When Chele Masters retreats to a remote cabin to escape her controlling ex-boyfriend and stress filled life she has no idea what’s waiting for her in the darkness.
Chele’s eyes opened to darkness. No idea what time it was she looked to the bedside table to find it empty. The bed’s warmth clung to her and she simply did not want to move. She didn’t care what time it was, she was told to relax and that included sleeping in. Now that I can sleep again without medication… her mind drifted over her life and recent crisis. A shiver crawled up her back and she dug deeper into the cushioning around her.
“I can’t believe you are giving up on something so stupid!”
“You spying on me is not stupid! It is illegal and an invasion of my privacy!”
“You wouldn’t talk to me, what was I supposed to do?”
“You were supposed to do what every other normal person does and wait! Not hack my email accounts, my cell phone and any other private means of communication there are!”
“Oh knock it off Chele it is not that big of a deal if you don’t have anything to hide!”
“That is not the point, Darren! Do you have any idea how paralyzing it is? To know that my private conversation, thoughts, and feeling are always being monitored and cataloged. Using my feelings to throw in my face like I’ve done something wrong!”
“So did you! It takes two Darren! I admit I made mistakes but so have you! I cannot live like this anymore, it’s over!”
“Are you kidding me, you are leaving me because I care about you?”
“Don’t turn this around, this has nothing to do with you caring about me! This is about you needing to control me in whatever way you can, and I’m done.”
Maybe she was being too judgmental, perhaps it was his way of caring. Was he right? Was it not a big deal if she has nothing to hide? This, of course, did not discount his passive aggressive behavior or many other ways of making her feel guilty for all of the things any normal person would do. Five years, she had thought it a normal existence for five years. Then things changed, she wanted to have a life outside their boxed world of work and home. He didn’t like it or understand it and the problems snowballed.
Finally, she grew a pair of balls and ended the relationship. Had she thrown away the best thing she ever had or could ever hope to get? What did that movie say…it is easier to be killed by a terrorist than find a mate over the age of thirty. What about almost forty? They never mention the over forty crowd so she was doomed.
Just another reason not to get out of bed…
Jen’s voice appeared in her brain.
Get out of bed sleepy head, it is a beautiful day and you have your whole life ahead of you!
Shut up, Jen!
Nick Wall stepped onto the porch of the Ranger station, steaming cup of coffee in hand. Taking a sip of the liquid gold he took in the hues of orange, green, yellow and brown laid out in the pattern of a patchwork masterpiece, he loved Indian summer and made a mental note to head to town for more canvas. His fellow Ranger and friend Art Kreider pulled up in his jeep, parking next to the station. “Morning Nick!”
“Morning! Coffee is fresh.”
“Thank the heavens, I really need it.”
“Another late night with the baby?”
“Yeah, and there was no waking Anna, she shut down at seven.” Art passed him on the porch and Nick smiled. Art and his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl two weeks before. He had pity for the man, delightful pity for the man’s infinite happiness. Nick had hoped for it once. He had even had it once, but it seemed not to be the life he wanted. His ex-wife and son happily resided in San Francisco, CA while Nick remained in Colorado. He saw their son, Justin, during the summer and school breaks. It had been difficult to walk away but Justin was happy and that was all that mattered to him.
“How’d it go last night?” Art asked, joining him on the porch.
The image of her body in the moonlight hit Nick again and he took a breath. He’s been checking on the Langston at least once a week. He usually didn’t go in but chugging a big gulp an hour before made need for the facilities. Thus opening the bathroom door and-- “Nick, did everything go okay?”
“Yeah, did you know there was someone staying at the Langston place?”
Art knew the Langstons as well as he did. They had come to Breckenridge every year for the past thirty. Both he and Nick grew up with the Langston family, having been close friends with both Jen and her brother Aaron. “No, I don’t remember seeing Brian or Helen.
“It is apparently a friend of Jen’s.” Nick took a sip of his coffee, needing a distraction.
“Did you call to confirm?”
Nick could feel his friend's eyes on him. He didn’t understand why he was suddenly uncomfortable with the conversation. Could it be that you walked in on the woman naked? “Yeah, haven’t heard back yet.”
“You think it is legit?”
“Probably. Sounds like something Jen would do.”
“When was the last time you talked to Jen?”
“A few weeks ago when Justin went back to school,” Nick replied, taking another sip of his coffee. It was typical of Jen to do something like this and not let him know ahead of time. Whatever.
Nick finished up his shift and headed to town, canvas on his mind. It wasn’t unusual, but yet not usually so prominent. He had the burning need to paint, to lose himself in the depth and colors swirling around in his head.
He picked up the roll of canvas and then stopped at the general store. He filled the small cart with the essentials. Perusing the meat, he turned and saw her. It had to be her, Nick knew every other occupant in the damn store, not to mention the town. In the light of day, the image of her in his mind became complete. Shoulder length deep brown hair, a small frame and the tiniest hands he had ever seen. He wondered what color her eyes would be.
She turned and he looked away, his focus going back on the meat. After five minutes of looking at the same seven bone roast, he realized how absurd he looked. Throwing the roast in his cart he glanced around the store, convincing himself that he wasn’t looking for her. Just the thought of it was trouble. If Jen had sent her to the cabin, there was probably a reason. A week at the cabin was her answer to everything. The woman didn’t seem to be too damaged, she definitely knew how to scream.
He couldn’t stop the smile edging his lips, wondering if she always screamed that loud. Wow, it has been a while hasn’t it? Approaching the counter with his cart of items he found himself within a few feet of her as she paid for her groceries.
“Thanks, you too.” The musical sound of her voice sent a shiver through his spine and all of the blood in his veins flooded his groin. The response was startling and he cleared his throat. Her eyes diverted to him with the sound. Pale blue eyes. Giving him a wordless smile, she hauled the bag into her arms and started out of the store. He heard the bell of the door jingle and then spied her keys on the counter. “Wait, you forgot…”
Without thought he grabbed the keys, chasing after her. Stepping onto the sidewalk he saw her crossing the street. He checked for cars and jogged across to meet her. “Miss—“ She turned around a startled look on her face and he took a step back. “I just…you forgot your keys on the counter.”
“Oh, I’m such an idiot! Thanks so much—“ he handed her the keys, wanting her to smile. She didn’t and his stomach tightened.
“My pleasure.” She struggled with the bag in her hands and he stepped forward taking it. “Let me help.”
She glanced at him in hesitation. “Thanks.” Unlocking her Explorer, she opened the back door before taking the bag back from him. “Not a problem, really. Happy to help, I’m Nick by the way.”
She shook his hand and gave a little half smile. “Nice to meet you, Nick. I’m Chele, thanks again for your assistance.” She walked away from him to the driver’s side door and got in the truck. Nick walked back to the general store, the brief encounter looping in his mind.
Read Part 1
Come Find Me!
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