The snowflakes fell from a cold sky and twisted and danced with the blowing wind. With each step up the hill, the wind grew more fierce, the snow thicker, and the air colder, but it didn’t matter. Patrice and Dominic were bundled up from the cold, and even though Patrice initially protested, she was glad that they had come. Dominic had insisted they go for a hike up Pip’s Hill, the same hill they stopped at months earlier when they had been seeking refuge at Dusty’s cabin. Even though a blizzard blew in, Dominic couldn’t take no for an answer. What Patrice didn’t know, was that Dominic had planned out the day for one very specific purpose: to propose to Patrice.
After The Hunters had threatened everything Dominic held dear, he couldn’t imagine life without Patrice and he wanted to marry her. He was certain as certain could be, she was the wolf for him and nothing else mattered. Once his mind had been made up, Dominic wanted to plan out things perfectly. If he was going to marry someone, he was going to do it right, engagement and all.
The first thing he took care of was finding the right ring, which wasn’t an easy task. For two straight weeks, Dominic drove into Angel Ridge to go through the high-end stores trying to find the right engagement ring, but nothing was right. They all looked so delicate and frail, and Patrice was anything but. He ended up finding the perfect match in Timber Creek, which in retrospect, he knew was bound to happen. He found the simple and elegant ring at the local antique store. The store owner- an elderly, small woman named Claire Cleary – had carefully taken the ring out of a display case and placed it in an ornate ring box. It was perfect, just like Patrice, and Dominic refused to touch the ring until he was going to place it on her finger.
Then he had to figure out how he was going to propose to her and he couldn’t think of a better spot than Pip’s Hill. It meant something to them and the view of the town couldn’t be beaten. They got up early and put on thick coats and snow pants and braved the approaching blizzard. It was supposed to be the worst snow storm the town had seen in decades, but they were only going out for a few hours, and if things got bad they could always shift; it was one of the benefits of being a werewolf.
At the top of the hill, their cheeks were rosy and their breath rose in white clouds and blew away in the wind. The view was amazing. The lights of the town shone like glowing pinpricks against the cold, gray and white of the blowing wind and snow. It could have been on the front of a postcard – Welcome to Timber Creek! The butterflies in Dominic’s stomach were flapping their wings and the anxiety swelled in his body like a great big balloon. This is it, he thought, the start of the rest of my life. His gloved hand slid into his pocket and found the ring box. Patrice started to wander towards the edge of the hill and looked out at the town below. It looked so peaceful and idyllic, Patrice was happy to call Timber Creek her home.
“It’s so beautiful,” Her eyelashes had frost caught in them.
Dominic tried to take in the moment, but as his pulse sped up and he realized what he was going to do, everything felt surreal. He started to walk over to her. Each step crunched down on deep snow and broke the perfect silence. He pulled the ring out of his pocket. As he started to move onto one knee while Patrice still looked out over the town, a giant smile spread across his face.
“Patrice,” Dominic started.
“Oh my god,” Patrice said, but she wasn’t replying to Dominic. The lights in town turned off, row by row, and the town nearly became invisible. “All the power turned off.” She turned around. Dominic had already stood back up and shoved the ring box back into his pocket. The whole town losing power right before the biggest snowstorm in years was a bit of a distraction. Once they sorted this out, Dominic would find another perfect moment. Life was full of them, right?
Dominic’s first instinct was to pull out his phone and call Mitchell, but his phone didn’t get reception at the top of Pip’s Hill. Neither did Patrice’s.
“We gotta get back down,” He said urgently. “See what’s going on.”
“We sure do,” Patrice replied before they started making the hike back down.
Dominic’s cruiser was parked at the base of the trail and he rushed through the snow and swung open the door. He held the radio receiver to his mouth and called through the static for his faithful deputy.
“Hey, boss, “Mitchell’s voice broke through. It was calm and unfazed.
“What’s going on down there?”
“Damned if I know. The whole town just went dark and I can’t get ahold of anyone at the power plant. If we don’t get the power back up, we’re going to have a lot of cold people on our hands, Dominic.”
Dominic thought about it and plan formed instantly in his mind.
“I and Patrice aren’t too far from the plant,” Dominic was cool and calm. Patrice loved watching him work. “We’ll stop in and see what’s going on. Hopefully, it’s nothing and the power will be back on right away, but we can’t count on that. I want you to get ahold of the mayor and start putting together an emergency plan. I remember during the flood of ‘89 that we used the high school as a crisis center, let’s look into doing that. I’ll radio you once we’re at the plant.”
“Roger that boss.”
“And Mitchell,’ Dominic held the receiver close to his face. “Stay warm out there.”
“You too boss.”
They drove carefully down the road. The windshield wipers swept furiously trying to keep up with the snow, but it was of little use. At every corner, the car swung out and Dominic had to scramble to regain control. It was a tense drive, and one Patrice couldn’t wait to be done with.
“A hell of a day for the town to lose power,” Dominic grumbled as they pushed towards the power plant.
“Well it’s probably because of the storm,” Patrice thought that was obvious. “Some power lines got knocked over or something.” She stared out the windshield and quietly hoped that the storm would let up.
“Most likely,” Dominic said. “But if that’s the case, then why aren’t Randy and Marsh picking up the phone?” Randy and Marsh worked at the tiny hydro-plant just a stone’s throw from the town proper.
Patrice hadn’t thought about that. She felt concerned. The last year in Timber Creek had been eventful, and this felt like the start of something sinister. She hoped that she was just being paranoid. The front door to the power plant was wide open as they pulled in, letting in the blowing winds of the blizzard. Patrice knew then that she had a reason to be paranoid.
MONIQUE McMORGAN-UP COMING BESTSELLING AUTHOR
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