Sara and The Wolf
Sara meets Dan while searching for a friend who disappeared from Seattle the year before. They develop a relationship and face a challenge.
There are 10 chapters. The whole thing is written and I'll keep posting it... I originally wrote this for my sister. She liked it but said it wasn't as good as the original. I agree, but it sure was fun to do.
2. Chapter 2
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Ch 2 Sara
Taking a stack of fliers with Anna’s picture and information on them; Sara left her room and began walking down the street going into each business she passed to ask if she could post a flier. Most places she would get a look of sympathy and a spot in a window front.
It was getting closer to evening when Sara began making her way back towards the motel. Her head had begun to ache. She was getting hungry as well. Spotting a convenience store she crossed the street and made her way around cars parked at the gas pumps to enter the store. The smell of hotdogs and doughnuts gone stale since the morning made her begin to reconsider her ideas for a quick meal. Walking back past the racks of magnets and books on CD she slowly perused the aisle of chips and packaged snacks. Nothing looked really appetizing. Moving on to the aisle with small travel size packets of pain relievers she picked up a couple packets to help with the headache she could feel growing slowly up from the base of her neck. Hoping for something more promising in the refrigerated cases she moved to the back corner of the store and stared blankly in through the glass doors for a few minutes.
She always hated this part of the day. Dinner for one; sometimes out of a box, sometimes out of a bag, always a letdown. This was the part of the day where she most often made the decision to go home in the morning. She never stuck with it though. After a night of sleepless self recrimination or sleep full of dreams where she was left with some significant assignment left undone she would recommit herself to her search.
Sometimes she would find a really nice restaurant and order something that was almost like a home cooked meal. She could afford to do it every night. With the insurance money and the settlements from all the legal proceedings surrounding the accident she was set for life. She could buy a nice house, have someone cook and clean for her, play the stock market or something. It wasn’t like she hadn’t considered it. It just seemed so empty. Sometimes the thought of real food for a change made it worth it but then the awkward looks from the waiters and other diners reminded her why she kept out of places where they asked how many were to be seated. Staring at the empty place across from her at a table just reminded her of everyone she had lost. It wasn’t worth it to eat well when she could only choke down a few bites before having her meal boxed up to take back to whatever motel she was staying in for the night.
Today’s options looked just like what was behind every one of these glass doors. There were sandwiches gone a bit soggy, salads in their plastic boxes, a few entrees to heat up in the microwave on the counter near the drink dispenser, a whole lot of nothing; great.
Realizing she had been standing and staring for too long, she shook herself and muttered under her breath, “pick something already.” It was then that she realized she was feeling cold and that her legs were aching almost as much as her head. She thought it was probably from all the walking around. Seeing a microwaveable soup container she opened the sliding glass and grabbed it. There had been a microwave in her motel room when she left her bag there. She could use it instead of trying to walk back with hot soup in her hand. Now all she needed was a plastic spoon. She thought she remembered walking past the container of plastic utensils. Walking back towards the drink dispenser and the microwave she spotted the clear cellophane wrappers containing utensils and napkins and grabbed a set. She glanced up and out the window and realized a steady rain had begun to fall while she had been lost in thought.
“This day keeps getting better,” she mumbled to herself.
The door chime sounded and Sara looked away from the soggy vista to see three large young men walk into the store out of the rain. One waved and greeted the cashier who returned the friendly greeting. They moved with a strange graceful ease for being so large. Most guys that size seemed to kind of lumber along heavily. These three moved smoothly and quickly. They reminded Sara of some of the dance partners she had been paired with over the years, something about the way they walked straight and confident, their frame and their feet moving unconsciously together in an easy balance.
Sara was six feet tall and used to looking at people from a certain angle. Looking up at these three was an unusual experience. All three had the dark hair and strong features of the Native American people of the area. Her great-grandmother had come from this area as a young woman and in old pictures she had the same striking profile. Sara didn’t know much of the story. Something about going south during the gold rush and ending up raising a family near San Francisco. Sara hadn’t thought she got any of her features from that side of the family but maybe her height was a connection after all. Then again, the tow truck driver and other people she had passed had all been relatively normal sized and she had been the one who had probably stood out for her height. Thinking about her height made her realize she had been slouching and standing up straighter made her realize she had been staring. At the same moment she decided to turn away one of the young men looked up and their gazes locked for just a moment.
Sara turned away and quickly moved to the register with her purchases. She could still hear the young men behind her. Two of them were talking about meeting up with some friends and from the rustle of packages and squeaking of wet shoes they were still loading their arms with packaged snacks. She paid cash and went to the front doors of the store, reluctant to go out into the pouring rain. Out of the corner of her eye she almost felt more than saw the one young man who had looked at her was still doing so. She glanced over her shoulder to see him not only staring at her but doing it blatantly frozen where he stood. Suddenly feeling anxious about having caught his attention Sara went to leave the store but was blocked by a family coming in. One small child was loudly protesting that he wanted to jump in a puddle near the front door and his father who had a firm grasp on his arm was stuck halfway through the doorway.
Sara smiled what she hoped was a sympathetic look at the man as he struggled with the child and took two steps back to give him room. It felt like backing into a trap and her heart rate picked up.
One of the young men still behind her loudly asked “Dan, hey, you okay?”
Sara glanced quickly over her shoulder again only turning long enough to see that the two companions of the young man staring at her had also noticed their friends intense focus. At that point everyone in the store had noticed something was going on and what attention the three had not already drawn was turned to them. Sara was left in the awkward position of trying to look anywhere but at the three of them. They were all dressed in shorts and short sleeved shirts. The one who had asked his friend if he was ok was leaner with short cropped hair. The third man, closest to Dan said something in a low voice that Sara couldn’t catch and then Sara just barely heard him say quietly but forcefully, “Dan, you know her?” Then at some unheard response from Dan she heard him say encouragingly, “You got to go talk to her.”
At this point Sara about panicked. Just then the man with the protesting child let the boy have his way and they both went back out the door. Sara followed quickly, as close as she could without tripping on their heels; she dodged through the door and out taking long strides in the pouring rain. She got past the cars at the gas pumps and turned to glance back expecting to see the young man possibly coming through the door and hoping that he would see her determined stride and leave her alone.
He was right there next to her as she turned.
She was startled and tried to take a step away from him but her foot caught the edge of the pavement and she stumbled and would have fallen if he hadn’t reached out and caught her arm. His hand was warm, even through the sleeve of her shirt she could feel how warm. It barely registered as she got her feet under her and jerked her arm away. She shoved her free hand in her bag and while keeping an eye on him and backing slowly away, she searched frantically for the pepper spray she knew was somewhere in the main pocket of her purse. Her heart was racing and her mouth had gone completely dry. Her breath caught in her throat as she tried to get enough air into her lungs to scream for help.
Both his hands were in front of him, open and still. He took a big step back from her and in an almost pleading voice that was strong and low he said, “Sorry. Wait. Please, wait, I’m sorry.”
Sara’s gaze swept quickly back and forth from his hands up to his eyes. He wasn’t acting aggressively towards her. She had to get ahold of herself and the situation, her nerves were getting the better of her and pushing her into panic mode. Just take it slowly. She took a deep calming breath and wrapping her hand around the pepper spray canister; she met his stare with one of her own. She was going for angry affronted but when she saw the look of real dismay on his face she ended up with something more like confusion than outrage. He looked like a little kid caught doing something wrong. His face was totally open. People didn’t just let that kind of emotion show on their face if they didn’t really feel it.
“Look, I’m in a hurry, I have an appointment, people are expecting me, I don’t want to be late, I have to go.” She had her finger on the trigger now, she could feel the tab she would have to pull with her other hand to be able to depress the trigger.
As if sensing her intent he took another step back slowly and put both his hands down at his sides. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I just couldn’t let you leave without finding out who you are.”
With a mixture of relief and annoyance, Sara sensed a lame pick-up line coming. Sara replied, “Really, I’ve got somewhere to be. Thanks, but no thanks.” Just then a trickle of cold water made its way under her hair and down her back beneath her shirt. She was already wet and getting wetter. The adrenaline left her system with a rush. She started to shiver and she clenched her jaw against her teeth starting to chatter.
He was wet as well, in fact the last step back had taken him under the edge of the overhanging roof above the gas pumps and he had water pouring onto his shoulder in a steady stream. He didn’t seem bothered though. “You’re wet and cold. Let me give you a lift home.”
“No, thanks, I’m only going a block or so and I'd really prefer to walk.”
“Ok, but wherever you’re walking to out here in the rain,” he gestured towards the sidewalk, “you could use an umbrella. I’ve got one in the truck, give me a second and I’ll get it.”
He turned and loped towards a truck parked in front of the store. Sara could see how he had caught up to her so quickly; he was fast. She was watching him the whole time and still couldn’t believe how quickly he ran to the truck and back. He returned with a battered umbrella that would have been huge for just one normal sized person but as he raised it above them it seemed to shrink so that between Dan and herself, it was just wide enough to keep the worst of the rain off.
Sara couldn’t see a good reason to blow him off at this point. He seemed genuinely interested in helping her and if he made any wrong moves she still had her hand around the pepper spray canister. She hesitated for another moment and then began walking with him towards the motel. After only a minute she realized that despite the disparity in their heights they were walking in step. She wondered if he was doing it on purpose to keep them both under the umbrella. She didn’t think he really could be though as she kept seeing him out of the corner of her eye looking at her instead of concentrating on their feet. She smiled to herself thinking of her sister and how they used to be teased for walking in step, just naturally in sync with each other.
“You have a beautiful smile.” He said.
Startled, she looked up at him and saw him smiling at her. His eyes were warm and sincere. She almost said something self-disparaging but bit it back and accepted the compliment in quiet confusion. She wasn’t at all sure what to make of this man. He was straightforward, honest, open, almost blunt. Where was the typical male chauvinism? Why was he treating her this way?
She shivered violently and inched just a little closer to the warmth she could feel radiating from Dan. She hadn’t realized how far from the motel she had really gone. She could see the sign another two blocks down the street. Her head was beginning to throb and the shivering made her whole body ache worse by the minute.
“May I?” he asked, sliding his arm around her and putting his hand on her shoulder.
Feeling the intense heat coming from his arm and body Sara realized she must be a lot colder than she knew for him to feel so warm even when they were both soaking wet. The heat felt good and at this point there just wasn’t a reason to hang onto her pride anymore. Sara let go of the pepper spray, wrapped her arms around herself and leaned into Dan. He was solidly muscled and as she relaxed against him slightly he slid his hand down to rub up and down her upper arm and shoulder adding a little more heat to her chilled frame.
It seemed like only a moment passed before they were on the sidewalk in front of the motel. When Sara turned towards the parking lot Dan jerked to a stop next to her, his arm falling to his side and a strange look crossing his face.
“You’re staying here?” he asked incredulously.