Blake Canvass3 smI had to talk to Max or be nagged by Chase until the day I died. Max didn’t ask me about what happened, which seemed strange, but he did ask me several times if I was all right, and mentioned he was still searching for a cure.

“The Doc has been teaching me self preservation skills, thanks for sending him my way. He’s been awesome.” I said, trying to fill the gaps of silence in the conversation.

“It’s the least I could do.” Max replied.

The silence on his end of the line was long and drawn out. I waited for him to say something, anything, while pushing away the temptation to open myself to his emotions.

He hissed out a long sigh. “I would really like to see you and talk to you face to face, but I’m leaving in the morning for another assignment. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.”

The underlying question he’d left unsaid amounted to “will you be there when I get back?” I avoided the answer, I’d been dreaming about sun, warmth, and the beach lately.

“Take care of yourself, Max, these assignments can be hell.”

He gave me a half hearted chuckle. “Tell me about it,” A couple of heartbeats later. “Take care of yourself, too. I’ll be in touch.”

I stared at the phone for a moment, just hearing his voice ignited a fire deep in my soul.

 

By the end of week three Chase was back to his work routine and I’d graduated to light kick boxing. The Doc insisted on sticking around to keep an eye on my progress, making me wonder if he was following Max’s orders.

At week four I was out hiking, riding Lightning again, and of course, playing with the cute kittens Pumpkin had given birth to. I’d still get achy sometimes, and my scars would throb, but since the blood tests continued to come back clean I brushed it aside.

Feeling almost like my normal self again I decided to see if my new abilities would work in the real world.

I contacted Bear and asked how things were going with the remodel. He invited me down for lunch and a walk through, I agreed, as long as I could bring Chase and Killer. We made plans for the next day.

 

I inhaled a deep breath. We’d arrived at the bar before lunch rush and sat in my truck, in the parking lot.

“Are you sure you’re ready to do this?” Chase asked for the tenth time.

“I have to do it sometime. I don’t want to be a hermit for the rest of my life.”

“Okay, let’s get this over with.”

“Have a little more confidence in me would you.”

“It’s been a hard winter and I’m still a tad bit on edge. I wish Max was here to help with all of this.”

“This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Max and the people he works for.”

“You can’t hold a grudge forever Montana.”

“I don’t hold grudges, Chase. I just don’t forget.”

“Remind me not to get on your bad side. For the record I still think you two would make a perfect couple.”

I stepped out of the truck, ignoring his last comment. The end of January was upon us, cold seeped through my bones, but at least the snow storms had leveled out to moderate, instead of heavy. A fire blazed and a fresh pot of coffee brewed in the restaurant.

“Anyone here?” I asked, warming my hands by the fire. I became chilly way to easy these days.

Chase retrieved some coffee for us and handed me a cup. “They must be next door.”

We wandered back out into the cold with Killer and entered the next building. I stopped short. My breath almost froze into icicles inside the building.

“Hello?”

“Back here,” Tree replied.

We followed Tree’s voice. He stood in the back room, with a scowl on his face, and close to three feet of snow covering the floor in front of him. I looked up at the blue sky above us.

“Pops out getting the shovels and our roofing guy will be here soon, along with the plumber.” Tree exclaimed, utterly disgusted. “We’ve been on the roofs throughout the winter, shoveling snow, and the one day Pop was sick and I had to tend the restaurant by myself, this happens.” He mumbled a few words under his breath I couldn’t hear, but I had an idea of what they were.

I glanced over the mess and laughed. Tree glared at me.

“It’s only a small setback. Look at it this way, you were planning on taking down the roof in this area anyway, and putting up something more efficient for your greenhouse.” I grinned. “Your already halfway there.”

“I need to warm up.” Tree growled, not seeing any humor in the situation.

We followed him back to the restaurant and sat at a table in front of the fire.

“I wish Rose was here, she would be a big help right now.” Bear said. walking up behind us with a cup of java.

“Are you going to close for the day?”

“Nah, I’ll put our earliest customer to work for an hour or two.”

“I’ll stay and help.” Chase said, glancing at me to make sure I didn’t need anything.

I smiled at him. “Is there anything I can do?”

“Naw, just a small setback, we’ll get it taken care of. We may not be able to feed you today though.”

Killer whined at the comment.

“Don’t worry boy, I’ll make sure to send you home with something.” He scratched Killers head, making him grin.

“Any idea on when Rose is coming back?” I asked.

“No, her kids won’t put her on a plane until it’s done snowing up here. I think if they had a choice they wouldn’t let her come back at all.” Bear smiled. “I’m tempted to go out there and retrieve her myself. She’s tough, she can handle this.”

I grinned, “Good luck with that; her kids think she’s a porcelain doll. Have you spoken to Alexis?”

“Yep, her products are going to do great in our shop. I’ve already talked to some of the ladies around here; they can’t wait.”

“That’s wonderful news. She gave me one of her products and I love it.”

Chase got up to get us some more coffee, while we sat in silence, watching the flames crackle in the fire place. There really wasn’t much to discuss, Bear, Tree, and Alexis seemed to have everything under control. I was doing fairly well keeping their energy blocked, at least, everyone’s but Trees. He was suffering major anxiety attacks because of the roof caving in.

After more coffee, and some small talk, it was time to hit the road back home. Bear gave Killer a huge bone to gnaw on. I let Tree know if they needed any help with the roof to call. I left with the feeling I’d accomplished a great deal today, one more month of practice and rehab should be more than enough time to get me back on my game.

Blake-A Montana Dayton Novel Ch. 24:2

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