Rider, this is not edited. I will go through the thing at the end of the month and fix errs then. It is as it is and if there are errs, I am not really bothered right now.
Driving through the fierce blizzard, Morgan struggled to keep her eyes open. Her hands ached from the biting cold, but she dared not turn up the heating again and risk dozing off behind the wheel. Somehow, she must find strength to have any chance at sneaking over the border into Canada on this dirt track of a back road. They would never find her there. They could never hurt anyone close to her again, for there would be no one. Images of blood and brains splattered across her retinas in endless replay.
No more deaths on her account, she wouldn’t, couldn’t handle any more pain and loss. Two new identities complete with birth certificates and passports lay safe in her purse for her next attempt at a new life. Who would she be next?
Testify against the murderer, join the witness protection program until he was convicted, and you will be safe, they said. Three bodyguards killed in a bloodbath protecting her were three too many. Those men had families; wives, children, parents. She didn’t have a soul; not anymore, thanks to the man she was supposed to help convict. Her parents went together when the assassin called at their home. The cops thought he was pretending to sell door to door and since her folk’s home was the first stop it wouldn’t have looked out of place, except he had a gun especially for them. Her granny hadn’t escaped, either; finding the bodies on her return from her hair appointment stopped her heart.
Someone had sold her new personae out twice already, hence the death of the guards, but one of the fake identities she had left was Canadian. She’d go to a small town, get a job, any job not computer related, for they would be watching for such, and disappear. Maybe she could retrain…a huge dark shape appeared in the beam from her headlights, blocking the narrow road. Morgan swerved; the road vanished in a tumbling, screeching roll. Pain, dark, and . . . nothing.
Sound came back first, followed by pain cresting. She whimpered, her strength gone, along with her courage.
“Stay still. You’ve been hurt, but you’re safe, now.” The voice was deep and rich, if distant.
Daylight hurt her eyes. The room swirled as black and silver motes danced in her line of sight. A man-shape gradually resolved into a person with overlong black hair, not wearing the white or blue scrubs of a hospital attendant. She must be dead, for he had the face of a fallen angel. This man wore a gray sweatshirt and jeans. The walls of a log cabin formed a backdrop. A good choice of hell for one who lived on the internet; trapped in pain with a hunk for a nurse and not a flicker of desire on her part. Was that what happened in purgatory?
She attempted to speak, emitting a dry croak. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth and her lips hurt.
Responding, he slid a muscular arm under her shoulders to help her sip water from a cracked cup, patient until she had drunk her fill. This was real, not afterlife. In the back of Morgan’s mind, a little voice screamed at her not to eat and drink anything. She was hurt and by the grinding pain in her leg, she was going to need surgery. Morgan tried to push him away, only then becoming aware of the burn on her arm, a raw, red patch of angry outrage against her skin.
“The ambulance…when is it coming?”
“It’s not. We are cut off from the outside world until the melt comes in spring.” His black eyes sparkled with little flecks of amber while his mouth formed a tight, hard line as if he wished her gone. Behind him, a glow from a wood stove gave off the warmth he lacked.
“Did you call for help?” The pain built into waves of agony. A sweat broke out on her face and neck, and yet she shivered. She couldn’t bear this pain. A scream began to build.
“In my jacket, I have a cell phone.”
He gently eased her down onto the bed. The room swirled again. A hard object was pressed into her hand. Morgan waited out the dizziness until she could focus. She flipped up the lid, to a blank screen. It just needed turning on; that was it? Nothing happened. The battery was dead.
“There is a charger in my purse. My cell needs juice.”
“Sorry.” He didn’t look sorry, just annoyed. “No electricity and I couldn’t save your purse. By the time I got you free everything else had gone up in flames.”
Her car, her identities, and all her clothes gone? The pain escalated and this time she couldn’t hold in a groan. “I need a doctor.”
He reached back for a metal mug. “Here’s something for the pain. It will send you to sleep.” Once more he helped her to drink; holding her up until the sharp tasting fluid was all gone.
“My leg . . .”
“I set it.” He closed his eyes as if he were enduring an exercise in extreme patience. “If it were possible to get you out of here, I would’ve already done so. You wouldn’t survive being dragged through the snow on a sled.”
A warm feeling flowed through Morgan. Her eyes wouldn’t stay open, and the pain receded into a dull ache, vanishing as sleep claimed her.
Sometimes a calm, deep voice would soothe her while she drifted in a world of dark and warmth. There were drinks of things that made her sleep again, but also those that stilled her hunger and thirst. Time hung, suspended until the day Morgan woke to find her leg up in the air, strapped in what looked like the remnants of a chair back, in traction with a large rock attached to the whole. She was also naked under a down quilt and lying on a mess of towels, something that brought an instant blush to her face. He’d put an incontinence pad under her and from the lack of stink, also washed her down very efficiently. So much for her shreds of modesty.
This one-room log cabin with a wood burner against one wall had a pile of pelts rested on the floor next to it, presumably where he had slept as she had the only bed. A table and one chair were against another wall. Herbs hung suspended from the ceiling rafters. An old tin bath was pushed into a corner, partially concealed by a modern bamboo screen. Aside from a few cups and plates on a dresser and a clothes chest, this was the most primitive dwelling she had ever seen. More like an old prairie house from a working museum. No curtains adorned the two windows. There wasn’t even a water faucet. Just then the door banged open, and a figure swathed in furs entered, carrying firewood, which he dumped by the wood burner before he threw off his winter gear.
He must have made a habit of working out, since his shoulders and arms stretched his sweatshirt, complimenting his slim hips and long legs. While his hair was overlong, his face looked freshly shaven. He was also drop-dead gorgeous, but not in a pretty way. This man was all male to the roots of his hair. He turned, as if aware of her scrutiny.
“How do you feel? Would you like more pain juice?”
Did she? No, it was a dull ache now. “I think I’m good for the moment.”
“In that case, I will get some food happening. You have lost a lot of weight.” He didn’t wait for comment; he just shucked on the furs to brave the weather once more.
Damn him, he was right. Her arms were like twigs. Every ounce of body fat had gone. Stars, she must look a fright. Her more immediate concern was how to get out of this place. He said all her stuff went up in flames. Was this true? She then wondered why a guy looking like he did would elect to camp out in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere with only the oil light fixtures. This place was a nightmare. What had he done that he needed such isolation? Was he on the run, and if so, for what?