Friday Excerpt: Slow Thaw (from Cold Feet)

This week’s excerpt is from a short story I wrote for the Cold Feet anthology. Poor Nate was just trying to help a couple girls in trouble, and this is where it’s gotten him so far…



Excerpt: Slow Thaw

Nate changed
the cold pack on Anna’s head three times, twenty minutes on and twenty
off before there was a knock at the cabin door. He pulled the bedroom
door shut behind him. Danielle was the only other person on the mountain
that he knew of, and she’d already proven herself dangerous in her
state of panic.

Not sure what
to expect but ready for anything, he opened the door. Danielle stood
just outside, and behind her, the sheriff from Highgrass, revolver in
hand.

“What brings
you out in this weather, officer?” Nate didn’t invite them in. Danielle
was all smiles, but her eyes had a hard glint that told Nate he may have
underestimated her.

“Ms. West here claims you kidnapped her and her friend. Is that true?”

Nate shook his head, pressing two fingers to the bridge of his nose. This vacation was turning into a nightmare.

“Does anyone ever actually answer that question with ‘yes’?” he asked, earning an unamused stare from the Sheriff.

Nate shook his
head. “I didn’t kidnap anyone. Anna came up to me while I was doing my
morning exercises. She told me their car was broken down and asked if I
had a phone. I don’t, but I told them they could warm up and stay here,
and when my ride gets here tomorrow or whenever the storm lets up, I’d
take them into town.”

The sheriff glanced at Danielle. “This one says you held her against her will. Locked them both in your bedroom.”

Nate knew there
was no way to make it sound good. “I cut my foot, there was blood on
the floor, and she freaked out. I was worried she’d freeze to death when
the snow came in, so I brought her back and locked her in the bedroom
for her own good – so she wouldn’t try to run out in the cold again. She
knocked her friend out cold, knocked me over and then ran out the door
when I went to check on them.”

“Anna fell,”
Danielle said, her voice more childlike than Nate remembered. “I tried
to help her, but I was so scared that he,” she pointed at Nate, “…was
going to rape me that I just ran. Who knows what he did to Anna while I
was gone!”

Nate barely
resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “I kept ice on her head so it
wouldn’t swell from where you hit her with the lamp – and I have the
broken lamp to prove it too, Sheriff, if you’d like to take that into
evidence.”

“Where’s the
girl now? I need to see her.” The officer stepped in front of Danielle.
Nate let the door swing open and pointed toward the bedroom.

“She’s in there, on the bed. She’s been unconscious since her friend ran out.”

The sheriff clomped across the floor and looked inside while Nate turned back to Danielle.

“Just how did you get a hold of the sheriff?” he asked. She shrugged and held up her phone.

“My phone is
set up for satellite calls – Daddy thought it would be a good idea if I
ever got kidnapped. Guess he was right.” She batted her eyes and smiled,
no fear whatsoever in her gaze.

Obviously he’d
been set up, but Nate wasn’t sure why. He tried to remember Danielle
from his past, something that might have been cause for her actions, but
nothing came to mind.

“Well, it looks
to me like we’re all headed into town,” the sheriff said, coming back
into the room. “Frankly, there’s a lot more supporting her side of the
story than yours and that girl in there needs a hospital. So until we
get some answers you’re all coming with me. Turn around, hands against
the wall.”

###

Want to read the rest? This and several other great short stories by various authors can be found in the Cold Feet anthology, available now from your favorite online retailers for just 99 cents per ebook or $7.99 in print.


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