Love Is Snowblind (MM)
Loner Dylan, seeking to heal from wartime trauma, pursues a new-found dream of building and training a winning sled dog team to compete in the Iditarod. He makes a difficult choice to rescue a stranger lost in a blizzard instead of seeking to win a preliminary race. This choice and its results throw unexpected but major changes into his solitary life. Can he accept and adapt to these changes?
Grey must prove himself, pursuing his dream of seeing Alaska first hand and writing about the world of sled dog racing in a powerful way to jump start his chosen sports and feature writing career. Young and naïve, he almost pays with his life for a bad decision. Can he learn and grow fast enough to survive in the unforgiving environment and overcome a rocky start with his new hero, musher Dylan?
Grey wasn’t asleep. He didn’t dare go to sleep. Even as green as he was, he could tell the dogs were tiring and the non-existent trail had vanished beneath the windblown snow. He’d sensed Norgard staggering beside the sled and almost offered to trade places for a while. But then the big man had gone down.
The dogs stopped, somehow sensing something was wrong. Grey unwound himself from the sled and scrambled to Norgard’s side.
“You okay? What happened?”
The big man drew a slow breath and let it out. “Think I broke my leg. Tripped over something. Tired ...” His voice slurred with exhaustion and pain. He slumped against the sled, resting on his left knee.
Panic gripped Grey, but then he steadied himself. It’s up to me now. I didn’t come this far to die, to lose everything. Damn it, what do I need to do?
He somehow managed to help Norgard onto the sled. The man probably outweighed him by seventy-five pounds, but together they did it. Grey knew this would certainly be a heavier load for the dogs, but he also knew somehow that they’d handle it. He had to lean close to hear Norgard’s mumbled words.
“Not too far, I don’t think. The village -- maybe another mile or two. Just trust Freya. She’ll get us there if it’s possible. Hold on to the handle, but try not to put too much weight on the sled. Talk to ’em. Tell Freya it’s up to her.”
Grey hoped Norgard would stay on the sled. At any rate, his gloved hands seemed to lock onto the side rails before he fell silent. Grey wasn’t sure if Norgard passed out or not.
Grey raised his voice so the dogs could hear him above the wind. “Okay, Freya, you know what to do. Hike, girl.”
Much to his amazement, the lead pair leaned into the harness and started forward. They seemed to be inching along, but they moved, and he kept walking to stay in his chosen spot at the back end of the sled. One foot after the other, slogging and struggling, but moving, moving, moving.
He held onto the handlebar like a lifeline, which indeed it was, but didn’t put any weight on the sled to add to the burden the weary team dragged through the snow, against the wind…
When the dogs finally stopped, Grey almost fell. It took a moment before he saw dim lights through the dancing snowflakes. Lights? Then he heard voices.
“Hey, somebody’s here. Team in.” People seemed to come boiling out of the cold darkness to surround him.
“Hey, it’s Norgard.” Then the fact the musher was on the sled and a smaller figure stood beside it soaked in on them.
Grey tried to explain, but a haze wrapped around him as he felt himself sliding into a cold, silent, empty place. He sank onto the snow and everything went out like a quenched candle.