Daniel Hoffman stared out of the backseat passenger window of his friends' black SUV into the foreign, snow-covered terrain. He still wasn't sure why he'd agreed to spend the holidays with his best friends, Chance Devlin and Jared Lont. The pair made a terrific couple, but they really didn't need a third wheel tagging along to spend Christmas and the New Year in a cabin on the frozen shores of Lake Huron. He doubted it was the romantic getaway that Chance had pictured when he first proposed the idea to Jared. Daniel shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He had no idea what his friends had been thinking.
He would have been better off staying in the city where there were plenty of things to keep him occupied...and keep his mind off Collin and how wonderful Christmas was supposed to be. He would have been perfectly happy spending the time in the archives helping new genealogists discover their family history, or a more advanced family historian untangle the stubborn threads of a complex line to reveal long held secrets.
For the hundredth time during his waking hours, he cursed himself for getting talked into the vacation. He should be at the archives. Not that his boss would be welcoming or particularly accommodating. Ashley Marks was a great boss, but she had kicked him out the door with orders not to show his face until the seventh of January. He hadn't taken a vacation, called in sick or missed a day of work in over eighteen months. He had even begun taking private clients and researching their family trees for them.
Daniel sighed. He knew the exact date things had changed--the eleventh of June. The day the state police had come to his work and told him that his partner of three and a half years was dead--killed by mini-van driver who hadn't been paying attention and who hadn't really seemed to care that she'd killed someone. She'd repeated plenty of times that she was a Christian and hadn't meant it, but never once had she said she was sorry. Not even as the judge had convicted her of vehicular manslaughter.
Tears welled as he thought of the last moments with Collin before he had left that morning.
"God, you're a lousy liar. I hate you, Daniel. You need to figure out if you really want me in your life anymore or not," Collin had shouted before stomping out of the house. "You have until I get home from work--"
"Danny, hey, you with us back there? We're going to stop at Meijer's. There are a few things we need to pick up," Jared said, his dark eyes looking at him in the rear-view mirror. "My sister, Janice, called earlier to say that the cabin hadn't been re-stocked after the hunting trip."
Daniel nodded and turned back to the window. At least that was something he didn't have to worry about. There were no memories of him and Collin at the cabin. Collin was a city boy through and through. He'd said on more than one occasion that college was as rural as he ever wanted to get. He'd grown up in San Francisco and hated the smaller city surrounding the college he'd attended. Daniel, on the other hand, had grown up a few hours from their destination in Grand Rapids and didn't mind the country occasionally, even while he loved his home and friends in Philadelphia.