I picked her up in the deep snow-hair piled to the side of her face-snowflake sparkles twinkled there and our heavy breathing made smoke clouds as I picked her up judging the effort it would take to get her the mile or so to the cabin where I was staying working on the new book.
She murmured quietly in my arms eyes closed as I trudged through the twilight snow.
She jerked at one point her eyes opening briefly as I moved sideways to get her through the door of the cabin. Luckily, the fire was still burning enough to provide some warmth.
I lay her down inside a comforter after pealing away her wet clothing and laying them aside in front of the fire. It was a small face but perfectly proportioned framed by a shock of red hair.
She continued to sleep as I massaged her face then her arms and her hands looking to bring back the circulation. She been out there a while and frost bite can be hard to detect, and you had to be quick to restore blood flow to the limbs.
I heated a towel to help things along and then turned her over and pressed the towel to her back, under her tunic. Good, at least I thought she had thought to wear long underwear.
I could see her skin slowly move from blue and purple to something like pale white. Her eyes fluttered but she did not awaken at first.
Only after she coughed did her eyes flutter and they looked at me uncomprehendingly.
I ignored her gaze seeing that her nose did not match the rest of her face, it was still frozen looking. No telling if it was serious or not.
She looked at me looking at her nose, but her eyes did not focus. I gave her moment to orientate and said softly, “You are ok. You are safe.”
I gave her a moment to get her bearings but she hesitated. But then they widened in disbelief as she bolted upright in the comforter, her eyes darting around the room and back to me. They had a frightened look in them.
I said again “You are ok. You are safe here”
That startled look did not go away as she looked down at her body inside the comforterand then up at me. She hunched back into the comforter drawing it up around her shoulders and murmured “Who are you.” Where am I?”
I said “I found you on the up-road, you were near frozen. I brought you here to warm you up before the coyotes got to you. You would not have lasted the night out there. Fierce.
Still dubious she looked again at her body in the comforter.
“Did you…” she began.
“Your clothes were wet, they had to come off.”
That seemed to satisfy her for the moment and he could see her breathe for the first time.
Outside the storm, as predicted, was already underway, predicted to be the worst in years.
”Sorry, I guess I should say thanks, for everything.”
“Yes you should.” I said, quietly.
End of Chapter One of Eleven Chapters which will debut on this site.
Cold Drive And A Warm Night-Chapter Two
She hunched back into the comforter relaxing somewhat.
I backed away slowly.
“I found you on the road. You were trying to walk. Did your car break down?“
She said 'I got lost-made a lot of turns.'
“Well you are safe. Here drink this you have to warm up, and maybe sit closer to the fire.”
He handed her a warm cup of tea and motioned to her feet inside the comforter.
“May I?” he said evenly.
She hesitated for a time talking a good look at him. He was no mountain man that was for sure, but neither was she. He had a face that was there, very there, right in front of you sorta. He looked just like his photo on the book jacket.
“I need to test for numbness in those toes, then the hands. They should be warm enough by now to have feeling return.”
He reached down and very gently started to knead her foot, a toe at a time. “Feel that?”
“Good.” he said.
He took each toe and carefully felt it, gentle pressure and release.
“That one.” she said “is still a bit numb.”
“This one?” he said gently pulling her big toe.
“Yep that one.” she said.
“Humm,” he murmured, let’s give it a bit more time. Lets test the hands and fingers now. Hate to lose those.”
“Huh?” she said bluntly.
“Frost bite is frost bite. Gotta to be careful.” He said
She put down the tea beside her as he took her right hand which she extended to him and he looked at it intently and then took both of his hands and gently thumped each finger.
“Feel that? He asked.
“Yes.” she said.
Her arm got tired and she slowly lowered it into her lap covered by the comforter.
He followed the hand down to it’s resting place and continued his inspection.
His head was lowered and very close. She could smell him.
He smelled like smoke and outdoors and a faint cologne.
“Wow she thought. Just wow.”
He took the other hand which she offered at his gesture and both hands were now side by side in her lap.
He kneaded gently, probing, caressing.
He looked up to stare into her eyes close, noses almost touching.
She laughed nervously.
He ignored the laugh, taking a deep breath.
“Good. But I notice you feel a bit warm. “Be back.”
With that he rose and went into the small bathroom she could see off to the right from where she was sitting.