In a snow-kissed Christmas cabin, a heart-wrenching tale of love, loss, forgiveness–and new hope.
After the utter destruction of her marriage and her happiness, Kai knew it was better to shut herself away from the world than to hurt and be hurt.
Holed up in her mountain cabin, she plans to spend her Christmas alone. Until her not-quite-ex-husband shows up as the first flakes start to fall.
Now should she send him back out into the cold? Or can she be brave enough to let this winter snow bind them back together?
A novella of 34,000 words (approx 130 pages).
The snow fell over the black granite counter in a soft hush of white. Kai focused on the sieve she shook as she brought a winter of sugar to the dark world, letting the powder slide across her thoughts the way snow on a falling night would, taking all with it, even her, leaving only peace.
That peace lay so cold. She had almost forgotten how cold she felt, until he showed up.
The man who, once upon a time, had always made her so warm and happy.
Now he stood at the window, looking as cold as she was. Destroying all peace. Past him and the pane of glass, only a few flakes fell against a gray sky, rare and disinterested, nature as usual failing her. Her fall of powdered sugar could not come between her and him, could not blur him to some distant place cut off by the arrival of winter. Could not hush him, if ever he chose to speak.
No, all she could do was concentrate on the sugar-snow. Looking up—looking at him—undid everything.
“I don’t think they’re coming,” the man said finally, and she swallowed. It was funny how her whole body ached at his voice. As if her skin had gotten unused to his vibrations running over it. As if she needed to develop tiny calluses at the base of every hair follicle so that those hairs would not want to shiver.
Light brown hair neatly cut, he stood angled toward the window, shoulders straight, with that long, intellectual fitness he had, the over-intelligent, careful man who had played sports almost like he might study for a test, maintaining perfect physical fitness as just another one of his obligations. She still remembered when he had discovered Ultimate Frisbee, the awkward, unfamiliar, joy-filled freedom in him as he explored the idea of playing something so intense just for fun. It had been rather beautiful. She had gone to all his games and chatted with the other wives with their damn babies and even played on his pick-up teams sometimes, although unwilling to put forth the effort to be part of his competitive leagues.
Those fun, fun years full of weekends of green grass, and friendly people, and laughter. They had had too many happy days. They clogged in her all the sudden, dammed up too tight, hurting her.
She had screwed them all the fuck up. Forever.
She didn’t know what to say to him, after what she had done, so she concentrated on shedding snow, like some great, dangerous goddess bending over her granite world, a creature half-formed from winter clouds, drifting eerily apart from all humanity. She wished he had not come, but the thought of him leaving wrenched a hole in her that filled up instantly with tears.
Hot, liquid tears that sloshed around inside her and wanted to spill out. That in itself was terrifying and strange; she had thought she had tamed her tears down to something near-solid and quiescent, a slushy of grief that lay cold in her middle but no longer spilled out at every wrong movement, every careless glimpse of happy couples or children laughing in a park.
She had so hoped that she had reached a point where she could—see him. Where all that long process of coming to peace with herself and her losses would be strong enough to withstand a glimpse of him. But all of her, every iota of strength and peace, had dissolved into pain and longing the instant she saw him step out of his car, a flake of snow catching on his hair.
Damn it, his mother was supposed to be here. She was supposed to come with her magazine staff for this shoot, a whole entourage to make it easier on both Kai and Kurt. How could they have abandoned her to this reopening of wounds because they were afraid of a few flakes of snow?
She focused with all her strength. She had to get this sugar exactly right, not too thick, not too shallow, not too even, not too ragged, leaving perfect graceful curves and fades into black at its edges. It was soothing to work on that white against gleaming black. To focus on those tiny grains, almost as tiny as cells of life.
She could control these grains. She could always get them right. If she worked hard enough. If she really, really tried.
“The snow is supposed to start from the south and close us off,” Kurt said from the window. “They probably didn’t want to chance it.”
Now why would Anne Winters’s staff do that to her? Leave her alone with him just to avoid bad roads? Those selfish people, it was almost as if they had . . . families. Reasons to live that were far more important than she was.
Kurt shifted enough to watch her, but she didn’t look up. She shouldn’t have let him come, but for God’s sake, his mother was Anne Winters. First of all, Anne had only rented the cabin to Kai so affordably on the condition that Kai maintain it for her use in photo shoots when she wanted it. And even without that agreement, Kai was a food stylist who regularly contracted to Anne Winters’s company. She could hardly refuse this photo shoot for next year’s holiday edition, Anne’s biggest. And accepting it, she had to jump through Anne’s hoops, even the famous multi-tasker’s insistence on having her lawyer son with her for the weekend so she could work on contract negotiations simultaneously. Her formidable presence and the bustle of her staff should have helped dissipate all this miasma from their past and saved them from any need to linger in it.
Besides, Kai was supposed to be strong enough for this now. She had worked so hard to heal, to grow strong. To still and chill those tears down to something—bearable.
“Are you ready to be snowed in?” Kurt asked. “Do you want me to run to the store and pick up any supplies while there’s still a chance?”
Her stomach tightened as if he had just pierced it with some long, strange, beautiful shard of ice. Kurt. Don’t take care of me. You always did that so, so—the ice shard slid slowly through her inner organs, slicing, hurting—well.
“Why don’t you check your email so that you’ll know for sure whether they’ve cancelled?” he suggested. “Or find your charger so I can check my phone?” They had matching smartphones; their shared two-year contract still hadn’t expired.
She didn’t check her email or find her charger mostly because she didn’t dare leave this powdered sugar snow. She had to keep her focus. She had to.
She hadn’t yet managed to say a word to him. When she had opened the door, she had meant to. It shouldn’t have been so hard. Hello, Kurt. She could say that, right? After practicing it over and over in her head on the way to the door. But the instant their eyes met, his hazel gaze had struck her mute. As the moment drew out, his hand had clenched around his duffle until his knuckles showed white, and his whole body leaned just an inch forward, as it had so many, many times in their lives, when she greeted him after a long day or a trip, and he leaned in to kiss her.
She had flinched back so hard that her elbows had rapped the foyer wall with a resounding smack, and he had looked away from her and walked quickly into the cabin without speaking, disappearing to find a room for his things. It had been at least twenty minutes before he reappeared, his hands in his pockets, to set himself at that post by the window and watch the road. Probably sending out a desperate mental call to his mother:Hurry up, God damn it. Where the hell are you?
But the cars hadn’t come, and now he watched her. She could feel his gaze trying to penetrate her concentration on the snow. But she had to get that powdered sugar snow just right. She had to. Even if she had to play at snow for all eternity.
“Kai,” he said and she shivered. Her name. Her name in his voice. “Can you still not even look at me?”
The weariness in his voice was like a hook dragging her gaze to him, and she did get her head up, just for a second, because he deserved so much better from her than what she had managed to give him. But he was so beautiful and so distant there against the window that it broke her heart, and her heart was so, so tired of being broken. It gave up quickly and let her look down at her sugar-snow again.
“Do you want me to go?” he asked.
Oh, God, yes. Oh, God, no. Oh, God, she didn’t know. It’s snowing, she wanted to protest, but her lips felt stiff and frozen. Besides, it was snowing more on her counter than it was outside. He could get away still, if he wanted.
“Kai.” He sounded as exhausted as her heart. But—firm against that exhaustion. Determined to go on through it. He was that way.
She concentrated as hard as she could.
“It was the cruelest thing you ever did to me,” he told her evenly. “When you cut me off like this. And you never even told me why.”
Romance at its strongest and most powerful.
— Dear Author Double Recommended Read, “A” review
One of the best second chance romances I have ever read.
If anyone should ask me why Laura Florand is one of my very, very favorite authors, I won’t need to say a word. I will let Snow-Kissed speak for me. It is undoubtedly one of the very best, most moving stories I’ve had the privilege to read.
Breathtaking, gut-wrenching. A must read.
In the span of a little over 100 pages, this novella gives you pain, hope and some very sexy romance scenes. I highly recommend you give this one a try.
Laura Florand picks up her readers and gently places them into the extremely turbulent, painful lives of these two characters effortlessly. I feel like I’ve been with these two a lot longer than 130 pages.
Perhaps (Florand's) most ambitious piece. With every romance I read by Florand, I feel as if I am sucked deeper and deeper into her lush prose.
Beautifully and sensitively written.
Laura Florand . . . is a phenomenal storyteller. . . . I loved this story. Read it when you are looking for a story that makes you ache for the two main characters.
A breathtakingly beautiful, almost hauntingly, romantic story.
A poignant novella that deals with loss and how a couple can find their way through it. What really made me enjoy it was though there is grief, Kurt and Kai share some happiness, laughter and serious sexy times. I might have fanned myself during one scene. It is very different from the other series I read by Ms. Florand and it made me appreciate her ability to write the heck out of just about anything.
I will read anything Laura Florand writes. I just get so lost in her writing. This is definitely a darker story than she has written in the past but it still has the same beautiful, flawed human beings that feel BIG and with all their heart. You might need a few tissues for this emotion packed novella.
I fell so in love with the characters that I didn't really want their story to end…. one of my favourite books of Ms Florand and one of the best I've read this year. I can recommend it to everyone but beware it will break your heart before putting it back together.
An amazing story.