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About Blue Davis
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Copyright © 2015 by Blue Davis
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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I bolted down the snowy trail as fast as my feet could fly. I looked back.
He snarled, as his black jacket blazed in to the wind.
I faced forward and charged. The ground became uneven as I stumbled over a brook edge.
I jerked my head around and spotted him writhing on the packed snow, scowling and cursing.
He clutched his ankle and winced.
I darted between two trees and kept running, each step taking me further into a mass of arctic wilderness. My boots lodged deeper into the snow in front of me.
A sudden warmth surrounded my head and shoulders. I removed my scarf and sprinted ahead.
I heaved in thin mountain air, then slowed and peeked behind me. My right foot thudded against a solid mass in the snow, while the other stumbled over icy rock.
My gloved fingertips clawed at a branch. I flailed my arms through the cold air. Then I plunged down onto the rocks.
Blackness poured in through my temples.
H I M
If a man stands in the forest still enough, his heart melds into the snow and he becomes one with the ground he stands upon. He can feel every warm vibration of life, even within the frost.
I stood on the mountain, an hour away from home, my eyes closed, hands in my pockets.
That is how I knew she was there. I felt her.
I revolved around, examining the forest in front of me and the hills behind. I reached for a plastic tackle box in the back of the Jeep. I unbuckled it and grabbed my binoculars. I chucked the lens protector back in the box and raised them to my eyes.
Trees. Kilometers of snow and trees. I surveyed the hills. Nothing.
I stood and listened, as the wind encircled my ears. I centered the binoculars on my face and observed the forest again.
I saw her.
A dark-skinned girl, running. Her brown hair entangled itself behind her as she jetted forward. She glanced back. Her gaping mouth and widened eyes pierced forward as she jumped over a fallen tree.
She runs from someone, but from who? I inched my binoculars to the left.
A tall man in a long, black overcoat spun around on the ground of an open trail, his eyes distraught. His head was covered in a full ski mask. He gripped his lower leg. His teeth were formed into a permanent grit. He lifted himself off the ground and began to limp in the opposite direction with his head bowed and his injured leg trailing behind.
I moved the binoculars back to…where is she?
Sweat began to prod at my pores. I inched the lens to the right and the left. How far is she from him? Where the fuck is she now? How did I manage to screw this up with a pair of binoculars in my hand?
I lost her.
I threw the binoculars down and reached in the back of my Jeep for my shotgun. I shut the door and crossed over the road, searching for an opening in the forest. I spotted a trail. I headed down it, keeping my eyes wide open. My heart raced as I took steps deeper into the woods.
What did she do to make him this angry?
Snow fell to the ground in record speed.
I quickened my pace and spun my head in all directions.
From the corner of my eye, I saw a hip and leg sticking out of powdered snow.
I raced over to her, hopping over several rocks and fallen branches.
She lay still, sprawled in the snow, halfway on her back. Her long brown hair whirled into a light trail of blood. Her dark skin contrasted the white flakes that began to cover her face. She wore several layers of black and blue wool and fleece. Her brown frosted hair sprung from her thick thermal hat onto treacherous arctic ground.
I knelt into the snow and hovered over her face. I could feel warmth.
She breathed warm air into my ear.
I closed my eyes.
The sun began to show signs of retreat.
When the night comes, the utter coldness comes. I’m used to it, because I’m from these parts.
But she isn’t.
I bent down and scraped my glove through the snow to grab her from underneath. I felt her warmth through the many layers of clothing.
How long has she been laying here?
More importantly, who was she running from and why?
A grunt escaped my lips as I lifted her from the snow into my arms. I stood up and turned toward the road. “I’ve got you,” I said, whispering into her ear as I glanced at her motionless face. I looked back at the ground where she lay.
A shiny silver key lay lodged in the snow. The handle contained loops and swirls and sat atop a long, round rod. A configuration of edges protruded from the bottom.
I drew in a breath and propped her on one knee while I reached down and picked up the key. In one swift motion, I stood up and stepped forward with the woman. I stuffed the key down into my pocket.
Her gloved hand dangled from my reach.
I trooped through the forest, breaking off branches as I passed. I spotted an opening in the bush and plodded toward it, my muscles throbbing.
“Almost there,” I said, peering down at her lifeless eyelids.
I crossed the road and braced her body on the side of the car while I fished in my pocket for keys.
I tugged the door open and laid her down on the worn leather bench seat.
I let her head fall naturally on to the seat, then shoved a dark gray woolen blanket underneath.
Wind and blades of ice cut into my face as I shut the door.
I closed myself in and peered into the backseat. Only an hour of sunlight left.
Is she breathing? Doesn’t matter. I need to bring her home.
I have bandages and blankets at home. I have a few cans of soup and warm fire.
I just need to get her there. Home. Safe.
She lay still, her head propped against the window.
The Jeep’s roar broke the silence of the forest.
I drove into the unforgiving wind.
I looked back at her, shaking my head.
She must belong to someone.
Is she his?
I pulled onto the driveway of my lit cabin-- a two-story wooden lodge, blanketed with a thick layer of snow. The family room light was on.
No woman has stepped foot in the house since their mother left.
The youngest boy poked his head up into the front window.
He widened his eyes, then turned his head and called out to the others.
I jumped out of the driver’s side, and swung open the passenger door.
She was still there, as I left her.
Her soft, flowery skin filled my nostrils.
I inhaled, then stood back and studied her.
A real woman.
I reached my arm around her ribcage and encircled her thighs with my other arm. I drew in a breath as I pulled her from the seat.
Mattias gaped at me through the front wooden door of our lodge, his blond locks falling over his glasses.
The oldest boy, Ailo pulled him away from the door as I stepped up the steps on to the patio. Ailo wore his blond hair in a long, indigenous style. Even his name reflected the mountain way of life. His mother named him that.
I brought her in, trampling snow and ice over the wooden floorboards. I carried her to the rust red sofa that sat in the front of our modest cabin and laid her down.
Her delicate body lay still on the sofa.
I placed my ear to her lips.
I felt her warm breaths caressing my cheek.
The youngest boy stared at me. “Where did she come from?”
His loud, high voice jolted me.
I turned to the oldest. “Go get me two guest blankets and a pillow from the linen closet,” I said.
He ran toward the stairs and marched up, calling out. “Oden, come see what Dad found!”
I shut the door and removed my outer jacket layer, hood, and boots.
I knelt down on the brown, stained rug in front of the sofa and felt her cheek. I began to unzip her black parka.
Mattias stared at me now. “Dad! Who is she?”
I looked at the boy. “I don’t know.” I softened my eyes. “I don’t know who she is.”
Ailo gave me a blanket and then unraveled a blue plaid comforter. “Where’d you find her?”
I stood up and stared at the window. “Off the highway, over by the hotel.”
The boys looked so much like their mother that it pained me to look at them. I peered at their translucent white skin, and their huge blue eyes that turned even brighter during the summer months.
They circled around the dark-skinned woman now.
Her features were so different from ours. Her nose wider, her lips rounder. Her eyes were encased with mascara and eyeliner. The edges of the blackness bled onto the upper corners of her cheeks. Her thick, brown curly hair fell onto her shoulders, in a tousled disarray.
I looked up at the middle boy. “Can you take Matti and bring the groceries from the car?”
Oden continued staring at the woman.
“Oden?” I added hardness to my tone.
He jolted and shifted his gaze to me. His mouth still gaped open. “Huh?”
“Go get the groceries. And bring your little brother with you.”
He swallowed. He glanced at Mattias and rolled his eyes. “Okay.”
They encased themselves in their winter jackets and boots, then opened the front door.
I focused on the woman. Her small delicate body lay wrapped in the thick clothing. I put my hand on her chest between the swell of her breasts. Her heart beat steadily into my palm.
Ailo watched me. “How long is she going to stay here?”
“As long as she needs to.” I answered the boy as quickly as he had asked the question.
The others came back through the front door, dragging grocery bags along with blocks of snow and ice. They stood on the mat and removed their boots.
“Go help them put the groceries away. Leave the bag of fried potatoes on the counter.”
“Yes! We’re having French fries tonight!” Oden peered at his dad, grinning with raised eyebrows.
Mattias looked at him and began shuffling through one of the bags.
“Not here. Go put the groceries away in the kitchen,” I said, pointing toward the door in the back of the room.
The family room was earthy, toned in brown, rust, and green. A ceiling light hung down on a white cord from a wooden beam above. A black iron wood-stove sat in the corner. It was homey, but a far cry from the way Niná used to keep it. My chest constricted, as my cheeks rose, blurring my vision. I closed my eyes, shaking my head. Then I peered down at her.
I pulled her boots away from her legs, then set her blue-socked feet back down on the sofa. I reached toward the bottom of her shirt and felt where the top of her pants pressed into her smooth belly.
The fifteen-year old glared at me from the door frame.
My hand flinched. My shoulders rose to my ears. I turned back to her and unbuttoned her jeans. I swallowed and looked at him again. “Just loosening the button so she can breathe better,” I said toward the door.
Ailo narrowed his blue eyes onto me, then disappeared into the back.
I pulled a glove free from her hand. A white trim topped each tip of her polished fingernails. A diamond-encrusted watch wrapped around her small wrist. The inside of the watch contained no numbers. It only said, “Cartier,” in small, cursive letters. She wore two rings on her fingers. The first ring was a golden band, cased with diamonds. The other ring was also gold, but had an oval turquoise stone at the top.
I reached in my pocket and pulled out the key. The key sparkled in the dim-lit room as I peered at the engraved lettering on the head. It read two words: ICE LODGE.
I looked behind me, then stuffed the key back in my pocket. I stepped back and plodded down into a floral armchair by the sofa. I sat on the edge and studied her. My eyelids grew heavy. I yawned as I sat back into the armchair. I squinted one eye open at her dark curly head. Then I drifted into the stillness of the polar night.
Rustling. Movement. A gasp.
My eyes flew open.
She cowered in the corner, her legs propped up onto the cushion, her eyes big and round.
The eyes stared at me. They transfixed me.
She threw a leg down onto the floor and raised herself up. “Urrghh,” she said, grunting. Her straight white teeth contrasted her dark skin. Her wild curls wavered back and forth against her shoulders as she limped around on the rug.
My mouth froze in a downward frown as I watched her head toward the front door. She reached out to the door. The same hand I gazed at last night was now twisting the handle.
I jumped up.
She swirled around and screamed. “Aighee!” Then she yanked on the door.
It was locked.
She clawed for the lock at the top of the handle. She swung the door open. She bolted out.
A blast of cold hair hit my skimpy blue thermal shirt.
Ice bit into my feet as I stepped onto the ground in bare socks. My toes grew numb as I sucked in air through my chattering teeth and propelled myself forward through the snow.
I caught her arm.
She pierced her eyes onto me and curled her lips. “Uggh,” she said, as she pulled her arm back toward herself.
I gripped her tight until I could feel the smallness of her limb around my thumb and forefinger. Then, in one swift motion, I picked her up and hoisted her over my shoulder.
“Nooo!” She fisted my back hard, and kicked her legs into my torso.
I flattened my ab muscles and held my breath as I trooped back up the porch steps. I could no longer feel my feet. I threw her on to the sofa and closed off the wind. I slid down the door, collapsing onto the floor. The flesh of my feet and hands needled my skin. I gasped for air and looked over at her.
She whimpered. She rubbed her feet through her socks and blew air onto her hands through chattering teeth. She cupped her hands together and rubbed them back and forth.
I clenched my fist and grunted, rubbing my hands against my jeans. “Your heart can’t survive that much cold. Hypothermia kicks in quickly around here. Don’t go out there again. You’ll kill us both.”
H E R
Who the fuck is he? And where am I? I looked at him.
He said nothing.
Did I not speak?
I lifted my chin and straightened my back. “Where am I?” I glanced around the room.
A coffee table sat on a dull gray rug. A rustic armoire stood upright on a wall by the entrance near a brown rectangular dining table. A dirty light fixture hung above the table. Circular water marks stained the ceiling.
“Lapland,” the man said. His short blond hair fell into his bright blue eyes. His square jaw line reflected a small amount of light frizz that centered on his chin.
“What? What is that?”
“Sweden,” the man said, continuing to gaze at me.
“What in the world am I doing in Sweden?”
The man lifted himself with the heels of his hands. His shoulders were broad and wide. He was a tall man, maybe 6 feet or so. His tanned facial skin looked soft, but his hands appeared rough and scarred. His loose-fitting jeans sat on his hips and curled under the heels of his thick, gray socks. He shrugged and leaned in toward me, wrinkling his eyebrows. He threw his hands in the air. He chuckled, raised his arms and then rested his hands on the back of his head. “What do you mean?”
I frowned as I looked down. A lump began to crawl up my throat.
He stood in front of me with his head tilted sideways.
I squared my shoulders and faced forward. “Just what I said. What am I doing in Sweden?” I listened to the ridiculousness of my question and looked down at the coffee table. I blew hot air through my nostrils. My eyes began to water. The lump grew as my throat tightened.
His shoulders rose, as he glared at me. He shook his head as he looked into the corner of the room. Then he crossed his arms over his chest and shifted to one leg. He watched me though narrowed eyes. “I don’t know what you’re doing in Sweden. You tell me,” he said, cocking his head to one side.
“I don’t have to tell you anything.”
“Tell me your name, girl. I saved your fucking life. That’s the least you could do.” His eyes darkened onto me.
My heart began to pound harder. I gripped my chest and shut my eyes tight.
Name.Remember. I opened my eyes and looked out the window at the falling snow. I opened my mouth. Nothing came out.
He stepped toward me.
I shuddered and moved back on the sofa. “Don’t come near me!”
He stopped in his tracks and stared at me. “What?” He wrinkled his eyebrows. “What is your name, girl?” He enunciated the words.
I drew in a breath. “I don’t know. I don’t know who I am!” A single tear fell from my eye.
I listened the awful shrill of my own voice. It wasn’t the sound that made my shoulders cringe. It was the words. Why don’t I know who I am?
This is stupid. This whole scenario is just stupid.
I bawled my face into my fists, then wiped my tears dry with the heels of my hands. I sniffled and wiped my nose with the edge of my sleeve. I shook my head and looked up at him, then drew in a breath and closed my eyes.
When I opened them, the room was the same. The same dreary room. The same perplexed blond man standing in front of me, arms crossed over his chest.
He glared at me. “You better remember soon.”
I sat back on the sofa. Sweat poked through my skin.
Why—no--how could I forget something so basic?
“This is ridiculous.” The words escaped my lips. I covered my mouth. “I don’t remember anything. What did you do to me?”
He shook his head, but continued to gaze at me. “Are you crazy? Your ass would have frozen to death if it wasn’t for me. Some fucking gratitude.”
I shook my head as my eyes began to water again. “Are you playing with me? Did you put something in my drink last night?” I asked him the question point blank.
“No. Absolutely not. We didn’t have drinks last night.”
“Then what’s happening to me?”
He shook his head, but said nothing.
“You’re asking the wrong person. I don’t know. Maybe you hit your head.”
I reached up and felt my head. I felt a tender lump. “Owww,” I said, as I measured the size of it with my fingers. I peered at a sharp corner of the coffee table. “Did I hit my head on the table?”
“No. I found you out in the snow.”
“Where out in the snow?” I squinted and leaned in.
“Out there.” He pointed out the window.