tagRomanceThe Warmest Winter, Day 03

The Warmest Winter, Day 03

byTooCleverByHalf©

Thanks to everyone for their feedback on the previous chapters. A special thank-you to my real-life editor, without whom this would be quite typo-riddled. Reading the chapters of this story in order is highly recommended. All characters, situations, places, laws, weather patterns, and sexual positions in this story are fictional. Believe me, if this story were real, I'd be a dead man for writing it.

*****

Mike's eyes snapped open. The music from his alarm clock blasted Bruce Springsteen at him. After turning it off, he ran through a quick checklist while absentmindedly going through his morning routine.

No erotic dreams? Check. No wake-up surprises? Check. Had his life gotten very strange in the last forty-eight hours? Big, whopping check, in red permanent marker.

Here he was, stuck snowbound twenty miles from anyone else, in his house with three women, who only had each other and himself for company, since they had no contact with the outside world thanks to the cloud cover being so... wait, was the radio signal clear this morning?

Leaving his toothbrush dangling from his mouth, Mike went to the double-doors that led to the balcony from his master bedroom suite. The snow had stopped; the Blizzard Of The Century was finally over.

This not only meant that he had just one last run up to the roof to clear the solar panels, but the satellite connections he used for the house would be back up and running. Mike hurried through the rest of his ablutions, to tell his houseguests the good news.

He needn't have worried. Yesterday, when he came downstairs, it had been smiles, coffee, and an omelet. Today, it was smiles, coffee, and laptops. Actually, Jenny was the only one with what could still be called a laptop. Cassie and Veronica both had tablet computers.

"I see you already know," Mike said, after making himself some oatmeal and a cup of coffee.

"My parents want to kill you," said Veronica. Some people broke the ice with a chisel; some with fire. Veronica seemed to like nuking the glacier. "I told them about what you called that song. They love that album and now they say they'll never be able to listen to it again."

"My pleaure," said Mike.

Veronica laughed. "If you ever meet them, they'll never let you forget it."

"If I ever meet them, I'll remind them that you didn't have to tell them about it."

Veronica turned and narrowed her eyes at Mike playfully, "You fight mean."

"I win. It's what I do."

Hearing this, Jenny glanced up at Mike, but since his attention was on Veronica, he didn't notice.

"So what are your plans for today?" Veronica continued.

"Well, firstly, I'll nip off breakfast early and clear the solar panels one last time. Then I'll need to hole up in my office and start getting caught up on my consultation work. I have at least three deadlines in two days, and couple minor ones within a week or two after that. Cassie?" She looked up.

"Oh, hi, Mike. Good morning."

"Whatcha up to today?"

"Cooking. Today's recipes will take me all day. It'll be great!" Mike smiled. He had learned enough about Cassie to know she meant both the cooking process and the result.

"Jenny?" Mike prompted.

"Yeah?" she said, looking up.

"What are your plans today?" Mike used a slightly harsh inflection on plans. Jenny was looking straight at him as he did so, and the embers of resentment she saw in his expression made her break contact.

Jenny had been pushing him to open up and not hang onto his past, but she pushed too hard and Mike became aware of it. Whatever he was holding back, she struck a serious nerve. Time to relent, and give him space. Let him come to her.

"I was just going to read today," Jenny said, "Don't know how long I'll be here with all those books and free time." She actually managed to sound cheerful about it.

"Oh, and what am I going to do?" Veronica said, "You know Cassie goes into her own little world when she cooks!"

"Sorry, Ronni, I just feel like relaxing today." Veronica stuck her tongue out at Jenny, a sign of continued displeasure, but with no hard feelings.

Mike licked his spoon clean then put his dishes into the sink and said, "Gotta run, ladies. Cassie, have fun." He went upstairs.

Thirty seconds later, with her eyes still glued to the recipes on her screen, Cassie said, "I will, thanks."

Jenny and Veronica shared a glance, then cracked up laughing.

*****

Veronica decided to let her mind wander, but started getting bored fairly quickly. She never wanted to become one of those hunched-over laptop jockeys who could stare at the screen for hours on end. Okay, maybe watching a video, but what fun was that without friends?

She hung out in the living room, nursing the last sips of her coffee, trying to figure out what to do with herself for the day. Luckily, just as she was about to pull out her computer, Mike came back downstairs.

"Hey, Mike. All clear?"

"Yup. Jenny and Cassie already off on their solo adventures?"

"Yeah. Hey, listen," said Veronica, "You're here for months by yourself. You work the whole time?"

"Of course not. I pretty much stick to a eight-hour day, five-day work week. This blizzard's just thrown me out of whack."

"That's not what I meant. I mean, what do you do the rest of the time?"

"I read, I watch movies, I put a puzzle together... I have an original Nintendo hooked up in the basement. Super Mario Brothers Three takes me all day... But I think Duck Hunt would be more your speed."

"...Yeah. Do you do any real hunting?"

"You mean here? Adjacent to a national park?"

"No?"

"No."

"Could you show me how to work the Nintendo?"

"All right, but then I really have to get to work."

"Sure, and thanks."

As they went downstairs, Mike saw Veronica shiver. The basement was five to ten degrees colder than the first floor. From his elevated view behind her on the steps, he could see the goose bumps form across all of the exposed skin of her bust. She was wearing a form-fitting t-shirt and cutoff shorts.

When they reached the bottom of the stairs, Mike asked, "You want me to up the temp down here?"

"You saw me shiver?" Veronica asked.

"Yeah, you look cold." What Mike didn't add was, "And despite the fact that you're wearing a bra, your nipples are showing through your shirt like twin pencil erasers... Make that twin marbles."

"I'll be alright. I can do my exercising early if I want to."

Mike opened the entertainment center in the corner of the room and showed Veronica how to turn everything on and off, and coached her in the handling of the Nintendo.

"It can handle some rough stuff, because these were built to last. But don't be too harsh- I want these to last as long as possible."

"Sounds like a couple of my ex-boyfriends," joked Veronica. Mike gave her an appraising look.

"Some rough stuff, huh?"

"Oh, god, I didn't mean," Veronica said, putting one hand up to her mouth and waving the other urgently. "It was only a joke, I didn't, I don't, I never-" Why was it so hot down here all of the sudden?

Mike started laughing. "You are absolutely adorable, you know that?" That snapped her out of it.

"Whaddya mean, 'adorable'? That's all you've got? I've been called hot, sexy, gorgeous, pretty, beautiful, and a ton of other names, and adorable is the best you can do?" Mike just kept laughing. The occasional chuckle persisted through the rest of the Duck Hunt setup.

"I'll be down to keep you company whenever I need to take a break. Is Cassie making both lunch and dinner, or just dinner?"

"Beats me," Veronica shrugged.

"All right then. See you later."

****

Mike jumped in his office chair when his cell phone rang. The house had no landline. He checked the caller ID and picked up.

"Hey, Dave."

"Hey, Mike. You still okay?"

"Behind on work, but just fine."

"Your houseguests?"

"They're okay, too. Pictures of health. You never did say how you knew about them."

"You didn't ask, and it was a busy day. Anyhoo, we had a couple of tips on our hotline about a stranded vehicle. By the time somebody came by to check on it, it was gone. We figured the vehicle stopped to check a map or something, then continued on. But with the weather being what it was, it couldn't have left the county, so we were pretty relieved when you told me you found them."

Many of the rangers volunteered as emergency response personnel during the offseason.

"So were they, and I guess I am, too. God, could you imagine if I hadn't spotted them? Or spotted them too late?"

"Don't go there Mike. It worked out fine, just be glad."

"How's things out there?"

"Plows are slowgoing with so much snow, but we're making progress. That brings me to why I called."

"I'm not getting plowed out," Mike predicted.

"Yeah, bud, sorry. There's a few reasons. Care to hear them?"

"Usually, no, but I think my houseguests might. Lay it on me."

"Firstly, it's not just plowing. Blizzards not only drop a ton of snow, the wind's blowing the whole time. That means trees get blown over left, right, center, and backwards. Now we've got a pickle. We can't check for fallen trees 'til the snow's gone," Dave explained.

"While at the same time," Mike continued, "You can't plow until you know the trees are out of the way. They'd wreck the plow, the truck, or both."

"Bingo. Secondly, it's twenty miles under foliage. We can't salt it, even from a chopper. We could air evac you in an emergency, but if it ain't life and death, you're on your own. That's what you wanted when you built the place, and that's what you've got."

"Don't I know it. We'll be careful. What else?"

"Lastly, like I said, there's a lot to plow and it's pretty much at a snail's lollygag. Frankly, it'll melt before we could get to you."

"All right, Monkey. Thanks for telling me. Which reminds me: I was wrong and you were right. The backup shortwave unit was a good idea."

"Told you."

"It only took four years and the worst recorded blizzard to make you get something right, but hey, I'm man enough to admit it when I'm wrong."

"Shut up, you smarmy brat."

"Make me, you tree-hugging hippie."

Dave chuckled. "Talk to you later, Uncle."

"All right, thanks for checking in, Monkey."

Once Mike was ready for his first break, he went out and checked on everybody. The kitchen was a culinary war zone, with the part of battlefield commander being played by Cassie, earbuds in, head bopping amid the steam. Somewhere, a restaurant should have been crying for the chef it would never have known. There was no sign of Jenny.

When Mike turned the corner downstairs, he heard a familiar pattern of sounds: the Duck Hunt dog giggling, followed by the repeated plastic snap of the trigger being fired.

"What's so funny?" Veronica demanded.

"You can't kill the dog," Mike said, laughing, "Believe me, everyone tries. I even heard a rumor once that a guy in Singapore recoded the game, giving you an extra bullet and the ability to shoot the dog with it. I haven't found it, but it's supposedly really good."

Veronica broke into a more relaxed smile, but then frowned. "Who made this gun? Why doesn't it ever hit the duck?"

Mike observed what for lack of a better word could be called her technique. Veronica was sitting back in one of the chairs, and holding the gun out at arm's length. Her other hand cupped the bottom of her firing hand; she kept both eyes open, and pulled the trigger. He took a deep breath.

"How honest would you like my answer to be?"

"If I wanted sugarcoating?"

"I'd tell you to keep trying; you're sure to improve."

"Brutal honesty?"

"Your skills would be improved by blindness."

"Ow!" Veronica said, but laughed. Her laughter was high and bright, and her eyes sparkled whenever she did. "Okay, maybe only the necessary truth."

"Of course. You really want to learn?"

"I want that dog to cry to its momma."

"Okay. Step one: get directly in front of the television, about ten to fifteen feet back." Veronica got up and stood in that part of the room.

"Now, get down into a firing position, on one knee." Veronica did so, but apparently Mike thought it was wrong. He got down on the floor next to her, and demonstrated.

"Are you a lefty or a righty?" he asked.

"Righty."

"Okay, left foot up, right knee down. Left elbow just behind the left kneecap, right elbow out. Hold the barrel with your left hand, the trigger with your right. Put the gun just under your right eye, so that the center of your vision passes directly through the double-sight at the back of the gun. When you aim, swing only the front of the gun. When the tip of the front sight is centered on the duck, squeeze the trigger, don't pull it."

Mike watched as she carefully contorted her body into what she thought he was talking about. They both started sputtering when she fell over.

"Here, let me help," Mike said, helping her. As he guided her waist while she stood, her shirt slipped and his fingers brushed her smooth, taut skin.

Mike suddenly figured out why so many authors described a sexually-sensitized touch as being "electric." The last time his fingers felt this overloaded he was trying to correct bad wiring.

Veronica felt the slight spasm travel through Mike after his hand touched her skin. She heard his brief but sharp intake of breath. She had to admit, she was feeling something similar. His hands felt strong, but not forceful, and she let him hold her steady until he broke contact of his own accord.

"So," Mike said, no trace of the sudden tension in his voice, "Let's do this step by step. You're pretty flexible, right?"

"How'd you know that?" Veronica quickly asked. Mike suppressed a wince. He'd heard Jennifer say it, two nights before, when she caught him by surprise and talked dirty into his ear while jacking him off. The three women didn't actually know that they were all pursuing him. Or did they?

"Lucky guess. And you fell over quite gracefully."

"Ha. Ha. Ha. Yes, I am pretty flexible."

"Good," Mike said, relieved that his cover worked, "Just do what I do." He demonstrated again the posture he had described. She copied it.

"Not bad," Mike said, looking her over. To be honest with himself, he'd been dying to try ever since he noticed her lax attire. Her legs were toned and tanned, a phrase which always got his attention. Since she obviously liked showing them off – and why wouldn't she? – she kept her legs porcelain-smooth. She'd tied off the front of her t-shirt, exposing her abs and the small of her back. Also smooth and taut. He couldn't imagine what her ass must have looked like.

Feeling daring, as well as having a perfectly innocent justification, Mike placed his hands on her again, helping Veronica adjust her positioning for maximum benefit.

Veronica was having trouble. She hoped that her increased breathing could be passed off as the difficulty of maintaining the pose. She had been trying to think of how to make a move on Mike, without coming across like... well, like a slut. And now, here he was running his hands across her. Was he flirting? Was he just helping? At the very least, it felt good.

Mike first adjusted her foot placement. This told him quite a bit. In his experience, a man could tell a lot about his partner by looking at her feet, predominantly how well she took care of herself. He wasn't into feet, but if he was, Veronica's would have been a fantasy. He couldn't find a flaw.

Rather than take his hands away and then make the next adjustment, Mike was bold enough to run his hands up Veronica's calves to her knees, which he then nudged into position. She shivered again.

"You cold?" Mike asked.

"A little," Veronica lied. Mike allowed himself a slight smile. He had done it to see whether she shaved, leaving small hairs he could feel, or if she waxed, which left the skin perfectly untextured. Mike felt a jolt go strain to his groin when he realized she waxed.

"And let's check your balance..." he said, providing the excuse for his hands on her hips. Mike was talking softer now, as his voice was close to her ears. "Good."

He crouched behind her as she started up the game again, reaching around with both arms to guide Veronica's movements.

"You getting the hang of it now?" Mike whispered.

"Yeah, I think so," said Veronica. Mike started to pull away. "Stay, please? I'd feel better about it."

"Sure," Mike said, resuming his position. He tried to maneuver so that she wouldn't feel his increasing hard-on.

The game progressed better for Veronica, now that she had Mike's coaching. Before long, Mike's hands were not necessary, but she'd be damned if she'd tell him that.

"I've been meaning to say," she commented at one point, "I'm sorry for attacking you that first day."

"Don't mention it."

"You're a sweet guy, and... and I like you a lot." Veronica felt his posture change as he pulled back to look at her. "As a friend," she clarified. He came back in.

Shit, she thought. Had she said too much too soon? Damage control. "I guess what I'm trying to say is that you can call me Ronni." Mike was quiet for a few ducks.

"You're not Ronni. Or V. You're Veronica," Mike said, with a conviction that made her fight back a couple of tears. She dropped the game controller, leaned back, and kissed him on the cheek.

"Thanks," she said, "I was never happy with the nicknames. I put up with them from Cassie and Jenny, but they're my friends. Other people hear Ronni and see me, and make dumb jokes about it being a stripper's name. Or worse, a prostitute's."

"You are who you are, not what you look like," said Mike, "I learned that the hard way." He wished he hadn't said hard. It brought to mind the current distraction.

"Mind if I ask?"

"No. Mind if I don't answer?"

"Nah."

"Your ducks just all escaped."

"That's all right; I'm Duck Hunted out for today. I got the method, I'll just get more practice in later."

They both got up and flexed their stiff limbs. Effective Duck Hunt can take its toll. As Mike stretched, he noticed once again Veronica's tight figure and ample bustline, and as Veronica stretched, she noticed the bulge in his jeans. Her suspicion was confirmed.

"Well, nose back to the grindstone for me," said Mike.

"I think I'll close my eyes for a bit. That screen hurts after a while."

Mike went upstairs and supplied himself with an emergency erection remedy. That is, he drank four cups of water in the bathroom. Urinating provided what for him was a sufficient mood-killer that it would almost always end a hard-on. Ten minutes later, he hurried back to the office, not only to get back to work, but also to avoid seeing Cassie, which would have delayed him by another ten minutes.

*****

"Lunchtime!" Cassie called. Mike saved his work, put down his book, shut the open filing cabinet drawer, and went to the kitchen. A few seconds later, Veronica and Jenny came in from their corners of the house.

They had lunch in the dining room, as Cassie had spilled over from the kitchen counters to occupy the breakfast nook as well. The lunch she had made was a sort of spicy steak sandwich.

"What do you call it?" Mike asked. Cassie shrugged.

"I dunno. I just made it up."

Mike's jaw dropped. After the initial near-orgasms of eating food made by Cassie, the friends began chatting.

"So what are you reading, Jenny?" Veronica asked.

"George R. R. Martin. I've never gotten through one of his books in one sitting before. I'm about ten pages into the second part of the Game of Thrones series."

"So you're abandoning me for the afternoon, too?"

"Oh, come on, Ronni, Do you have any idea how long it'll be until I get another chance like this?"

"Tomorrow?"

"We're not going to be here that much longer." Mike cleared his throat.

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