Soul Bonded

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Every book I’ve written has been a team effort, and this one is no exception. First and foremost, I want to thank Ty Justice, my designer, publisher, and marketing guru, who has worked tirelessly to help bring this book to fruition. I also need to thank Angie Williams for her support, creative input, and for helping me find time to write. And to Jodi Justice, who helped brainstorm ideas for titles, each one more inappropriate than the last.

I would also like to thank my team of editors and beta readers: D. Jackson Leigh, Anne Rose, Daishonique Davis, Lisa Gebhart Longhurst, and Kris Ridste. And so many other people for their encouragement and support, including Toni Whitaker, my parents, my sister Kathleen Riek, and the readers of my lesbian fiction who have expressed interest in crossing over to read my work in a new genre.

CHAPTER ONE

Four days after losing control of her car and sliding into a mercifully shallow embankment during a Sierra Nevada snowstorm, Katie Connelly’s entire existence had been pared down to only one thought: I don’t want to die. Amazing, the way four days of freezing cold and hunger could change one’s priorities. Last weekend her biggest worry had been that she would grow old alone. Now it was that she would never grow old at all.

She’d started out optimistic in the hours after the accident. Despite the fact that her cell phone got no reception this far into the woods, she’d never dreamed that help would prove so elusive. Too far from town and without proper clothing to hike to safety, she’d told herself that a car would surely come along and spot her eventually. After all, she couldn’t possibly be the only idiot to ignore a winter storm warning and venture out onto the back roads. It might take a day, even two, but rescue would come. While she waited, she sang to keep up her spirits, read the bestseller that had been languishing in her backseat for the better part of six months, and rehearsed what she’d say to whomever freed her from her frozen prison. When that first night had fallen, she’d drifted off to sleep shivering but full of hope that she’d awaken to the sight of a clear sky and some sign of humanity.

The second day in the car had been more difficult—natural biological urges reared their ugly head and hunger set in. She started to worry about the snow that was drifting perilously high around her useless car. Day three consisted of a lot of crying, mentally cataloguing all her regrets, and cursing her lack of foresight in not packing more food. And now, day four: she was emotionally numb, starving, so cold she feared she might never thaw out, and quickly losing hope that anyone else was stupid enough to drive around in a raging blizzard.

Mostly, she really, really didn’t want to die.

And all because she’d left girls’ weekend in Tahoe a day early. If she’d waited until Sunday to head home, as planned, the storm would have already been in full swing. She wouldn’t have even made it out of town. Being snowed in would have pissed her off, but at least she wouldn’t be preparing for a slow, untimely demise. Spending one more day feeling lonely and pathetic among her happily partnered girlfriends sounded like a dream compared to a slow death inside a cheap economy sedan. One whose payment was now two days overdue.

This really was the perfect ending to a shitty weekend.

Sighing, Katie burrowed deeper into her sweatshirt and glanced at the window. It was completely covered