Chase whipped us up some lattes while I pulled food out of the refrigerator, placing it on some trays. After I finished the food preparations I put on my jacket and boots, craving fresh air. Chase’s energy continued to yo-yo back and forth from anger, to concern, to wishing Max would show up. His confusion was getting on my last nerve and I felt a mental breakdown coming on. I wished I’d never moved here.
“I’m going outside to scout around,” I told Chase, picking up my camera and gun.
“I should go with you.”
“No! Stay here. I’m not going far, just walking around the house.”
He began to freak out, not sure what he should do, and studied me for a moment.
“Okay,” he replied defeated. “Don’t get into any trouble.”
I laughed; I was in trouble up to my eyeballs. Actually, I was in over my head.
“Chase, this isn’t your fault.” I said, staring him straight in the eyes. “Check your arm. You were knocked out just like me and Killer.”
I braced myself and gave him a hug, jumping back within seconds. Jolts from his tension raced through my entire being from the contact I’d made, and it felt strange. Was I ever going to be able to touch anyone again? Chase was only a friend.
I mentally flashed back to the intense electrical charge of Max’s touch and my skin pricked. He affected me too much already, without this little gift I received last night. No way would I ever let him touch me again. I would probably die of overload. I shook the thought from my head, one problem at a time.
“I’m sorry Chase.” I said, hurrying through the door.
I lit another smoke after inhaling some fresh air. I was a wreck, and torn. I wanted to high tail it out of here, leaving all of this behind me. I also wanted to go find that thing.
I plodded around the house, avoiding sinkholes in the snow, keeping an eye out for footprints, while I contemplated my next move. The only prints I found belonged to birds and raccoons. I stopped and listened, I could feel, really feel happiness and excitement coming from the surrounding wildlife. I took it all in, letting the tranquility balance me out and sooth my spirit, while searching for any evidence those men might have left behind.
I rounded the side of the house to the driveway. No tracks here either. What did they do walk on air? Or maybe they flew in through the window? Ugh, how aggravating, to top it off I heard Bear driving up.
I ran back into the house, tossing my jacket on the peg. “Chase! I need you to stick around for the meeting. If I freak out make up some excuse and get me upstairs.”
He nodded his head. “I thought you were going to bolt and leave me here.”
“Me too, but I can’t do that to you. We’ll work this out.” Hopefully, before Max arrived.
“They’re coming up the front steps. Would you answer the door please?”
Bear and Tree arrived full of excitement. I wanted to run away. Instead I clamped down on their emotions that were zinging through me and offered them some food and beverages. Once we had our plates full we sat down at the island and got down to business.
This was the worse meeting of my life. Sweat pored out of my skin, under my clothes, from the exertion of blocking their excitement, and from concentrating on what they were saying. I prayed sweat wouldn’t start dripping from my face, dampness was already forming around my hairline. I fisted my hands under the table as I listened to what they had to say.
They wanted to set up a greenhouse with a small organic market where the locals could shop. The building they had in mind was located next door to the bar. They also knew of several people with chickens, which meant fresh eggs would be available.
The problem with living in the mountains was the growing season was too short and everyone had to leave town to buy their groceries, which meant smaller amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, and bigger amounts of boxed staples. Not to mention gas prices were high and anything delivered up to the mountains cost more. Bear and Tree heard many complaints over the years and now felt they were in a position to do something about it. They wanted to find a few close farmers to buy the fruit and beef from. They already had the fresh eggs and chickens taken care of. Their voices faded in and out as I looked over their proposal. They continued to explained to me they had already talked to many of the locals.
“Everyone wants to back us on this. But most don’t have the income to invest with us.” Tree said.
I liked the idea, but wanted to see the property first. I considered Alexis product, maybe Bear would put up a shelf for it. We agreed I would keep the proposal overnight, reread it, and change anything I might feel needed changes.
“I would like to examine the property in the morning and then go over the proposal one more time if needed.”
They got up to leave. I didn’t need to spend much time on this. I knew they would do well. But I did need some time to get myself back together before going back out into the real world.
“Not a problem, this is going to take a while to get up and running, but it will benefit all of us.” Bear reached out to shake my hand, making me cringe inside.
I avoided touching him. “I think so too.” I wiped sweat off my brow and dropped my hands by my sides. “I think I might be coming down with something. I’ll meet you in the morning.”
“Stay in today and get better,” Bear said as he and Tree left the house for work.
“Thank goodness that’s over.” I said to Chase as I watched them pull out of the driveway. “I have to go outside and cool off. Grab Killer and join me.”
I stepped outside without my jacket, lighting another smoke.
“That’s what, the sixth smoke you’ve had today?” Chase said, keeping some distance between us.
“I know,” I leaned against the railing, rubbing my eyes. “I haven’t smoked this much in years.” I lifted my head up and glanced at the trees surrounding me. The snow sat heavy on the branches. The scenery looked like a winter wonderland. I wanted to be one of those trees right now, standing in the glory of nature with no worries and no sweat dripping off me. I put out my smoke. I really didn’t need it.
“Will you help me do some research on the Internet today? I need to find a way to block this better.” I laughed. “At this point I don’t care if its voodoo magic.”
“I’ll start right now. Your looking too pale and on edge. Its making my gut hurt. Come on Killer.”
I took a few more deep breaths before heading back in to get on my laptop.
We spent the rest of the morning printing out different spells, meditations, and mantras. The afternoon trying all of them out. The meditations seemed to work the best. The mantras might have helped, but I couldn’t seem to get the words out without giggling. After a lot of practice, I was able to block Chase better. I wasn’t certain it would work on anyone else, until I tested it out on Bear and Tree the next day. I wasn’t looking forward to it.
By late afternoon our packages arrived. We were going through them when it occurred to me that we needed to take the gifts down tonight. I was only going to give Max a couple of days, if he didn’t show I would take care of the problem myself. I’d planned on doing it before, but my mind was made up now.
“We need to take these down tonight.”
“Do you really want to do that? I’m not sure your up to dealing with people right now.” Chase said, glancing up at me. “Your going to leave aren’t you?”
Was I that transparent? “I’m going to give Max a couple of days. If he doesn’t show, then yes, I’m going hunting on my own. Right now let’s separate all of this.”
“I hope Max gets back soon then. I should call him again.”
“Don’t do that Chase, we should stop by a costume shop after we rent the car.” I quickly changed the subject, “Your pick, Santa’s, elves, trolls, whatever.” At this point I was rooting for the trolls.
He chuckled. “I’ll have to think about it. Maybe we should use Max’s truck instead of a rental, I’m not old enough to rent a car and I don’t want you going inside.”
“Do you know where the keys are?”
“I sure do.”
“What about the wolves? Will we be safe from them?”
“They won’t be a problem.”
We separated everything, checked the weather, and hit the road, leaving Killer at home this time. Chase directed me to Max’s driveway. It was nicely hidden, off the beaten path, behind a cluster of trees. His truck was in the driveway, covered in snow, his house dark and silent when we pulled up.