Riley startled awake to the sound of the wind moaning and the entire house creaking. He sat up and looked around sleepily; his room was unexpectedly chilly. He hadn't meant to fall asleep when he'd lain down. He tried to turn on the lamp on his bedside table, but the knob only clicked without shedding any light.
Great. The power's out. He was still groggy and a little confused, but slowly waking up. It was pitch black outside. He deduced that a hurricane of ice and snow was currently beating the city to a snowy pulp.
Riley's old alarm clock was dark, but his phone spelled out seven-thirty-two PM. Thinking that might mean his parents and grandparents had returned, he stood and ran a hand through his hair while venturing out of his room. He crept downstairs and followed the warm glow of light and heat to the living room. The fireplace was lit with a merry, crackling fire that made the adjacent Christmas tree sparkle. Carol was straddling Seth’s lap on the couch, her skirt bunched up around her hips; Set’s hands were hiding her assets. They were exchanging slow, quiet kisses. No sign of the rest of the family.
Seth and Carol pulled apart, and Seth's gaze flicked over Carol's shoulder. He tilted his head, catching Riley’s eye. "Dad called while you were asleep," he said. "They're staying at a hotel in Billings tonight. That storm isn't going to let anyone drive anywhere."
Carol climbed off Seth’s lap and turned so she was facing Riley, straightening her skirt with her hands. Her voice was light and lovely, if a little breathless. "We're going to have a big brunch tomorrow to make up for missing the big dinner tonight," she said. "We're on our own in the mean time. Is there anything you'd like?"
It took Riley a moment to realize she was asking him to name the menu. "I'm not hungry," he muttered, and turned back to the stairwell. He trudged back into his room and sank down onto his little bed, shoulders slumped and back to the door. He didn't know how long he sat like that. A full night's rest was out of the question now, thanks to the weather and his little nap.
And now he was trapped with Seth and Carol with no way to escape, literally. Things couldn't possibly get any worse than this.
A soft knock at the door made Riley jump. He sat up as the door was pushed open.
"Hey," Seth said, "you have a minute?"
Riley sighed and slumped forward again, resting his elbows on his knees. "No," he muttered. He meant to sound angry, but it just came out sounding unhappy.
"Oh, Riley," Carol said gently. The bed sank down under her weight as she sat next to him. She moved closer until her thigh brushed Riley's, and he could faintly smell her shampoo—something floral and sweet. She rested a hand on his shoulder.
Seth crossed in front of him and set a lit flashlight down on Riley’s bedside table, then sat down on his other side, placing an arm around his neck. They had him trapped between them. The room was dimly lit by the flashlight, creating an oddly intimate atmosphere.
"Let's talk," Seth said.
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