**This is our gift to you, our readers. If you find a small error here and there be gentle… let firstname.lastname@example.org know and we can fix. **
Back when I was a child I had this series of books, for pre-teens and teens they were. They told scary stories about scarecrows coming to life, or haunted dolls, or lakes full of the undead. Yes, they gave me goosebumps but I adored them. The rush of fright had been enjoyable when I had been tucked into my bed, the light on, and an adult nearby. Now? There was no one but me in this cabin and the monsters were real. The men trying to find and kill Sacha and I were not evil ventriloquist dummies or goblins rapping on the window. They were worse. Far, far worse. And I had never been so on edge.
The booze in my gut was making me lightheaded. Eating would be wise. I’d paced for forty minutes after locking the door behind Sacha, hurriedly placing the handgun on the rickety table beside the front door. The feel of the cold metal in my palm unsettled me. I’d be safe here. He had assured me of that. We were far away from Carlisle, out into the rural farmlands, where acres and acres of forest met lush pastureland. We’d not been followed. Sacha would know. He was one of them after all…
A groan bubbled up inside me, breaking free when I thought of Sacha. How had I been so easily duped? Surely there had to have been signs I should have seen, no? Or was I simply too besotted, my dick leading me into a relationship with a man that was dangerous not only to my heart but to my very life. And why, by all that was holy, did I still yearn for him and his touch? Was I a fool? Yes, probably so.
I stormed into the kitchen, thoughts and stomach swirling, and found some canned goods. Nothing perishable of course. I opened up a big can of pork & beans with an old-fashioned hand operated can opener, found a bag of plastic silverware, and dug in. They were cheap beans, not at all tasty, but I was ravenous and the food would sop up the vodka sloshing around my gut. Sacha had been right. I did need to sober up in case of… I glanced out the dark window over the tiny sink and a chill ran down my spine. I moved from the kitchen, easing into the living room, but there were windows there as well. Many of them but they were at least curtained.
“Silly man,” I chided myself as I flopped to the sofa then spooned crappy beans into my mouth. Such foolishness, being scared to look out a window in case you saw a face looking in at you. There was no one out here. We’d passed no homes for miles and miles before taking what had looked to be a cow lane to this hidden cabin. Using my thigh for a table, I ate and tried to scroll through one of the cheap phones he’d left for me. The cell service out here was bad, and I had to walk around the cabin with the phone in the air until I found three bars. Standing in the corner of the cramped bathroom, can of beans in one hand, phone over my head, I tried to call Sacha but realized I didn’t have his number now as he’d destroyed my phone and with it all my contacts.
“Le connard,” I mumbled as I tried to recall his number. Did he still have the same phone, or had he chucked his into a river somewhere? “Motherfucker,” I snarled again, this time in English and then tapped in my mother’s number, suddenly desperate to hear her voice. The phone rang twice then the service dropped out. No matter where I stood – even on the toilet – I couldn’t find a bar now so I flung the stupid thing across the cabin, taking some joy in seeing it shatter into bits. Rather fitting. The phone and my life. Stalking back to the couch I threw myself into it. Within seconds my eyes drifted shut. The nap was not restive. My sleep was fractured and filled with bloody deaths.
When I awoke for the fourth time, I sat up, amazed to find the can of beans still in my hand. I dug out the last of the beans at the bottom of the can and padded into the kitchen to toss the empty tin into the sink when something shook the window over the sink. I froze, my heart leaping up into my throat. I could not make my sight leave the sink. My gaze was frozen as was my feet. The window rattled. I reacted foolishly and whipped the can at the glass then spun and ran back into the living room, diving at the table by the front door. The gun tumbled off the edge of the table. I fell to my knees and caught it.
Heart pounding against my ribs, I lifted the gun, two-handed as they did on television and waited. My pulse rushing in my ears made listening hard. Wind brushed over the roof, a soft creaking of old eaves and tree branches on the siding. Had it been a tree limb touching the glass? I wet my lips. My mouth was dry. My hands were shaking. How long I kneeled there by the door I couldn’t say, long enough that my knees began to ache. Slowly I rose up, my hips and knees complaining about being locked into the supplicant position so long. A sign of things to come. I was a goalie and not a young one. My joints were already starting to twinge when it was damp.
Back to the wallboards, I made my way to the kitchen, then spun out from the wall, barrel pointed at the small window, sweat coating my upper lip. Nothing. Not a face to be seen. Just a pane of dark glass resting in an old wooden frame. Probably the wind had grabbed the window, giving it a shake and me a heart attack.
I lowered the gun, chuckling at my stupidity and childlike nerves. I staggered back into the living room, embarrassed at my imagination taking over so boldly. I sat down, giddy with relief, and smiling at my over-the-top reaction when I saw the doorknob on the front door slowly moving left and then right. The deadbolt was the only thing keeping the door shut. All giggling stopped instantly. I lifted the Sig, pressed my finger lightly against the trigger, and prayed to the Virgin to protect me from whatever or whoever stood on the other side of that door.
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