Chapter 1 The Cabin
Mia could barely see what is ahead of her. The heavy rain is blurring her sight. She could see nothing except for the dark and damp trees nearby and the winding road which is getting muddier and more and more slippery. She should have checked the weather before she enters this valley. And she should have fully charged her cellphone.
Should have. Now she is cold, drenched, and hopelessly lost. The wooden signpost with a lovely owl on top is nowhere to be seen. She hasn’t met a single soul during her random walk. The day is getting darker every minute with the heavy rain and black clouds. She dares not go back because she wouldn’t know which way is the correct one to the entrance of the valley. She has taken so many detours and she already lost track of them.
She vaguely remembers the last signpost indicates that there is a log cabin for hikers along the road she is currently taking. She needs to find it real fast. She is shuddering from the loss of temperature.
How foolish and reckless is she! She had gone in the valley in an act of whim. She just wanted to explore this foreign terrain for a brief moment. Sophie would be so panicked if she returned to the hotel and couldn’t locate her.
“Damn,” she stamps her feet. A stupid move. She loses her footing on the slippery road and falls gracelessly on all fours. She feels a sharp pain in her hand and struggles to look at it. Great, she internally moans, her right index finger is cut by a sharp stone and she could see a trickle of blood is oozing with the fainting light. Now the mud all over her face doesn’t seem a big deal anymore.
Somehow when she gets up in great difficulty and looks up, she sees an orange light in the distance! It must come from the log cabin and there must be people in it!
She musters all the energy that is left in her and walks cautiously yet hopefully towards the light with urgency.
As she nears the light, she could tell the form of a wooden cabin. She couldn’t be happier to see another human!
The door to the cabin is open. Mia could see a tall man with broad shoulders looking out the window, his hands in pockets, his back to the door. Even though Mia couldn't see his face, the man looks like he owns the world just by standing still.
Suddenly, Mia is all aware of the mud over her face and clothes. She is not a pretty sight.
“Hello,” Mia greets nervously, standing in the door, chewing her bottom lip.
The man turns, a devastatingly handsome face, a face that could make many women weaken in knees. Mia as well. His dark hair is slicked back, still damp, with a few locks strewn on his forehead, making him look careless and extremely sexy. His blue eyes, oh they are so blue, the kind of dark blue that you could get lost in them. High-bridged nose, sharp jawline, and soft lips that make Mia wonder what he tastes like.
“Are you alright?” The man asks impassively, breaking the trance Mia is in.
“Uhhh, I’m alright,” Mia stutters, ashamed of her ostentatious stare. He must get that a lot.
“There is a basin over there,” the man points out to Mia. His cold blue eyes are emotionless.
“Uhhh?” It takes Mia a few seconds to get his meaning. Mia flushes and feels awkward about her messy state in front of this shockingly good-looking man. Messy is a word that understates what she looks like right now.
Mia walks into the cabin and hurries to the basin. She rinses the mud on her face and palms, cleans the cut carefully, and relieves to see it has stopped bleeding but watches helplessly at the mud on her hooded sweatshirt. She decides to let it go since no remedy could be done.
After she finishes the cleaning, she takes a deep breath and turns to face the man. “I don’t think I’ve introduced myself. I’m Mia. Are you also caught in the rain?”
“Obviously,” the man replies in an annoying tone like he doesn’t care for talks and wishes to be left alone. He doesn't even look up. He is now sitting on the bench, both elbows on his long legs. He is in a brooding mood. Mia could tell dark clouds hover over his face. Mia couldn’t help the urge to erase the frown on his face even if she feels more awkward than ever. She wonders what is happening to her. She never lost her calm and cool before men. And she was never so concerned with a man she meets the first time.
Trying to shake the thoughts off her head, and obviously, this man doesn't want to talk to her, Mia walks to the window and stares outside. It is completely dark now. The rain has not abated at all but rather gaining momentum by a gale. The rain is beating the windowpane wildly, making loud noises. Good, it will cover the awkward silence, Mia thinks. When can she get out of here? Sophia must go crazy, probably has reported her missing.
“You are bleeding,” Mia jumps at the man’s sudden comment.
“Oh, nothing but a small cut,” Mia turns around, gives a quick look at her thumb which starts bleeding again, then looks at the man.
Their gazes meet. Mia feels electricity shoots through her body. Every part of her body tingles. She is lost in the man’s so blue eyes, which are now showing a bit of concern, and maybe surprise, too. But surprised at what? These emotions quickly disappear.
“You’d better tend to it. Do you have Band-Aid on you?” The man asks.
“Oh, I didn’t bring any emergency kit with me. I just went for a random walk and got lost. Silly me.” Mia winces.
Instead of saying anything, the man takes a long stride and gets his backpack, a professional hiker’s backpack. He takes out the Band-Aid and gives it to Mia.
“Thanks, ” Mia smiles at him. The man’s look at her makes her stomach churn.
His intense look also makes her fumble. She tries to paste the Band-Aid on the cut in her index finger, but the Band-Aid drops to the ground. She curses her clumsiness.
“I think I’d better help you,” the man stands up from the bench and walks towards Mia.
“I can do it. I’m just not good at using my left hand doing things.” Mia tries to explain her awkwardness away.
“There are only two bandages left and you just dropped one.” Mia’s face reddens.
Now he closes the gap between them. They are so close that with his height he towers over her and she could hear his breath and feel his heat. Mia’s heart starts pounding wildly.