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Winter's Storm by Gracie Meadows (1)

Chapter One


Winter Stevens hated her how her life had turned upside down in a matter of days. It all started when her father told her she needed to stop playing with paint and wood, and start focusing on business; after all, that’s why they’d sent her to college. God, did she hate it. She was never a woman who did numbers or wanted to conquer the world with high-rises and parking lots. No, she would rather stay outside, smell the flowers, and make bird baths while drinking fresh lemonade on a rocker. Ha, was that whole thought short-lived.

Graduation had been only a month ago, and now she was on her way to some small town with her father while he set up a meeting with some landowner. Her wish was that the landowner had some common sense and could outwit her father’s business prowess. However, right now, he was sitting in the hotel meeting rooms going over charts, stats, and figures his other partners had laid out, while she went into town to look around. Stuffy hotels and snobby people just weren’t her; even her mother had noticed that at a young age. She loved both her parents – they just didn’t understand her, understand her way of being free and not needing money to survive. Then again, when you come from a family born with silver spoons in their mouths, it’s hard to know what it would be like any other way.

Walking around the small shops, she smiled as she found some cute outfits made from soft cotton lace in a beautiful light blue color she loved. The color reminded her of the sky on a clear day. Going inside, she bought a few different ones that would actually fit her larger frame and hide all her curvier parts, before moving on to other shops, stocking up on various other goodies from the local stores. It was one of the reasons why she loved small towns. Knowing people cared about their product and finding things one didn’t find in a local mall.

With bags in arms, she made a trip back to the hotel, to drop everything off before changing to meet her father for dinner. They had a schedule all laid out, and one she would do her best to follow, but there was no guarantee with him. Putting on one of her new dresses, happy it made her look slimmer, Winter made sure her hair looked presentable, up in a loose French twist before applying her makeup. Generally, she would leave it down, but her mother had always taught her that a woman of money should look clean and presentable, and always wear her hair up. Then again, even with the many exercise classes she’d taken to lose weight ever since she was a child, it was never enough. She couldn’t have her mother’s size-two figure. No, she took after her grandmother at a size fourteen. Not that it was bad; she’d worked hard to get down to a fourteen from a sixteen. A woman with money wasn’t large, she was petite, and had the money to make it that way, too. Ugh. Boy, she wished she could wash that thought right out of her brain. It was sad that money couldn’t buy someone happiness.

Slipping on her strappy sandal shoes, she made her way downstairs for dinner. Her father was, like she expected, talking on the phone with papers in hand. He looked up when he saw her, ending the call.

“Dinner already?” Glancing at his watch.

“Yes, seven, like we planned.” Putting on a sweet smile, she walked over to him. “You ready?”

“Oh, Winter, I can’t. I have to get this all squared away before tomorrow’s meeting. But I’ll have the staff bring me something to eat. You could stay and help me, learn the ropes, see what I do. Someday, you will be doing this, too.”

Shaking her head, she stepped away. “That’s okay, Father; I’ll learn in time. This trip is to get a better understanding of the company and what it does for the people. I’ll start at the bottom like everyone else.” It looked like he was going to protest, but instead, his phone rang, effectively dismissing her from their conversation. Fine with her, she wanted to go out anyway.

After stopping by the reception desk, she asked for the best burgers in town, since she didn’t want to eat in the stuffy hotel.

“That would be Woodpecker’s Bar, Miss.” He, tried to tell her it wasn’t her crowd, but she’d had enough of people telling her what to do today. Instead, she walked right out the door, catching a cab before telling the driver where to go.

Surprisingly, the drive only took about fifteen minutes, after which she made sure to over-pay the cabby. He seemed sweet and told her to be careful and call him if she needed a ride back. That was something she didn’t find in the big city.

Getting out of the cab, she looked up at the large building in question. It was loud, outdated, and smelled of meat and beer, and she loved every second of it. This wasn’t a regular place to go, but damn it if it wasn’t where she wanted to be. Her so-called friends back home enjoyed the high-class bars with fruity drinks and martinis. She actually preferred the bitter brew of beer and the undercooked taste of beef. Not that her parents would ever let her do such a thing.

Tugging on the door, she made her way inside, only to find she was overdressed, by a lot. The woman wore short jean shorts, skirts, or something made out of a jean material, and the men the same with simple t-shirts. Her dress and heels screamed ‘City Girl’ with big neon signs. That wasn’t going to stop her. Finding a small table at the back, she waited, looking around, enjoying the music and comfort this small bar brought. She’d lived her whole life in Seattle, but this was a whole different realm.

“Hey there, my name’s Christal, can I get you anything?” Oh, guess she had to order, but she didn’t find the menu until the smiling waitress pointed it out to her. Grabbing the single plastic menu stuck between the ketchup and salt shakers, she read the few choices. Instantly, she spotted the cheeseburger and ordered that with bacon and curly fries. Oh, and a beer, whatever was on tap. There wasn’t anyone to tell her to eat the salad, or order for her, making sure she always remembered those twenty pounds she never seemed to lose.

Looking around the bar, it was easy to see why so many people came here. The bar seemed pretty busy for a Thursday night. She saw a big laughing Woody Woodpecker made out of wood with a large mug of beer in his hand. It was awesome.

Men and woman danced on the floor on the other side of the bar, and various people sat on stools or at tables. It was cozy, and she instantly felt like home, more herself than she had been anywhere else.

It wasn’t long before her food came, and she dug in. Sure enough, it was the best burger she’d ever eaten, and the fries were crispy and perfect. This was exactly what she needed. Eating her food while humming along with the music, she almost missed the man who slid into the other side of the booth with her.

“Umm, hi,” she said, wiping her mouth. The man in question sported a plain blue shirt and jeans, with long hair pulled up into a pony. His clean-shaven face was cute; however, she wasn’t interested.

“Hey there, sweet cheeks. I saw you sittin’ all by yourself, and figured I’d see if you wanted to dance.” She wasn’t much of a dancer, and she really didn’t want to dance with him. Well, with anyone, really. Her idea of a good time was drinking her beer and people watching, but before she could protest nicely, he got out of his seat, tugging her arm, making her follow. Fine, one dance, she told herself, then she would sit and finish another beer before heading back to the hotel to bed. She had to attend the meeting tomorrow to observe what her father did and learn how to do it later herself. Ugh, so not wanting to think about family right now. Maybe dancing was the best thing for her.

He tugged a little more, and she practically fell into him. His arm snaked around her waist while they swayed back and forth to the rhythm of the music. He was fun enough, just wasn’t really her type.

“Travis,” he said, answering her unasked question, while she placed her hands on his upper arms.

“Winter,” she replied before he asked, while he spun her on the dance floor. It wasn’t so bad for the first dance. Then the second dance came, and she really wanted to sit back down again. Sadly, his hands stayed fast to her lower back, before sliding down to her ass. Damn, he was handsy.

“I think I should sit back down now. Thanks for the dance.”

“Aw, come now, we just got started. Stay a bit and dance.”

“It’s really okay. Thank you again.” Tugging out of his hold, she managed to make her way to the bar, trying to let him know she didn’t want to be near him. Quickly ordering a shot of tequila, she took it, gulped it down and ordered another before he could make his way back over to her. Just as she reached it, he wrapped an arm around her, landing on her stomach, making her instantly clench. She hated her belly. The rolls were easy to hide in this dress, but she couldn’t hide it any longer if he felt it.

“See, you got one for me, too.” He took her second drink and knocked it back before she could protest.”

“That was for someone else.”

“Yeah, you sure about that, sweet cheeks? You came in by yourself, sitting alone and all. You looked kinda lonely.”

“I’m not lonely, just waiting for my boyfriend to get here. I was being nice when I danced with you.” Trying not to wound him, but he just didn’t seem to get the message.

“That so? Then where is this mysterious boyfriend?” And thank goodness, on cue, the doors swung open and the tallest and almost scariest man she had ever seen, walked in. His hair was cut short, but a clean-cut beard made him look like someone who people wouldn’t get pissed at, or people would generally stay away from—well, unless those people were her. Sucking up all her courage, she walked over to him, tugging on his shirt, getting his attention as he looked around.

“Please, just kiss me?” She sounded desperate; her plan would work if he played along. Then Travis would leave her alone, making her departure tonight easier.

“You crazy, lady?” He tugged at her hand, but she didn’t let go.

“Guy at the bar won’t leave me alone, please. I need him to think I’m taken. I promise I’ll buy you drinks, food, or whatever you want, just help me out.”

“Seriously?” He looked at the man, then back at her. She bit her lip, nodding, praying he would take pity on her. “Whatever.” His arm reached up, grabbing her around her back, tugging her close to his body before he lowered his mouth to hers, kissing her. It wasn’t a sweet peck like one would think he would do. No, it was a full-consuming, all-demanding, body-clenching, pussy-dripping type of kiss. Her toes curled as he thrust his tongue in her mouth, making her moan. He didn’t stop his pressure; reaching up with his other hand, he tugged out her hair clip before threading his fingers through her hair. Unable to stop a mewl from escaping, she begged for more, begged for him to take her.

He broke the kiss, resting his head against hers. “Damn, Cookie, that was one hell of a kiss, but you owe me, and I want food and beer. Come.” Grabbing her around the waist, he pulled her to the bar.

“Christal, burger and beer.” He looked down at her, waiting for her answer.

“Beer for me too.”

“Two beers,” he yelled out before turning to Travis, who was standing there, glaring at them both.

“Jay? You’re screwing Jay?”

“Got a problem with that, Travis? If so, go fuck off and screw the nearest hole. This one is taken,” Jay snapped. Jay, it was a strong name for him, and she really liked the way it sounded on her tongue.

Travis left without another word.

“You got some explaining to do, and I’m hungry. You got a table?” Nodding, she walked over to her booth before he sat down opposite her.

“Finish your fries, while we wait.”

“I really do appreciate your help. I’m sorry if I messed up your plans, if you had any.”

“Nothing to it, but you owe me, Cookie.”

“Winter,” she quipped, trying to let him know her name.

“Seriously? Your parents named you after a season? That’s messed up.”

“Yup, but it is what it is.” They both sat in silence while he ate and drank his beer, and she had another. By the time he was done, she had paid for the drinks and left a nice tip for Christal.

It seemed that Travis couldn’t take a hint, and came back over when Jay went to use the bathroom.

“You fucking him? Seriously. He’s just using you for a piece of ass.”

“And you weren’t,” she quipped.

“Didn’t say that, but I will tell ya that I would’ve made you come at least a few times before I did. Made it real good for you.” His arm reached up, grabbing her, and since she was already standing to leave, she tumbled into him, making it easier for him to hold her body against him. It just seemed he didn’t take the hint very well.

“Not happening. Sorry.” Doing her best, she pushed against him; however, he was relentless in his pursuit to get into her panties as his damn hand landed on her right ass cheek, grabbing it, hard.

“I asked nicely; now I’m telling ya. Since that lug head left you to yourself, I get you now. I promise to go sweet and slow, at first,” the asshole whispered in her ear, but if anything his smell made her nauseated, and she felt like she wanted to lose her dinner. Instead, she was shockingly ripped away from him before she could react with a knee to his nuts.

“Get your hands off her, dipshit. This is my girl, and ain’t nobody fucking her but me.”

“Think the lady should choose. Besides, you spend so much time away from people, do you even remember how to get it up anymore?”

“Funny coming from a rich momma’s boy, Travis. Now, fuck off.” Jay managed to get her away from him, pushing Travis in the process.

“Really, dipshit? You gonna fight over a piece of pussy?” The growl Jay made, did, in fact, go straight to her pussy, as he lifted an arm, decking Travis with a right hook, sending the man backward and to the ground. Travis didn’t say anything, just laid there looking up at them both.

“Let’s fucking go.” As Jay dragged her out of the bar, Winter started to trip, making him pick her up, practically throwing her into the passenger seat of his truck.

“Umm, thanks. But I need to know where we’re going?” The truck was rolling down a road she didn’t know, but was still in town when they hit a red light.

“Right now, Cookie, I’m all stirred up and need a release. You smelling all kinds of sweet, I want to take every last inch of your sexy body, biting and sucking it all into my mouth. I want your legs by my ears while I eat that pussy of yours before I fuck it like the dirty slut I know you wanna be.” She must have looked like a fish out of water as her mouth opened and closed several times before only just nodding.

“Good girl.” Smirking at her, he reached over, yanking her head to his before his lips branded her own with a kiss that would make Hades burst into flames. Holy shit. When he released her, his eyes were smoldering with desire, for her. The light turned green, and it was go time, for everything.