Snowbound Summer (The Logan Series Book 3)

By: Sally Clements

Chapter One

Houses talk.

In the middle of the night—when sounds of the day have silenced, the noises that a house makes can be heard. Floorboards creak and squeak. Pipes bang as though tapped with invisible hands. Windows rattle at a gust of wind.

Summer Costello lay in the bed that had been hers since childhood listening to the familiar sounds. Eight long years ago she’d left home. Tonight was the first night back in her childhood bed. Back in her childhood home. The experience was both familiar and strange. She’d never expected she would be back—especially under these circumstances.

A scratching, scraping sound.

She looked toward the window. A tendril hanging from the Boston vine that clung to the outside of the house whipped against the window. It needed pruning. Tomorrow, she’d get out the ladder and attend to it. That’s if the weather improved; clambering up the ladder in a howling gale was totally out of the question.

At least the kitchen was well stocked. She hadn’t wanted to risk bumping into anyone in the local stores, so had done a large shop in a supermarket outside town on her way from the airport. There seemed no point in buying a turkey and all the trimmings, surely there could be nothing more pathetic than cooking and eating a Christmas dinner alone, so she’d stocked up with Christmas booze, chocolates, good coffee, and everything she’d need to cook simple meals.

Ma would be appalled to discover Summer had spent Christmas here alone. If she told her parents the truth, they would have cancelled their much-anticipated vacation in Spain with her brother. Would have stayed at home or paid for Summer to join them. She’d always been their golden girl—they’d be so disappointed in her if they knew the truth.

A high, keening sound. Summer tilted her head to the side and listened.

Again. She crept out of bed and walked to the window. Pressed her ear against the cold glass and strained to hear the faint sound through the noise of the storm. Again she heard it—a high, frightened yowling. Some poor animal was out there.

Quickly she dressed in warm clothes and pulled on snow boots. She stuck her arms through the parka and padded downstairs.

When she jerked open the front door a frigid gust of air whipped long strands of hair against her face. From inside, she’d thought it was raining, but the ever-growing pile of small ice bullets pushing against the front door proved her wrong. Hail. She sniffed. The scent of snow was in the air.

The Costello family home was a few miles outside town and anytime it snowed the road became quickly impassable. Its aspect, halfway up the mountain leading out of Brookbridge, provided breathtaking views, but the flipside made navigating the narrow roads difficult in the snow unless you had a vehicle made for it.

The Ford Fiesta Summer hired at the airport didn’t qualify.

The noise cut through the tempest again.

“Where are you?” She grabbed a flashlight from the hall table, stepped out and pulled the door closed.

The cold wind bit through her clothing. With jerky movements, she zipped the parka to the top, and pulled the fur-trimmed hood over her head. She played the beam of the flashlight out into the darkness, then back against the shelter of the house’s walls, searching for the animal.

She’d dipped her chin down, but cold beads of hail struck Summer’s face again and again stinging her forehead and cheeks as she circled the house. “Where the hell are you?” she muttered under her breath.

The cry again.

Summer’s head jerked to the right, following the noise, finally homing in on the animal’s location. The door to the woodshed was closed, but upon further examination, her flashlight revealed a hole at the bottom—a hole big enough…

She shot the bolt and stepped inside.

“It’s okay.” Her gaze tracked the beam to the wood stacked neatly at the back of the shed. To the piles of larger rings, yet to be cut, that littered the dirty cobbled floor. She played the light to the left. A pair of glowing eyes reflected in the darkness.

A dog.

Its breed was indeterminate in the darkness, but it was a large breed. Not skinny like a Lurcher, or powerfully built like a Doberman or Rottweiler, the dog was more like a wolf. Perhaps an Alsatian.

It lay on its side, its chest rising and falling rapidly. Its back leg was at an unnatural angle, and the light picked out a glistening black spot at the top of the leg.

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