Van’s phone shrieked to life before dawn. Carefully not to rouse Janelle, he slid from bed and took the call in the living room. Ben informed him that the weather reports were positive, the roads were clear, and he and Debra would be on their way after breakfast. Van glimpsed the flashing green light on the microwave; the power restored. Quickly and quietly, he took breakfast from the freezer, dressed, and set about shoveling a safe path from the driveway to the front door. He cursed when he noticed enormous snow banks blocking in their vehicles. Undoubtedly, this monstrosity was creation of the snowplow which cleared the road overnight.

Van rolled his arms in their sockets, already burning from overexertion. His eyes darted between his new red Jeep Compass and the mountain of snow, weighing his options: ram the hell out of the heap, and risk waking Janelle. Or shovel the damned thing by hand. Man and machine prevailed when he remembered Janelle slept like a rock. Though wearied by the events of the previous night, Janelle’s happiness still mattered.

“Of course, she matters.” He mumbled to himself from the warmth of his truck, peering blankly at the cabin, wondering with a heavy heart, how it had come to this – how had it fallen apart before it begun – how, in a matter of days, had a woman affected him so – how could he protect himself from himself. “Screw it,” Looking over his shoulder, he threw the gear in reverse, and plowed through the snow bank.

Janelle awoke alone in a tangle of blankets. She sat upright and squinted towards the open window. The weather had lifted considerably. “Van?” She called. There was no answer. She called again. Still nothing. She leapt from bed and dressed hastily. “Van?” she shouted ahead of her; first in the kitchen, living room, and then downstairs to the recreation room. All empty. “What have I done?” She slumped on the living room sofa. Van hadn’t deserved her malice, and well within his rights to leave her. The front door opened with a crash, snapping Janelle out of her pity party.
“Good. You’re awake.” Van was soaked and kicking snow from his boots. ”The power is back on and Ben called. Weather’s clearing up and the roads are open. They’ll be here shortly. I shoveled the driveway so they’ll have a place to park.” He closed the door and hung his heavy coat across the drying rack. He didn’t meet Janelle’s eyes. “Once they’re settled in I’m heading home.”

“You’re leaving so soon?” Janelle stood fidgeting her sleeves. Van refused to look at her. He seemed to have acquired a knack for distancing himself from her – in the same room yet a million miles away. “You can’t leave. You must be frozen.”

“Yeah, well,” He raked his wet hair. “I have a five hour drive ahead of me – I might stop along the way depending on the roads.” He glanced at Janelle and immediately regretted doing so. “I should get out of these wet clothes and start packing. Your breakfast is in the in fridge.” With that, he strode to their bedroom.

Shortly after, Janelle heard the bathroom door close and the shower spring to life. Her heart plummeted. “Van?” She rest her forehead against the bathroom door, mumbling. “Don’t leave. Neither of us knew what to expect – both of us said insensitive shit this weekend. It’s part of getting to know one another. I'm sorry I was cruel. Just…” She whispered. “…just don’t…don’t give up.”

“Cruel!" Van opened the door, shirtless. "You're a lightweight compared to Roma. That woman had claws!" His insults made Janelle smile. "But you’re right. We came into this with baggage, and we’ve said and done things we’re not proud of.” Van opened the door, shirtless. “I’m not leaving because of this he-said -she-said, juvenile crap. Yeah, we’re a little jaded but we’re still adults. And I’m not giving up. I’m leaving because I wanna give us a chance. Don't look at me like that.” Janelle’s big brown eyes were magnets to his soul. He wasn’t aware his had the same affect on her. “I adore you, Janelle. But we should step back, slow down, and get to know one another from a safe distance.” He searched her eyes until the weight of his words closed them. Van tugged her into his arms and whispered against her lips. “Let's see where things go naturally because when we make love for the first time, I don’t want you to close your eyes and imagine I’m someone else.”

When? When we make love?” Janelle’s eyes fluttered open, full of hope. “But I’m not The One.”

“Who knows,” Van kissed her lightly. “You could be.”