Zachary – Emily Evans

I grip the steering wheel so tight my palm turns red, but I have so many things running through my mind I have no time to dwell on it. It’s obvious that I’m nervous, though I lie to myself saying that it is the chilled night air that has me shivering. At one point, I blamed it on exhaustion. After all, I have been driving for hours. “Damn it.” I smack the steering wheel. Only a few more minutes till I’m in Virgin Falls, Alaska, but my lights are going dim so I press my foot on the gas. I need to reach the apartment before the lights completely give out. The last thing I want is to be stranded on this deserted road at night. My new life can’t start with drama. I left that all behind when I fled from David. I have to admit, leaving my abusive boyfriend after he caused my miscarriage is the best relationship decision I ever made. I shake my head to drive that man from my thoughts. That part of my life is over and I refuse to dwell on it. Starting now, I will only think about my future.

Just as my lights give out, I enter the main street of the town. It’s beautiful with its massive trees and sidewalk along the waterfront. The small rustic buildings are lined up on the opposite side of the street and from what I observe, life here is going to be peaceful. Great. I’m looking forward to a quiet life. From tomorrow it will be greatly appreciated, but for now, I wish there was just some form of nightlife. My prayers are answered in the form of a small building at the end of the street. The sign t reads First Choice. This must be a bar because there is music emanating from inside. It’s the only building with any life on the street, so I come out of the car and head towards it. As expected, the bar is small but welcoming, even more so, as the lighting gives off a warm glow that tingles my skin. I look around, taking in my surroundings, and my eyes immediately fall on the wall covered with magazine clippings and photographs. One of the headlines reads, ‘James Owen of Virgin Falls headed to the Olympics.’ I smile at the article, feeling oddly proud as part of a town I’ve only belonged to for a mere five minutes. “Can I get you anything?” A voice asks from behind and turn around, only to be stunned by the magnificence of a man.

The bartender smiles at me, and my knees go weak. He is gorgeous, from his short dark brown hair cut groomed to perfection to his muscular physique that doesn’t deserve to be hidden under a t-shirt, no matter how fitted it is. This man has a distinctive jawline and broad shoulders making him a commanding presence in the bar. “I just need directions,” I stammer my words, hoping he won’t notice the redness in my cheeks I know is there. “I haven’t seen you here before. New in town?” he asks, taking glances at me as he dries a glass. “Yes,” I respond, sitting on a stool at the bar so that my knees don’t buckle. “I literally just came in.” “Staying or passing through?” he asks and I swear I see hopefulness in his eyes. But I dare not allow my mind to wander down this path. This is a place I have sworn off. My past relationship has made me cautious. Perhaps too cautious. “Hopefully, I will be here for a long time,” I tell him. “I’m actually headed to Levi’s Lodge, but my car light died, and I can barely see anymore.

You know where I can get a taxi?” The bartender doesn’t answer me, but he calls his friend. “Hey, Elijah. Take over for me, will you? I’m making a run to Levi’s Lodge.” “Oh no,” I tell the bartender. “That’s not necessary.” “It’s not a problem,” he says. “Taking a taxi is fine. I don’t want to cause you any trouble,” I insist. “It’s no trouble. And you won’t be able to get a taxi now anyway,” he informs me so I give in and agree to allow him to drive me to my new home. “Ok,” I tell the bartender, my voice strangely low. “Thank you very much.” “What’s your name?” he asks as he comes from behind the counter to stand in front of me. “Erica,” I say to him. “Well, Erica it’s nice to meet you.

” He stretches his hand to me. “I’m Zachary.” Chapter 2: ZACHARY Erica sits beside me as I drive her to her new home. I take my time as I want to spend as much time with this beautiful woman as possible, although my efforts are most likely one-sided. I notice her fisting her hand all the way. A telltale sign of her uneasiness. “A city girl, I assume?” I still try to engage in conversation, though she obviously adverts my eyes. “Guess I’m a country girl now,” she says and turns towards the window. I look at the woman beside me, dark red hair brushing against her neck with light silky skin, and I want to gently caress it. Her lips are full and eyes bright, though they hold a hint of sadness. Now that Erica is seated, I can’t see the full extent of her curves, but when she first walked into the bar, her small waist and rounded ass drew my attention immediately. While Erica retrieves her keys from the mailbox, I start carrying her luggage to the front door. She turns around and sees me, objecting with her hands before her words. “You’ve done so much for me already. I can’t let you do this too,” she tells me.

“It’s fine. I don’t mind, at all. What kind of man would I be if I left a woman to carry all these bags by herself?” I don’t mean to speak so harshly and instantly regret it as she backs away and stares at me with widened eyes. “I’m sorry,” I say quickly. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I only meant…” Erica cuts me before I can finish. “I’m sorry,” she apologizes.” It’s been a long drive and I guess I’m just a bit tired.” Somehow, I don’t believe her excuse can be blamed solely on the strenuousness of the journey. Something else troubles this woman. Not wanting to upset Erica anymore, I stack the luggage in the living area of her cabin and excuse myself from her company. I force myself not to look back at the cabin as I drive away. That is the only way I can force myself to leave. Chapter 3: ERICA My new cabin is small, but comfortable and clean. There is only one couch in the sitting room, positioned in front of the small coffee table.

Apart from this, the sitting area is bare. I don’t even care that there is no television. All I need is a comfortable bed for a good night’s sleep, which I have. It’s large and I can stretch out fully on it. The bed is covered in a warm orange bedspread that contrasts against the cool beige walls. Every section of this cabin comes together in one room except for the bathroom, which is separated by a door at the back. I throw myself on my bed the moment Zachary leaves. Massaging the furrows in my forehead with my fingers does nothing to ease them away. A sigh escapes my lips. I hate that my face has begun to show the worries the plague me, but hopefully, my new life will put an end to that. I brush these useless thoughts from my mind. Tomorrow I will look for a job. That’s my top priority. The little money that I have won’t last very long, so I need to find a way to support myself. Hopefully, some new friends will come with that job too.

I’ve been lonely for so long, I wonder if I can reintroduce myself into society. “Stop it, Erica,” I say to myself. “You’ll be fine. You’re just worrying over useless things.” I scream and pull the pillow over my head. This is followed by a heavy sigh. Judging by just Zachary and his friend, the town’s people appear to be friendly and kind. “I should be ok, right?” I ask aloud as if someone might answer. When I’m tired of talking to myself, I take out my phone and dial my mother’s number. It’s late, but she is expecting my call. She wouldn’t dare go to sleep knowing that her daughter was on the road at night, so far from home, alone. “Erica,” she says as if asking a question and I know that she answered without looking at the ID. “Hi mom.” “You arrived alright?” she asks. “Yes, mom.

I’m safe.” I hear her breathe out a sigh of relief. “Soo, how is it?” “Well, I couldn’t see much in the darkness, but the town is absolutely gorgeous. There’s a waterfront in the middle of the town itself and it’s lit up by string lights. You should see it. The buildings are quaint, and the people are even friendlier than I imagined.” I go to the window and move the curtain aside to stare at the sky. The stars are twinkling in the darkness, something I’m not used to seeing. “So, are you going to start looking for a job immediately or relax for a while?” my mom asks. “I would love to take a break, just to clear my head, but I’ll run out of money soon. I think I should start looking for a job as soon as possible.” “You know I can always send you some money,” she offers. It’s something she’s done every day since I first told her about the move. “You know you need that money, mom. I won’t let you spend it on me,” I tell her.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be ok. I’m sure I’ll get a job soon.” “Ok sweetie,” she says and I hear the disappointment in her voice. “You’ve had a long drive. Get some sleep.” “Goodnight, mom.” Chapter 4: ZACHARY I swing my arms up and back and come down with all my force. The axe I’m holding in my hands cuts the log in one smooth motion. I deliberately let out a loud moan and wipe the sweat from my forehead. Slowly, I lay the wood in the pile, cracking my back as I do so. I don’t like cutting firewood. In fact, I hate it. But it’s one of those things I’m naturally great at. This somehow prompts some of my friends to call me to assist them whenever they need their logs cut for the winter.

Today the lucky caller is Dereck. Like Elijah, Dereck is also a veteran who was stationed in Alaska. He made the vow and also moved to Virgin Falls after retirement to help the widow of their fallen brother. As I curse him in my head, he appears with two cups of coffee in hand and gives one to me. I quickly take the elixir of resuscitation and inhale the nutty aroma. As I lean the axe against his cabin to gulp down my coffee, Dereck speaks and sours the taste. “Elijah told me you left work early last night.” “Fucking Elijah,” I say, knowing exactly where Dereck is headed with this conversation. “He says you left to drop a woman home.” Dereck is now sporting a stupid grin on his face and I want so much to smack it off. “So what if I did?” I keep my face straight and my expression blank. I don’t want him, or anyone else, to know more than they need to. My friends are like brothers to me, but they all have very strong personalities which could make them intimidating to those who don’t know them. “I heard she is gorgeous. Curvaceous even,” he says.

“You hear too much, Dereck,” I retort. “And before you ask, her name is Erica, and no, I didn’t sleep with her. I dropped her at her cabin and left.” Dereck holds his cup to his mouth but doesn’t sip. His eyes are open almost as wide as his mouth, and his cup is tilting to the side. Another second and his coffee will spill. “She’s distant and a little untrusting. I think someone may have hurt her badly.”


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Updated: 14 January 2022 — 11:29

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