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The blanket of white that covered every surface should have created a picturesque scene. It would have if Remy had been anywhere else—but she wasn’t and it didn’t. She was forced to traverse the snowy street rather than simply admire it from the window of her warm living room, which turned it into an intimidating obstacle course.
The morning had been relatively easy as it had only snowed a little overnight, but more had fallen throughout the day which made for a long and difficult journey home from work. The entire London transport system had practically come to a standstill, as if snow was a toxic substance that seeped into every crevice and created a hazard. It had taken a while, but she was finally nearly there—a single road between her and home.
Every step she took was a careful one, sidling up to the inner edge of the pavement to grip the front walls and fences of the gardens she passed for support. Shuffling along like an old woman made her feel ridiculous, but it had proved a successful technique and she wasn’t going to deviate from what worked. It was already freezing and getting wet from falling in the snow was something she wanted to avoid. The news reports she had seen about increases in hospital admissions due to slipping injuries helped to focus her mind.
The residential street would normally be dotted with a few other people at that time in the evening, but this evening Remy found it deserted. Considering it as evidence many sensible people had stayed at home, she reasoned that walking in the snow-free tyre tracks in the road was a good idea. No cars had passed by since she’d turned onto the street so she carefully made her way to the road to walk in one of the tarmac lines, lengthening her stride as the risk diminished. Her ability to walk with ease only lasted a few minutes before the growing darkness was momentarily banished by headlights approaching from behind.
The sound of the engine told her the car was moving slowly, but Remy still hastened to get back to the pavement. Her attempt to move quickly resulted in a near-miss, her foot slipping out from beneath her as she stepped onto the kerb. However, she successfully recovered without falling over, suffering nothing more than an undignified stumble that partially dislodged her hat.
Standing on the pavement to adjust her hat before more than just a few strands of her long black hair escaped from it, the silver car slowly passed by, tinted windows preventing her from seeing inside.
Continuing to watch as it turned into a side road, she noticed that the rear lights on the sleek silver Audi TT appeared white before the light shone through them. Silently debating the benefits of such a modification to a car when it not only looked strange, but was probably illegal, she attempted to rectify her crooked hat without releasing more hair. With her gloves on, the task proved impossible to complete successfully, but her hands were already cold and she had no intention of removing them. Frustrated and cold, she quickly gave up after fixing the hat as best she could, prepared to suffer the precarious accessory since she was nearly home.
The car had disappeared from view and she could turn her attention back to her careful paces, even more concentration being required when she came upon a section of the street where there were no fences to provide support.
Within a few minutes, she was safely on the home stretch with her front door in sight. The absence of any further accidents caused a feeling of relief that was instantly snatched away with her next step, her foot slipping forward and tipping her off balance. Attempting to recover on one leg and outstretched arms failed miserably, her second foot sliding out in a wide arc before following the first. The sharp shriek she emitted seemed to reverberate through the dim white stillness, contrasting with the thud of her bottom hitting the ground.
“Aw shit, stupid bloody ice.”
As she needlessly looked for the offending patch of ice, she took some consolation from the fact that her fall occurred on an empty street, relieved no one witnessed her embarrassment.
“Now, now, I’m sure the ice didn’t mean it.”
Before she could even attempt to get to her feet, Remy was startled by the deep voice, which came from over her shoulder and cut through the quietness. Nor did she get a chance to see who had uttered the facetious comment before a strong arm encircled her waist and lifted her back onto her feet.
“Are you okay?”