A two-week vacation.
It would be just me, a cabin in the woods, hiking to clear my head ... and nothingness. It’s what I desperately needed. Maybe I should have spent the time and money going to someplace tropical or exotic, or maybe gone to Europe and explored ancient cities and culture.
But the truth was taking a road trip, nothing but the vastness and my own company, sounded pretty amazing.
I packed the last of my bags in the back of my car and closed the trunk.
At twenty-three I was ready for a break from the real world. With my only family—my mom and dad—living five states away, and my only “friends” being my co-workers, I was no stranger to being alone. I craved it even, embraced it. I had always loved the solitude being by myself entailed, and so going off for these fourteen days was perfect for me.
But even though I desired that solitude, the fact remained I was lonely. I had no one, nothing of importance close to me. I went to work day in and day out, did my job, paid my bills. I worked my ass off, to be honest, and because of that I had no debt. Then again, I didn’t buy anything of value. I didn’t splurge, didn’t treat myself. I saved and bought the essentials. And what a boring, simplistic life that made.
I’d rented a cabin an hour from where I lived, deep in the heart of the mountains. I don’t even think it had electricity, but going off the grid and reconnecting from everything was perfection right now.
Working for a publishing company as an advice columnist was surprisingly draining and stressful and not what I really wanted to do. Hell, at my age I should have known what I wanted to be when I “grew up” but I didn’t and it was depressing. It was corporate America where I was surrounded by concrete and high rises. And no amount of relaxation when I was off the clock could really make me feel better.
Although the cabin had no electricity I was prepared with portable chargers, a small propane stove, a case of batteries, and everything else I’d need for the next two weeks. I wouldn’t have to leave the cabin at all for as many supplies as I’d packed.
Once in the driver’s seat I looked over at the passenger side, my laptop case sitting there like a trusty old friend. Although I was disconnecting from work, social media, and technology in general, I still brought my laptop in the hope that I would get a little time to focus on the book I was writing. It was just a memoir, something probably nobody would ever read but me, but it helped to clear my head and I found it relaxing.
The place I rented was a small one-bedroom cabin out in the woods. It didn’t even have running water, but a cistern. But I’d packed enough gallons of water I was set. Bathing, on the other hand, would be an interesting feat. So I’d work on my book until my laptop decided to die. Then it was just me and myself, this time allowing me to focus on absolutely nothing.
* * *
I brought in the last box of the supplies and leaned against the counter, breathing heavily as exhaustion settled in. I had a couple battery-powered lanterns on, the sun had set an hour before, the darkness this deep in the woods almost suffocating. I walked out onto the small porch out front and leaned against the banister, staring up at the stars.
The sky was so clear out here, the stars so bright. There were no lights from the city, no activity of life all around. It was nice and peaceful, but there was a touch of fear that I couldn’t quite shake. I knew it was because I was out here alone, that not even my cell phone got reception if I needed to call for help.
It had fear but also excitement running through me, which was a strange combination. This is what I’d wanted, though, right? Of course it was a rhetorical question.
Once the sun rose and I’d be able to get things situated, the food packed away, I knew my mind would start to clear.
I headed back inside, shut and locked the door, and walked over toward the bedroom. I’d already set my suitcase on the full size mattress. The scent of pine was strong. I stared at the lantern, the small device casting an abundance of white light in the room. Once in a pair of sweats and oversized shirt, I got on the bed. Lying back on the mattress, I had my hands behind my head and stared at the wooden beams that made up the ceiling.
I was too tired to start a fire tonight, but that was on my list of things to do tomorrow. There was a woodshed beside the cabin, the owner letting me know that I could use as much as I wanted. I had been lucky to find this place, a friend of a friend putting in a good word for me. This was a private property, one not rented out to the public. And it was perfect.
The stress was already draining away, and as I reached over and shut off the lantern, casting the room in darkness, I dreamt that this wasn’t just a vacation, but my actual life.
* * *
I’d seen her arrive at the cabin last night, her flash of red hair like its own beam of sun. I’d wanted her instantly, my body reacting in ways it never had before.
Everything in me demanding she was mine.
I’d seen her before on one of the rare occasions I’d gone into town, a pretty little thing who looked so damn innocent and vulnerable I’d just wanted to take a bite out of her.
It had to be fate that had her staying at the cabin just a short mile from mine. It had to be destiny that I’d be out hunting and see her arrive.
She was alone, boxes of what I assumed were supplies telling me she planned on staying here for quite some time.
Good, it would give me time to plan, to decide how to make her mine.
And I would. Fuck, I’d make her my captive.