There's Snow Escape

By: Milly Taiden

ONE


Charlotte Marzan stared at the older woman on her doorstep. It was way too early for prank calls. “I’m sorry, who did you say you are?”

“My name is Gerri Wilder. I came with a message from Bella.”

Charlotte bit back a yawn and shoved the long, unruly curls away from her face. She looked a mess. Nobody ever knocked on her door before noon. They knew better. They’d face injury and possible death if they did, especially with her being unable to sleep lately.

She blinked. Gerri, wearing a pair of cropped pants and a flowy blouse like she’d been born in them, was flawless. “Bella. My Bella?”

As Gerri’s new assistant, Charlotte’s best friend Bella had gone to another planet to help the matchmaking woman find a lion king his mate. Bella was supposed to be gone for a few months. Not forever!

Gerri grinned, glancing at Charlotte’s Hello Kitty pajamas. “I think King Alyx would disagree with you on whose Bella she is. But yes, your friend, my assistant, and now, the queen of Nova Aurora.”

Charlotte pushed away the haze in her sleep-deprived brain, wishing to get Gerri into focus. “Do you want some coffee? It’s just way too early for you to hit me with Bella being a queen. I need at least three cups before any of what you’re saying makes sense.”

“Sure.” Gerri nodded, gripping a black tote bag in her grasp. “May I?” she asked, pointing inside the house.

Charlotte stared for a second. “Oh, yes. Sorry. Come in. I don’t usually get visitors this early.”

“A bit crabby in the morning, are you?”

“Crabby?” Charlotte laughed. “More like Michael Meyers resting bitch face. I don’t get enough sleep, so waking me up when I finally do sleep can get people in trouble.”

“At the risk of being murdered, I had to wake you.”

Geez. She needed to wake up quickly, but she’d had serious insomnia lately, and the feeling of anxiety over something didn’t let her rest. Clearly it was taking a toll on her ability to think.

Bella would blame it on Charlotte’s lack of a sex life. It was a strong possibility, considering she hadn’t really had sex since her divorce over a year ago. As things stood, her blue-bunny vibrator was her best friend during those long, lonely nights.

If only whatever it was would happen already. She’d always been this way—sensing ahead of time when a big change would take place, but unable to figure out what it was.

Gerri followed her into the living room. She was glad she lived the minimalist lifestyle, or Gerri would have noticed she hadn’t cleaned up in forever. As it was, she would not invite anyone into her bedroom. It was a war zone in there.

“Please sit,” she said, pointing to her powder-blue sofa. “I have an automatic coffee maker. It’s already brewed. I just need to pour. Cream and sugar?”

Gerri nodded. “Thank you. Hold the cyanide.”

Charlotte grinned. “You’re spunky, aren’t you?”

“Darling, you have no idea.”

She headed for the kitchen and went on autopilot while she filled mugs with coffee, cream, and sugar.

Bella had gone to Aurora, a shifter planet, with Gerri to help find a king his mate. Though the information was top secret, Gerri allowed Bella to tell Charlotte. To the rest of her family, Bella sent letters saying she was going on an extended vacation. Vacation. But then, how the hell did Bella end up being queen?

She gulped the first mug in the kitchen while preparing Gerri’s and then took the pot and the fixings to drink more in the living room. Her hands shook, making the tray tremble in her grip. This was insane.

Bella leaving for another planet had been hard enough to understand, but now hearing her friend was staying made Charlotte question what was real and what was fake. Charlotte prided herself on logic. She needed tangible proof to believe what others told her. This came from parents who constantly promised things and never delivered.

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