Why was she a target?
Merci Carson doesn't have a clue--but she knows she owes her life to the quiet man who roared to her rescue in his snowmobile. EMT Nathan McCormick is used to handling challenging situations, but between the unexpected blizzard that stranded the lovely student and the desperate men chasing her, he has his hands full. Yet for Nathan, failure is not an option. Merci's bravery and kindness challenge his guarded heart, bringing every protective instinct forward and making him start to hope for the future. Together, they could be something special--if they can solve the mystery in time.
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Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
July 01, 2012
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Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from Zero Visibility by Sharon Dunn
Merci Carson sucked in a fear-filled breath as the car she was a passenger in swerved on the icy country road. The jumpy view through the windshield fed her panic. Her stomach clenched. She braced her hand on the dashboard.
The driver, Lorelei Frank, gripped the wheel and pumped the brakes. The car fishtailed. Lorelei over-corrected. Both girls screamed at the same time as the car veered off the road and wedged in the snow. Lorelei killed the engine, let out a heavy breath and pressed her head against the back of the seat. "That was really scary."
Merci sat stunned. She pried her fingers off the dashboard and waited for her heart rate to return to normal. "I wonder how badly we're stuck." She took in a deep breath and rolled down the window. Frozen air hit her face as she leaned out for a view of the front wheel. This high up in the mountains, there was snow almost year round. Still, it felt unusually cold for March. "It doesn't look that bad. Maybe we can back out."
Lorelei clicked the key in the ignition, but the engine didn't turn over. Her hand fluttered to her mouth. "Oh, no."
"Try one more time. Wasn't the engine still running when we got stuck?"
Lorelei nodded and reached for the key. She clicked it back and forth several times. Each time Merci felt as if a vise was being tightened around her heart. The bleak winter landscape only made her more anxious. If they couldn't get the car started, who would come to help them? The last car they had seen was right before they had turned off the highway to take Lorelei's shortcut.
"This is my fault." The deep crevice between Lorelei's eyebrows gave away the level of guilt she must be wrestling with. "I've only taken this road in the summer. It's almost spring, I didn't think the snow would be such a factor."
"It's okay." Merci hoped she had been able to hide the encroaching fear from her voice. Lorelei had been kind enough to offer her a ride to her aunt's house in Oregon for spring break after her own car had broken down finals week, two days before she needed to leave. After a stressful quarter, Merci had been desperate to see her Aunt Celeste. She patted Lorelei's hand. Playing the blame game wouldn't get the car on the road again. "You were only trying to get us there faster."
"Let's try one more time." Lorelei's hands were shaking as she reached to turn the key in the ignition.
Merci held her breath.
Please, God, let the car start.
Nothing. No engine noise. The car was dead.
Lorelei pulled the key out of the ignition and sat back in her seat, staring at the ceiling while she bit her lower lip. "We must have damaged something when we went off the road."
Merci pressed her palms together. They were stranded, but they were not without hope...not yet. They still had options.
Merci took her cell phone out of her pocket. She stared at the purple sequined cover. Who could they call? They were seven hours away from the college and six away from her aunt's house in Oregon.
Lorelei combed her fingers through her short blond hair. "I'm not sure where I put my phone."
If she called her aunt, she could look online for them and find out if there was a tow truck in this area that could come to get them. "I've got some charge left on mine." She flipped it open. The "no service" message flashed in front of her.
Lorelei sat up and looked at her.
Merci tried to ignore that sinking feeling in her gut. She closed the phone and responded in a monotone. "The mountains must be blocking the signal." Nobody was going to come for them.
Both women sat staring out their windows, not saying anything for a long moment.
Merci said a quick prayer and mustered up some optimism. She wasn't giving up that easily. "Let's see if we can dig the car out of the snow and then figure out why it won't start." She didn't know much about cars, other than how to put gas and oil in, but they were running out of options.
Lorelei's expression, that mixture of fear and despair that caused her forehead to wrinkle, didn't change, but she shrugged and said, "Okay. What else can we do, right?"
"Exactly." Merci pushed open her door. Strong wind assaulted her before she could get her hands into the sleeves of the lavender dress coat she grabbed off the seat. She let out a breath. The chill cut right through her even after she put the coat on. Rolling the window down had only given her a taste of how cold it was. They'd been insulated in the heated car.
The dark clouds in the sky indicated that a storm was on the way. Bad weather was not what they needed right now. They would have to work fast.
Moving both their suitcases out of the way, she checked the trunk for a shovel. Empty. Okay, so Lorelei didn't believe in bringing tools with her. Maybe it had been her responsibility to make sure they were better equipped for emergencies. Lorelei was at least four years younger than her. Because she had paid her own way through college by working a year and going to school a year, Merci was older than most college seniors. Her own car had everything she needed for any kind of emergency, but it wasn't running. She knew about being prepared in the harsh Northwest winters.