Dire (Page 18)

“I wasn’t planning on walking around in them outside.” Her teeth chattered. “We were supposed to be going for a four hour drive.”

“I see. Well I’m glad we found you. Who knows what would have happened to you otherwise?” The men exchanged a strange look.

“We appreciate the help.” Mary Anne clasped her hands together in front of her. “We can compensate you for any expense.”

Damn. Was she trying to make us even more of a target?

The men exchanged another glance. “We don’t need your money.”

I changed the subject. “How much further is your—? Well, you actually never told us where we were going.”

“Our homestead isn’t far.” The first man looked off into the distance.

Homestead? That was an interesting choice of words.

We continued making our way through the deep snow. I kept my arm tightly wrapped around Mary Anne. Thankfully the men had stopped staring at her.

The wind picked up, blowing snow all around us. I wasn’t sure how much more we were going to be able to take, when we emerged from the woods into a clearing, and a large cabin came into view.

The second man looked over his shoulder at her. If I wasn’t imagining things he licked his lips. I tightened my hold yet again. Mary Anne looked hopeful. I hoped we were walking into safety and not a trap.

We walked further into the clearing that housed several small homes and one large cabin. The men headed to the large cabin, the one with smoke coming from the chimney.

The door opened before we reached the step.

“You found them then?” A tall man with a faint scar running down the side of his face stood in the door way. He looked to be around the age of the others—mid-twenties or so.

“Yeah, it’s just some kids. Their truck got stuck a few miles south.”

“Kids?” The man with the scar looked around me. He noticed Mary Anne and his expression softened. “Come in, you must be freezing.”

He reached out for her hand, completely ignoring me.

I was so busy watching the man’s interaction with Mary Anne that I wasn’t prepared when the first two guys started frisking me. “What the hell?”

“We have to make sure you don’t have weapons.”

I nearly said ‘you don’t think she has any?’ but I stopped myself in time. The last thing I wanted was for anyone to touch Mary Anne that way.

They led us inside before closing and locking the door behind us. We walked into what had to have been a hunting lodge of some sort. The walls were completely paneled in wood, and the sparse furnishings were definitely for functionality and not aesthetics.

“Are you all right?” The man pushed off Mary Anne’s hood, and she didn’t try to stop him. I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing.

She nodded. “We’d really appreciate it if we could borrow a phone. We need to call our families and have someone come and get us.”

“Unfortunately we don’t have a phone here, but you are more than welcome to stay until the roads clear enough that we can get you to the nearest town.”

“How long will that be?”

“We’re supposed to get another eight inches tonight, so it may be a while.”

“More?” I shook my head. “How can we possibly get more snow?”

“Are you from around here at all?”

Mary Anne nodded. “Well kind of.”

“Kind of?” He gave her a funny look.

“We’re from a tiny town a few hours from here in New York.”

“What town?”

She glanced at me. I shrugged. I didn’t know how she could avoid sharing the name. “Mayville.”

“Oh, yeah. I’ve heard of it. Then you should know that sometimes we get blizzards like this. We were due for another one.”

“They were predicting record snowfall this winter, but this is crazy.”

“The good news is you’re safe now. We have plenty of clothes, food, and places for you to sleep.”

She looked at me, and I nodded. What other choice did we have? “We appreciate you letting us stay. We will stay out of your way and leave as soon as the roads open back up.”

“There’s no rush.” He put a hand on Mary Anne’s arm but smirked at me. “You can stay as long as you need.”

“Thank you. I’m Mary Anne by the way, and this is Gage.”

“Nice to meet you both. I’m Hunter. These men are Chet and Falcon.”

Hunter? Seriously? The mountain man living in the middle of nowhere was named Hunter?

“Nice to meet you too.” Mary Anne looked down at the puddle of water at her feet. The snow coating our boots and pants was starting to melt.

“Let’s get you both some dry clothes.”

“Chet, Gage looks about your size, and I’m sure Marni has something Mary Anne can borrow.”

“Sure. Come with me.” Chet gestured to the door. “I’ll find you something.”

“We’re going back outside?”

“Just for a second. Think you can handle it, man?” Chet ribbed.

“Sure, but I don’t want Mary Anne going back out there.”

“She doesn’t have to. We’ll stop by and get Marni on our way.”

Mary Anne shook her head. “I can go with you.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. Mary Anne understood that we had to stay together.

“There’s no reason for that.” Hunter put a hand on her shoulder. He really needed to stop touching her. “You still look so cold. Why don’t you just wait right over there by the fire?”

“Really, I don’t mind.”

“I absolutely insist.” He moved his hand down on her back. “Your friend will be right back.”

Friend? That wasn’t going to fly. Maybe this was the kind of guy who only responded to overt territorial behavior. “I’m more than her friend, so I’d appreciate if you didn’t have your hands all over my girlfriend.”

“Girlfriend?” He took in a breath. “I’m sorry. I didn’t get the sense that you two were more than friends.”

“Well, we are.”

“Is that so?” He glowered at me. “I assure you I’ll take perfectly good care of her while you fetch the new clothes. She’s in good hands.”

“It’s okay, you can go.” Mary Anne touched my arm gently. “You’ll be right back.” Her eyes pleaded with me. She was nervous, but she also didn’t want to start a fight.