The Gift by Lynsay Sands
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
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
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
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 pick-up'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 pick-up 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 warm,
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 mud room 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 pick-up, 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 pick up,
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
"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 pick-up 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.