The hint of excitement that danced in her tone made him smile.
Turning to him again, she said, “I thought it wasn’t supposed to start until tomorrow.”
Exactly what he’d thought, too. That was what he got for falling asleep on the sofa before the weather report aired. He shrugged. “Guess Mother Nature changed her mind. Unfortunately, going down the mountain is not an option for the next few days. Sorry.”
He couldn’t readily decipher what flashed in her eyes. It wasn’t anger, but not quite elation, either. “Don’t worry. We’re good. There’s plenty of food, water and firewood. And if the power happens to go out, I have battery-operated lanterns.” Of course, he doubted any of that impressed her, especially since she’d clearly been looking forward to leaving. Her words rang in his head. I’m all packed.
“You sound prepared.” Tressa folded her arms across her chest and bit at the corner of her lip. “So, how long do you think it’ll be before we can leave?”
“It’s hard to say. Wednesday? Thursday? But you might luck out and can get away from me before then.”
“I’m not trying to escape you, Roth.”
“Hmm. Really? You seemed pretty determined to get away from me last night.”
“I retreated. That’s what people do when they’re losing a battle, right?” She turned away and focused out the door again.
Well, she was right about one thing; there was a battle being fought, but she was wrong about who was losing.
“Do you have a sled?”
She shrugged her flannel-covered shoulders. “Might as well take advantage of our situation, right? God, I miss playing in the snow.”
A sled? “No, but I have trash bags. They work just as well.”
For the first time since she’d come down the stairs, she smiled. “My friends and I used to use trash bags when I was younger.”
“So did we.” Mainly because no one he knew could afford a sled. He shuddered at those hard times. He never wanted to know how it felt to go without again.
“Do you want to eat first? I can whip us up something real quick.”
“Later. After sledding—trash bagging.”
They shared a laugh.
Okay, this was good. Laughter was good.
His eyes raked over her body. “Are you going to change? Could get a little chilly in places.” Damn. Why had he gone there? He didn’t need to add sexual innuendo to their already-delicate situation.
Tressa smiled in a way that suggested she’d caught the sly remark he’d tossed.
“Give me ten minutes,” she said and left the room.
Roth pressed his palms against the countertop, leaned forward and shook his head. The logical portion of his brain warned him away, while the irrational part kept steering him toward Tressa. Either he stopped, or he would crash and burn.
Moments later, the sound of Tressa descending the stairs pulled him from his thoughts.
“Okay, I’m ready,” she said.
Even wearing a black toboggan, black earmuffs, a black mountain jacket zipped up to her chin and black subzero gloves, she was breathtaking. Grabbing his winter gear and the bags, they headed out the door.
Outside, Roth squinted against the blinding landscape. Snow still fell in a steady shower of plump flakes. The crisp air burned his nostrils on inhale. Too long out here and he’d be a Popsicle.
When Tressa slid her hand into her back pocket, his eyes lowered to her butt. That plump rump filled those jeans nicely. His imagination took hold, warming him rather nicely. A stir below the waist forced his gaze away.
Lines of heated air danced like smoke clouds in front of him when he said, “Be careful going down the stairs.” He hadn’t thought to salt them until now, when the risk of Tressa slipping and injuring herself became a factor.
At the bottom Tressa waved him on. “Go ahead. I need to fix my sock.” She knelt and fiddled with the black all-terrain boots she wore.
The second he moved past her, a snowball clocked him in the back of the head. “Ouch.” He turned, nursing the area where he’d been hit.
Tressa covered her mouth and bent at the waist in laughter.
“Oh, you think that’s funny, huh?” When he scooped up a glove full of fluffy snow, Tressa’s eyes widened and the laughter ceased.