Christmas Blog: A Fortunate Blizzard by L.C. Chase

A Fortunate Blizzard by L.C. Chase

Buylinks: Amazon | All Romance

Blurb:

There are worse things than being stranded in a blizzard....

Artist Trevor Morrison has always appreciated the little things in life, treating each day as a gift. And with good reason: he’s been on the transplant-recipient list for too long now. When he learns just how numbered his days truly are, he resolves not to take them for granted. But he won’t be unrealistic, either—which means romantic commitments are off the table.

Marcus Roberts seems to have it all. He’s handsome, financially sound, and on the fast track to partnership at a prestigious law firm. In reality, though, his drive for success has meant no time for friends or relationships. Add in the fact that his family discarded him long ago, and he’s facing yet another holiday season alone.

When the biggest snowstorm to hit Colorado in decades leaves Marc and Trevor stranded at the same hotel, a chance encounter and a night of passion leads to more than either of them expected. Finding comfort in each other is a welcome surprise, but time is not on their side. Either they find a way to beat the odds, or they lose each other forever.


Excerpt:

Chapter 1

“I know this is hard, Trevor,” Dr. Wheyvan said. She gave him a tight smile, then turned to rummage through a cabinet drawer behind her desk.

Trevor took a deep breath and stared up at the human anatomy poster on the wall. How many times had he sat right here, studying that poster while waiting for Dr. Wheyvan to come into her office? Every time hoping she had good news for him. Every time leaving with an increased sense of time running out as the fringes of his optimism grew a little darker.

“We can’t give up hope yet,” she said, spinning back in her chair, a sad smile on her lined face. She held out a pamphlet. “But the reality is such that you should be prepared.”

He took it from her and sighed. Gold letters on a blue background read, Deciding to Stop Dialysis. What You Can Expect. His throat tightened and the letters began to blur. He inhaled the stale, sterile air that seemed universal to doctors’ offices and held his breath, fighting back tears that no longer had the right to run down his cheeks.

It was always going to come to this, wasn’t it? He’d already used more than his fair share of life’s allotted good luck.

Seven years he’d been on dialysis waiting for a kidney transplant. Seven years he’d been trying to keep hope alive and shiny. Seven years he’d been fighting something he could only slow down.

He nodded. “You told me from the beginning that it would be a long shot because of my blood type.”

“A long shot is still a shot,” she said.

But long shots were finite, and ready or not, he could feel his coming to an end.

“If I decide to go off dialysis . . .” He swallowed with difficulty. “How much time am I looking at?”

“It depends on several factors—age, lifestyle, ESRD complications that arise, et cetera. You’ve always taken very good care of yourself, so you may have more time than others.” She studied him for a second, and he knew he wasn’t going to like what she was about to say. “Generally anywhere from four days to, at most, two weeks.”

Four to fourteen days? His throat closed, vision narrowing in on the pamphlet in his hand, yet he couldn’t see it.

He didn’t look up. “And if I stay on it?”

“If a transplant doesn’t come through in the next six months . . . Maybe a year.”

The gut punch stole his breath, and a cold chill spread over his skin. If Dr. Wheyvan was still speaking, he couldn’t hear it over the ticktock of mortality’s stopwatch, booming like thunder in his ears.

“Trevor . . .” Her warm, comforting hand on his shoulder drew him back from the edge of panic. He forced himself to look up, focus on the compassionate eyes that told him he wasn’t alone.

Dr. Wheyvan had been with him since day one. Through all the tests, all the treatments, all the hopes and letdowns of desperately trying to find a match that would save his life. She’d be with him at the end, too.

“Nothing needs to be decided now,” she said, her voice soothing. “You’re still so young, and you’re as healthy as you can be, and medicine keeps advancing.”

“Thirty-nine is not that young. That’s pretty much midlife.”

“Since when are you a glass-half-empty kind of man?” Her smile didn’t reach her eyes, but he appreciated the gesture. Even so, he could only shake his head in response.

Dr. Wheyvan frowned. “You’ve got time, Trevor.”

“Not much,” he said, the words tight and threatening to choke him.

Her smile faded, and her eyes began to shine. He looked away. If she started crying, there was no way he’d be able to hold back his tears. This wasn’t new or unexpected, only a reality he’d been hoping would go away if he ignored it long enough. That if he prayed hard enough, his match in shining armor would appear, save his life, and he’d live happily ever after.

He snorted. Everyone else was out looking for his or her prince, and here he was searching for the prince’s kidney.

“None of us know how much time we have left—a week, a year, ten years. All we can do is make the most of what we’ve got right now,” she said quietly. “And right now, I want you to go home and enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.”

With a nod, Trevor stood and pulled her into a brief hug. “Merry Christmas,” he choked out, and then spun on his heel, exiting her office without looking back.

Five minutes later, he stood outside the doctor’s office, zipped up his jacket, and turned his face to the pale-gray Boulder skies. Light snowflakes brushed over his exposed skin like feathers, falling in a lazy dance until they came to rest, quiet and gentle, at his feet. Would this be his last winter? His last Christmas?

This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. He wasn’t supposed to be thinking about “putting his affairs in order” before he reached forty. He should be sharing his life with a handsome, charming man and thinking about settling down now that marriage equality had finally become the law of the land, not contemplating how he wanted to die.

A familiar chime drew his thoughts from the mental wishing well, and he pulled his cell phone from his pocket. Closing his eyes, he took a second to gather himself before swiping his thumb over the screen to accept the call.

“Hey, Mom,” he said, grateful he’d managed a cheerful tone. Shoving his free hand in his pocket, he turned and began walking to the parking lot, puffy clouds formed by his breath leading the way.

“Mi cariƱo. How did things go with your doctor today?” The subtle lift of hope in her voice poked at his heart. She’d stopped asking if they’d found a donor a couple of years before, but she couldn’t completely tamp down her unwavering hope. He’d lost track of how many times they’d held each other while she’d cried, helpless and angry that she couldn’t save her son from this. But very few people could, and of those, even fewer were willing.

“Good,” he said, hoping to blame the tightness in his voice on the cold air pricking at his skin and freezing his eyelashes. “Nothing new. Nothing that can’t wait to tell you in person.”

Nothing he wanted to voice over the phone right now—or could voice. The news was banging around inside his head in such a chaotic fashion that he couldn’t even begin to articulate it.

Her brief pause told him she was fighting the urge to demand he tell her right now. She usually pressed when she knew he—or anyone in his family, really—was holding something back, but she also knew when to let things go.

“I saw on the news that there’s a blizzard warning there,” she said instead, and he sent a silent thank-you to the universe. “They’ve already started canceling some flights into Denver. I want you to catch an earlier flight before they shut the airport down.”

“Okay, but I need to get to my treatment right now. I’ll call and check right after.” Reaching his car, he pulled the keys from his pocket, unlocked the door, and climbed inside, immediately turning over the engine and cranking the heat. “But you know we’re built for snow here. It’ll be fine.”

She huffed. “Nothing is built to withstand Mother Nature in a snit. Call me when you have your new arrival time, and we’ll see you at the airport.”

Trevor had to smile. His mom refused to take no for answer, no matter who or what dared to stand in her way. “I will.”

“Do it now, right after you hang up.”

“Yes, Mom.”

She laughed, and he surprised himself by joining in, halfhearted as it felt to him. But as long as she didn’t pick up on it, he could get through the rest of the long day ahead. He was going to have to talk to her and the rest of his family about what options he had, limited as they were, but that conversation could wait until after the holidays. Maybe if he put it off long enough, it would just go away. He could stick his head in the sand and pretend he was perfectly healthy, pretend his kidneys were miraculously getting better rather than worse. That he had years and years ahead of him, that he’d see his nieces and nephews grow up, that he’d find his soul mate . . . that he wasn’t facing the decision of dying comfortably on his own terms now, having lived a good life, or dying later, after his body deteriorated to the point that he simply existed in painful misery until his inevitable end.

“I love you, mijo,” his mom cut in to his thoughts, as if knowing he’d slipped down the path to Maudlinville.

“All we have is today,” she’d told him time and again. “Live it.”

He still had now, he reminded himself. Tomorrow he could think about how many “nows” were left.

“I love you, too. See you tonight.”

He put his phone away, grabbed his snow scraper, and got back out to clear off the windshield. Only then did he notice how much snow had accumulated during the hour of his appointment. Quarter-sized flakes were falling at a steady pace, the sky a solid off-white slate, and a good four inches of fresh powder already covered the roof of his car. If it kept up, he might not make it to the airport at all, let alone have to worry about canceled flights. Luckily, he’d already packed, so he wouldn’t have to run back home up the mountain after his treatment. At least there was one good thing about this day.

“Come on, Prince Charming,” he said aloud, his breath bursting into the air on tiny white clouds. “All I need is one of your kidneys. Just one.”

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