Snowed In

By: Teodora Kostova

PART I





Chapter one




NATE SPLASHED his face with cold water, spattering the tiles behind the sink in the process. He raised his head and stared at his reflection in the mirror. His pale skin was flushed from the hot shower, rivulets of water still rolling down his chest. His cheeks were rosy from the cold water assault just now, and his green eyes were bright and sparkling, staring back at him. Nate smiled as he combed a hand through his dark hair, slicking it back. It was going to stay like this for a few minutes at the most, before it sprang back in every direction, curling around his face. He’d given up trying to tame it a long time ago, ever since Quinn said he liked it and ran his fingers through it every chance he got.

Which wasn’t as often as Nate would have wanted. He hadn’t seen Quinn in a year. They’d spoken on the phone and chatted online a few times, but it was not the same as having Quinn at a touching distance. And Nate really wanted to touch Quinn right now. Just wrap his arms around him and melt into that strong, warm body, feeling his heart settle back into place.

Ever since Quinn had gone to Chicago for college three years ago, Nate had been restless. He knew he had no right to feel that way – Quinn wasn’t his boyfriend. He’d made Nate no promises. He was his brother’s best friend and a permanent feature in their lives ever since Nate could remember. He’d been at their house so much when they were kids that Nate’s mom used to joke she had three children, even though she’d given birth to only two of them.

Nate sighed, shaking his head to get rid of the flood of memories. They weren’t kids anymore. Quinn was gone to fucking Chicago, probably making no plans to return to Denver permanently, and Brandon had already graduated college even though he was just a couple of years older than Nate. He’d made their parents proud, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and following in their dad’s footsteps. Brandon had it all – the classic good looks; the beautiful high-school-sweetheart girlfriend; the brains, determination and ambition to achieve everything he’d dreamt of. He was also the best brother Nate could have hoped for. Nobody but Brandon, who had the patience of a saint, would put up with Nate’s bullshit.

And Nate... Nate had been drifting aimlessly ever since he’d graduated high school two years ago. He was still living with his folks, and found a cosy job in a bookshop a few blocks from the house. His morning commute was a short bike ride, and it paid reasonably well. Considering he didn’t pay rent or any bills – his parents wouldn’t hear of it – he’d managed to save some money, but for what he had no idea. His mom and dad encouraged him to apply for scholarships in prestigious universities with good art programmes. They believed in him and his talent even when it all seemed pretty pointless to Nate.

Yeah, he could draw pretty pictures, so what? Once or twice he’d entertained the idea of finding a college in Chicago just to be close to Quinn, but that had seemed too desperate even to his own love-struck mind.

There was this one thing though... This one thing he really wanted to try.

Animation. Ever since Quinn had shown him how he could transform a couple of his drawings into a short animated film, Nate had been fascinated. Quinn was a creative genius when it came to computers and Nate doubted he’d ever reach his level of knowledge and skill. But seeing the two characters he’d created – Aiden and Sam, who suspiciously looked like Nate and Quinn even if he tried to deny it – come to life inspired him to keep drawing until he had a somewhat complete story. It was a silly project, but it was fun doing something together, just the two of them, especially when Quinn lay in his bed, his laptop propped on his thighs as they worked on the five minute movie, giggling and joking around until Nate fell asleep snuggled close to Quinn.

A shiver ran through Nate and he realized he’d been day dreaming way too long. His skin was still damp but the water dripping from his hair was cold now, and the hot steam from the shower had evaporated, leaving the bathroom chilly. Wrapping a towel around his waist, Nate reached for the handle and opened the door, stepping out into his bedroom.

“Finally,” a female voice said from the direction of the bed. Nate startled, turning so fast he stubbed his toe on the door frame.

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