"I'm not a minister, my father is."
"Make love to me then."
"Not so fast!" Suddenly Ted found himself in the awkward position of taking a stand about the kind of marriage he expected when he hadn't expected, one hour ago, to get married at all. "I won't take a cent of your father's money. If we get married, you'll be a cop's wife until I get my law degree."
"Your parents aren't going to like the idea of you marrying me one damned bit."
"Daddy will adjust."
She was right, Ted discovered. When it came to wheedling her way around people, Katherine was a genius. Everyone, including her parents, just automatically adapted to her willful little whim. Everyone except Ted. After six months of marriage, he couldn't adjust to living in a house that was never cleaned and eating meals that came from cans. Most of all, he couldn't adjust to her sulky moods or irrational demands.
She'd never wanted to be a wife to Ted in any real sense, and she certainly didn't want to be a mother. She'd been furious when she realized she was pregnant two years after they were married and pleased when she managed to miscarry. Her reactions to being pregnant had been the last straw for Ted, the final motivating factor in his decision to give her the divorce she'd threatened him with every time he refused to give in to whatever she wanted.
Carl's voice broke into his reverie, and Ted glanced up at his older brother as he said, "There's no point in mentioning Benedict's name to Mother and Dad. If Julie's in danger, let's keep it from them as long as possible."
"We're lost, I know it! Where in God's name are we going? What could possibly be up here except a deserted logging camp?" Julie's voice shook with nervous tension as she peered through snow hurtling at her windshield. They'd left the highway and turned onto a steep road that climbed the mountain in an endless series of hairpin turns, turns that would have made her nervous in the summer; now, with slippery snow and poor visibility to complicate things, the climb was hair-raising. And just when she thought the drive couldn't get worse, they'd turned onto a twisting road so narrow that the branches of the thick black pines on either side of it reached out and brushed against the sides of the car.
"I know you're tired," her passenger said. "If I'd thought there was a chance you wouldn't try to jump out of the car, I'd have done the driving and let you get some rest."
Ever since their kiss nearly twelve hours ago, he'd been treating her with a warm courtesy that was far more alarming to Julie than his anger had been, because she couldn't shake the feeling that he'd altered his plans—and his intended uses—for her. As a result, she'd responded to all his pleasant conversational efforts with sharp, barbed remarks that made her seem and feel like a shrew. She blamed him completely for that, too.
Ignoring his statement, she gave him a frosty shrug. "According to the map and the directions, we're going the right way, but there wasn't any indication about a road that goes straight up! This is a car, not a plane or a snow plow!"
He handed her a soft drink they'd bought at a gas station/convenience store, where they'd also gotten fuel and he'd escorted her once again to the rest room. As before, he'd prevented her from locking the door, and then he'd inspected the rest room to see if she'd tried to leave some sort of note there. When he handed her the soft drink without replying to her complaint about the treacherous conditions, Julie fell silent. Under any other circumstances, she'd have been enthralled with the breathtaking views of majestic snow-covered mountains and soaring pine trees, but it was impossible to enjoy the view when it required all her concentration and effort just to keep the car moving in the right direction. At long last, they were nearing their destination, Julie assumed, because they'd turned off the last decent road over twenty minutes ago. Now they were wending their way up a mountain in a full-fledged blizzard on a road that seemed only inches wider than the car. "I hope whoever gave you that map and the directions knew what he was doing," she said.
"Really?" he teased. "I'd expect you to hope we were lost."
She ignored the good-natured amusement in his voice. "I'd love it if you were lost, but I have no desire to be lost with you! The point is, I've been driving in terrible weather on rotten roads for over twenty-four hours and I'm exhausted—" She broke off in alarm at the sight of the narrow wooden bridge ahead of them. Until two days ago, the weather had been unseasonably warm in Colorado and melting snow had caused little creeks, like this one, to become swollen, rushing minirivers that flowed out of their banks. "That bridge doesn't look safe. The water's too high—"
"We don't have much choice." She heard the concern in his voice and fright sent her foot to the brake pedal. "I am not driving across that damned bridge."
Zack had come too far to turn back, and besides, turning back on the narrow snow-rutted lane was impossible. So was backing down the mountain on those hairpin turns. The road had been plowed recently—probably this morning—as if Matt Farrell had learned of Zack's escape and guessed why Zack had asked him to phone someone weeks ago with detailed directions to the mountain house. Evidently Matt had also had a caretaker plow the road to make certain Zack could get in if he tried. Still, the bridge didn't look safe. The swollen creek had taken large tree limbs with it, and it was moving fast enough to have put intolerable stress on the structure. "Get out," he said after a moment.
"Get out?! I'll freeze to death in an hour! Is that what you intended all along—for me to drive you this far and then leave me to die in the snow?"
None of her barbed remarks had pierced his good humor all day, but her agitated words did just that—his jaw tightened, and icy anger edged his voice. "Get out of the car," he snapped. "I'll drive it across the bridge. If it holds, you can walk across it and get into the car on the other side."
Julie needed no further urging, clutching her sweater around her, she opened the door and got out, but her relief at being safe turned to something else, something utterly absurd under the circumstances: As she watched him move under the steering wheel, she felt guilty for leaving the car, ashamed of her cowardice and worried about his safety. And that was before he reached in the back seat and took out her coat and two of Carl's blankets that he passed to her through the open door and said, "If the bridge doesn't hold, wrap yourself up in these and find a narrow place where you can cross on foot. At the top of the hill, there's a house with a telephone and plenty of food. You can call for help and wait the storm out up there until it arrives."