Exclusive sneak peek at HEATING IT UP!
Copyright Â© 2016 Elizabeth Harmon
The first thing she noticed was that yesterday's sad
vulnerability was gone. Now his ice-blue eyes were flinty
and determined as he strode inside. She remained by the
door, hand on the knob, ready to show him the way out. Yet
she sensed that sending him away wasn't going to be so easy
"You're too late," he said.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Fifteen years ago some New Zealander became first woman to
winter-over solo. Maybe you already know that. Or maybe you
don't care, because we both know that's not the real reason
you're holed up in here."
She winced. He knew she wasn't being honest, but not to what
extent. Burdened by guilt and too deflated for battle, she
sighed and leaned against the door. "Youâ€™re right it isn't."
"Nora..,â€ť the gentleness in his voice felt like a caress.
"Staying here alone doesn't hurt Herbert Quinn, it only
hurts you. And it hurts me too."
"Because to keep you secret, I have to lie, not just to
IFAR, but to the people who work for me. People whose trust
I don't take lightly. Staying up here not only puts you in
danger, but also them. This what your brilliant boss forgot.
Down here, people survive because they depend on each other.
If one of the systems failed in bad weather, or you had an
accident, computers and Vancouver would be useless. Someone
would have to put themselves at risk, and come to help."
Most likely, that someone would be him. Even with blizz
lines strung, making such a trip could be life-threatening.
Fear tightened her throat as she considered how it would
feel to mourn another man she cared about.
"I know youâ€™ve lost much," he said. "And while I know losing
a fiancĂ© is different, I understand the hurt of missing a
person I loved dearly."
â€śThat woman who lied to you?â€ť she demanded, shocked and angry.
â€śNo,â€ť he said. â€śNot Natalia. Iâ€™m talking about my mother.
For a long time, I felt like she was the only person who
understood me. But when I came here to Antarctica, I found
others like me and a place to belong. In time, the pain was
not so bad. Up here all alone, you don't have that."
"No," she whispered.
"Ask yourself if this is what heâ€™d want for you. I don't
think it is. I know that if I was gone... and the woman I
loved was left behind, this isnâ€™t what Iâ€™d want for her."
Her fingers twitched on the doorknob, and she thought of
ordering him out, but didn't. In her heart, she knew he was
right. Even if she weren't drifting through darkened rooms
in a ruined wedding gown, she was teetering dangerously
close to Miss Havisham territory. In the process, she was
putting others in danger. The weather was turning, and soon
the months of darkness would come. It was time to decide
where she would spend them.