Ellen is running away. Heartbroken and carrying the ever growing shame of her foolishness in trusting a man, she rents a remote cabin in the woods. All she needs to do is survive until the baby is born. Once that happens she’ll be free to start a new job and a new life. The last thing she expected was to be pulling out her gun on a strange man walking out of the woods.
Robert loves the solitude of the mountains. Tracking the wildlife with only his dog for company. It’s not the profitable career his family would desire for him. He wished they’d understand. But the woman in the cabin, while an annoyance, also concerns him. She’s not prepared for the brutal winter in the mountains. And pregnant? He resolves to help her.
Robert falls for the taciturn woman and even more for the child she carries. When her home is destroyed he brings her to his…offering protection and shelter from the harsh winter. He can’t understand why she won’t talk about the baby, or make plans for it.
Can two lonely souls trapped together, testing the limits of solitude and friendship, find true love?
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~~The unmistakable drone of a motor laboring through the woods intruded on Robert’s peace and ruined his afternoon. He halted his binocular search for the young peregrine falcon he’d spotted, climbed down from his tree stand, and brushed off his jeans. Head turned, he tried to pinpoint the location of the sound. Down the ridge and to the right. Not a three-wheeler or sport vehicle. Definitely a car or truck, and one in need of a tune-up.
Nobody but an occasional winter snowmobiler attempted to travel the overgrown, rutted access road, and then only after a heavy snowfall. But wintertime was months away. Curiosity about the unwelcome intruder and the sputtering car overcame his annoyance. Might as well have a look. Judging from the clattering of the engine, someone would need help or directions. Hopefully directions out of the forest, and back to so-called civilization.
Please God, not someone looking for trouble or a bunch of drunk hunters planning a stay in the old cabin. Just somebody on the wrong trail. Please.
Standing behind a large pine tree near the top of the ridge, he squinted between the thick branches while a vehicle lurched into his field of vision. A vintage pick-up truck bounced its way over the last ruts before it stopped a few yards from the old hunting cabin. The door of the structure hung partially off the hinges, and the few windows were intact but coated with dust.
Robert parted some branches when the lone occupant exited the truck. Surprise flooded him. A woman. She appeared to be in her twenties, average height and weight, brown hair pulled up in a ponytail. A gray cat lay cradled in her arms, its fluffy tail giving slight twitches while it scanned its surroundings.
Agitated bird calls sounded in the trees when the woman deposited the cat on the ground, and it began to explore, sniffing with frequent head bobs whenever it halted its cautious investigation. The woman stood, hands on hips, staring at the cabin for long still moments, while the birds continued to warn each other about the furry predator below. She strode to the door, steadied it, and pushed it open before disappearing inside.
Robert rubbed his face then smoothed down his short beard hairs before shaking his head. A woman? By herself with only a cat? The way she walked into the cabin signaled confidence, like she belonged there. But nobody did, or at least not for many decades, from what he’d been told. He’d checked out the aging building when he first came to the woods, but it held nothing special. Just a simple log structure with some pieces of old furniture. Nothing to reveal who’d built it, or if they’d ever valued the place.
The woman re-emerged, reached into the truck and hauled out a large box. Judging by her slow, careful steps, the box was heavy. She staggered inside with it. The open truck door showed an interior piled with belongings. His heart sank. Maybe she was just the first wave, and soon her friends, or husband or boyfriend would show up.
Then what? The clattering roar of a generator, gasoline fumes dirtying the air? They might be party types who liked loud, raucous music and roaring bonfires. Visions of them carelessly causing a forest fire coursed through his worried thoughts. He swallowed and sat on the ground. Why? Why couldn’t people stay away and not try to ruin unspoiled places? Even people who said they loved nature stomped over the earth as if their actions caused no consequences.
The gentle breeze made soft music, quivering the oak and poplar leaves around him. He picked a few pine needles from the branch near him, and chewed on them, relishing their tart, distinctive flavor. He tucked a few bunches into his pocket to use for tea later. With his eyes closed, he tried to recover the peace that had dissolved at the noise of her engine invading the forest.