It seems I wanted to write something after all. 🙂
I chased the horse around the yard, trying to catch him and get him into the barn before the blizzard started in earnest, and of course he fought me. He sensed my growing desperation and uneasiness as I slipped and slithered in the snow that had already fallen. The long thick coat I wore didn’t provide much protection; I was shivering hard and longing for the comfort of my cabin. My ears burned from the cold.
How he’d escaped the corral was easy to see; a railing had come down on the near side, and he’d taken advantage of it. The only thing stopping him from running off had probably been the weather. He was young and still somewhat wild, but he had a good pedigree. I’d make something of him eventually.
Breathing hard, I finally stopped and glared. “You ungrateful beast,” I said evenly. I marched into the barn, poured a measure of grain into a bucket, and went back outside. He saw the bucket and pricked his ears. “I knew that would get your attention.”
After that, it was easy enough to lead him into his stall, wipe him down, and throw a flake of hay into his wall feeder. I double-checked the door latch before finally returning to the cabin, head bowed against the strengthening wind. Tiny flakes of snow lashed my exposed skin, feeling like bits of fire that flamed and scorched the numb flesh.
Inside, I stoked the logs until they were blazing, sitting so close to the stove, I was surprised my pants, damp from the knees down, weren’t singed. By the time night fell, I was warm enough to heat soup and eat it. I followed that with a tot of whiskey in a metal cup, sipping it slowly but steadily until the fire in my belly matched that of the one in the wood stove.
Sighing in contentment, I considered retiring early with a book. I was totally caught up in Mark Twain’s new tale, Tom Sawyer, and the thought of curling up in a nest of blankets with the rest of the whiskey was irresistible.
I was just putting out the lantern when there was a heavy knock on the door. Amazed anyone would be out in this weather, I hurried to let them in.
A beautiful young man with very pale skin stared at me with deep, dark eyes. He wore only a white linen shirt and thin pants. I thought he must be freezing. “What are you doing out in the storm?”
“May I come in?”
I stepped back. “Of course. Are you a traveler who’s gotten lost?” I could think of no other reason for a stranger to be out this way at this time. I glanced around before closing the door against the cold. No horse, no carriage. Where had he sprung from?
He stopped and turned a few feet into the room, giving me a luminous smile. “Thank you for inviting me in.”
There was a blur of motion as he moved toward me, then strong arms wrapped around me, holding me tight. “I am so very hungry, you see. And you have just what I need.”
Two sharp pricks in the side of my neck stopped me from struggling. I sank against him with a moan. A languid stream of fire moved through me, warming me in a different way than the whiskey and soup had. I clutched him, my head whirling.
And then I lost consciousness.
Word count: 589
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I didn’t have time to do my usual vetting, so please excuse any typos or other errors you may find.