One snowy evening, a car wreck in front of his toy store triggers terrible memories for Jake. Suddenly, he is in the midst of another winter storm—and another accident, one that not everyone walked away from. When he returns to the present, Jake is on the ground, being watched over by a guardian angel in the form of a kind man named Eli. Eli is no stranger to panic attacks and PTSD, and he’s happy to help Jake get home—where the weather forces him to remain for the night. For Jake, it could be the first step toward a life free from fear and loneliness.
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The nightmare woke me. I lay in the dark and tried to catch my breath. I stared at the ceiling until my heart rate slowed, then crawled out of bed. The floor was freezing, and I did the cold-floor-tiptoe walk down the hall to the kitchen.
I flipped the switch on and blinked into the bright light. It was uncomfortable, but the lack of blinding pain was a relief. At least the nightmares hadn’t left me with a migraine again. That seemed to be one of the few things that time did cure. I used to get the headaches every single time. Now, four years later, it was only once in a while.
I grabbed a glass from the cupboard to get water from the tap. The shoosh of miniature snow banks sliding off the roof echoed in the kitchen and made me jump, dumping cold water all over my hand. I looked through the sliding door as I toweled off and saw snow falling thick and heavy. The dampened quiet of the storm must have caused the nightmare. I always dreamed when there was a big snowfall and should have realized sooner.
There was no point in going back to bed. I wouldn’t be able to sleep. The clock on the stove said 5:33 a.m. My alarm would go off in an hour and a half anyway. I would just stay up and start my day early, get some chores done at the store before opening.
The first task of the day would definitely be to shower and finish waking up. Avoiding the initial cold from the showerhead, I turned the water temperature to just shy of third-degree burns and stepped in. The spray filled the space with a rain-shower patter as I shampooed, soaped, rinsed, and shaved perfunctorily.
I towel-dried my hair on the way back to the bedroom and left the towel on the bed. My favorite sweater was at the top of the clean laundry basket, and I pulled it over my head, then finger combed my hair into what was hopefully a semblance of order. Grabbing the rest of the day’s clothing was quick and easy, my choices comfortable rather than stylish. There were benefits to owning your business and setting the dress code.
Back in the kitchen again, I hit the button on the coffeemaker and listened to it perk while I grabbed ingredients for breakfast. It would be smart to take advantage of the extra time, as I might not be able to run out for lunch. Holiday season was upon us, and the second week of December was busy, busy, busy. Even without my personal issues, it was exhausting.