As Neela squeezed through the front door of the apartment building, which she could barely open from the amount of snow that blocked it, the cold air hit her as if she was being smacked across the face. Pulling her hat down a little further over her ears, she stepped out into the snow and immediately shielded her eyes from the bright sun that glared off the frozen whiteness that surrounded her. She walked down a narrow path that led toward the apartment building parking lot. She was grateful that someone had obviously already shoveled the path. She looked around for Ray, or his car, but saw nothing but snow. Everything was completely covered.
"Ray!" She called out.
"Over here!" He shouted back. She followed the sound of his voice, trudging through the thick carpet of snow underneath her. The walk was slow going. In some places, the snow was up to her waist. She was thankful, though, that it wasn't any higher. Even though it had really snowed somewhere close to sixty inches, the wind had picked up some of the top layers of snow, which caused large snow drifts in certain areas. Neela could see that some of the drifts against the side of the apartment building towered over her head.
"We're never getting out of here," she stated as she finally made her way over to Ray. She was already exhausted and panting heavily from her short walk. Ray had his shovel in the ground. He scooped up a large pile of snow and carelessly threw it behind him. He had only managed to skim off a top layer of snow away from one of the front tires.
"Not without breaking our backs," he remarked, already beginning to feel the strain on his back. He dug his shovel into the snow again, picked up as much as he could, and tossed it behind him. Neela made her way over to the other tire and began shoveling.
This is hopeless, she thought as she realized that there were five or six layers of snow that would have to be shoveled through before you could even think of reaching the pavement.
As she tossed away her seventh pile of snow, Ray flung the snow from his shovel into the spot she had just cleared.
"Hey!" She shouted.
Ray turned to look at her and chuckled. He really hadn't meant to throw snow on her area, but it was funny.
"You really should get a move on if you don't want to be late," he smirked.
Neela scooped up snow in her hand and threw it at him. The poorly made snowball missed him by a good foot.
Okay, I am really going to work on my aim, she thought, because I am just pitiful.
"If you're going to throw a snowball," Ray began, "you at least should have the decency to do it right."
He began to gather snow carefully in his gloved hands. Neela squealed and darted behind the car, trying to protect herself. After a good solid minute, when she didn't hear him, she peered out behind the front of the Ray's car, wondering what he was doing. Not being able to see him, she took a step forward. She felt the snowball hit her square in the back.
She whirled around and saw him behind her, howling with laughter.
"You are so going to pay for that!" She yelled, lunging for him.
She sure is cute when she's angry, he surmised, running away from her.
Even though she made a valiant effort to chase him, with the deep snow, she didn't get very far. They both ran around the car as fast as the snow beneath their feet would allow them to. Neela scooped up snow in her hand and worked it into a fairly large snowball. She hurled it at him, and, amazingly, managed to hit him in the leg.
"We're supposed to be clearing the snow, not throwing it," he reminded her as he turned to face her. She was several feet away and had another snowball ready in her hand.
"You started it," she retorted.
"Actually, you threw the first snowball. Not that I would even consider that pitiful thing a snowball, but…"
"You threw snow into my pile," she accused, pointing her finger at him.
"Well, whoever started it, and I'm not saying I did, I think we should get back to work," he remarked, "or we'll never get out of here." He held out his right hand to her. "Truce?"
As she took a step towards him, he revealed his hand from behind his back and threw a snowball at her. It hit her directly in the face. With a solemn look, she spit out the snow that had made its way into her mouth and wiped her cold, wet, face. He nearly fell down he was laughing so hard.
"You're dead," she said simply.
Ray began to run, knowing from personal experience that the wrath of Neela could be near fatal. He raced around the car, finding it easier now that they had trampled over the snow so much. Neela chased after him, ready to attack with a thick snowball in her hand.
Ray was waiting behind the car, listening to her footsteps as she approached. As soon as he saw her shadow approaching the edge of the car, he leapt out and caught her around the waist. They both fell together onto the snow.
They were both giggling as Ray fell on top of her. The light snow had broken their fall. Neela's eyes began to water from laughing so hard.
"I do believe this is the second time you've fallen on top of me in two days," she commented, laughing.
"I believe you're right," he agreed, still smiling.
"Is there any particular reason why you're always on top of me?"
She had asked the question before even thinking about it. What kind of question was that? she wondered to herself. Do you really expect him to answer that? Maybe next time you should think before you speak. Or maybe next time you shouldn't go falling in love with your roommate because falling in love with your roommate apparently makes you say stupid things.
Ray stopped laughing as he looked into her dark eyes. Her face was red and wet from the snow and her hat had somehow fallen off somewhere in the snow so her hair was sprawled out across the snow, covered in small ice crystals.
As she saw that he was looking at her, she too stopped laughing and they stared into each other's eyes.
I don't care if loving him makes me stupid because I can't help it. I love him, she thought.
Kiss her, his mind screamed.
Kiss me, her own mind echoed.
He let his face linger near hers.
It's now or never, they both thought at the same time.
In a swift motion, he lowered his lips to hers and she met him halfway. Whatever either of them had expected, the meeting of their lips was like nothing they could have ever anticipated or even yearned for. It was so much more than they could have imagined. Their kiss wasn't soft as most first kisses were. It was full of passion, greediness, and pure need. His mouth claimed hers for his own and she gave herself to him fully. Her mind raced so fast that no coherent thoughts came to her and she was happy to let herself stay like that forever.
As their lips parted, out of nothing more than a necessity for oxygen, Ray opened his eyes and looked at her.
If I die right now, I will have died the happiest man on the planet.
Her eyes were still closed and her lips were swollen and red from his kiss. Her eyes fluttered open.
"That is the reason why I'm always on top of you," he said matter-of-factly.
"I would say that was a very good reason," she stated, it being the only thing that came to her mind. "Ray?"
"Do it again."
"I'm always more than happy to appease a beautiful wom…"
She pulled at his scarf, dragging him down towards her. This time their kiss started out slower. He wanted to explore everything about her mouth, every crevice. He wanted to remember what she tasted like and what it felt like to have his lips pressed against his.
So this is what love feels like, she thought. This is what kissing the one person you're meant to spend the rest of your life with feels like.
As he clawed at her scarf, trying to give himself more access to her bare skin, he felt his cell phone vibrating in his pocket.
"Damn it," he said against her mouth, pulling away from her.
Remind me to murder whoever's calling me.
"That wasn't exactly the response I was hoping for," she said.
"No, it's my phone."
He sat up, stripped off his glove, and began to dig through his pocket in his Jeans. With all of the layers he had on, it was difficult to actually find his phone. Finally, when he did manage to find it, he flipped it open and held it up to his ear.
"Yeah?" He answered it, angrily.
Neela sat up and took off his hat, throwing it carelessly on the ground. She began to playfully nip at his ear. She was never one for making the moves, but she couldn't help herself. He was so irresistible that it made her ache inside.
God, she's trying to kill me, he thought, finding himself being totally seduced.
"What? Yeah…okay. Yeah…I'll…ah…I'll tell her. Let us know. Thanks."
As he shut the phone, Neela placed her lips against his once more.
"Who was it?" She asked, between kisses.
She moaned as he placed small kisses along her jaw.
"They said that there's a tree down in the ambulance bay."
She dug her hands into his wet hair as he continued his exploration of her mouth.
"And the ER's closed to traumas indefinitely. That means they don't need us to come in."
"Have any idea what we can do our day off?"
"I've got a few ideas."
He scooped her up in his arms and continued to kiss her as he trudged through the snow back towards the apartment. It was slow going, but neither of them cared. It just gave them more time to make out.
When they made it into the apartment building, Ray slammed the door closed with the back of his foot. He began to work the zipper on Neela's jacket.
"I would say I told you so, but I think that would be an understatement," Lindsey commented as she walked down the stairs into the foyer area where Ray and Neela were practically stripping each other.
Neela's face burned red as Ray put her down on her own two feet.
"Lindsey…we were just…" Neela stuttered.
"Heaven's girl, I'm not that old," Lindsey said with the hint of her Southern drawl. "I know what you were doing. And just for the record, I did tell you so."
She gave Ray a pat on the back.
"Don't you go breakin' her heart now, ya hear?" She said to him as she walked out the front door.
Neela turned to Ray and laughed.
"It's amazing how she could see in an instant what we managed not to see for over a year," Neela said, reaching out for Ray's hand. He took it and brought it to his lips, kissing it.
"I always saw it. I was just never sure you did," Ray admitted.
He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her towards him.
"Let's make a deal," he said.
"No more secrets."
"No more secrets," she agreed.
He leaned down and kissed her lightly on the lips.
"And in keeping with our secret, I have something I'd like to share."
"Oh?" She ran her hand down his arm, knowing that she was tantalizing him.
"I love you."
She smiled and a tear came to her eye. She had waited so long to hear those three words and they felt so good. She couldn't wait to hear them again.
"Well, as long as we're sharing secrets, I should tell you that…I'm about to have an affair with this very hot ER doctor down at County and he doesn't know it, but I'm in love with him."
"Well, we just won't tell him, now will we?"
He lowered his lips to hers, taking the time to taste and explore. As he lifted her off her feet once again, only one word came to each of their minds…finally.
I have to agree with Ray and Neela's last sentiment – finally! With real life getting in the way, I wasn't sure if I would ever get this done, but here it is. This chapter was a lot of fun to write. Thank you to everyone for their support and kind words. I've never had such an overwhelming response to a story before. Once real life calms down a bit, I hope to start a new story so be on the lookout!