25 February, 2008

Chapter 5

Jon sluiced the water out of his hair, along with soap and sweat. He’d been watching Cam sleep for the better part of two hours and finally realized he was covered in blood. Her blood.

He watched the water run from red, to pink to clear as he scrubbed. His hands shook a bit as scenarios blazed through his head. Just what had happened to her? Who could hurt her so bad that she’d practically crawled up his steps? He closed his eyes and tipped his head under the punishing spray as he thought of the fresh scar that ran the length of her neck from clavicle to ear.

He’d been taught from an early age that women were to be cherished, even the strong willed ones. Especially the strong willed ones, he thought with a snort, they needed it more than anything. Turning off the taps he stepped out and dried off, staring at his scruffy face in the fogged mirror. “You’re lookin’ pretty scary there, Jonny,” he muttered to himself. He grabbed his razor to hack off the four day’s growth and heard her cry out.

Dropping the razor he snagged a pair of sweats from his suitcase and stepped into them. Her hair had dried with the heat from the fireplace and fell in springy waves all around her face, but her head was thrashing now. The peaceful sleep was broken with her nonsensical words and hiccupping sobs.

“Shh, It’s okay. You’re okay,” Jon murmured and stroked her hair.

Her blue eyes opened, blind with dreams and pain and his heart shredded. He didn’t know what else to do, but soothe her like his daughter when she’d had bad dreams. He sat beside her as she reached for him.

“Please, you have to help me. He can’t find me. He just can’t find me again.”

He shushed her again, knowing she wasn’t really awake. Her eyes were too wide, too shocky and she was just reaching out for anything, but he cradled her close. “You’re safe here.”

Her fingers gripped his arms and her ragged nails dug in with distress. “I’m not safe anywhere. He said I wasn’t safe anywhere. He’ll always find me,” she said brokenly.

Not knowing what else to do, he pushed her cheek against his chest. “We’ll get you away from here in the morning when the roads are cleared, you’re safe for tonight.”

He dragged his hands through her hair until he found the base of her skull in the thick tangle of gold and gently rubbed. Luckily the trick worked, almost every woman could be settled into sleep with her hair being played with and she settled against him in a fitful sleep.

He curled into the bed and leaned against the headboard to get comfortable. It was going to be a long night. Nightmares tripped through her dreams and it was indeed a long night of comfort and terror as he dozed a bit between bouts of what he finally realized was a fever.

He’d thought she was just too warm next to the fire, but when the chills came he panicked a little, but just gathered more blankets and rode out the worst of it. He checked her bandages and couldn’t figure out if the cuts were infected or if the storm had just ravaged every part of her and she was simply getting a cold.

They both finally fell into a dreamless sleep sometime before dawn with her body snuggled up to his warmth and her arms looped around his torso and her cheek on his chest. It was the first time he’d slept so soundly since he’d come to the cabin.

And when he woke her blue eyes met his with confusion, still settled against him in the way that couples took years to figure out. Confusion quickly faded into fear as she pushed back. “What happened? Where am I?”

“Well I was hoping I’d get some of those questions answered by you, actually.”

She scooted away from him and winced.

He quickly got out of bed and grabbed a t-shirt from the pile of laundry on a chair. “Careful, I found you pretty banged up.”

She looked down at herself and flipped back the covers. Realization or memory must have taken over because she touched the gashes softly. “I was in an accident.”

“A car accident?”

She looked up at him and then swiftly away. “Sort of.”

Jon walked around the bed and sat beside her, conscious of the fact that she seemed to need some space from him. “You’re going to need to give me a bit more than that.”

She tucked a lock of sleep tumbled hair behind her ear. “I don’t want to get you involved.”

“Sweetheart, I was involved the minute you crawled up my steps.”

“More like the minute you butted in,” she mumbled.

He crossed his arms over his chest. “So I should have minded my own business when some guy was man-handling you?”

“I can take care of myself,” she said stubbornly and tucked trembling hands under her arms defensively.

He knew about pride and that was the only reason he swallowed back the anger. “I wish I could say I believe you, but it’s pretty obvious you can’t.”

She tipped up her chin and met his eye for a second before they slid away and her shoulders slumped. “No, I don’t suppose I look like I can.”

“Please tell me so I can help you.”

She lifted a hand to her hair and pushed it back. “What, are you going to sing him to death?” she said dryly.

He only arched a brow. “I know a lot of people, Cam.”

“Got any of those big, bad bodyguards around?” she asked with a spark of interest.

“Sorry, Kevin’s back at home.”

“Too bad,” she said softly. “Is Kevin a big guy?” she asked.

“He’s pretty scary.”

Her hands dropped to her sides as her fingers twisted into the sheets. “I could use big and scary right now.”

“Hey, what am I?” he asked, mildly offended.

“You don’t know the kind of pain Lucas can inflict,” and her hand went to her throat as her head ducked in to try and shorten her long, graceful neck as if to hide her scar.

“It’s okay, I’ve seen it,” he said quietly.

She looked down at her clothes. “And evidently the rest of me,” she said without humor.

“I’m sorry about that but you were a real mess when I found you. I didn’t know how else to get your cuts clean.”

Her hand pulled up the collar on the t-shirt and even white teeth nibbled at the material pulling it up over her chin. Jon reached over and tugged it down. “You don’t need to hide it. I’m assuming he gave that to you too.”

She looked down at her hands, twisting her fingers as she laid them in her lap. “It was a reminder that I had nowhere to go and that he’d kill me the next time I tried to leave him.” Her eyes rose to his. “He nearly succeeded last night.”

22 February, 2008

Chapter 4

“Jesus,” Jon flipped on the outside light and crouched down before the woman on his porch. He hurried down the stairs and rolled her, dirt and scratches marred the perfect porcelain of her skin and her hair fell in thick ropes of ice and caked mud around her face but he recognized her immediately. Cam, can you hear me?”

The dim porch light didn’t give him much to go on, but he could see there was a lot of blood on her clothes. When she didn’t respond he brushed a lock of hair away from her face. “What happened to you?” he said more to himself than anything. Her face was nearly colorless and her lips tinged with blue. He glanced out into the darkness, but it was eerily silent save the howling wind. Even the animals were smart enough to stay out of a storm like this.

Not wanting to hurt her, but knowing he needed to get her out of the weather he slid his arm beneath her knees and gasped when she moaned. Long, deep scratches tracked down her thighs and blood welled in a slow trickle into her already soaked jeans. He gathered her into him gently, not wanting to hurt her anymore than he had to and lifted her into his arms.

She was bulky with her winter layers but he managed to get back up the stairs with only a little help leaning on the railing. His bare feet ached immediately with the cold of the outside and his heart broke when her head lolled into his chest as a shiver ran through her. God, she must be freezing.

Jesus, he was a rockstar not a doctor. He didn’t know what to do here. He backed into the cabin, careful not to jar her feet and legs as he maneuvered them inside. He took one last look at the icy slash of rain and the promise of snow in the air. The radio had droned on about staying inside and limiting travel that power outages were likely with the early storm.

The trees weren’t strong enough to support the ice and snow that was heading their way in a rare October snowstorm. He’d lost cell reception early into the evening and the cabins weren’t outfitted with phones. He’d been prepared to wait out the storm with the fireplace and his notebook. His well loved acoustic lay discarded on the old rocker with his pro-tools laptop program open just in case he’d sparked something to record.

He set her down on the overstuffed couch and started stripping her out of her soaking wet clothes. A once white parka was now ripped and muddy, blood soaking one arm. He gingerly peeled the material away and hissed when she whimpered in a barely there voice.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart but I have to get you out of these wet clothes.” She quieted at the sound of his voice and he began to murmur nonsensical things to her as he got down to her corduroy button down shirt and finally to the turtleneck that was her final layer. Every article of clothing was soaked through. The gash on her arm seemed pretty superficial compared to the wounds on her legs, but the way she shivered had him worried.

He lifted her turtleneck and after a bit of a struggle, managed to get it up and off of her. He tried desperately not to look at her breasts, treating her as clinically as he could but the peach lace was see through and the cold temperature was obvious. He grabbed the quilt off the back of the couch and covered her from waist to…

“Oh God, Cam.” An angry pink scar was now visible as he settled her back on the couch once more. It ran from her clavicle up in a slashing arc behind her right ear. What kind of monster could do this to a woman? His heart bled as he covered her, hoping to get her warm.

Pushing the image firmly from his head he moved on to her jeans. He’d never get her warm if he didn’t get her dry. Her jeans were shredded and gashes wept blood into the couch from the soaked denim. Knowing the only way to get them off and fix her with the least amount of pain was to do it quickly he unzipped them and peeled back quickly.

She cried out and his gut rolled because he had caused the pain. “Sweet Mary,” he whispered at her ravaged skin. Bits of dirt and shale from the mountain were mixed in with the blood. “Shit, what the fuck do I do?” he asked the empty room.

He stood over her, anger and fear mixed into an awful brew in his belly but he leaned down again and unzipped her boots and got her fully undressed. He spun around the room, not knowing what to do for her. He didn’t know the first thing about first aid. Panic started to block out any thoughts until he heard the soft whimper come from her again.

“Pull it the fuck together, Jon,” he ordered himself. He tucked the blanket around her shoulders and huddled her into him and lifted her off the couch. Each tiny whimper and sigh of distress ripped at him, but he managed to make it up the stairs. He laid her on his bed and started up the jumbo spa tub in his master suite. It was the only way he could get her clean. He grabbed another throw blanket from the chair set next to the upstairs fireplace and covered her up.

He opened every drawer and every closet in the bathroom until he found a first aid kit and popped the top. Digging through he found gauze pads, tape and a tube of A & D ointment. He turned and tested the temperature of the water and turned off the taps.

Turning back to his room he took a deep breath. “You can do this,” he said to himself and uncovered her. Lifting her into his arms once more, he didn’t know if it was bad or good that she had stopped whimpering. Leaving her underwear on in case she woke up he lowered her into the water. She cried out when her skin came into contact with the water.

“Shh,” he whispered into her temple. “You’re alright now. I’m going to take care of you, okay?”

“Lucas! No! Stay away!”

She thrashed against him and he held her still. “Shh, Cam, it’s not Lucas. It’s me, okay? It’s Jon. I’m Jon, not him.”

Her wide, lake blue eyes flew open, wild with terror and pupils as small as pinpricks. “No! Please no!” She tried to push against him, tried to get away.

“Oh baby, what did he do to you?” he whispered and gathered her in. “You’re safe. He’s gone. I swear he’s gone. You’re safe,” he murmured against her hair. Her fingers gripped his t-shirt and the terror started to recede. He held her close as much for himself as for her and rocked her gently. “He’s not going to hurt you again, I promise.”

She sighed against him and he slowly began to wash her. He gently worked the bits of shale and dirt from her cuts and tried not to notice that the water had gone pink with her blood. God, how much was too much to lose? It seemed like a lot to him. He was having a hard time maneuvering her to wash her hair so he just climbed in behind her, jeans and t-shirt and all. Bracing her with his thigh muscles he soaped her hair and pulled down the handheld shower head and set the tub to drain.

Turning the shower setting to a gentle pulse he managed to get her hair clean and the shampoo out. He twisted the setting to a barely there trickle and rinsed off the last bits of the outside and the storm away. He unsnapped her bra and shucked her out of her underwear and lifting her yet again, he climbed from the tub to the safety of the bathroom rug.

He gathered her now pink body into the biggest towel he could find and yanked down the comforter before laying her back on the bed. He rounded the bed and stoked the fire to keep her warm then went back for the first aid kit.

Doing the best he could to treat her wounds. He remembered the butterfly tape trick his mom had used on his boyhood cuts that had been scary but not quite ER worthy and did the best he could with the deeper wounds on her legs. She’d either passed out or settled into a deep sleep and he kept checking for the steady rise of her chest to make sure she was alive.

She’d gone from distressing whines and cries to nothing and he almost wanted the cries back. At least then he knew she was feeling something. This near nothing was scaring him. He pulled one of his t-shirts out of his case and a pair of his gym shorts and gingerly dressed her. When she still didn’t make a move or a sound he sighed. “C’mon, Sweetheart, just open those pretty blue eyes so I can make sure you’re okay.”

But she didn’t, just kept sleeping and God, did he hope the sleep was putting her back together again.

19 February, 2008

Chapter 3

Cam overcorrected and felt her car start to slide to the left. She thanked every god she could think of that there was no one else on the road. “Please, oh please,” she whispered brokenly. It couldn’t be him. It had to be just another driver that was fighting the crazy weather.

This time the bump was even more forceful and she fishtailed in response. She swallowed a scream and gripped the wheel. She’d have to speed up a little. Her entire body clenched as she saw the turn too late. Her car slid into a one eighty, then a three sixty turn as she pulled at the wheel.

She watched the world blur as trees and road converged into a crazy tilt-a-whirl ride. And as fast as her world spun it shuddered to a jarring stop as her door collapsed in on her as metal met tree. Her neck snapped back and her airbag blew into her face. She screamed as the car came for her from the front and the gentle but deliberate pin of her car into the rockfacing. He pushed her with the powerful engine of the Mercedes until she had nowhere to go.

The steep hillside of rock and dirt butted up against the back of her car and a massive oak on her left. And through it all her wipers clicked back and forth, keeping her vision clear of the man who would rather kill her than lose her. His deep set, dark eyes seemed even blacker. The sculpted planes of his cheekbones and jaw made dark hallows that made his patrician good looks seem menacing and the even white teeth he was so proud of were bared like an animal.

She reached for her purse and dug for her pen. She couldn’t get out of her own way with the airbag practically pinning her back. With shaking fingers she jammed her Pilot fine tip into the thick material and cried out as the powder inside burned her hands.

She heard the engine roar and Lucas backed up and she screamed as he rammed her car. He backed up again and she scrambled back but it was too late, metal crunched into metal and the bloom of pain was awesome as her legs were crunched by the dash. Plastic cracked and shards dug deep into her thighs.

Panic and fear bubbled together until all she could hear was the white noise of terror in her head with an almost surreal backdrop of “You Give Love a Bad Name,” playing on the still working radio.

She felt the hysteria building as Lucas got out of his car. She had to get out. Had to get out of the car. “Think, Cameron!” she shouted. She pushed at the wheel and flipped up the tilt so she could move a bit. And with that she realized her seat wasn’t all the way back and for the first time she was thankful she was so short. She managed to get her hand down the left side of her and released the lever and moaned as the plastic ripped down her legs. She could feel the gush of blood, but didn’t care.

Lucas was at the passenger door, but she pressed the locks. That side of the car wasn’t touched. Dammit! That was going to be her escape. She watched as he went back to his car and to the trunk. Shit! She adjusted her seatback so it was lying flat and swore as her seatbelt kept her firmly in her seat. Thankfully the buckle gave easily and she crawled to the back. A spider web of broken glass was the only thing holding her in the car. She dug into her suitcase for the heavy metal frame she’d packed so carefully and cracked the corner into the glass.

She turned around and Lucas was back, a tire iron in his hand. “Fuck!” she felt the window give just as glass shattered from her right.

“Don’t make this more difficult on yourself, Cameron. Just come home with me, where you belong.”

“Fuck you!” she screamed and snagged her purse and shimmied out the window. She felt the supposedly shatterproof glass rip at her coat and the handle of her purse as she shimmied out the window. She reached for a tree branch on the hillside and scratched through the dirt to climb out. She found roots and rocks and kicked wildly when she felt his hand wrap around her ankle.

She heard his curse as her the thick block heel of her boot caught him. She swung out again and heard his howl of outrage as she hit him square in the face. Using his body for momentum she managed her way out of the car. Rain and ice had made for an unsteady climb but she was determined to live.

There was no way this man was going to take her back to the city. She heard him call her name into the howling wind, but didn’t dare look back, only stupid women in movies looked back. She climbed and climbed until she could just make out the top of the hill.

She could see the blazing lights of a cabin along the water and headed for it. Stumbling on the exposed roots of the road she crawled her way to the path that led to the water. Her breath was coming in gasps as she fought the trees and shrubs that were once so beautiful. Right now, all they did was keep her back and she cursed the postcard loveliness of the grounds.

She slid down the gravel path, grabbing onto trees and branches as she skated down the icy incline. The only thing that she could focus on was the light ahead in the cabin. The night was silent save for the wind and the rain…had she lost him?

She finally allowed herself to turn back and the dense forest of trees and shrubs in deeper tones of shadow was all she could see. And when she heard the peel of tires in the distance she started running again. When her boots hit the rocky beach she heaved in deep breaths and the warm yellow light grew closer, expanding into the cabin she’d admired along the water.

Her legs gave out just as she hit the steps to the porch. God, no, not this close, please….you can do it Cam, just a little farther. Black dots swam before her eyes just as the light grew brighter and she saw the shadow of a man before the world went dark.

18 February, 2008

Chapter 2

Cam tore shirts and sweaters off of hangers and threw them into her hard sided suitcase. “Dammit!” she said angrily and flicked away a useless tear. “Don’t you cry about this, Cam, not right now. Cry later,” she ordered herself.

She thought she’d gotten away from him. It had been a blissful three weeks here in Lake George. Summers here as a kid had been some of the happiest days of her life, and when she’d had no where else to go, this seemed perfect. She’d never told anyone about it, especially Lucas. It had been her retreat with her Grandfather every summer until she’d turned eleven.

And now it had been ruined. It was just one more thing that Lucas had taken away from her, the bastard. It had taken all of her resources to get away from Lucas. He’d neatly tucked her away ever so quietly that she hadn’t even realized it had happened. First had been the joint checking acct. They were getting married after all, what was the difference, right? “Let me just take out the money and give it to you when you need it, Cameron, it will be easier. Let me take care of the finances, Cameron. Let me buy you clothes, Cameron. Let me take care of everything, Cameron.”

She could hear his voice in her head. The cajoling, sweet voice that made her feel like a jerk when she tried to tell him she wanted to do things for herself. And one day she’d realized she was completely dependent on him. When she had tried to make him see that her independence was just as important as breathing, things had gone so very wrong.

She’d seen a very different side to the perfect man. She’d finally realized that in Lucas’ very orderly, very perfect life she was the last step to his twisted version of happily ever after. And when she’d questioned that life…she shuddered and started tossing things into her bag faster.

She couldn’t think about it, she just needed to get out of there and quickly. She collected all her toiletries from the bathroom and caught sight of herself in the mirror and stopped. She hated to see those shadows again, hated even more that just the sight of him had her running, but it had to be done. There was no way he could find her again. She had no time to…the tic-tic-tic at the window had her swearing. She dropped her cosmetic bag into the sink and peered out the window.

“Goddamn lake effect,” she snarled and scooped up the rest of her belongings and hurriedly packed her suitcase. She snagged one of her favorite pictures off the bureau and tucked it between her jeans then snapped it closed.

If she left now, then she’d be able to get on the road before the worst of the storm hit hard and fast. The only problem with the Adirondacks was the fact that the weather was beyond unpredictable. You could go from rain to sunshine in an hour and if the gods wanted to give you snow in August it could happen.

She rushed down the stairs and popped the telescope handle on her case and hooked her laptop case to it. She checked her purse for money and credit cards and locked up the cabin leaving the key under the mat. Freezing rain picked at her face like tiny razor blades. She shuddered and popped the collar on her parka. Dragging the oversized suitcase behind her, she tried to drag her scattered thoughts into a semblance of order.

She needed to focus. She’d head north toward Maine and into Canada. She’d paid a pretty penny to get new papers both license and passport to start over again and it was time she used them. She doubted that Lucas had the foresight to pack his passport.

With a clear goal in mind she tucked her suitcase in the backseat for easy access and climbed inside. The chilly wind battered her windows and waiting a precious ten minutes to defrost was not an option.

She scraped the windows best she could and cranked the heat to combat the layer of ice that had already formed with the sleet and eased her way down the rutted road broken by overgrown tree roots and uneven earth. By the time she made it to the main road her hands ached from gripping the wheel. Visibility was near impossible as Mother Nature threw a tantrum to let the world know that November was close at hand.

She could feel her tires gripping for purchase on the blacktop and forced herself to keep her speed down. Going off the side of the road on a mountain was not in her getaway plans. She snicked on the radio and let the soothing radio voices fill the silence. Her Subaru was built for crazy weather and she thanked God for its four wheel drive as she navigated the steep turns that led to the highway.

Her lights cut a narrow path through the thick night and she felt the beginnings of a tension headache start in her jaw. “C’mon just a little farther,” she whispered into her empty car. Then felt a bump from behind her.

She whipped her head around and checked her mirrors. And felt a bump again as if a...

“Oh God,” she whispered as lights behind her suddenly flared to life.

16 February, 2008

Chapter 1

“You son of a bitch! Get the hell out of my house!”

Jon tucked his hands into the cargo jacket he was wearing and veered to the left. He’d been walking through the wooded area along the back of the cabins, trying to get away from people in general. He really didn’t need to get involved in some domestic dispute. He’d come up here because it was off season and he’d thought no one would be around.

He didn’t hear the reply of whomever the woman was screaming at, but he did know a woman’s fear when he heard it. He stopped, fisting his hands in his coat. “Shit,” he muttered under his breath. He just wanted to be left alone. He wasn’t the hero type for fuck’s sake. He glanced through the trees and saw a woman’s form scrambling up the stairs to one of the rental cabins. Her voice was full of bravado, but tinged with fear.

“I said get out of here! I told you it was over, Lucas.”

Again, he couldn’t hear the man’s voice, but from what he could gather, the man certainly didn’t belong in the Adirondacks at the end of October. He was wearing a charcoal suit that screamed executive that matched the Mercedes parked at an odd angle.

He watched as she backed up and bumped into the post at the top of her stairs. “How did you find me?”

“I’ll always find you,” came a smooth and cultured voice.

Jon didn’t even realize he’d moved closer. He could make out the carefully modulated tone of the man’s voice now. He told himself he was just making sure the woman was alright. He stepped closer and ducked behind one of the massive oak trees that littered the grounds of Lake George’s upper coastline.

“I was hoping the lack of my belongings in your house would be a clue that I didn’t want you to come looking for me.” Her voice fairly vibrated off the wooded cove that made up the secluded area of the park.

“It’s our home, and it’s where you belong. Come home,” Jon couldn’t make out the woman’s name that he said, but he could make out the apprehension in her face. She was lovely in that sort of way that made a man stop on the street. Wild gold hair whipped around her face in the fall breeze off the water. Her cheeks were pale, but had a high color that could only be a mix of fear and cold.

He stepped forward again as the man headed up the stairs to her. “I’m only doing what’s best for you,” the man said patiently.

“You mean what’s best for you, Lucas, not me.” She shrank back as he moved in. She backed against the door and fumbled for the doorknob.

He gripped her upper arms and Jon found himself beside the Mercedes before he could stop himself. “Are you alright, Miss?”

Wide, blue eyes darted from the Lucas guy, then to him. “Yes, I’m fine.” She gave him a grateful smile. Lucas’ grip lessened, but he still kept her beside him. She winced as his fingers dug into her side. “I’m sorry we bothered you,” she said softly.

Jon watched as she tried to move away from the man. “It’s no problem, I just heard you yelling from the woods. Are you sure you’re okay?” he implored.

“Absolutely. Lucas was just going, weren’t you, Lucas?”

“No, I wasn’t.” The man turned on the slick charm Jon was used to with record execs and lawyers. “My wife and I are just having a disagreement. You know how women can get,” he said with a glossy smile.

Jon’s eyebrow rose. “Sure,” he said genially but continued to watch as the woman tried to slip away and the man dragged her back, each time just a little rougher. “I guess I’ll just let you guys get to finishing your argument. If you’re sure,” he said directly to the woman.

She nodded, but Jon could see the glassy fear starting to creep into her eyes.

“Get inside, Cameron,” the man said coolly.

“Um, it would be rude not to say goodbye to the nice man, wouldn’t it?” she rounded Lucas this time and headed down the stairs two at a time. Her voice quivered, but her eyes wouldn’t land on his as she spoke. “Are…uh, are you staying in one of the cabins?” she asked as she shot a quick look over her shoulder at the man as if to see where he was.

Jon took off his sunglasses and tucked them into the neck of his sweater. “Just doing a little vacationing,” he said and used his easiest smile.

Her eyes widened as she realized who he was. He softened his smile when she focused on him. Her fear was a live and vibrant thing, this close up. “I’m Jon.” He looked over her shoulder and felt his belly tighten as the man went very still and his near black eyes locked with his. Jon could feel the menace coming off of him, and the eerie feeling intensified as he gripped her soft hand. Smoothly he pulled the woman behind him. “Hey buddy, why don’t you get out of here? I’ve heard enough to know she doesn’t want you here.”

“This is none of your business.” His dark eyes glittered.

Jon nodded, “You are absolutely right, but my Mom taught me manners, unlike yours. Why don’t you head out before I flag down the Park Ranger I saw down by the lake?”

The man’s eyes narrowed as he scanned the lake and sure enough the Ranger was down there. “This isn’t finished, Cameron,” he said tightly. He opened the door of his car and peeled out, showering them both with woodchips and leaves.

Jon brushed the debris off his jacket and turned to the woman behind him. “I’m sorry if I overstepped myself, you just seemed like that guy was…” he trailed off.

Her blue eyes were shuttered now and he couldn’t read them at all. She lifted her chin and looked at something just over his shoulder as if she couldn’t look at him. “Thank you for that.”

“Are you going to be alright?”

Her eyes followed the gunmetal grey of the car as it looped around the site and down toward the main road. “I will be once I get out of here,” she said more to herself than him. “I’m sorry you had to get involved.” Eyes that matched the center of the lake met his and he swore in his own head softly. Do not go there, Jonny boy.

“He’s not my husband by the way. I was smart enough not to marry the jerk.” She slowly unclenched her fisted hands and he felt the oddest need pull her into him. That, in itself, should have sent him running. He valued his space and because of his lifestyle, he kept strangers at an arms length because people took it upon themselves to touch him constantly, whether he wanted it or not.

Her hands shook a little as she tucked them in against her body as she crossed her arms. “So you sing and rescue woman, huh?” she said with a tiny spark of humor.

He laughed, “Jack of all trades.”

“Well, I really appreciate what you did, but I have to go pack up my stuff.” She pressed a hand on his arm. “I hope you enjoy the area, it’s so beautiful here,” she said almost wistfully.

Before he could catch himself Jon clasped a hand over hers. “I don’t know if you should head out this late. There’s a storm heading in.”

“I’ll be fine,” she smiled up at him and it almost reached her eyes. She pulled her hand away as she backed up again, “Thanks again for what you did.” She ran up the steps and had her hand on the doorknob before Jon could figure out what to say.

“If you need anything, I’m in the Eagle Cabin by the water’s edge,” he called out.

She pushed her hair out of her face and nodded. “I won’t, but thanks.”

And she was gone. The door firmly shut behind her. Her cabin was a smaller version of his and he admired the Adirondack style to it, just like the rest of them that dotted Lake George. He wasn’t exactly the outdoorsy type, but he’d needed to get away from his life and found himself just driving north. Upstate NY seemed as good as anything, especially when no one would think to find him up there.

He headed back to his rental, but looked back one more time at the small cabin and caught a glimpse of the woman…Cam, in the upstairs window hastily folding clothes. He didn’t like the fear in her eyes, or the fact that she was in such a hurry to get away from the man.

He didn’t like it one bit.