tip. “You saved us from a night of discomfort, it’s the least we can do.” Amanda closed Donna’s hand over the $50 bill.
“Thank you and merry Christmas.” Donna’s face lit up with joy. “Now you two better get out of here before they start shutting down the roads.”
Half an hour later, after re-renting a car, Amanda sat next to Lee as he drove along the winding roads. The only sound in the vehicle came from the heater, blasting warm air on to them, and the wipers swishing back and forth clearing the windshield. Lee was an expert driver, but she didn’t want to distract him on this treacherous journey. A few times she’d already felt the car slip and slide a bit as it lost traction.
After what felt like ages, Amanda saw the sign for the inn. Lee followed the driveway, lined with trees decorated with tiny white lights, to the parking area.
As they walked toward the old Victorian house, Amanda saw candles lit in all the windows. Pine boughs with twinkling lights were wound through the railings of the porch. The scent of wood smoke drifted in the air and she knew a welcoming fire would greet them.
A large wreath, decorated with a red bow, adorned the front entrance. Before Lee had a chance to ring the bell, a petite woman wearing a white sweater, with a picture of Rudolph on it, red nose blinking, opened the door.
“Come in, come in. You must be freezing and the couple that my niece called me about.” She shut the door behind them. “Come into the parlor and warm yourselves.”
They followed the woman into the room. One of the largest Christmas trees Amanda had ever seen stood majestically in a corner, festooned with ornaments of every size, shape, and color. An angel in white crowned the top.
Flames crackled brightly in the fireplace, and sparks shot up the chimney as a log broke apart. Comfy armchairs and a large sofa were positioned in front of the hearth. Lee set the bags down and stood next to the fire rubbing his hands together basking in the warmth, while Amanda sat down on the sofa, taking in the beauty of the room.
“Are you hungry?”
Lee turned from the fireplace. “We don’t want to be any trouble Mrs.—”
“Stop right there, young man.” She held her hand up. “There’s no need to be so formal around here. Everyone calls me Sally.”
“I’m Lee Stetson and this is my wife, Amanda.” Lee took Sally’s hand in his, brought it to his lips and kissed it. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Oh, my.” Sally fanned her face. “Such a gallant gentleman. Now about that food, I have plenty of leftovers. Why don’t I make you up some nice ham sandwiches with large slices of homemade apple pie for dessert?”
“That sounds wonderful, Sally. Can I help you?” Amanda started to rise.
“No, you just stay there and relax.”
After a delicious meal, and mugs of steaming hot chocolate, Amanda heard a clock chime ten.
“Oh my, it’s getting late. I’m sure you both must be tired.” Sally bustled into the parlor. “I’ll show you to your room. If you’ll follow me.” She led them up the staircase. “Here you go.” She opened a door. “I hope you don’t mind that it has two double beds.”
“Oh, no problem, Sally, we’ll make do.” Lee set their cases down on one of the beds.
“Good night and sleep tight.”
After Sally left, Amanda took her case and placed it on the other bed. “It might have been better to use the brother/sister scenario again.” She’d thought they’d been making strides in their relationship toward something more romantic, but after the Marvelous Marvin’s case she wasn’t so sure.
“Why’s that?” Lee took his bag into the bathroom.
Amanda went to the open doorway and wiggled the fingers of her left hand at him. “Because we’re not wearing any rings.” Then, as she shut the door, she smiled at the sight of Lee watching her with his mouth agape.
Sunday, December 22, 1985
The next morning Amanda awoke to the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the air. She stretched her arms over her head and glanced over at the other bed. Empty. Lee must’ve been quiet as a church mouse when he’d gotten up.
Her stomach grumbled and she quickly showered before going in search of Lee and the delicious aromas that beckoned her. When she entered the dining room, she found a large table surrounded by chairs and no one in sight. A sideboard was laden with a buffet of pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, French toast, waffles, toast, muffins, juices, coffee, and so much more. Everything looked so mouthwatering; in no time she’d fixed a plate and had sat down at the table.
“Here’s some warm, homemade, maple syrup.” Sally set a silver decanter in front of Amanda.
“Thank you.” Amanda poured some over her pancakes and began to eat. “Where is everyone?”
“Your husband is down at the stables with my Lenny helping to feed the animals. The other guests have all gone out cross-country skiing, or taken the snowmobiles over to the ski resort to take advantage of the new snow. If you need anything else, just holler. I’ll be in the kitchen cleaning up.”
Ten minutes later Lee came into the dining room, poured himself a cup of coffee, grabbed a slice of bacon and sat down at the table. “The airport is opening at noon and I talked to Billy. He got us booked on the two o’clock flight.”
Amanda placed her napkin on the empty plate and glanced at a clock on the wall, it was only ten. “What are we going to do until then?”
“I’ve already taken care of that. Get bundled up and meet me outside.”
Sally entered the room carrying an empty tray that she set down on the sideboard. “I know what you’ve got planned,” she winked at Lee. “And this little lady is going to need some serious bundling.”
“Then I’ll leave her in your capable hands.” He took his coffee and another slice of bacon and left the room.
“Come with me. I’ve got the perfect things you’ll need.” Sally took Amanda by the hand and five minutes later had her outfitted.
Amanda glanced in the mirror before she went out the front door. Sally had given her a fur-lined parka with a hood, a scarf and gloves. Crisp, cold air greeted her when she walked out onto the porch. She drew the hood up around her head and tied it. Walking down the steps, she looked for Lee.
The sound of bells jingling came from her right, and she saw a horse with a harness covered with shining silver bells coming toward her.
Lee pulled the red sleigh to a halt and, securing the reins, he jumped down. “Just hear those sleigh bells jingling.” He stepped toward her. “Let’s go dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh.” He held out his hand to her.
Amanda laughed. “You know you’re confusing two songs?”
“Yup. But you know I’ve never taken much interest in Christmas. For some reason, I’ve suddenly found the idea of the holiday very alluring. Shall we?”
Lee helped her into the sleigh and onto the padded seat, placing a blanket over her lap.
“Do you know where we’re going?”
“Nope.” He sat down beside her and unfurled the reins. “Lenny told me that Maple here knows the route like the back of her tail, and all I have to is sit back and gently guide her.”
Amanda took Lee’s arm. “Giddyup, giddyup, let’s go.”
Lee flicked the reins, clicked his tongue and Maple began to slowly pull the sleigh down the drive. She veered off onto a path through snow laden pine trees. Amanda moved closer to Lee and snuggled next to him. Jingling bells were the only sound she heard as they journeyed through the forest.
Near a frozen pond, Lee halted the sleigh and they watched children ice-skate. “Are you cold?” He wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
“No.” Honestly, she hadn’t even thought about the temperature. “I’m having too much fun watching the kids play.” She saw two little boys racing each other across the pond who reminded her of Phillip and Jamie. A little girl held her daddy’s hand as she tried to keep her balance.
Maple pawed at the ground and Lee allowed her to continue her trek. “Look.” Lee pointed to his right.
In the distance, Amanda saw a huge moose walking near snow-covered trees. As they continued their ride, Amanda could feel her cheeks reddening, but not only from the cold. Sitting in such close proximity to Lee made her flush when she realized she was benefiting from his body heat.
The horse halted at a spot that overlooked one of Vermont’s famous covered bridges. Someone had festively decorated it with large pine wreaths along the side.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” Amanda shivered.
Lee secured the reins, then clasped his arm around her and rubbed her shoulder. “I’m a fool for bringing you out here.”
“I’ve never been on a sleigh ride before, and I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”
“It’s been less than a week since you were almost flash frozen. You don’t need any reminders of the time you spent in that freezer.”
She pulled away from him slightly and placed her gloved hand on his cheek. “It’s not the same thing. Look around you. The icicles hanging from the bottom of the bridge sparkle like diamonds when the sun hits them. The air smells pure and fresh. There is a sense of serenity.”
“And you have a cute, red nose.” He tweaked it with his finger.
He came toward her as if he was going to kiss her. She closed her eyes and, just as she felt his warm breath on her lips, the horse neighed and moved, breaking the romantic moment.
“We’d better head back or we’ll miss our flight home.” He grabbed the reins.
Amanda didn’t want the moment to end. Maybe they could continue it at home. She could feel their relationship beginning to head down a new road, one that she wanted to travel with all her heart.
Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King and its characters belong to WB and Shoot the Moon Productions. No infringement is intended. This is written for entertainment purposes only. Please do not redistribute or reproduce this story without my permission.
Thanks: Many of them to Jan for being a great beta.
Thanks: Many of them to Jan for being a great beta.