Massachusetts State Trooper Ross Huber is giving one last sweep of the roads before heading in for the night. The nor’easter hitting the Boston area is worse than expected by an order of magnitude, and the governor has just issued a travel ban. Ross finds a wrecked car half-buried in a snowbank and rescues its human and canine occupants from carbon monoxide poisoning, but is forced to take shelter with them in a vacant or abandoned house when the roads are blocked.
When he gets the victims indoors, he thinks the human looks uncomfortably familiar ...
Ash Machado has been through a lot in his career as a war correspondent. Sidelined by an injury, he’s returned to Boston to take up a job as a news anchor. After he loses control of his car on an icy road, he wakes up in an unfamiliar home, looking into the face of the guy who broke his heart in college.
Neither Ross nor Ash are the same men they used to be, but now they’re trapped in the abandoned house with no place to go. Can they get past old hurts long enough to get through the storm, or will the same misunderstandings that drove them apart years ago make this confinement unbearable?
Ross woke up before his companion, who still hadn't told him his name. He couldn't be surprised he woke up first. The other guy had been through the wringer. There was the carbon monoxide, the accident, and whatever was going on with all that stiffness. The poor guy was still new in town, which meant he probably shouldn't have been on the roads anyway but whatever. What was done was done. Hopefully Mr. Mysterio would plan better next time and wouldn't lose his job over it.
Porthos looked up and let his ears go back. The dog clearly had a pretty strong bond with Mysterio, whoever he was. He wasn't letting anyone else get close. "You're okay, buddy," he said, holding his hands out. "I'm not going to hurt your human, okay? I'm going to stay right here until he wakes up."
Mysterio opened one eye. "You get he's a dog, right?" he croaked, in a voice so much like Ash's cranky morning voice Ross almost cried. "I mean he's a good dog, but his English is only kind of so-so."
Porthos stuck his nose under Mysterio's arm, and Mysterio rolled over onto his back with a grimace. The guy was way too young to be moving around like he was arthritic, so what else could be wrong with him? "I suppose you speak canine, then?" Ross asked with a little chuckle. He'd met people who made stranger claims. "I met one guy who said he couldn't train his Havanese until he established his dominance over it. The thing was positively feral."
Mysterio chuckled, giving a grin that made Ross' insides melt. "No, no, that's not it at all. It's -- really? He couldn't train a dog until he 'established his dominance?'" The guy hoisted himself into a sitting position and raised his eyebrows in shock. "That's a new one on me, man. I don't think I've ever heard something so ridiculous. Did he read that in some self-help book or something?"
"I didn't ask. I just wrote the ticket. The thing was trying to bite me through the rear window the whole time. Like a little piece of popcorn with teeth." Ross chuckled at the memory.
"I'll bet. No, I brought Porthos back from my last assignment in Syria." A shadow fell over Mysterio's face for a second. "It took a little bit of doing, but I managed it. He stayed with me the whole time. I saved him, and he wound up saving me. So I guess it worked out, hey big guy?" He scratched behind his dog's ears, adoringly.
"Were you a soldier?" Ross leaned forward a little.
"No. War correspondent with one of the big networks." Mysterio looked up from his dog, and again, he looked enough like Ash in that moment to make Ross' heart hurt. "We don't get guns, I'm afraid. Just cameras."
"Doesn't that make you better off? Like, safer?" Ross licked his lips. The press was supposed to be safe, right?
"Not even a little bit." Mysterio flattened his lips for a second. Then he struggled painfully to his feet. "So. What are the odds that the previous residents left any food around here?" He shuffled off toward the kitchen. Porthos followed. It was hard to say whether the shaggy dog followed out of loyalty or hopes of breakfast, but he followed.