Lunch was a quiet affair, the trio sat around the wobbly table quietly eating stale sandwiches. Not being in the mood to talk to Seth just yet, Vikki tried to chat up Gunter.
“So how big of a family do you have Gunter?” He shoved the remainder of his sandwich in his mouth and held up both hands.
“Is that ten or are you all finished eating?” she laughed.
Seth butted in saying, “He’s got seven brothers and his parents. So ten in the family.”
Vikki ignored him and turned back to Gunter, “Wow seven brothers, that must’ve been a lot of work for your mother, huh?”
“Shoot, his Ma’s tougher than a boar’s ti..” Seth stopped himself from finishing the sentence when Gunter gave him the meanest glare Vikki’d ever seen. “I mean..she’s a strong lady.” he said and stared down at his sandwich.
Vikki smiled at Gunter’s protectiveness. He got up, cleaned his plate in the wash tub and ducked out the door. It became awkward sitting across from Seth because of her earlier outburst and Vikki figured it needed rehashing.
“Seth, I’m sorry for yelling at you before, but.. you kind of sprung it all on me, acted like it was no big deal, then ordered me to make sandwiches. It was insensitive.” He looked into her eyes, then sighed. “Guilty as charged. Look I’m real sorry about the way I went about it, but you understand the why of it right?”
“I do, I know what’s at stake and I of all people know what the government is capable of. I just have a problem being stuck in small places. I go a little nuts, emotionally. I’m sure you can imagine why.” Vikki got up to fiddle with the food supplies and hide her tearful eyes.
Sam came to stand behind her, placing a hand on her shoulder in comfort. “Two weeks. We’ll keep you company, it’ll go by quicker than a jackrabbits’ courtin'”. He smiled at her and they enjoyed a moment of understanding.
Gunter popped his head in the door, paused to take in the situation, then said “We’ve got company.”
“I’ll go in the closet,.. I mean bedroom.” Vikki said with a worried expression and walked to the small room.
“We’ll get rid of them quick, don’t worry. Just please stay quiet and close the door.” She nodded mutely and shut the door behind her. Seth took a deep breath and hoped that it was just curious neighbors.
When he walked outside he saw that Gunter had the forethought to seat their visitor on a felled log, well away from the cabin. Less chance of him catching Vikki’s scent.
“Howdy neighbor!” Seth said and reached out to shake the old man’s hand. He looked over Seth and stroked the white beard that rested on his chest. Catching the man’s scent, Seth was relieved to find he was human. Not really a problem for them.
“I just came round to make sure, you weren’t no squatters. Ran some college kids outta here a few years back. Damn hippies! Anyhow, glad to see we got some mountain folk back out here. The place needs some workin’ on.” Seth agreed and they discussed how they were going to fix up the cabin.
It took longer to get rid of the old man than they figured. After what Vikki had told him, leaving her shut in alone for so long worried Seth. When they waved the last time to their visitor and he dropped from view, he and Gunter rushed to the cabin. Gunter yanked open the bedroom door and looked back at Seth in confusion. She wasn’t there. Seth checked the only place in the room there was to hide. Under the bed. She was covered by a blanket facing the wall. Seth reached under to help get her out. Vikki screeched and he got a face full of size six hiking boot.
“Holy hell, Vikki why’d you go and smash my nose? Dammit, I’m bleeding.” She turned and gasped, “Why wouldn’t you say something. By the way you both burst in here, I figured you were intruders. Your lucky you only got a bloody nose!”, she said while rolling out from under the bed. “So they’re gone?”
Gunter said “yep” and left the room. Standing alone in there it felt crowded, with Gunter and Seth added in, it was a sardine can. She pulled Seth along into the main room and sat him at the table. “Here’s a tissue. I don’t have any ice, but you should heal up quick enough.” Vikki looked over and caught Gunter grinning at Seth. Seth gave him a glare, “Shut up, I didn’t get beat up by a girl.”
“What? He didn’t even say anything.” Vikki said.
“I know he’s thinking it!” Seth accused. Gunter held a chuckle back but it slipped out a moment later. Vikki joined in with the laugh and said, “Gunter you’d better watch out or your next.” then gave him a playful punch to his sizable bicep. He quickly flushed red, and told Seth “I’m going to chop some more wood.”
She looked from the door to Seth. “What? What did I do?”
“You touched him, you know how he is.”
“Yeah. I know.” She said.
The moment the sun dropped behind the mountain range, it became bone chilling cold. Vikki pulled on her borrowed jacket and stoked the fire. There were just too many open cracks in the log walls for the stove’s heat to escape from and the icy wind to enter. Some mud packing was going to need to be done tomorrow, but for now she was freezing.
Dinner was canned chicken soup that helped to warm her before bed, but as the night went on it got colder and the stove was too far away to do her much good. She woke up from a light sleep because her teeth were chattering so loudly. She also realized that someone was moving around in the other room. Through the doorway she saw Gunter’s large form sneak over with his blanket. He gently placed it over her body. He crept back to his bed and curled up to sleep with nothing to keep him warm. Not wanting to embarrass him, she pretended to sleep. She lay there trying to nod off, but the guilt was keeping her awake. It just didn’t seem right that he would be laying in the other room freezing for her sake. She decided to do something about it.
Hauling over all the blankets on her bed, she placed them atop a snoring Gunter and slid in next to him. It wasn’t terribly comfortable, she was hanging onto the edge, but it was heavenly warm. Throwing her leg over his kept her body anchored and she was less likely to fall off onto the floor. Vikki was amazed and glad that he didn’t wake up for any it.
There was probably going to be hell to pay in the morning, but for now everyone was warm and asleep.
More to come……