Sheltered by Hope Shyne

When Dakota Winslow accepts a teaching position at a prestigious boarding school across the country, the last thing she expects is to seek shelter in a freezer, with a handsome stranger, while a tornado rips the roof from above her head.

She survives the twister, but in the days to come, will her heart survive the emotional twister of Evan, her hot freezer mate, on that fateful day?

Sheltered is a Christian and inspirational romance.

The afternoon replayed at warp speed in her mind, and the feeling that she had belonged there invaded every cell of her being, as it had for an instant when she and Jolee had been talking. “Thanks for inviting me. You have a great family.”

“We think so.”

Gravel crunched under the tires as they coasted to a stop in front of the dorm. Ranger sounded a couple of half-serious barks toward the shadows, but quieted down in disappointment when he saw there was no one to bluff.

Taking in the unusually empty campus and the darkness and silence emanating from within the usually homey dormitory, he asked, “You’re not staying alone here?”

“I’ll be fine.”

“I have an extra room at the house. So do Mark and Jolee.”

“I’ll be fine.” She parroted as she pulled her purse from the floorboard.

“No.” He was insistent, and she stopped gathering her things to stare as he maintained, “You shouldn’t stay here by yourself. It’s not safe.”

“The place locks up tighter than Fort Knox, and it has an alarm–”

“Dakota, why didn’t you say something before?” With a disgusted shake of his head, he added, “I should’ve known with it being a holiday everyone would be gone. I just wasn’t thinking. I’m taking you back to Mark’s.”

Mortified by the thought of inconveniencing his brother and her new friend, she shook her head just as determinedly. “No! You’re not.”

“Then my house. You shouldn’t stay here alone.”

It was a moot argument because she would rather not sleep in the huge dormitory alone, but she was certain that there was no question of safety. Deferring to his wishes threatened her sense of independence and good judgment. “No. Please, Evan, this is silly. Just stop.” She punctuated that answer by popping open her door.

There were no further protests, and he didn’t attempt to continue convincing her of his thinking. Meeting his silent, resigned gaze, she hopped from the truck and turned back before she pushed the door shut. “I’ll be fine, but thanks for worrying.”

Simultaneously, as her door closed, his snapped open. Startled at the sound, she watched him alight from the truck. Wordlessly, he circled to the rear and dropped the tailgate. At his okay, Ranger jumped to the ground and began an immediate exploration of the area. “At least take Ranger.” At her speechless, uncomprehending stare, he elaborated, “He’s a good watchdog and well behaved in the house. Don’t believe what Mark says. He can sleep beside your bed.”

Relaxing her rigid demeanor, since she had been prepared for another confrontation over staying alone, she conceded to the compromise.

As she got ready for bed, she was glad to have Ranger’s company. Initially, he had been confused when Evan had shown him inside and after a pat on the head, departed. But, like a good sport, he had loped on her heels as she made sure the alarm reset, checked the back entrance, and climbed the stairs.

Closed inside her room, he began to explore as she carried on her nightly routine. While she was soaking in a warm bath, he hung his head over the tub and lapped up a long drink of water. As she turned the pages of a book while settled in bed, he lay on the floor beside her, gnawing at the edge of one of her newest magazines. When she finally fell asleep, she awoke hours later in the dark to feel his bulky weight on top of the comforter trapping her feet.

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