I know it’s been a couple of months since I’ve done a chapter for this story but it’s one I especially like, so I picked it up again. If you’d like to start from the beginning here ya go! Mixed Wildling – Ch1 (Short Story Series)!
Vikki scampered into the bedroom to begin her excruciating shift back into human form. She’d gotten bored waiting for the guys to get back from hunting and decided to practice. Two full shifts were no problem, but when she got halfway through the third, fatigue hit her and she had to take a nap. Which was when they’d found her. She recalled recognizing their scent and feeling safe, but not much else. Memories when in shift where different from when she was human. They mostly consisted of smells, feelings, and instincts. Life as an animal was simpler and it gave her a chance to drop all unnecessary thoughts and worries. A clear outlook on her life when she felt like it was all crumbling.
The sun quickly dropped behind the mountain and it became cold enough to see your breath inside the cabin. The only warm area was next to the woodstove, so Vikki volunteered to make dinner while the men cut wood for the night.
Trouble was, Vikki had no clue what she was doing. She’d made toast and boiled water before, but that was it. “Can’t be that hard.” she said with a shrug.
She started with water in a large pot, put in a whole skinned rabbit, then some of the dried veggies that Seth’s parents had sent. So far, so good she thought. Next came the seasoning, she figured the more, the better. A few times, she noticed Gunter hauling more wood in but for the most part she concentrated on her cooking. It wasn’t until she heard a small squeak noise behind her, that she turned around.
Gunter was watching her with a strangled expression. “You okay there Gunter?” she asked.
He turned away and shook his head yes. Vikki went back to seasoning the stew, only to hear the same sound a few seconds later.
She turned, and caught him staring again, “Gunter, you sure there’s nothing wrong?” He cleared his throat and nodded, “Yes, Ma’am.”
Shrugging it off as one of his peculiarities she shook the salt into the soup again with ferocity.
“STOP!” he bellowed out of no where, causing her to jump and scream.
The salt fell from her hand and into the broth. Instinctively, she dipped her hand in to retrieve it before the soup was ruined. “Ahhh!” she screamed as the burning heat registered in her brain. The salt shaker got tossed on the counter before she yelled, “Dammit that burns!”
Vikki cradled her scalded hand and waited for the pain to subside. Gunter quickly pulled her by the arm to the water bucket and ordered, “Put your hand in.” Immediately the glove of fire she felt like she was wearing, melted away. After a relieved sigh, she said, “Oh, thank you. That’s so much better.”
With the pain at a manageable level she remembered to ask, “Why in the world did you shout at me Gunter.” He turned red and dropped his head, “I’m so sorry, Vikki. It’s just…um..you were ruining dinner.”
“Excuse me?” She waited for him to elaborate.
“You salted the soup four times already, any more and it wasn’t going to be edible. I really didn’t want to criticize your cooking but I happen to like rabbit and I wanted to be able to eat it. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for you to get hurt because of me.”
“Psh, this isn’t completely your fault. I’m the idiot who put her hand in boiling water.” She smiled to let him know it was okay.
Gunter came up beside her to reach forward and take her hand from the water. He really did radiate heat and she didn’t even feel the pain in her hand, but he looked her ruby skin over with a frown. “It’s blistering.”
Looking at his glowering expression, she said, “It’ll be gone in an hour, I’ll be fine.” He continued to frown but scooped her up with one hand and the water bucket with the other to place them at the table. “I’ll fix dinner. You keep your hand in there until it’s healed, so you won’t feel the sting.”
Vikki nodded slowly while watching his serious face. Gunter turned into a completely different type of person when he stopped being shy. He moved with confidence and took control. It made her look at him in a new light.
Vikki enjoyed watching him cook, attempting to fix her disaster. She scrunched her face and asked “Is it completely ruined?”
“No, I’ll just add more water to thin the salt out. Toss in some more vegetables and we’ll have lunch for tomorrow too.”
Vikki smiled, “Good, I’m glad we’re not going hungry tonight, thanks to me. So how do you know how to cook? Your mom?”
“Yeah, my Ma’s always saying she didn’t raise her sons to be a woman’s burden, let alone hers. We share chores and cooking.”
“That’s a smart woman.” Vikki said, and watched the grin that crept onto Gunter’s face. “She is that.” he answered softly. Vikki was encouraged by how well the conversation was going and took the chance of asking a favor. “Gunter…do you think that you could teach me how to cook, so I’m not someone else’s burden?”
He quickly blurted, “You’re not a burden!…I didn’t mean that…I’m happy to cook for you. It’s no problem.” and then turned back to stirring the soup.
“I know, I just would like to learn, my mom didn’t get the chance to teach me and I think it’s something a person should know… Please?” His dropped his shoulders and leaned his head in defeat before she heard a soft, “Sure.”
She jumped up to wrap her arms around his stomach and gave his wide back a hug, “Thank you!”
“Again with you two, do we need to make up a secret knock or something.” Seth said as he laughed and dropped another load of wood in the corner. Vikki sat back down while Gunter glared at his friend in response to his joke.
Vikki beamed when she told Seth, “Gunter’s going to teach me to make delicious dinners and maybe how to make those awesome carrot spice cookies.”
“Ohh, ho ho, Gunter your Ma is gonna boil you up like that there rabbit if you give out her cookie recipes. You know that don’t you?” Vikki could tell Gunter was torn between giving her what she wanted and not wanting his mom to kill him.
“Oh that’s alright, you don’t need to teach me the secret recipes. The basic’s would be fine.” Gunter smiled in relief.
Seth walked up to the water and pointed, “What’s this? Why are you bogarting the bucket? I need to wash up.” Vikki pulled her hand out so he could use it but winced as the warmth spread again. “I burned myself a little. Go ahead and use it.” Gunter came over, placed her hand back in the water and pushed Seth towards the door. “Go use the creek.” he said plainly.
“But it’s like ice!” Seth complained. Gunter continued to point at the door with a stern expression.
“You’re not the boss of me!” Seth shouted before leaving.
Vikki laughed at Seth’s childish fit and shook her head.