Updated: Feb 13
When unexpected inclement weather arises, Storm’s trip to Buffalo takes an uncanny turn when she wakes up in an unfamiliar cabin with an oddly familiar stranger.
“There isn’t much more we can do for him at this point sis. The best we can do is make him comfortable for the time he has left.”
“You can’t be serious Hope… you just can’t be.”
“I’m sorry little sis. It is what it is.”
Nothing in the world could prepare Storm to hear those words, but here she was sitting on the edge of her bed with tears dripping down her face, as she listened to her sister Hope update her on the status of their grandfather’s health. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and for a while, their family had done their best with treatment options to keep him being as much of himself as possible. However, father time is never defeated, and it was the one thing that her family couldn’t stop from happening. The more time had passed, the harder it became for everyday life to be normal. Memory loss set in. Confusion took over. And soon, Storm’s grandfather could barely remember his name was Harold or that he was supposed to brush his teeth in the morning.
Storm had been away from Buffalo since before her grandfather’s diagnosis. The longer she sat on that bed, the more it weighed on her that Grandpa Harold more than likely didn’t even remember her anymore. She’d mentioned this in the past, but her sister continually reminded her that she had not been forgotten, “I’m here every day and he forgets my name sometimes, so don’t take it personal. He still remembers you, even if not your name,” Hope would say. She appreciated her older sister for trying to console her, but nothing could relieve her grief. She couldn’t get rid of the notion that somehow, she abandoned her family.
It was a conscious decision to leave Buffalo for the glitz and glamour of New York City, even knowing that her grandfather was ill. Six hours away felt like light years to her because she hadn’t been back to Buffalo since she graduated college three years prior. Storm felt there was nothing in upstate New York for her after losing the love of her life to a fatal car crash. Tyler was her everything and made the University of Buffalo easier to navigate. She couldn’t stand being in Buffalo after losing him. No matter how many times Hope told her following her dream of being a fashion designer was worth going away for, Storm still carried the guilt of leaving because in her heart, she knew she’d left that place for more reasons than just a better opportunity. Now hearing the news that her grandfather was at his weakest moment, she couldn’t put off returning to the place she dreaded any longer.
“I’m coming home Hope.”
“When?” Hope replied.
“In a few hours,” Storm responded, “I have to. I have to see Grandpa.”
“It’s kind of late notice don’t you think?” Hope questioned. “Not that we wouldn’t love to see you sis, but how are you going to make arrangements that fast?”
“Don’t worry about that. I’ll call out from work tomorrow. I’ll have another stylist take my place. I mean, it’s not like I call out often. I’ll look for a flight now. And I’ll call you back when I have the logistics.”
Booking a flight proved to be a task. Storm had financially done okay for herself, but on such short notice, flights to Buffalo out of JFK were either out of her budget or done for the day. Discouraged was an understatement, but she was still determined. After all the time she’d miss over the years with her grandfather, she was hellbent on not missing another second. Storm decided to gas up her Hyundai Elantra and take a solo road trip.
She wasn’t really the long-distance driving type; three hours was usually her max. It was over six and half hours to Buffalo from Brooklyn. Storm knew her sister would trip if she told her she was driving, especially alone, so she elected not to call Hope back and let her know about the flight situation. After last minute packing and putting a little extra gas in her tank, Storm was ready to hit the road. She turned her Bluetooth on her phone to connect her Apple Music to her car stereo, found a playlist that she loved, took a deep breath, and rolled out.
To Storm’s surprise, the drive began very smooth. There weren’t too many people on the roads, especially headed in that direction in January, and she began to think she would arrive at her destination a littler earlier than expected. Her estimated time of arrival was 2:00 a.m., but with the highways being so clear, Storm was sure she could make it by 1:30.
Almost 3 hours into the drive and Storm had already begun to feel the effects of her decision to not get some rest before hitting the road. It was a little past nine and normally she wouldn’t be tired this early in the night. In fact, this would probably be the time she’d be putting together new pieces and coming up with new designs for the latest collection she was starting. But none of that energy was kept when it came time to drive; she needed to pull it together and fast. There was still a long and hard three and a half hours ahead of her.
Right as the fatigue was setting in hard, Storm’s phone began to buzz. Thank God, she murmured, admitting her restlessness. The noise from the phone snapped her out of the daze she was landing into. Storm was sure it was Hope texting her to inquire about the flight information and she wanted to ignore the notification; however, not two minutes later, her phone buzzed again. This time, the notification sounded more like an alert than a text. After what happened with Tyler, she was an advocate for using your phones handsfree in a vehicle, but Storm was unable to control her curiosity and reached for the phone from its holder atop her dashboard.
“Really Fashion Nova?” Storm said aloud once she realized it was just a notification for a new sale. She didn’t even know why she had alerts set for that app, or better yet, why she even had the app at all. She hated the site and always felt her designs were better. Guess the application was more like a “check out the competition” download that an actual “I really want to buy something” download. Nevertheless, Storm clicked through a few links until suddenly she heard a horn blow.
Without realizing it, her idea for arriving to Buffalo early was being altered. Snow had begun to fall heavily out of nowhere. “Oh, just great,” Storm sighed. It was bad enough she had to drive at all for this distance, but now she had to drive in the snow. She knew Hope would flip once she arrived, but for her Grandpa Harold, she didn’t care. Hope would just have to be mad.
The snowfall was starting to pick up and Storm wasn’t extremely familiar with the current area she was in. The last sign she saw said 8 miles from Scranton. It amazed her how she had to drive out of New York just to go back into New York. It’s one of the many reasons she hated driving to Buffalo even if she wasn’t alone. But the weather was certainly putting a damper on her plans and her gas tank looked to be nearing empty. Storm figured she’d better GPS a place to stop before the roads got too bad, or before she got too deep in the mountains to find service. But to her dismay, she was too late for the latter.
Storm was struggling to find a signal. Glancing at the roads and back to her phone, she desperately tried to connect to a local tower just long enough to set a direction. When she’d finally found a signal, her path became bumpy and icy, causing her phone to slip out of her hands and fall right underneath her seat.
“Fucking great Storm,” she yelled at herself in frustration. Both hands were now locked on the wheel, as the snow was clouding her vision. The wipers weren’t fast enough. The defroster wasn’t cool enough. And suddenly it dawned on her that not only did she not take a nap before she left Brooklyn, but she didn’t check the weather either. She wasn’t prepared for a snowstorm and that’s exactly what she was in for. Storm was desperate to grab her phone, but how? She couldn’t take her hands off the wheel without running the risk of sliding across the highway. Against her better judgement, she did it. Fuck it, it’s now or never, she said to herself. Bending over to make the quick pick up, Storm kept her left hand on the wheel while using her right to reach for her phone. She’d only taken her eyes off the road for a split second.
A spilt second too long…
It was quiet.
Storm knew from the maddening silence something was wrong. As her eyes begin to widen, she could see the glare of the moon shining brightly amidst the snowfall through the floor length window in the strange room she was in. She had no idea what was going on or where she was. Moving her hands along the bed, Storm searched for her cell phone yet felt nothing. She swiftly sat up, only to be greeted by a throbbing pain circulating through her head. What the fuck? She mumbled to herself. Looking around the room and seeing nothing to jog her memory, her focus at the moment was on why her head was in so much pain. It was excruciating enough to make her rethink getting out of bed, but Storm needed to know what was going on.
She couldn’t remember anything that happened before waking up in what appeared to be a cabin. She was clueless as to how she got there or who brought her there. What Storm did know was that no matter how much her head pounded, she needed to get the hell out. Oh, hell no, black people ain’t got no business in cabins, she uttered to herself.
“Hello?” Storm said softly, too frightened to really yell out. She didn’t want to bring any unnecessary attention and honestly, she was hoping she was alone. It would mean a clean break.
The quietness assured her no one else was home, so Storm figured it was now or never to find her keys and get the hell out of there. She willed her way up despite the spinning ceiling and swung her legs over to the side of the bed only to drop straight to the floor. With everything else going through her mind and the darkness making it difficult to see, Storm didn’t notice there was a bandage around her ankle. The same agonizing pain Storm felt in her head was ripping through her legs as she lay there on the floor confused and frustrated.
“What are you doing? You shouldn’t be out of the bed?” came a strong voice from behind her.
Storm was scared as shit. She kept her face to the ground until the stranger approached her, trying to help her up. Storm retreated, sliding further away from the voice.
“Don’t touch me. Don’t fucking touch me,” Storm shouted.
“Well, how else are you supposed to get back in bed?” the stranger asked.
“Fuck that bed. And if you come anywhere near me, I’m calling the police!” Although Storm wasn’t quite sure how she’d do that considering she still couldn’t find her cell phone.
The stranger posed inside the door’s threshold, leaning up against the wall with his hands folded, clearly annoyed by Storm’s threats and uncooperative attitude. He watched her try to pull herself up using the bed frame for assistance, but to no avail. Tired of seeing her struggle, he took a step towards her. Squatting down in front of her, he reached out his hand to her, but Storm kept her head down and turned away. She wouldn’t dare take this man’s hand. He could be psychopath for all she knew. No, she was going to make it her goal to get far away as possible.
Closer to Storm he scooted himself. She could feel his breath near her face. She was terrified of what was to come. Keeping her eyes shut tight, she heard him say:
“And how long exactly do you think it’s going to take the police to get here considering the near two-feet of snow outside? Or better yet, how far do you think you’re going to get with a concussion and a bum ankle with near two feet of snow outside? Point is, it’s two feet of snow outside. So, you tell me if you would prefer to sit on this cold floor or if you’d like me to help you back into a comfortable warm bed. Those are your options,” he said sternly.
Dreading the reality of his words and desperately trying to fight the tears that were screaming to come out, Storm reopened her lids and could see the covered ground from the window that didn’t have a curtain. It was a full-blown blizzard in progress right before her eyes. She was stuck. Fuck! Storm cried to herself.
Storm released the bed rail, signifying she would allow him to help her. Standing to his feet, Storm examined his build. He was tall, maybe 6”3 or 6”4 and certainly had a heavy walk. She could feel his steps rumble underneath her as he exited the room. Returning with a lantern, he placed the light on a nearby table. The glare of the light was dim, but still bothered Storm a bit at first after being in what felt like hours of darkness. However, she adjusted her eyes to the light and lifted her head slightly to face the stranger who had been a mere shadow up until this point.
She instantly noticed his pale face under what could have been a red beanie, but it was still too blurry to tell. The stranger gestured for Storm to wrap her arms around his neck and in one quick motion, he swooped her off the floor and into his arms. Finally, the two locked eyes with each other and while Storm still couldn’t truly make out his face, as her vision had a slight blur, there was something about him was that was oddly familiar to her.
Her face slightly rubbed up against the stubble of his full beard that had an auburn glow against the fainted light. Storm was holding her breathe the entire time and yet somehow, she was so comfortable being in his arms. It was as if she had lain in them before. He softly placed her on the bed, never breaking their gaze. Storm’s heart was beating a mile a minute. She didn’t know if she was more afraid of the fact that she didn’t know him, or the notion that maybe she did.
Backing away from the bed, the stranger grabbed the lantern. He didn’t smile or even smirk, but something in his eyes comforted Storm. Without saying one word, she understood he wanted her to rest and just as silently, she gave him affirmation that she would… at least until she could devise an escape.
The aroma of fresh coffee and the brightness of the sun was all that was needed to awaken Storm from her slumber. She didn’t mean to sleep as long as she did, but her body needed the rest, especially if she was to make her grand getaway. She didn’t know where in the cabin the stranger was currently located, but she could feel he was close. She needed to find her keys and her phone and make a run for it before he noticed, but first she had to stand. The pain in her ankle was still brutal, but at least she managed to get out of bed on her own, and this time with the caution of not placing too much pressure on her right side or without falling to the ground.
As she limped out of the room, she entered the living area and was honestly amazed at how beautiful and open the place was. There weren’t any pictures that she could see to give her any clues on who the stranger was, but the décor was very traditional to what one would expect in a cabin. It was open, cozy, and homey. If not for the fact that she didn’t know how she got there or that the person who possibly brought her there could be a homicidal maniac, she imagined it would be a great place to visit.
Storm searched every table and drawer and couldn’t find her keys or phone anywhere. Suddenly, she heard footsteps coming from a side door. She assumed he must have been outside and needed to hurry to find what she was looking for before he opened the door. There was a wood-burning fireplace centered in the middle of the room that was already at full blaze. She hobbled over to not only warm herself, but to arm herself. The fire poker immediately stood out to Storm and she figured it was the best chance she had at a weapon in case he tried to attack her or stop her from leaving.
The kitchen was an open space directly next to the living area and she could see he had already been in the kitchen before heading out. The coffee had brewed and there were two mugs on the counter; however, one was placed on a tray that also contained two sugar cubes, a dollop of vanilla flavoring, and a small ramakin of cream. Storm paused. How does this lunatic know how I like my coffee? she said under her breath.
“You look like the type who likes her coffee sweet.”
With her heart in the bottom of her stomach, Storm turned around to find the stranger standing behind her with his hands in his pockets. His ivory skin glowed against the sunlight that was seeping in from the windows that also neglected curtains, much like the windows in the bedroom. His muscles were defined underneath the plaid flannel shirt he wore that matched the red beanie he donned the night before. His ginger hair paired well with his baby blue eyes and Storm was just as attracted to what stood before her as she was frightened.
“Who are you?” Storm asked firmly.
“Not important,” he responded.
“It’s very fucking important. Now tell me what’s going on before I’m forced to use force,” Storm demanded with the fire poker pointed directly at his chest.
Unfazed by her threats, he took his hand out his pockets and motion to the kitchen counter, “Listen, I just saved your life. And I just tried to make you coffee. A 'thank you' would be much better than an interrogation.”
“You think I give a damn about a cup of coffee right now?” Storm replied in hostile tone, “I don’t know where I am. I don’t know you. Far as I know, you could be a psychopath. I can’t find my phone or my keys. So, forgive my manners if saying ‘thank you’ isn’t on my list of priorities right now. But if you really gave a damn, you’d tell me what I’m asking.”
The stranger raised his hands to signal surrender, “I don’t want to fight, I never liked fighting. But I certainly don’t want to fight with you. Can you just drink your coffee and get off that ankle… please?” he pleaded.
Storm’s adrenaline began to rush faster and faster. Something just wasn’t right. She knew that voice. The calmness in his voice and yet vagueness in his answers was so much like someone she’d known and cared for. Every moment she spent in his presence was giving her chills. Storm was convinced something was wrong here, but she didn’t know what. She scanned her surroundings and noticed the side door was unlocked from where he had entered. With the poker still out in front of her to create distance, she slowly begin to circle the kitchen, easing her way towards the door.
“Storm, please sit…”
“How…how do you know my name?” Storm wondered. She never mentioned her name and he never asked.
“Listen to me…”
“No. How in the fuck do you know my name?” Storm screamed. Observing her eyeing the side door, he knew what her next move was going to be, and Storm was in no position to disguise it any further.
He put his hands down to his side and Storm made a go for it. She dropped the poker and ran for the door, only her ankle would not allow her to get far. The moment she placed her hands on the doorknob, he was right behind her to close it back. She was trapped.
“Get away from me,” she yelled with tears streaming down her face, partially from the pain and the other part: fear.
“Storm, please. I would never hurt you; you have to know that. I swear,” he whispered to her. Placing his arm around her waist, he gently glided his left hand around hers while she was still holding onto the door. Storm’s body tensed. She didn’t want to be raped, but her body knew something her mind didn’t. There was something about his touch that was so well-known to her. He was close enough for her to catch a whiff of his scent. Cool Water. My God why is he wearing Cool Water. Only one person she knew bore this scent.
Her emotions were mixed between terror and confusion. As the tears kept falling, she lowered her head against the door, exposing her neck that the stranger found hard to resist. He eased himself closer to her, allowing his face to slightly graze her and softly began to place short kisses on her neck that he shifted from her ear to her cheek. Storm’s body loosened with each peck and finally she rotated herself to face him.
“Look at me Storm,” he insisted. “Really look at me.”
Reluctant to look upon his face, Storm ultimately decided to raise her head to glare into those light blue eyes. The longer she stared, the deeper she felt herself falling, and it was in that instant that she knew. Mesmerized by the impossible, and consumed by the unthinkable, she closed the short gap between them and locked her lips with who her heart was telling her was keeping her captive.
Grabbing her lower body, he picked her up and carried to the room where she slept. He positioned Storm on the bed, straddling her as their kisses intensified. Storm unbuttoned his shirt and slowly slid his beanie off his head to run her hand through softness of his hair. The pain from her ankle was almost nonexistent for a spell, as she indulged in the desires this stranger was providing. It has been too long since she felt his embrace. She didn’t know how it was happening, but she was sure: this was Tyler.
Sliding down her tights, he kissed her inner thigh repeatedly until he had reached the intersection of her womanhood. Closing her thighs around his face, he dove into her, using his tongue as his main source of pleasure. Storm moaned ever-so sweetly, and he continued to tenderly massage her clit to oral perfection. She was unable to control the pulsating shivers of her lower body and moments after he began, she was on the brink of her eruption. He looked in her eyes, signifying he was not going to stop, and neither should she. Storm could no longer hold on and he didn’t want her to. She exploded right through his vaginal kisses, and he encouraged Storm’s orgasms, absorbing every drop of her.
After she had released the tension that was built inside her, he arose, licking his lips, and hovering over Storm as she lay there. He grabbed her hands and connected their together and for the first time, showing a glimmer of a smile. Storm was still emotional seeing the love of her life. He took his other hand to wipe her tears and explained to her the pieces she was missing:
“You were in an accident. I don’t know if you hit something or if your car skid off the road, but what I do know is that had I left you there, you would probably be dead, so I brought you here.”
“Why didn’t you call the police?” She countered.
“I did. It was the first thing I did when I saw the car. You had been thrown from it. Your head must have hit the pavement or the railing. Either way, I knew whoever was in that car was going to need medical assistance. But then I got closer. And it was you. I couldn’t believe it, but I couldn’t take any chances of ever losing you again. I got here and I really got a chance to look at you and I knew it was fate.”
Storm was still in state of shock. All this time she was sure he was dead, sure he was gone, and yet here was Tyler, the love of her life, right in front of her, protecting her, and loving her as he had always done.
“You look different,” was all that Storm could manage to say.
“I’m aware,” Tyler chuckled, “I colored my hair often in college. Now I’m my natural red. Also isn’t much to do in the mountains but work out, chop wood, and make sure I don’t get attacked by bears, so year, I put on a little weight.”
“A little?” Storm giggled, “You’re huge. But I have missed you so much my love. I thought you were dead. We all did. I don’t know why or care why you needed to lie to me all this time, but I have you back now and I’m never letting go.”
“You’ll never need to, because I…” Tyler stopped interrupted by a knock at the door. He looked at Storm who looked back at him just as confused. There was so much snow still on the ground that he was surprised anyone would have made it up the mountain to get to his door. He placed his fingers over his mouth telling Storm to be quiet as he got up to see who was at the door.
The bedroom shared the same hallway as the front door. The knock was louder the second time around and Tyler shouted out to see who was outside, but no one spoke. He opened the door to look around, but again saw no one there.
Storm began to worry after hearing nothing but silence for several minutes. She slid her tights back on and began to limp through the hallway towards the open door.
“Tyler?” she called. But he didn’t answer. She constantly checked over her shoulder to make sure he wasn’t back in the house, but there was nothing. When she reached the door’s threshold, she couldn’t’ find Tyler or whoever was knocking, anywhere. There were no footprints in the snow, no car parked outside, no sign of anyone ever being there.
“Tyler?” she called out again. “Tyler, where are you? This isn’t funny. Tyler! Tyler!”
Over and over she yelled his named, “Tyler! Tyler please.”
She fell to her knees weeping on the covered ground while light flakes of snow began to fall from the sky. Her sobs too loud to hide, she dropped her head in her hands, continually crying his name.
Hearing her name she immediately boosted her head hoping to see Tyler, but to her dismay she saw another familiar face instead.
Storm found her sister Hope sitting next to her holding her IV laced hand. The beeping of the heart monitor startled her, and her eyes wandered around the hospital room in perplexity.
”Where... where is Tyler? I was just outside what the hell?”
Hope beamed with happiness, “Relax sis! Oh, thank God Storm. We thought we’d lost you little sis.”
”What do you mean?” Storm asked.
“Sis,” Hope sighed, “You’ve been in coma for a week.”