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Author's Chapter Notes:
Sara tries to keep her mind from the past...
The snow drifted down from the silver sky, lazy, without haste to blanket the once lush landscape. It was the kind of day that made one’s thoughts turn to snow angels and snowball fights with friends; the kind of day that was followed by a night sipping hot cocoa by the fire while curled up in the arms of someone special. It was perfect in its peace.

And yet Sara Tancredi found her thoughts to be anything but peaceful as she turned away from the window, leaving behind the scene of her dear friend retrieving her suitcases from the trunk of her modest car. Veronica’s arrival at the Tancredi country home should have lifted Sara’s spirits. It didn’t. She wasn’t up to the questions that would be on her friend’s pale lips. All she could think to do was slip out the back and get to her car, causing guilt to bubble in her chest as she negotiated the slick pavement on the way to the nearest mall. Veronica would need her…especially once Lincoln and his new girlfriend arrived for the weekend.

But she would be useless to her friend right now. She needed to get her head on straight before everyone arrived to celebrate her 21st birthday, pity clouding the merriment in their eyes. Maybe a party wasn’t such a good idea – not that she would ever have dreamed of declining Lincoln’s offer to throw one. He’d need the distraction as much as she. Winter had claimed not one, but two mothers over the years.

If only her birthday were in the Summer or the Spring. Celebrating her life only days after the anniversary of her mother’s death felt like sacrilege. Life was unfair on so many levels.

Had Michael already proposed to Nika?

“Stop it.” Sara tried to shake that thought from her head as she engaged in an epic bout of retail therapy. It didn’t matter if Michael married his girlfriend of two years or not. They were just friends. Period. End of Story.

But why couldn’t she think of anything else? Why was she so fixated on how wrong they were together? Nika was a free spirit; always happy, always ready for the next adventure. Michael was more cautious, his eyes serious. Though he’d once been more suited for Nika, the joy had seemingly vanished from his demeanor when his mother had passed. Just thinking of the hollow look in his eyes from his mother’s funeral shredded Sara’s heart into aching tatters.

Just thinking about the heated look in his eyes the night…

Before her mind could get lost in the forbidden memory, Sara cast it from her mind’s eye. Michael was with Nika. They were happy. Nika was good for him. He needed someone like her who could make him enjoy life, not someone whose heart was as cold as the falling snow. They would soon be married and Sara would probably find herself engaged to her own boyfriend within the next year.

“Flitting away the inheritance, Sare Bear?”

Her pulse quickened as she turned to meet his steely gaze. “Just a few things for Veronica since she can’t be bothered to take the time out for shopping while she’s studying for the LSATs, Michael.” She surreptitiously eyed the small bag in his hand with the logo of the jewelry store emblazoned across the black background, heart sinking at the sight. “And I guarantee I didn’t just spend as much as you did.”

Michael fell into step beside her and taking the shopping bags from her hands. “I doubt that. Just an engraving.”

No power on this earth could make Sara want to see what he had inscribed on the inside of Nika’s engagement ring. “That’s nice.”

“Can I ask you a question?”

Sara stepped out into the crisp air. “Yeah.”

“When are you going to break up with Paul?”

“I’m not, Scofield.”

He grinned at her, infuriating her until her blood boiled. “No need for the Sare Bear Stare. We both know he’s not right for you.”

“I know no such thing. And stop with the kindergarten pet names. It stopped being cute…” Her voice trailed off as a sharp memory of a night he’d not used the nickname assaulted her memory. “Just drop it.”

“I want you to be happy. You deserve so much better than that guy.”

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with Paul and you know it. He loves me.”

Intensity burned through his hot gaze. “Do you love him?”

“Do you love Nika?”

“Stop changing the subject. We’re talking about your doomed relationship.”

“No, Michael, we aren’t.” She pressed the button on her remote to unlock her car. “You can build a snowman and have that conversation with him because I’m leaving.”

“But I have your bags.”

“Keep them.”

“But you can’t leave without your purse, Sare. I know you.”

“Oh really?” She narrowed her eyes. “Watch me.”

With that, Sara climbed into her car and left the lot, leaving Michael in the snow.
Chapter End Notes:
This is going to be different for me, y'all. No killing.

Let me know what you think and if I should continue. :)