Stranded: A Christmas Story by Fiona WildeMountain man Mason is an old-fashioned man, when he runs out of patience, stranded Lydia runs out of luck and finds out that in the backwoods real men spank - and spank hard.
Her dramatic weight loss and the male attention it's garnered her have turned her into a diva, and she's looking forward to her first Christmas home where she can show off her new body to the boyhood crush who never gave her a second glance when she was heavy and plain.
But her plans are ruined when the Storm of the Century leaves her stranded in a mountain pass miles from the airport.
Mountain man Mason Carter lives a quiet life of seclusion. Self-centered city folk like Lydia are just one of the reasons he left the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life, so having a spoiled narcissist stuck in his cabin during the storm quickly tries his patience.
And because Mason is an old-fashioned man, when he runs out of patience Lydia runs out of luck and finds out that in the backwoods real men spank - and spank hard.
Will Lydia stay on Mason'' naughty list? Or will she start the New Year as the good girl he knows she can be?
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Stranded: A Christmas Story (Sample Chapter)
In the backwoods real men spank - and spank hard.
© Fiona Wilde and Blushing Books, 2012-2013
"Kids dreaming of a White Christmas may just get their wish this year. Snow is expected from Middleburg all the way up to Elk Creek, so anyone making travel plans should keep an eye on the weather…"
The announcer's voice droned on as Lydia St. Clair half-listened to the warnings. She was too busy packing her suitcase to pay full attention. There were three pairs of boots lying on the bed. She wanted to take them all; boots flattered her shapely legs and she wanted to knock Paul Reeve's eyes out of his head when he got his first look at her in almost two years. She smiled as she imagined him saying, "Lydia? Is that you? Wow…"
Her dramatic weight loss and renewed attention to her appearance had turned her from a frumpy blob who could never turn the head of her long-time crush into a knockout with a collection of phone numbers from men - even strangers who took the time to chat her up at the gas station.
Lydia's confidence had bloomed into an inflated ego, and she found herself regularly comparing herself to other women and passing over potential dates as unworthy. There was only one guy she wanted to go out with - Paul. The handsome rugby star back home would be her Prize, her reward to herself for becoming someone new, someone no man could resist.
The phone rang as she was trying to jam the boots into her suitcase.
"Hello!" she said irritably.
"Honey, it's Mom. Have you been keeping an eye on the weather reports?"
Lydia glanced up at the television suspended from the corner in her bedroom. The radar showed a large swath of blue, pink and white coming down through the mountains.
"Yes, Mom," Lydia said in the exasperated tone she used to suggest that her mother was needlessly worrying.
"Honey, they say this might develop into a blizzard."
"They're exaggerating, Mom." Lydia closed the lid of the suitcase, cradling the phone on her shoulder as she struggled to latch it. "That's how these networks get you to watch them, by reporting all this doom and gloom."
"Sweetie, they can't doctor a radar, and the one I'm looking at…"
Lydia snapped the second latch and cut her mother off. "Mom, you're in Maine. I'm in Colorado, OK? You're seeing the big picture but the local radar here shows this as a slow moving system and I'll have no problem getting to the airport."
"But the pass…"
"Is still passable. And if it weren't then I'd tell you. It's fine. They haven't even mentioned closing it. I'll call you from the airport."
Lydia hung up, not feeling a bit of guilt for having just lied to her mother. The crawl on the screen clearly stated that One Horse Pass would likely be closed to traffic. But Lydia wasn't going to let that stop her. She had tire chains on her trusty Jeep Commander, and nothing - nothing - was going to stop her from the satisfaction of seeing Paul Reeves, or from stringing him along for several days before finally relenting to go out with him.
She imagined the conversation. "I don't know, Paul. You're a nice guy, but I've just been enjoying the company of so many friends. But I suppose one drink won't hurt…"
That would be a lie, too. Lydia's transformation had been more than physical. She'd turned into a diva. The friends she'd made when she moved to Middleburg barely spoke to her now; the ones who would have remained had fallen away when she began refusing to take their calls in favor of a more glamorous set. She and her shiny new friends hung out at the clubs on weekends, affording Lydia a chance to show off the latest clothes she'd purchased with her comfortable salary as a IT specialist for the local hospital.
Lydia lugged the suitcase off the bed. She hated checking bags at the airport and knew her next challenge would be to cram her over-stuffed suitcase into the overhead compartment of the plane. But she was on a roll and felt like she could make anything happen.
"…fast moving front that's growing exponentially. Those who aren't on the road are advised to stay in to avoid running head-on into this massive system that's predicted to bring record snowfall, high winds and…"
She snapped the television off, checked her purse once more to assure her boarding pass was inside and walked out the front door. Lydia all but smirked as she looked up at the sky. There were heavy gray clouds and a strong, frosty breeze, but the sun peaked through in places.
"Headin' out?" Lydia's neighbor, Tom Pickering, looked up from his losing attempt to rake sycamore leaves.
"Going to see the folks in Maine," she said.
"You aren't going through One Horse Pass, are you?" he asked.
"Well, seeing that's the only way to the airport I think I kind of have to," she said.
"But the pass is…"
She didn't hear him. She's already shut the door and was waving as she backed out of the driveway. Mr. Pickering stood there, looking confused, before shaking his head and going back to his raking.
Lydia decided the best thing to do was drive as quickly as she could without getting pulled. Flurries started falling before she even left town, but she told herself this was probably just the leading edge, the fringe of a storm that was still way, way off. Even if there was snow in One Horse Pass it wouldn't be enough to stop her Commander.
She turned up the radio as she drove, scrolling through the stations in search of something besides Christmas music. Christmas used to be her favorite time of the year and she still loved it, but since her transformation it was New Years that was now her favorite holiday. She'd packed a beautiful dress for the occasion - slinky and black with sequins and a daring low-cut back. Her parents always threw an elaborate New Year's Eve party, and Paul Reeves and his family would be there. When he saw Lydia sweep into the room, her appearance would seal the deal.
The flurries were coming faster and harder now, interspersed with some larger flakes. Lydia increased her speed.
"You are now Leaving Middleburg," a sign read. The long, winding One Horse pass lay just twelve miles ahead. A strong gust of wind rocked the Commander. Lydia tried to hold the wheel steady as she popped a Nine Inch Nails CD into the player.
She resisted the urge to feel a touch of nervousness as the sky darkened rapidly. There was no sun now, only gray clouds so heavy they looked as if they may drop to earth at any moment. Lydia rounded the corner leading into the pass and through the flurries saw the flashing red lights. Two highway patrol SUV's were stopped and the officers were pulling out roadblocks.
"No, fucking way," she said as one plunked one down and turned to her, waving his arms in a bid for her to stop. But she halted, having no other choice.
"Is there a problem, officer?" she asked, rolling down her window.
He pointed at the sky, "Yeah there is. That." He glanced in her car. "Would you mind turning down your radio, ma'am?"
"You should be listening to the weather instead of music," he scolded. "There's a fast-moving storm coming into the pass. Record snowfall is predicted. This is a large system. We're closing the pass."
"Can't you just let me through before you close it?" she asked, affecting the pretty pout that had gotten her everything from preferential seating at restaurants to forgiven traffic tickets. But the cop just shook his head.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. It's not safe."
"Officer, you don't understand. I'm heading to the airport."
He nodded. "You and probably about a hundred other folks, but I don't control the weather. I do control the entrance into this pass, and no one's getting through. Now go home, call the airline and arrange for a later flight. I'm sure they'll understand."
Lydia felt herself getting angry. She opened her mouth to speak but as she did she caught a sudden blur of motion in her rear-view mirror. A car was coming up on her - fast. She heard the brakes jam and then watched as it barely missed the back of her vehicle and careened sideways into the ditch. The officer who had been speaking to her rushed over to where the car now lay wedged in the ditch, partially on its side. The other officer was heading in that direction, too.
Lydia saw her window of opportunity and took it. Wheeling around the barriers, she shot into the pass. She glanced warily at her rearview mirror as she drove as quickly as she dared through the winding roads. With each passing moment she expected to see the blue lights of a patrol vehicle on her tail, but as the minutes passed with no signs of a pursuit Lydia decided that the diversion of the wrecked car had provided such a distraction that by the time the cops looked up they figured she'd just turned around and headed home. Either way, it was an incredible stroke of luck - for her.
But the weather in the pass was getting worse by the second. Flurries had turned into heavy snowfall that became thicker with each passing mile. There were already a couple of inches on the ground from a weak system that had passed through the week before, but it was getting deeper now. In fact, she'd never seen snow accumulate so quickly.
When her back wheels began to slide, she considered turning around. But the drops were steep in this part of the pass and she couldn't risk attempting a three-point turn in such conditions.
"You can do this," she told herself, and gave the Commander a tap on the accelerator as it climbed higher up the steep roadway. The chains scrambled for traction and caught as Lydia leaned forwards, peering through the low beams in an attempt to determine where the parameters of the roadway obscured now by snow.
The wind howled. She'd turned the radio on after realizing she wasn't being followed, but switched it off now so she could concentrate. How many miles had she traveled? It felt like a lot, but she knew it had not been more than ten now, if even that. Two huge clumps of snow followed by a fir branch it her windshield as another gust rocked her car. Lydia felt real fear now, despite her continued attempts to pep talk herself through the drive, despite the positive visualization techniques she'd employed, in which she saw herself arriving at the airport and boarding the plane home.
She'd cleared the first rise and now was descending. Lydia's heart was pounding. She'd not even reached Fletcher's Meadow yet, named for the site of one of the most photographed spots along the past. In the spring, tourists lined the overlook to take pictures of an expanse of native wildflowers juxtaposed against the craggy peaks that surrounded it. But the road right before the overlook was treacherous, even in good weather. Now she tapped, tapped, tapped her brakes, resisting the urge to hit them hard as the vehicle descended faster than she wanted. The last thing she needed was a spinout.
Conditions were completely whiteout now. The only think keeping her on the road were shallow furrows that would soon be filled in and iced over, leaving her on a downward slope with nearly impossible navigation.
She put the vehicle in the lowest gears, listening to the engine groan as it chugged along. The wheels held, and Lydia grimly continued to inch her way along. It was in the first sharp curve that she felt her back wheels begin to slide. Panic surged through her as she steered towards the direction of the slide and got the Jeep back on path.
"Stay calm," she said aloud, but as she came out of the curve she could tell the furrows that had helped grip her wheels were now gone. She was close to hyperventilating from the stress, no longer able to see the road. Lydia knew she had no choice but to pull over, at least until she could get her bearings. But she couldn't see the shoulder. She'd have to guess.
She slowly guided the vehicle to where she determined the shoulder to be. She felt the crunch of rock under her wheels but then screamed as that rock gave way and the Commander began a slow sickening side off the road. It spun as it slid, snapping saplings as it gained momentum. Lydia was in full panic now, her head growing dizzy as the vehicle rotated faster and faster before beginning to bump and thump. The nose was forward now and she could not see anything but small trees. And then there were larger ones and she was thrown backward as the airbag deployed and the right front of the vehicle wedged itself between two huge firs.
"Omigod, omigod, omigod…." Lydia wiggled her toes and moved her leg, grateful that she wasn't hurt. She pushed down on the front of the deflating airbag, her eyes looking over the hood.
The trees were the only thing stopping her car from going over the edge of a cliff. Below were rocks. She sat stock still, afraid to move. Her vehicle had hit the trees hard, and they were anchored in rocky soil. If she moved, and the vehicle moved it may tip forward and take the trees over the side with it.
She didn't know what to do. It was starting to get dark. She'd miss her flight, but at the moment that seemed to be the least of her worries. She had no idea how far into the pass she'd gone.
Lydia didn't know what to do. She was paralyzed with fear. She knew she would have to figure it out. But for the moment all she could think to do was cry.