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Author’s Note: Whew, here it is, part two of my tale. I had it take longer because my friend who normally edits for me was out of town and couldn’t help. So this is self-edited. Any errors are mine, and likely stupid ones at that.

Warning: Contains copious amounts of snow.

Chapter 3

“Wait… How much? You said feet, right?” Gone was the bright bubbly Kat I was seeing before. Standing by the table next to me, she looked like a scared little girl. It made my heart ache, as all I wanted to do was stand up and comfort her, pull her in to a nice, warm, secure hug, running my fingers through those delightful, red curls, whispering words of comfort, using my other hand to trace her back and find spots of tension to ease…

“Paul?” her shaky and clearly worried voice snapped me out of my daydream. I could merely nod, her brows furrowing more. “What are we gonna do?”

Having lived in the mountains since my freshman year, I’d experienced only two other storms close to this intensity. This current snowfall rate made those look like light flurries. Had we been on I-70, those plows probably would have been able to keep up with it. But anything over an inch an hour tended to close these smaller highways. I know Helen, our waitress, had just mentioned a local hotel, or cabins, I think she had called them. That would keep us warm and safe.

“Ka…” I cleared my voice, made sure it was working. I was worried she’d freak at my suggestion. “Our, uh, Helen, our waitress, she, well, she said that some cabins down the road would likely be our best bet for this storm.” I felt my face getting warmer. I hoped she didn’t freak out. Of course, she really had nowhere to go. It didn’t look like she’d had a purse or wallet or anything. “That is, to uh, wait it out.”

“Oh, we can wait it out? Will it pass? Will we be ok? Where will all the snow go? Can we drive through it?” Up to this point, she hadn’t spoken nearly this fast. I needed to help comfort her. I needed to help her, but I was scared I’d mess it up. Every time I had spoken to a girl, or woman, I had found attractive in any manner, I had messed it up in some way, either by clamming up and being a bore, or by saying weird and unrelated things, seeming like some kind of eccentric weirdo. My heart pounded in my chest. It was just talking to her. Katherine. The girl with the red curls, the one who had called me cute, her guardian angel, fun to talk to. She needed me to help her, being left stranded miles from home in a strange place, seeing things she’d never experienced before.

“It… will be ok.” As if just saying it made it so, I felt a sudden calmness starting to replace my rapid pulse. “I’ve experienced storms like this before.” I left out the part that this was the worst one I’d ever seen. “They dump a lot of snow in a short period, but the plows usually clear it when the blizzard passes, once they can see the road safely again. Our best bet is to stay here where we have access to food, water, shelter, everything we need, rather than trying to beat this thing. Helen said they’ve already closed the highway up ahead, the way we would be heading. We could head back the way we came, back towards my town and house, but there’s a chance this blizzard could get us stuck in that small pass too.” As I spoke, she seemed to be calming just a little. I gestured for her to sit back down.

“So… we wait?” She slid back into the booth, her brows starting to uncrease.

“Yep. And, since we’ve got our pancakes, I think our omelets are almost ready. So dig in, eat up here, and then we’ll go see if we can find a room until the blizzard passes and roads close.”

“God… I always wanted to see snow, but this… this is incredible! There’s just so much of it. And… you can’t even see that valley we were just looking at! Paul, this is just like those dust storms back home in Phoenix! They move in so fast and you can’t see anything.”

I remember growing up witnessing several dust storms roll through Phoenix. Some were so bad you had to cover your face just to breathe. She did have a point though. Blizzards and dust storms had quite a bit in common.

“That’s… actually a really perfect analogy, Kat.” She smiled at my compliment. “The only difference, this storm leaves behind lots more accumulations than dust storms.”

“So, feet, right? You said 6 feet? That’s taller than I am! I can’t even picture that, like, what? The snow is like a wall then? Or more like a sand pit?”

“It depends on the type of snow falling, and if and how it drifts.” She raised her eyebrows at that. “Oh, yeah, a drift is just a collection of blown snow, where the winds carry it and stack it higher. You know, if we’re getting 3-6 feet of snow, we could see drifts higher than that, easily.” She started to look a bit worried at that, so I cleared my throat and changed that line of thought.” Anyway, just as we were coming in, the air was cold; the snow was coming like tiny ice pellets, rather than large flakes. See, right here on the window?” casino oyna I pointed to a large, flat flake that was sliding down the glass. “This indicates that there’s abundant moisture in this storm, feeding the intensity. It also shows that it’s really cold high in the sky where these guys likely formed. So our temperature probably dropped a few degrees. These are called dendrites. They’ve formed because the air is supersaturated with moisture and the temperature is above column and plates formations, but below needles. Basically, it’s cold enough that these elaborate structures formed almost instantly.”

“Wow… Paul, you are amazing! I never knew there was so much information about snow!” Her eyes were wide, and she had a small smile on her face. It was a stunning look for her. Those beautiful emerald eyes were captivating. Her gaze travelled to the window, watching the flakes that hit against the window. “Is it true about the uniqueness of snowflakes, that each one is different than the next?”

I grinned. This was an oft asked question, one I loved answering, since it was both simple and complex, all at the same time. And, it looked like she was calming down.

“Do you want the short answer, or the long version?”

“Do we have time for the long version?”

“We will.”

“Then short for now, and tell me the long when we’re at that cabin place.”

“In short, yes. Every snowflake is extremely unlikely to look like any other one. Actually, if you were to be able to catch every single snowflake falling out in this storm – and believe me, that’s a lot of snowflakes – there would be absolutely no exact duplicates. Essentially, snowflakes are made out of water molecules, all neatly arranged, but in slightly differing patterns. Since a typical flake might have over one pentillion water molecules – that’s a billion billions – with well over 100 formations for a snow crystal’s most basic shape, there’s more arrangement possibilities than there are atoms theorized in the entire universe. But, there are cases where smaller ones, called nano-snowflakes, can be made up of as few as 275 molecules. They can have direct copies, of course.”

“Paul, just what do you do for a living? Are you like, a researcher, some genius meteorologist?”

I took a bite of my pancake, noticing Helen was bringing over our omelets. We really did need to hurry up and get a room, and get some supplies before the snow got too dense and packed on the roads.

“In a way. I’m working on a dissertation at Mountain State College. I’m also a GTA, a graduate teaching assistant, helping out the professors there with things like labs and recitations.”

“So, are you going to become a professor? And what are you getting your doctorates degree in? What’s your dissertation about?” She was leaning forward now, asking questions after she’d finish a bite of pancake.

“Honestly, I’m not too sure right now. I’m getting a Ph.D. in chemistry, and my dissertation is actually about the relationship between quantum physics and the molecular complexity of snowflakes.”

She giggled. “No wonder you know so much about water and snow. Here I was thinking you were some fancy, genius weatherman.”

That giggle was intoxicating. And it seemed that no two giggles of hers were exactly alike, a phenomenon I would absolutely love to study in detail. Before I embarrassed myself with some silly, stupid grin, Helen arrived with our omelets.

“Here you are, Sweeties. Can I get the two of you anything else?” Her cheerful and warm demeanor was such a contrast to the blizzard rattling the windows.

I was curious. “Helen, how are you getting home in this?”

She chuckled. “Well, Sweetie, I have a 4×4 out back, with chains. I had a suspicion this blizzard was comin’ when I woke up this mornin’. You’re in that Explorer out there, right?” I nodded. “Make sure you stick to 4-wheel, take ‘er slow, and get to Aspen View soon, probably no more than a couple hours, unless you got chains?”

“No ma’am, I don’t.”

“Well then, you guys probably got about 2, maybe 3 more hours before you likely won’t even be able to get your Explorer down the road. I’ll get you guys your bill, just call me when you’re done, and I’ll get you on your way.”

This entire time, Katherine was silent, watching Helen talk, but she suddenly spoke up.

“Pardon me, Helen?”

“Yeah, Sweetie?”

“Would you happen to have an extra pen or pencil, maybe some paper?”

It was a peculiar question, yet Helen didn’t even bat an eye.

“Sure do, Sugar.” She reached into her apron, brought out the requested items, and after setting them down, smiled and walked away while calling out, “There you are.”

“She is a sweetheart!” Kat grinned at me.

“Why’d you ask for that?” I thought she might have wanted to write down what Helen said, but it seemed easy enough to remember.

“These snowflakes are called dendrites?” She pointed with her pencil to the window.

“Yeah…” I had no idea canlı casino where she was going with this. But then, she leaned forward and began moving the pencil across the paper in quick strokes. Of course! She said she was going to art school, so naturally she probably had some kind of artistic talent to even consider that. Her sketch marks quickly began to resemble a detailed spiny dendrite snowflake. I glanced at the window, seeing the occasional flake press to the window. But within moments, it would slide down and change. I was impressed. She could catch these details in such a short time. Then I noticed something that had me blushing furiously. She was leaning forward over the paper, concentrating, and it did amazing things to her tank-top. I can’t believe this entire time I’d been around her, I hadn’t bothered to check out her breasts. They were perfect, much like the rest of her, creating a gloriously symmetrical cleavage, the top of each breast curving and diving into the depths of the fabric of her top. First her eyes, and now this… To say I was mesmerized was a gross understatement. I was transfixed. I was hypnotized. I was as interested in that as my own dissertation.

“Paul? Paul? Paul!” I snapped my eyes up to her. Had I not turned beet red, I imagine I might have been able to pull of the fact I was just in awe of her artistic skill. She glanced down, and then I thought I saw her blush.

“I, I, I, uh…” I was stammering like an idiot. “I’m sorry.” I finally blurted out. “I was watching you draw and… um… I’m sorry, that was inappropriate of me to stare like that.” I buried my face in my hands. God, I was staring, practically salivating. Could I have been more perverted? But then I heard her giggling.

“Paul, I’m flattered, really.” I looked up from my hands and saw such a warm smile on her face. “I was worried you weren’t attracted to me at all.”

“Are you kidding?” I blurted out, “You’re absolutely beautiful, stunning, and best of all, you are intelligent, absolutely delightful to talk to!”

“Aw, Paul, thank you. I think that’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to me. Anyway, I’m sorry about the sudden distraction. I just had to try drawing a snowflake, like you’ve described them, kinda like what I saw through the window.” She slid the paper over to me. “What do you think; does it look like a real one?”

My mouth hung open. Her drawing had depth to it. It looked like a giant gray colored snowflake was resting on this piece of paper. Each arm of the flake was beautiful, with crisp angles. I glanced up at her, seeing a hopeful look on her face.

“It’s… impeccable. It looks real; it looks like ones I’ve studied in my lab.”

“Thank you. I love drawing things, trying to give them shape and depth.”

“You’ve got a gift, Katherine.”

“Aw, Paul, thanks. Remember though, I said all my friends call me Kat.”

“Oh, sorry about that Kat.”

“No need to be sorry.” Her smile was warm. I couldn’t believe I’d been able to have such amazing conversations with this girl. She was prettier than anyone I’d ever seen, yet I was still able to talk to her like one of my colleagues or professors.

Glancing out the window, it seemed the blizzard was worse than it had been just moments ago. It brought back the reality that we had to get moving before we got stuck.

“Kat, let’s finish up our meals, or take them with, and get going soon.” At my words, she glanced outside, nodding in agreement. As if on cue, Helen showed up with some to-go boxes.

“Sweeties, I hate to interrupt you, but you kids best be gettin’ on over to Aspen View real soon, probably stock up on some food and water, too.” She pulled our bill out her apron, setting it on the table. “Besides, we’re closin’ up in just a few minutes before we get stuck in here ourselves. I imagine that storm is getting’ itself worse before it gets better.” She chuckled and briskly walked away, clearing off the other tables. Then I noticed the other few people who were in here had already left. I had been so focused on Kat, her drawing, our conversation, that I had completely missed them leaving. A sudden warning sound chimed from the TV.

“The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm warning and Blizzard warning active until 9 P.M. this evening. Doppler radar indicates heavy concentrations of moisture over the area. Snow amounts have been expected to increase at higher altitudes, with accumulations up to 6′ overnight, with further snow accumulating another 2-4′ throughout tomorrow. Strong straight-line winds in excess of 40 miles per hour have been reported. Visibility is less than 50′ in some areas. Viewers are advised to take shelter immediately and not travel in these conditions. Swirling snow can cause disorientation to even the most experienced, with frostbite danger to exposed skin in less than ten minutes of exposure.”

The warning continued on the TV, but I saw Kat’s expression of worry continue.

“Time to get going, Kat.” I simply said, packing up kaçak casino our food and grabbing the bill.

* * * * * * * * * *

Chapter 4

After having paid our bill to Helen, she had us wait a few minutes, deciding that we’d be safer to ride with her chain-equipped truck than brave it in my own Explorer.

“OK Sweeties, follow me. You two need anything from your Explorer?” Helen was still smiling and bright as we had met her.

“Paul does, but I don’t.” Helen gave Kat a very questioning look. “It’s a long story.”

Helen shrugged, then led us through the kitchen, saw the last of the staff off, then ushered us out the back door. I was the first one out the door, and saw there was at least 4″ on the ground already. The wind and snow was blinding, and as Kat had my coat on, I was chilled to the bone instantly. I reached back for Kat’s hand, remembering she had on some kind of loose-fitting shoes. Even in the middle of the storm, her hand felt so wonderful in mine. It didn’t last for long though, as Helen was telling us where to go. She had to shout to be heard above the wind.

“My truck’s just over there!” We saw her pointing, then I noticed her truck was already on and idling. She must have had a remote starter. I pulled Kat behind me and hustled over to the waiting truck, opening the door and helping Kat inside. Thankfully, Helen’s heater was already blasting warm air into the cab. Kat handed me back my coat, but Helen just arrived and told me to wait for her to pull up next to my Explorer. As I climbed in, Helen hopped into the driver’s seat, grabbing a brush and was back into the storm. We watched as she quickly and efficiently cleared the windows and got back in.

“Whew, this one sure is a beast!” She winked at us before turning around and pulling up alongside my Explorer. I grabbed what I needed; just a couple bags, and was back in the cab as quick as I could. I was still shivering from that initial blast of cold without my coat. As Helen started driving the truck slowly into the white ahead of us, Kat grabbed my hand and held it tightly. I was glad for her hand, and I was very glad for Helen’s kindness, as I doubted I could have driven in this kind of snowstorm.

“I’m gonna pull in to the general store. Monty will still be there, since he lives above it, and you Sweeties go pick up some necessities.”

I looked over at Kat and she had her head hung, similarly to the way I found her just hours ago.

“What’s wrong Kat? Are you still cold? Worried or nervous?” My words picker her head up and she turned to me then.

“God, Paul, I’m making such a mess of things!” Tears were on her cheeks, as her voice cracked a little. “You would’ve missed this storm if I hadn’t been here, and now you have to buy all these things because I don’t have my purse with me!”

“Kat, it’s going to be alright. I’m glad I found you, because if I didn’t, you’d be walking blindly in this storm. And please don’t worry about cost. I have enough with me to cover anything you need.” Her hand clenched mine tighter.

“Here we are, Sweeties!” Helen called back to us. “I’ll wait here, keep the truck running and warm for you.”

“Helen, really, thank you so much. You’ve been an amazing help to us.” I made sure to tell her.

“Well, buddy, I think Miss Polar Bear here needs some things, plus you both need food and water, plus some heavier clothing or coats just in case the power cuts out.”

“Ok, thank you Helen, we’ll hurry back.” I plunged out into the bitter cold wind, helping Kat down from the truck. We raced inside the general store and a tiny, white-haired man seemed to appear from behind a counter.

“Hi there folks, the name’s Monty, and I’m guessing you need some emergency supplies?” His voice had an odd little whistle on every s-sound he made.

“Monty, we’ll need some food and water, first and foremost, to ride out this blizzard.” He grinned and motioned for us to follow him. As we walked I explained the other items I assumed we’d need.

“Alrighty, kids, I’m assuming now you’ll need some warmer clothing, Miss?”

Kat finally spoke up, “Yes, of course. I had, well, an emergency, and I have no way to get my belongings just yet.”

Monty took Kat back to a small clothing section and helped her pick up a few things. I began looking around for things we could do while being stuck in a cabin. I spotted a small portable DVD player and a small selection of DVDs, which I added to my basket.

“Paul, did you need any other warm clothing?” Kat asked.

“I’ve actually got that it my bag, so I’m fine, thanks.”

Monty helped us take stock of the items we had picked out, when Kat had a sudden question.

“Do you have any art supplies, Monty?”

“Well, nothing more than some pencils and sketch books.” He pointed down one of the few aisles.

In a few more minutes, we had everything purchased and ready to load into Helen’s truck. Monty even offered to help us load it, but I told him we’d get it so he didn’t have to go into the cold.

Kat and I dashed back into the cold, loading our goodies as quickly as we could.

“You Sweeties all set then?” Helen still had such a jovial sound to her voice.

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