Through the Mist

Excerpt - Chapter I: Ghost Story

Excerpt - Chapter 8: Steven

               

            After clarifying he was a year and one grade ahead of her, Steven asked, “Wow, Boston, so what's it like living in a big city?”    

            “It's okay… no, actually, I hate it there," said Katherine. "The people are all weird and really rude. Everyone’s in a big hurry all of the time.”

            Steven’s mouth formed a lopsided smirk. “Sounds awful.” He couldn’t imagine living in a big city like that.

            “But, I love it out here. I love Two Ponies!” she said.

            “I like Montana too, but I want to go away to college, maybe Boston,” he said, bravely exploring the possibility. “I want to be a vet like my dad.”

                   

            Katherine stared out across the lake, “I’m going to be famous someday. I’m going to win a gold medal in the Olympics!”   Before Steven could reply to her astonishing statement, she quickly changed the subject. “Let's go down to the lake.”

            After collecting their towels in the kitchen, he followed Katherine along the trail to the dock. She talked nonstop, pointing out trees and flowers by name along the way, no doubt trying to impress him. But it wasn’t necessary; he was already smitten. Steven followed quietly as he carefully studied her, filing away every detail to memory. Even the simplest things, like the way she coiled her ruby hair around her finger as she spoke, captivated him.

 

          Shaking her hand longer than necessary, the Blackfeet finally released it and padded to the horses without making a sound as if walking on carpet rather than the forest floor. Flashing his gorgeous smile one more time, he hopped effortlessly onto the back of the gray, once again towing the black, and started for the creek.  

          “Wait, what’s your name?” Katherine shouted after him.

Again impressing her with his riding skills, he halted and spun the grey around on her haunches. As the mare stood mid-air, he answered, “Billy, Billy Black.” Before she could reply, the trio disappeared into the woods.

           

          Katherine stood motionless for several minutes where Billy Black had left her, mesmerized. When his spell lifted, she shook her head. What just happened? The whole turn of events seemed surreal, like she had just walked on and off of a motion picture set. Billy certainly was a character; falling somewhere between the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

           She couldn’t believe she had just hired a total stranger when she didn’t have the money to pay for one day’s wages. She was furious with herself. How would she explain her impulsiveness to Betsy and Steven? Then she remembered he had known her uncle. That would be her defense.

            All the way home, she couldn't take her mind off of him. Billy Black. Sure has a nice ring to it.

Excerpt -  Chapter 15: Billy Black

                   

            After completing her task, Katherine paused at the end of the dock. She struggled to fight the impulse to linger, but the lake drew her in once more. Her skin began to tingle as her legs became numb. Unable to move, she fell into a well-rehearsed trance. Leaning over the edge, she searched the water for the answer to a question that had haunted her for nearly fifteen years. Why? Why did he do it? But, like the cold, empty gaze of a snake’s eye, the lake's dark surface only stared back at her through her reflection. She felt the body of water beckon her as the fog gradually consumed the dock and wrapped around her ankles. Could she do it? Could she let herself fall - not fight it - and surrender her last breathe… as he had?

             Teetering on the edge of the dock, something caught her eye across the vast expanse of water. For an instant, she swore she could see a lantern signal through the mist... or was it just a flash of moonlight reflecting off the distant shore?   “Billy... ” she exhaled faintly.

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