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Kim Pritekel & Alexa Hoffman
Kim Pritekel & Alexa Hoffman
"Fuck, it's cold!" Abel growled as she tugged the ends of her coat closer together. She grabbed her keys from the ignition and searched through them with gloved fingers until she found the one for the trunk. Of all the times she wished she had a button inside that would release the trunk's lock.
Nose instantly turning red as the frigid air hit it, the blonde sucked in a breath, the air chilling her lungs and making her cough. She looked up when she felt a snowflake land on her lashes. It was starting to snow again. She'd have to hurry to get the car unloaded. Thinking of possibly just taking in what she'd need for the night, she unlocked the trunk. Watching it slowly rise, she stopped, and looked out over the white landscape. Truly breathtaking. But that wasn't what had gotten her attention.
She studied the trees, watching as the snow, which was steadily getting stronger, fell onto the branches.
The hum was back.
"Zac?" she called out, her voice getting swallowed in the silence of the landscape. Nothing. Just the softness of the snow falling. Abel's brows drew. She knew she felt the brunette. Just knew it. Or was she just hopeful? "Zac?" she called out again, louder this time. She could have been the last person on earth for the stillness.
Disappointed, and feeling sad, she turned back to the car. Maybe tomorrow she'd go exploring Zac's old haunt. For now it was getting late, and was far too cold.
The blonde was tired as she plopped the last of her bags onto her bed. One entire bag was filled with the things she'd bought for Zac; both Christmas gifts and the things she'd picked up for her around Boston.
She moved to the window and looked down. She stared down into the thicket that was just away from the house, where the brunette used to hide most often. She peered through the naked branches of the trees, hoping beyond hope that she'd see some kind of movement there. Nothing.
Sighing deeply, she decided to unpack now so she wouldn't have to worry about it later. She wanted to chill for the rest of the night.
After an hour of unpacking, Abel made her way downstairs, and headed outside for some firewood. Luckily her father thought ahead of time, and paid Jim Wilkins to bring up wood starting in early December.
As always, the wood was stacked neatly next to the house, covered by a tarp. The blonde folded back the heavy blue material and began to pile the small logs into her arms. She turned to look over her shoulder, swearing she had heard something. Scanning the quickly darkening forest, she saw nothing. Feeling a slight shiver run up her spine, she hurried inside.
The night was cold and beautiful, and Abel was again looking forward to her time alone. Her family would arrive once public school was finished, closer to Christmas. She had just over a week. How different she felt this time around from last summer.
She also allowed herself to think about the events toward the end of the summer. She had suffered from nightmares for weeks after the incident with Zac and Gerald Hivey. The Cohens had been stunned to find out that he had taken his own life while awaiting his trial. Hung himself, they said. Good riddance. But the blonde felt bad for the families who would never get justice in all the mindless killing.
She could have been one of his victims. Abel's mom had finally managed to get her father to realize that Zac had saved their daughter's life. He felt bad for what had happened, and the brunette losing everything. But he had felt he had been protecting his family at the time. Knowing the way things worked out, Gerald Hivey ending up dead, his daughter and Zac both unhurt, he would have done things no different.
The blonde grasped her cup of hot cocoa in both hands and sat on the couch, staring into the dancing flames in the fireplace. She could still see the look that had been Zac that day. Such ferocity, which she now realized was never aimed at her. It had stunned her, and made her step back and eventually run from her friend. She knew that Zac would protect her at any cost, and wished that she had been clear-minded enough to realize that then. But it happened, and there was no way of doing it over.
Over the past six months, she had begun to think a lot about the brunette, and what the girl had meant to her in that short time during the summer. She knew in her heart that Zac would always be there for her, no matter what. She felt the same way, and missed the older girl. Very much.
In the hustle and bustle of the blonde's daily life, she had come to appreciate the simplicity of Zac. Not that the girl was simple by any means. In fact, she had the distinct feeling that there was much more to the tall girl than anyone even knew. She'd love to know what made her tick, what made her happy. It had seemed last summer that her "Spinney" made her happy, but that wasn't the case.
Abel brought a hand up, surprised to feel the wetness on her fingertip as she ran it under her right eye. She could see the despair and desolation in the blue eyes that night. The night when Zac had come to her, come to tell her goodbye. So badly she had wanted to beg her friend to stay, and not leave Maine. In the end, Able knew Zac had to do what was right for her. And for the brunette to want to leave her home, there had to be a reason.
Reasons the blonde would probably never know.
She sighed again, taking a sip, and closing her eyes. She felt the warmth spread through her, calming her from the inside out.
Abel wondered if she had indeed felt Zac when she'd arrived at the cabin. She was just sure she did - she still did. She closed her eyes tighter, just allowing herself to feel. She was there. Somewhere out in the night, and yet she stayed away.
"Why, Zac?" she said quietly to the room. The only answer was the clock on the mantel, ticking the minutes away.
The figure moved swiftly through the darkness, not making a sound across the hard-packed snow. A skill, developed for hunting.
The lights of the cabin were dim, limited to one room, and the tell-tale smoke wafting up from the chimney told of the source.
Large, gloved hands reached down, gathering snow.
Green eyes opened suddenly, and looked around the near-dark room. The fire had burned down to little more than ashes, and the house was cold.
Realizing she had fallen asleep, but not certain what it had been that had woken her up, she pulled her sore body up from its precarious position on the couch and stretched her arms above her head.
Running her hands through her hair, she headed upstairs to bed.
Humming softly to herself, Abel puttered around the kitchen. She was dressed in flannel pants, a sweatshirt and slippers. The scenery around the cabin was beautiful, and she was warm and cozy, with a nice fire ablaze in the other room.
Coffee started, she headed toward the fireplace to see how much wood she'd need. She preferred to gather it at the beginning of the day, and then just relax inside. As she neared the hearth, she glanced out the front door and noticed something. Stepping closer, she peered out the small, square panes in the door, and saw a snowman. He was sitting on the cabin's porch, and was about 18 inches tall. Two thin sticks stuck out the sides of the triple layered body. A small stick for his nose, and, what caught her attention the most, were the two bright blue buttons that were used as eyes. Setting off the masterpiece was the small stones placed in an upward semi-circle to depict a smile.
"What the . . ." The blonde unlocked and opened the door, the cold morning air hitting her in the face. The day was sunny, but more snow was predicted, and cold along with it.
She stepped out onto the porch, and knelt down to look at the little guy. She reached out a hand, looking at the snow creature with reverence. The snow was cold and wet against her fingertips as she traced the roundness of the head. Her gaze traveled down to the button eyes, and suddenly she knew who had made this.
"Zac!" She bounded off the porch, looking frantically into the woods for any sort of sign or movement. Deep inside, about fifty yards from the cabin, a dark figure stepped out from behind a tree, and the blonde felt her heart begin to pound in her chest. "Zac!"
She began to run through the snow, as well as one can run through knee-deep snow, pushing her legs up higher to clear more ground. She pounded her arms through the air as she flew toward the figure who had started to walk toward her. As the blonde got closer, the figure moved beneath a breach in the branch cover, and Abel could see Zac's features clearly.
"Zac!" she called out again, pushing her body harder through the snow until she reached the darker girl, throwing herself into waiting arms. Abel panted into her neck, the cold air and exertion nearly her undoing.
The momentum of her body had nearly knocked Zac over backward into the snow, but the taller girl managed to stay on her feet as they clung to each other. Abel could feel her smile about to break her face in two, but she didn't care. She closed her eyes and dug her fingers into the material of the brunette's coat, clutching at what she could.
Eyes also tightly closed, Zac held onto Spinney, all her earlier resolve to leave the blonde alone melting in the bitter morning air. She held her Spinney to her, reveling in the warmth and familiarity. Spinney didn't hate her!
"Oh, Zac," was breathed into her neck, the warm air displacing the small hairs, making Zac shiver. She held the blonde tight, listening to her breathing for a moment before the blonde began to talk.
"I thought about you all semester," she exclaimed, still keeping her tight hold. "I saw you everywhere I went. And now my best friend thinks I'm crazy or pregnant because of foil!"
The brunette was confused, but said nothing. She let Abel say whatever it was she needed to say. As usual, the little blonde was obviously bubbling with words.
"And I missed you so much! I can't believe you're here!"
Suddenly the blonde pulled away, fiery green eyes looking up at Zac.
"I called for you, Zac. Why didn't you answer?" She gripped the open ends of Zac's coat, tugging at it to emphasize her words.
"I didn't want to bother you anymore, Spinney," was Zac's quiet answer. "I don't want to hurt you again."
Abel looked up into the most sincere eyes she had ever seen.
"Oh, Zac." Abel grabbed her for another hug. "You can't hurt me, honey. I'm not angry with you. You saved my life." Her expression turned from that of accusation to total acceptance. Zac smiled, and Abel's heart melted. With an audible click, her world was righted again.
That is, until she began to shiver violently.
"Oh, Spinney. You're going to freeze." A small wrinkle formed between Zac's eyes, and she nodded toward the cabin down the hill from them.
Without a word, the blonde began to retrace her steps, losing a slipper once, her arms wrapped tightly around her body. Now that the adrenaline had died down somewhat, her body was revolting against the harsh temperatures.
The blonde's lips were trembling and blue once they reached the porch. She turned to Zac, who waited at the bottom of the stairs. She knew not to push the brunette now.
"Zac . . ." She shivered, her words coming out in a staccato rhythm. "I d... don't w... w... want... t... t... to lose you.. a... again."
The brunette looked up at her, and knew that since she had given in to what she most wanted, there was no way she could deny herself of her Spinney's presence again. With a deep breath, she made a decision.
"Then let's go in," she said quietly, taking the steps two at a time so she was standing next to the blonde in two giant strides. Green eyes widened and sparkled. "Come on, before you freeze to death."
Without a word, Abel reached behind her and grabbed the doorknob with trembling fingers, unable to control her movements enough.
"Here." Zac placed her larger hand over the blonde's, and turned the knob. The door swung open, and the two hurried inside. Zac stood near the door, not sure what to do. She looked around, hands behind her back. Abel hurried over to the fire, letting the warmth spread through her. She looked at the brunette, unable to believe that she was really in her cabin.
The brunette looked tired and cold, despite the brave face she was putting on. Her hair was stringy and dirty, as unless she wished to join the Polar Bear Club, she was out of luck to bathe.
Blue eyes met Abel's, and they smiled.
"I can't believe you're here, Zac," Abel said quietly, her voice filled with awe. Zac smiled, but said nothing. "Come on. Let's get you warmed up and showered."
"Showered?" The brunette cocked her head to the side, unsure. Abel smiled and grabbed Zac's hand.
"Yes, showered. First, get out of this stuff." She bent down and unlaced the snow-encrusted boots, helping her friend out of them, then stood, pushing Zac's coat off the taller girl's shoulders. "Come on." She hurried up the stairs to the second-floor bathroom where the largest shower was. Zac followed, though continued to look around the warm cabin.
The last time she'd been there, which had been one of the last times she'd spent any time with Spinney, she had been half dazed and sick.
She still felt that bit of discomfort, as though she did not belong there. But she had yet to see the blonde's family show up, so knew it was just her and Spinney. She always felt comfortable with her.
She was led into a small room with a toilet and sink, and some sort of glass wall that she couldn't see through.
"Okay, my friend. This is a shower," Abel explained, pulling the glass wall open. Zac looked curiously inside, seeing it was a small room again, with tiled walls and a drain on the floor. She looked to the blonde for further explanation. Green eyes smiled mischievously at her. "You're gonna love this." She grinned.
She gently pushed Zac back and turned on the water, using her hand to gauge the temperature.
"Strip," she said over her shoulder. She heard the ruffling of clothing as the brunette disrobed. The water felt warm enough without the possibility of burning Zac's skin, so she turned to her friend.
The taller girl stood naked in the middle of the large bathroom, her body pale and slightly too thin, but well-muscled and proud.
Wow! The blonde was struck dumb for a moment. She realized just how beautiful Zac really was. Her long dark hair flowed down her back, her bright blue eyes open and looking at her. She would truly be stunning once clean and in clean clothes.
Shaking her head to clear it, she walked over to the brunette.
"Okay . . ." She took her by the hand and led her to the shower stall. "On the shelf there is shampoo and soap. There's a loofa hanging over the plastic hook in the corner. Everything you need should be here. Kay?"
Zac nodded and with one final look at Abel, stepped into the stall. She started at the feel of the warm water beating down on her skin, but just as quickly, she closed her eyes. It felt like pure bliss. She released a long, drawn-out sigh of pure contentment.
The blonde chuckled and gathered up all of her discarded clothing.
Once Zac was alone, she ran her hands through her hair, letting the water slick it back from her face. Once, while traveling down in the Ozarks, she had found a waterfall. It had been summer, so the cold water had been more than welcome. That had been one of her favorite things about traveling in those parts, and now to have a waterfall inside, but with hot water! She was amazed and overjoyed.
Sighing at the feeling of clean skin and hair for the first time since early winter, she thought about where she was, and just for a moment berated herself.
After seeing too much violence in the fight with the rail inspector, she had decided to go home. She was tired of running and tired of having to look over her shoulder. She knew in the Wachovia Forest she would be safe. So, homebound she'd been. Arriving back in October, she had worked quickly to fashion some kind of shelter. She had managed to make something that would last, and be much sturdier than the canvas over the summer.
Blushing slightly at the memory of where she'd gotten the materials, she was proud of her home. She'd do whatever was necessary to keep it.
But first, it was time to make Spinney happy again.
Abel grabbed the cordless off the coffee table as she passed it, Zac's clothes still in hand. She dialed with her thumb, and put the phone to her ear. It was answered after two and a half rings.
"Mom?" she gushed. The older woman was startled.
"Hi, honey. I guess you made it okay, huh?" The older woman chuckled. She wondered what had her daughter grinning from ear to ear. She knew that sound in her voice.
"Yeah. And guess who's here!?" Abel nearly jumped for joy as she said it. She hurried over to the small laundry room and began to prepare the washer.
"I haven't a clue, honey. Rocky the flying squirrel?" Sherry Cohen continued down the grocery aisle, her cell firmly planted to her ear by her shoulder.
"Very funny. No, Zac! She's here!" Abel nearly dropped the phone with her excitement.
"There in Wachovia?" Sherry stopped walking, and concentrated on what her very excited daughter was saying.
"Well, yeah. But here in the house, too." The blonde grinned into the phone like an idiot. "Isn't that cool?"
"Oh honey, that's great." The older blonde smiled. "I'm glad she's okay. What are you girls up to?" She saw the jar of peanut butter she needed, and grabbed three of them.
"She's showering right now. I'm about to wash her clothes. God, mom! It was good to see her," Abel breathed. "I was really worried about her. She looks a little thin, but pretty good otherwise."
As she was separating the clothes, something fell out of Zac's pants' pocket. She picked it up and saw it was a folded piece of paper. Curiosity getting the best of her, she unfolded it and smiled. It was the note she had left for the brunette last summer.
"Oh, Zac," she whispered. She could tell by the state of the page it had been carried around for some time. It was terribly wrinkled and even ripped in some places, the ink smudged from a thumb or finger.
"Oh. Sorry." Quickly refolding the paper, she set it on top of the washer and began to pour in detergent. "So anyway, there's my happy news."
"Happy indeed. You sound as though you're about to bounce out of your skin." Sherry grinned as she pushed her cart toward the checkout line. "Honey, I'd better go. I have to pay for this army's worth of food I've got here."
"Okay. I'll talk to you later."
"Yup. Say hi to Zac for me, and I love you."
"Love you, too."
The blonde pushed the OFF button, and laid the phone down on the table her mom used to fold the clothes as they came out of the dryer. She happily began to work, a quiet hum filling the laundry room.
Zac reluctantly turned off the knobs, effectively cutting off the water that started to turn icy. She grabbed the towel that Spinney had left for her, and wrapped her body in it. She walked over to the mirror that was mounted above the sink, seeing her gauzy reflection. The steam on the mirror hiding most of her features, she looked down at herself. The newest scar that littered her body caught her eye. Bringing her left arm up, underside up, she looked at the puckered, white flesh there.
The scar extended from her wrist about four inches. She was lucky she hadn't bled to death after that one. Bastard of a rail inspector.
Running her fingers over the scar absently, she looked around the bathroom, still hot and steamy from the long shower. What was she supposed to wear? She could go downstairs in the towel she wore. Spinney had taken her clothes with her for some reasons. Was she supposed to walk around like that?
She looked down at herself again. The towel was around her shoulders, and barely covered her. Most of her front was exposed from the navel down.
"Hmm," she muttered, looking around the room for some sort of covering. She saw a door behind the door that led out into the hallway. Opening it, she found more towels. Grateful as she began to shiver, the steam dissipating, she wrapped one around her waist.
Padding along the cold, wood floor, she headed downstairs, her nose showing her the way.
She inhaled, eyes closed. Her stomach began to growl loudly. It was hard to find decent game in the snow. Nibbling on the same rabbit for nearly two weeks wasn't even remotely enough for her tall frame.
She reached the kitchen and heard soft humming. She smiled, seeing the blonde shaking her hips to some tune she heard in her head. She was moving around the small room with a fun little dance move, her head bobbing lightly.
The brunette watched from the doorway, amused.
"Ugh!" the blonde nearly jumped out of her skin when she turned to see her friend watching her. "God, you scared me." She put her hand to her chest, trying to calm her heart.
"Oh. Sorry." Zac looked down, beginning to turn away, shoulders slumped.
"Oh, honey. Wait." Abel hurried over to her, placing a hand on her terry cloth-covered shoulder. "God, I'm sorry. No. I was just startled." She smiled reassuringly, realizing that Zac was spooked now after last summer. She knew the brunette would never hurt her and told her as much.
The blonde noticed what Zac was dressed in, and realized that she hadn't left her with any clothes.
"Shit! I'm sorry." She grabbed Zac's hand and hurried into her parents' bedroom. She searched through some drawers until she found her father's sweats. They'd be a little big, but nothing major. Mainly around the waist. "Here. Use the drawstring to tighten them." She grabbed a nice, heavy sweatshirt from the closet and handed it to her, along with a pair of socks. "Get dressed. I'll be in the kitchen. I've got a surprise for you." The blonde grinned, her green eyes twinkling.
Zac watched her go, then quickly set to dressing. She groaned at the feel of the soft warmth of the fleece-lined clothing. It was strange going sans underclothes, but she'd deal.
The smell once again led her to her destination. She watched as Abel expertly flipped something in a pan. On closer inspection, she realized it was a pancake! She'd had those once before, and her mouth began to water.
"Sit," Abel ordered, placing her newest batch of pancakes on the awaiting plate. "These have chocolate chips in them." She grinned over her shoulder. "And . . ." She walked over to the fridge, bringing out a brand new bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup. Blue eyes instantly lit up. The blonde grinned, then brought out a new can of Reddi Whip.
She began to serve the brunette, who watched with hunger-filled eyes. Abel was sad. She wondered just how long it had been since the taller girl had had anything substantial to eat.
"Okay. Here's how this works." She handed Zac the syrup, which the girl knew what to do with, and she did with gusto. "This is whipped cream. Try it." She squirted some on Zac's finger. The darker girl looked at , studying the creamy consistency, then put the finger in her mouth. She drew her brows for a moment as she rolled it around her tongue, then her eyes closed. Abel grinned, heading back to get them some milk and juice to drink.
She sat across from her friend, giggling at the mountain of whipped cream that topped the stack of flap jacks. She sat, chin resting in her palm, watching the ravenous girl eat. There was not a chance in hell this girl was going to starve over the winter. She'd buy her an entire store of food to keep in the snow for after she left, if need be.
Zac savored the tastes that assaulted her mouth and tongue. She closed her eyes at every bite, quickly taking another, enjoying it as if it were her first. Abel had forgotten about her own breakfast, entirely too fascinated by her friend.
Finally the plate before the tall girl was empty, and blue eyes began to scan the kitchen for more. The blonde looked down at her own uneaten pancakes, and quietly slid them across the table. A grateful gaze met hers, then the ritual began all over again.
"Where did you go?" Abel finally asked, Zac's appetite slowing down. She was poised to jump up at any moment and make more. But, the girl seemed to be doing okay.
Blue eyes glanced up at her from her breakfast. She downed the cold glass of milk, the blonde snickering at the mustache left. She reached over the table and wiped it off with her thumb.
"A little of everywhere," Zac said quietly. She sat back, allowing what she'd eaten to settle. "I went down south for a bit, and headed over toward Illinois and Indiana." She looked up a little shyly. "Went through Boston, too."
Green eyes opened wide.
Zac shrugged. "About late summer, September."
The blonde stared at her for a moment, just trying to get her thoughts straightened out. "September?" The brunette nodded. "Zac, did something happen to you?" She thought back to that beautiful, late summer day on campus. That feeling that had rushed through her, leaving her almost ill with worry.
"Yes," Zac said, nodding.
"What?" The blonde swallowed, almost feeling sick again from the uncertainty. How was this possible? How could she have possibly felt something that had happened to her friend?
"I was pulled from a train." Zac raised her arm, sliding the thick sleeve up to her elbow, exposing the angry scar.
"Oh . . ." The blonde sucked in a breath as she rose from her seat, and hurried over to the darker girl. She took hold of the arm, and gazed down at the mark, marring the perfect, tan skin. "Oh, honey," she whispered, looking up into the blue eyes, her own filled with moisture.
Zac looked with concern into her friend's face. She brought up a hand, and caught the single tear that slipped free.
"Why are you crying?" she asked, her voice so soft, Abel almost missed the question.
"You got hurt," Spinney answered, gently touching the scar. "How did you get cut so badly?" Looking back at the mark, she could tell that it probably would have needed stitches. The skin had mended, but was rough and puffy from the scar tissue.
"When I fell, I landed on a jagged tie," the brunette explained softly. "Please don't cry, Spinney." Abel met her gaze, and she forced herself to smile and nod. After a brief pause she took a deep breath.
"I have a surprise for you." She stood, and ran up the two flights of stairs to her room. Once there, she looked around, looking for the duffel bag she had crammed full of her gifts for the taller girl. Once spotted, she grabbed it, and turned to head back. She stopped, realizing just how ridiculous it had been to buy all this stuff, and bring it with her. Hell, she carried it in the trunk of her car everywhere, just on the chance she'd see her friend. "I'm crazy," she said, shaking her head. "Absolutely crazy."
Zac heard the pounding of feet on the stairs, and looked up to see her friend hurry over to the living room.
"Come here," Abel called out, setting the bag she carried in front of the fire place. Zac pushed away from the table, glad to be out of the sight of food, her belly nearly rebelling from so much food so quickly.
She found Spinney sitting with cross-legged on the floor, and looking up at her expectantly. The tears were gone, replaced by a huge grin. She matched it, and plopped down in front of the blonde.
"Okay. Now you stay still, and I'll give you this stuff one at a time. Kay?" Nod. Abel felt like a child playing Santa on Christmas morning as she rose to her knees, and unzipped the large bag. "Okay, first we start with this. Oh, close your eyes!"
Zac smiled at the blonde's excitement, but complied. She was told to hold her hands out, so she did. She felt a cylinder-shaped thing put there, paper crinkling against her palms.
Blue eyes opened to see a roll of toilet paper sitting in her hands. She looked up at Spinney with curious eyes.
"That's biodegradable toilet paper," the blonde explained. "See, when you use it and throw it out in the forest, it will break down really fast."
Zac nodded, not fully understanding, but realizing this must be a good thing.
"I got you a few of those." She pulled out four more rolls, stacking them neatly beside herself. "Okay. Next . . ." Zac closed her eyes. She felt something soft, but scratchy. Opening her eyes, she saw a knit cap, black. She turned it over in her hands, smiling at the little squirrel that was sewn into it. She grinned up at Spinney.
"It's my little squirrel."
"Sure is." The blonde grinned like a loon, happy to see the sparkle in Zac's eyes. Without further ado, the brunette placed the cap on her still slightly damp hair, tugging it down to just shy of the top of her eyes. Abel laughed, but turned back to her bag.
She pulled out the small box, making sure it was right side up. She placed it in Zac's open palm.
"Okay. I'm not sure if you even need this, but figure it's good all the same."
The brunette opened her eyes to see the small box, and looked at Abel with confused eyes.
"Open it," the blonde encouraged. Long, calloused fingers gently tugged the top off the box, leaving a shallow box for her to peer into. She pulled out the small, silver compass, looking at the black face. She looked up at the blonde. "It's a compass, Zac. I doubt you need it. I'm sure you can just look at the moss growing on the side of a tree or something." She grinned. "But . . . here." She crawled over to where her friend sat, and showed her the merits of the instrument. She showed her how it would clip onto her belt loop.
"So I can tell which direction I'm facing no matter where I am?" Zac asked, turning the small dial this way and that, amazed at how the pointer stayed in the same place. "Wow," she breathed, eyes opened wide in adventurous excitement. "Can I go try it?" She was nearly bursting at the seams.
Abel laughed. "Tell you what, why don't we finish up here, then we can go outside. Okay?" Zac nodded amiably, her eyes automatically going back to the compass. The blonde moved back over to her bag. She grabbed the thickly folded, hooded sweatshirt, and tossed it at the girl.
Zac caught it easily, and held it up. It was red with pockets in front, and on the back, the words Boston University were proudly displayed in black lettering.
"That's from my school," Abel said, her voice shy. Zac was holding the thick sweatshirt up to her eyes, absorbing the feel of something that was from the blonde's other life beyond the cabin. It almost made her feel like she could touch that part of Spinney in some very small way.
"I love it." Zac grinned from ear to ear. With those words, she promptly yanked Adam's sweatshirt off, and tugged the new one on. Abel was shocked by the sudden flash of skin, but loved the gesture all the same.
"Okay. And finally," Abel reached into the bag, grunting slightly at the weight, and produced a large text book. It was the book she'd bought at the campus bookstore.
Zac's eyes widened at the sight, especially when she read Zoology Today in big, black letters.
"This is an older edition text book for the class. I hope you like it."
Zac took the heavy text, fingertips lovingly caressing the smooth cover. She looked up at the blonde with expectant eyes, compass forgotten.
"Can I read?" she asked quietly, hope in her eyes. Abel smiled warmly and nodded. She knew that as soon as her friend got her hands on the book, she would lose her.
After finally winning a full out battle over where Zac would sleep, the two sat peacefully in Abel's large bed.
"I still don't understand why you want me here," the brunette muttered, feeling like she was pushing the blonde right out of her own bed.
"Because there is not a chance in hell that I was going to let you sleep on the floor in the middle of December in Maine, Zac!" Abel was exasperated with the girl. She looked at her with fierce green eyes. "If you don't want to sleep here, that's one thing. But if it's because of some sense of honor or something, not gonna happen. Got me?" With the brunette's nod, the subject was dropped. "Good. Now come here. I need warmth."
Abel had shown Zac one of the great modern marvels in keeping warm - the electric blanket. The tall girl was immediately stunned and amazed at how it worked, and how warm it made the bed.
The two slid down in the sheets, and Abel instantly curled up next to the older girl. She grinned, rubbing her forehead against the bronze shoulder, wiggling happily. She had the goofiest grin on her face that Zac had ever seen.
"What's the matter with you?" the brunette laughed, utterly charmed.
"I'm just happy," Spinney said, snuggling in closer. Shaking her head, but just as happy, Zac snuggled in closer, too. She laid there for a moment, thinking, then spoke. "Zac, what happened with the scar on your arm?"
"Well . . ." Zac sighed, traveling back to that day. "I had jumped off the boxcar the night before in Boston. So, I was wandering around the tracks, trying to spot when the next train would show. I was on government property, though. They're not real fond of us." She chuckled lightly, though there was little to no humor in it. "So a rail inspector came along. See, these are rough guys who hate hoppers . . ."
"Yeah. Rail hoppers. Anyway, so they can't stand us. He came after me, and I grabbed the train that was passing. Pulled me right off," she said, her voice growing even softer.
"So? What did you do?" Abel lifted her head to look into the far away gaze of her friend.
"I had to pummel him," the brunette said, turning her face away from the blonde.
"You beat him up?" Abel asked gently, brushing a few strands of dark hair away from Zac's face.
"Yes." Zac suddenly felt very ashamed at her actions. She had done what she had to do, but with Spinney, she felt simply like a barbarian. Resorting to violence.
Abel was surprised when she saw the glistening tear drop making a lazy trail down the taller girl's cheek. She brought her hand to it, touching the wetness with her fingertip.
"Zac, why are you crying?" Pained blue eyes met hers.
"I don't want to scare or disappoint you again, Spinney," Zac whispered.
"Oh, Zac." Abel smiled, pulling the girl to her for a hug. "I'm not either. You did what you had to do. I know that now. I never doubt your actions."
Blue eyes, turned gray in the filtered moonlight, studied the blonde.
"Really?" Zac asked, her voice filled with hope.
"Yes, ma'am. I trust you implicitly, Zac. Always will." She gave the most trusting, reassuring smile she could. The brunette studied her face for a moment, then believing what she heard and saw, snuggled deeper into the bedding. "So, when did you come back here?"
"It was mid-October," Zac said, her look of fear replaced by that of a smile.
"You've been here since October?" Abel asked, surprised. The brunette nodded.
"Yes. After my fun with rail inspector, I decided I wanted to come home," she said simply. What she didn't say was that she'd come home to be closer to where she'd last seen Spinney. She had made the promise to leave the smaller girl alone, but still needed to feel that familiarity, needed to know the blonde would be near at some point. She made her feel safe and warm.
"Well, I'm glad." Abel laid her head back down and cuddled in. She had a grin from ear to ear, unable to make it go away. She hadn't even realized just how much she missed and worried about her friend until she had seen her, and known was okay. But a probing question kept flitting about her mind. "Zac?"
"Hmm?" The brunette had a matching grin on her face.
"I have a really strange question for you." The blonde chewed on her bottom lip as she thought of how to phrase it.
"Ask away, Spinney."
"Well, I guess, um, basically, well . . ." She swallowed. "Zac, do you feel me?"
Puzzled, the brunette took mental note of all her body parts that were touching the blonde.
"Yes. I feel you against my shoulder. And against . . ."
"No, I mean feel me. Like when we're not together?" Abel lifted her head again, looking down into Zac's smiling face. The older girl studied her, her mind working at the question. She felt her Spinney all the time. Even when she was on the rails, she still had a vague feeling of the blonde. Like she was out there somewhere.
Finally, with slow movements, she nodded.
"What is it?" Abel lifted her head once more, holding it up on her palm. Zac shrugged.
"I don't know. I've always felt it with you, Spinney," the brunette said quietly. "It's just a connection." The darker girl shrugged, like it was every day she felt such a thing.
"A connection? But how?"
"I don't know." Zac turned onto her side to look at her friend. She had no way of explaining what she had always just taken for truth. "It's like you call out to me somehow, Spinney. Like no matter where you're at, I can hear you."
"Exactly! A hum," Abel said, her voice low and serious.
"Yes. A hum." Zac liked the idea. "I hear it now. When I left last summer, it quieted, but didn't die."
The blonde looked at her with shocked eyes. Zac felt it too? She felt it after she'd left? The blonde had hated the unnatural silence within her own head after the brunette had left.
"Wow," she breathed, deciding to leave it at that. It was obvious that neither of them would be able to explain it or understand it. She'd just revel in the knowledge that she wasn't alone.
Zac laid in the dark, listening to the soft breathing of her friend sleeping next to her. She had woken up not long ago, the howling wind outside the window rattling the glass in its pane. She stared out into the black night, knowing that it was snowing again.
Eyes traveling to the beamed ceiling above, she thought back onto the day. It had been an amazing one. She was stunned to find herself inside the Cohen cabin. But all the same, hearing the storm rage out in the frigid night, she was grateful.
She had hid behind numerous trees as she watched Spinney come home and unload her car. The brunette had wanted to go help her, but had stayed back, even when the blonde had called out to her. That had been hard to resist. She had wanted so badly to jump out from behind the tree, not ten yards away, where she'd been hidden. If Spinney had gone any further into the forest, she would have seen footprints everywhere.
She thought of the gifts that had been bestowed upon her that day. She knew that Spinney had a job back in Boston, but hated the thought of the girl spending her hard-earned money on her. There was just no purpose for that. All the same, the tall girl loved what she bad been brought. Her eyes flickered over to the chair where her zoology book sat, just begging to be read.
Zac glanced back over at the sleeping Spinney, and carefully, quietly, eased out of bed. She reached over to the chair, and snagged the book. It was heavy, and she bit her bottom lip as she tried to keep hold of it with one hand long enough to drag it over to the bed. Mission accomplished.
She opened the book, smiling at the sound of the spine being forced to open. She loved the clean smell of the smooth pages, and colorful illustrations along with detailed text. Her eyes widened, mainly in wonder and awe, but also to try and get as much light as possible. The darkened bedroom made reading difficult. But all the same, she was determined. The brunette was absolutely fascinated by what she saw and read. Things she had never known or even thought to know. Her brain felt as though it were swelling from the wealth of knowledge she was absorbing.
Abel shifted, turning over onto her side, feeling a strange weight next to her. She reached her hand out and felt warmth. Green eyes opening, she saw Zac sitting up in bed, the covers pulled up around her waist, the borrowed t-shirt the brunette slept in wrinkled.
The brunette had the large textbook in her lap and was bending over it, trying to read in the faint light.
"Zac?" she said, her voice thick with sleep. The darker head turned toward her, Zac's face completely hidden in shadow. "What are you doing? Why don't you sleep?"
"I wanted to read," came the quiet reply. Abel chuckled and patted the pillow next to her.
"Come here, you nut. You can read tomorrow. It's after three in the morning."
The brunette carefully placed the book back onto the chair and slid back down into the warm bed.
"Can I take the book with me when I go?"
"Of course, Zac. It's yours."
"Good." The taller girl smiled, her eyes shutting.
"Okay, my friend. I've seen that you put syrup on just about everything that will stand still, so today I'm going to show you a little something different for lunch." Abel held up a plastic jar. "This is peanut butter. And this," she held up the plastic bear, "is honey. They go on bread, and it'ss quite yummy."
Zac sat perched on the counter, watching as she lightly drummed her socked heels against the cabinet below.
"Have you ever heard of peanut butter and jelly?" At the shake of the dark head, Abel sighed. "Okay. Well, then you'll get to discover it altogether." She slapped a liberal amount of the creamy stuff on the split-top wheat bread, then squeezed honey all over it in a fancy pattern. Sticking the two pieces of bread together, she put it on a plate, and presented it to her friend. "Try it."
The darker girl grabbed the plate and looked at the offering on it. She grabbed the top bread and lifted the corner, peering between, then smelling. Liking what she smelled, she brought the sandwich to her mouth and took a bite.
Abel watched, utterly amused. She watched Zac's face carefully as the girl chewed the bite, tasting it on her tongue. The explosion of sweetness would assuredly please the sweet tooth she discovered her friend had.
Blue eyes widened, and then a smile formed on the tanned face.
"Good!" she exclaimed, happily digging into the rest of her lunch.
"I'm so glad. Today, my dear Zac, we will be making chocolate chip cookies." The blonde looked at her friend, a huge smile forming on her lips. The brunette looked confused. "Have you ever had cookies?"
"Just those you gave me last summer."
"Ah. No, these aren't Oreos. These are chocolate chip. Like what you had in your pancakes the other morning." Abel set about gathering the ingredients as Zac finished with her sandwich. "Okay," she began as she grabbed a recipe from her mother's recipe file. "Jumbo chocolate chip cookies coming up." With a wicked grin, she told the brunette what needed to be done.
Zac hurried to do what she was told, grabbing the flour canister from the counter, the milk from the fridge, along with two eggs and the five pound bag of sugar.
"Um, we need one cup of sugar," Abel said absently as she read over the recipe. The brunette looked at the mixing bowl that already had the eggs in it, and the whole bag of chocolate chips. She looked to the sugar bag, and wondered just how much one cup was.
Looking back to the blonde, she could see that Abel was busy reading what needed to be done, she didn't want to disturb her. Chewing on her lip, she grabbed the bag of sugar and opened the flaps on top. Looking down into the white grains, she glanced at the bowl, and thought of how sweet the Oreos had been, and figured these chocolate chip cookies would probably be pretty sweet, too.
Lifting the bag, she aimed it over the bowl, the sugar gathering at the edge of the flap, before beginning to spill out into the bowl.
"Zac, the measuring cup is . . ." Abel's voice trailed off as she watched with fascination as a large flood of white covered the unbeaten egg yolks, the level rising in the bowl. "Or we could just have really sweet cookies."
"Yes, everything is great. She's still here, yes." Abel couldn't keep the smile out of her voice at her mother's questions. "Um, yes, you'll need to get some more food. Oh, and get some more sugar, too. Oh, and a bear of honey!" The blonde smiled into the receiver.
"Will you show me?" Abel asked, quickly buttoning and zipping Zac's coat for her, making sure it was tightly closed to ward off the chill. The taller girl smiled down at her friend's concern, secretly loving the attention from her Spinney. "Put these on." The blonde handed her a pair of thick, warm gloves.
"Yes. I'll show you," Zac said quietly, wiggling her fingers to make sure they were snug in the warmth. "Come on."
The brunette was getting restless in the cabin after two full days and nights. Abel knew it was time to take her outside and let her breathe. So, she had come up with the idea to go out into the snow and play. Zac, of course, had been thrilled at the prospect. This was bitter/sweet for Abel. She was glad to see the girl smile so brightly, but was saddened that it seemed only the wild could bring it.
The two women finished bundling up, then Abel opened the front door. The snow had stopped early that morning, and the accumulation was magnificent. The world outside the Cohen cabin was marvelous with all it's white intensity. The quiet that ran over the area was palpable. No usual sounds of small, woodland creatures. Once in a while, the sound of snow falling from the tops of branches or the roof was all that was to be heard.
"It's so beautiful," Abel breathed, taking it all in from the porch. Zac nodded with a huge, proud grin.
"I almost don't want to mar it." The blonde looked at the perfect snow, always reminding her of the cream between the dark chocolate of Oreo cookies. She used to think she could scoop it up and it would taste the same as the sugary cream, as a child.
"Come on." Zac's excitement was barely contained as she jumped off the porch into the soft, giving snow. Abel followed suit, following her friend as she scampered through it, grin nearly splitting her face in two.
"Are you in the same place?" Abel grabbed a small branch from a tree, using it to help her as a walking stick through the deep snow.
"Yep," Zac called out from just a few feet ahead. Usually the girls would walk hand in hand, but the blonde knew that the taller girl was beside herself to be out in the open, fresh air.
Then Zac remembered. Grimacing inwardly, she knew that her tenacious little buddy would spot it right away. Still, she continued to lead them to her place. She slowed her pace.
Eventually the girls made it to the brunette's new shelter. Abel was amazed when she saw the new structure. It was much better put together, and sound.
Most of the debris from the burnt cabin was buried beneath the blanket of snow, and all that was left was the rock overhang, and the solid side that Zac had built. It was built out of planks of wood with dry wall sheets beneath it. As she got closer, her brows knit.
Wilkins Co. was stamped into the wood. She looked over her shoulder at a very bashful Zac.
"Zac?" she asked, running her thumb over the stamp. She was amused, and knew that Jim Wilkins would never miss the scraps from one of the many cabins he built in the woods. But all the same . . .
Zac couldn't meet Spinney's eyes. She knew the girl wasn't stupid, but relaxed slightly when it didn't seem she was angry.
"Huh?" the brunette finally said, shoving her hands deeper into the pockets of her jacket, kicking at some snow.
"It's a great place," the blonde finally said with a broad smile. Truth be told, she was pretty surprised and impressed with Zac's ingenuity with the materials she was given.
The brunette smiled sheepishly. "Thanks."
Abel bent down and crawled inside, seeing that the space wasn't filled with nearly as much stuff as the first lean-to had been. Apparently the taller girl hadn't been able to collect as much. She imagined it was harder during the winter anyway.
Satisfied that her friend had a decent place to stay, though she still worried, she backed out. In the snow bright day again, she looked at her friend, and suddenly a wave of mischief raced through her. Grabbing a handful of snow, she packed it, keeping it away from Zac's plentiful attention.
Without hesitation, she sent the snowball sailing through the air until it hit with a satisfying splat against the brunette's shoulder.
Zac turned, stunned, looking down at the white stain on her coat. She turned curious eyes to her friend, who was grinning wickedly.
"What the . . ." SPLAT! "Pah!" Zac reached up, wiping the snow from her left cheek, and then got the hint. She hurried back around the overhang, and grabbed her own fistful of snow. Packing it, she looked around for a little fiery blonde, and aimed. Hitting her target squarely in the back, she giggled and dropped to her knees once more, gathering as much of the powdery stuff as she could.
"Bombs away!" she heard as a slew of well-shaped snowballs bombarded her, many splattering against the tree she was near, though many others managed to hit their intended target. She laughed and cried out as she tried to cover herself. She heard her friend laugh as well.
"You're next, Spinney!" she raged with a grin as she stood, her arsenal in her arms. She grabbed one at a time, aiming quickly, and throwing. Spinney tried to cover her face, but was laughing entirely too hard, and ended falling on her butt, the snow nearly rising to her shoulders as she sat laughing on the ground. "You okay?" Zac asked, concerned. The blonde was laughing too hard to reply, so she simply nodded.
Convinced her friend was okay, the brunette kept up the barrage.
"Ugh!" The blonde fell further back into the snow, giving up on trying to protect herself. Zac made her way over, and plopped down next to her, grinning like an idiot.
"You okay?" she asked, extending a hand to help Spinney sit.
"Yeah." The blonde ran a hand through her snow-encrusted hair, then drew it all together, bringing it over her shoulder. "That was fun." She grinned, cheeks rosy from the cold. Zac nodded.
"Yeah, it was."
They stood, wiping the snow from their clothing. Abel looked at her friend as they made their way back toward the cabin. Though their time out had been enjoyable, it was still cold, and they were wet. She studied Zac's face, the calmness that seemed to emanate from her, soothing the soul of the blonde. She felt as though she would forever be protected and watched by this magnificent woman.
A soft smile curved along her lips as she linked their arms. She felt a satisfaction, a happiness, a wholeness, that she never could have expected to find. When she was with Zac, everything was okay, and beautiful again. Though her winter break had basically just started, she already dreaded having to go back. The thought of leaving the brunette in the harsh Maine winter made her feel sick.
With a sigh that blew out in a white puff of air, she turned to her friend as they walked.
"So, I imagine you know Gerald Hivey was arrested," she said casually, though her voice was soft.
"Who?" Zac turned furrowed brows on her friend.
"The guy, last summer."
"Oh, Boogie Man."
Abel nodded, a grim smile in place. "Yeah, the Boogie Man. He was arrested. He was charged with a whole slew of things, Zac. It was awful." The blonde turned back to the path they were taking, carefully retracing their earlier steps so as not to lose a shoe in the deep snow. "Rape, murder, all of children." She shivered, still seeing that clump of children's underwear.
"He's evil," the brunette whispered.
"Yes, he is. Well, was. He's dead." She looked up, studying the hardness of Zac's face, that same look from last summer, just without the intent. She shivered again. This time not for fear of Zac, but somehow knowing that something had given birth to that look. "Zac?" she said quietly, seeing the muscles in the brunette's jaw working.
"How did you know?" Abel stopped their progress, her hand resting lightly on Zac's arm. She saw the look of confusion on the taller girl's face. "How did you know I'd need you that day, Zac? You knew how dangerous he was. How?"
Zac's mind ran wild as she tried to decide how to answer. Should she tell the truth? Should she lie? Come up with some sort of story about instinct and just knowing that the blonde was in trouble?
She chewed on the inside of her lip as she pondered this. Finally, meeting the curious green eyes, she sighed.
"I'd seen him before," the brunette said, her voice barely above a whisper. "He hurt me once, Spinney."
"What!" Abel grasped her friend's arm tighter, almost digging her fingernails into the thick padding of the jacket.
"It was a long time ago, Spinney. I recognized his limp. He would have hurt you." Tears brimmed in the bright blue of Zac's eyes, and Abel felt them tug at her heart.
"Oh, Zac," she whispered, reaching up to collect one that fell over the edge of the brunette's eye. "Honey, you saved me. It's okay. I'm fine." She smiled.
"You don't hate me? I never meant to scare you, Spinney."
"I know you didn't. And, no. I could never hate you. Okay? Ever, ever!" Abel's smile grew as she saw a small light begin to shine in Zac's eyes. The brunette nodded, and then was pulled into a massive hug. "You're my friend, Zac, and you always will be."
Zac rested the large zoology text on the arm of the couch, her finger leading the way for her eyes to follow over the slick page. Her other hand rested lightly on Spinney's shoulder as the blonde read a novel, the blonde head resting in her lap.
The brunette looked up from her book, smiling down at her friend, then looking around the cabin. Spinney had shown her what decorating a Christmas tree was like. The had used tons and tons of shiny tinsel, balls, ornaments and little things that the Cohen children had made in school over the years.
She watched as the colorful lights over the mantel chased each other in an endless game of tag. Christmas music played softly in the background, and the large, seven foot fake spruce stood proud in the corner, lighting up Zac's heart as well as the room.
A deep sigh of contentment and happiness escaped her. Never had she felt such peace.
Glancing at the digital clock on the VCR, she gently nudged the blonde.
"Spinney. It's time."
Green eyes looked up at her, then at the clock, and she eased herself up into a sitting position. Stretching her arms above her head, she stood, reaching for Zac's hand.
Zac had no idea just what exactly Chanukah was, except what Spinney had told her. She knew the word meant dedication and commemorated the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jews' victory over the Hellenist Syrians in 165 B.C. After the victory, the Jews wanted to light the menorah, and found only enough oil that had not been defiled in the war to light it for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight.
The taller girl watched as Spinney brought out the beautiful, silver menorah, placing it on the table in front of the large picture window, the fading light outside behind it.
"Come here, Zac," the blonde said quietly, reaching for her friend. Zac took her hand, and watched as Spinney placed a candle in the first slot, and lit another.
As she used the one candle to light the other already placed, Spinney began to sing, softly.
"Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha'olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik neir shel Chanukah." The low singing chant was quickly followed by another, "Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech ha'olam shecheyanu v'kiy'manu v'higyanu lazman hazeh."
Abel placed the candle in the taller, central holder of the menorah, and turned to Zac.
"Happy Chanukah, Zac." The brunette smiled and echoed the words.
As the days went on, Abel and Zac forged a closeness that neither had thought possible. Even the brunette was shocked and pleasantly surprised by how much deeper their friendship had gotten. The small blonde had been everything to her for so long, she thought that what she felt for her Spinney filled her entire heart.
She was wrong.
The rest of the blonde's family would arrive the next day, and she was sad. She liked Spinney's mother, and certainly liked Becky, but she had loved having Spinney all to herself, not having to share her with anyone. And, in all honesty, she wasn't looking forward to going out and freezing at night.
Every night, she and Spinney cuddled in the blonde's bed, watching as the snow fell, knowing they were safe and warm. Spinney had asked Zac repeatedly to stay for the winter in the cabin, but the brunette had declined. Despite the cold, she did miss her freedom, and the outdoors. Just the smell alone made her smile.
She did that now, standing at the window in Spinney's third-floor bedroom.
"What are you grinning at, hmm?" the blonde asked, walking up behind the taller girl. Abel put a hand on Zac's back, leaning into her as she looked over Zac's shoulder. "It's so beautiful out there," she whispered, feeling her friend nod in response. "I'm really going to miss you, Zac."
"I'll miss you too, Spinney." The brunette put an arm around the slim shoulders of the blonde. "A whole bunch."
"Come on." A final pat on the strong back, and Abel turned away, heading toward the warm, inviting bed. She climbed in, tucking her legs into the blankets, feeling the warmth from the electric blanket engulf her. She smiled and scooted down.
She watched her friend, still standing at the window. She knew Zac was restless after a week of virtual captivity with her in the cabin. But she sensed something else within her friend, as well. A sort of sadness. Since she'd come back to the cabin and met up with the tall girl again, something was a little different about Zac. Something had changed since last summer, and she wished she could put a finger on it. It was almost as if she had grown slightly more quiet, if that was possible.
Something had happened to Zac after the attack last summer. Some sort of deep down, elemental change had taken place. The blonde knew her friend had been terrified of losing her friendship, which she had tried valiantly to assure wasn't the case.
They had grown so close over the last week or so, closer than Abel had ever known was possible with another person. She felt Zac on a deeper level, a soul level. She felt the girl in her bones, and wanted to do everything she could to make her happy, and to assure her safety and comfort. She already had a small pile of Christmas gifts under the tree for her friend, and she knew her mother was bringing more for Zac.
The great thing about having a Jewish father and a Catholic mother was getting presents for a good part of December every year.
Abel grinned at the thought.
Finally Zac turned away from the window, and hurried across the cold floor, hopping onto the bed, bouncing with a huge grin. The blonde watched her childish enthusiasm, and couldn't help but grin herself.
"You're gonna break the bed!" she laughed. Finally the brunette fell onto the soft mattress, winded. "Come on. Warm me up, woman!"
Zac hastily kicked until she got the blankets out from under her, and wiggled around until she was comfortable, automatically opening her arms wide for her blonde friend to cuddle into.
Abel smiled, more like grinned like an idiot. She loved this part of the day, and dreaded when she'd have the big bed alone again. Zac's warmth and quiet protection were so comforting to her. They laid there in silence for all of four minutes when Zac sighed.
"I can't sleep." She was so wound up, thinking about heading back out into the wild the next day. She was excited and sad. But mostly excited. She knew for the next few weeks she'd be able to have it both ways; she'd be in her environment, but would have her Spinney there, too.
"Can't sleep? Zac, it's been like five minutes!" Abel protested, lightly slapping at the flat stomach below her hand. She had managed to get a little weight on her friend over the week they'd been together. She had loaded her up with protein in meat, and whipped cream and chocolate chip cookies that were almost shockingly sweet. She still shivered at that first initial taste, which didn't seem to bother Zac in the least.
"Okay, okay. Want to sing?" She raised her head just enough to look into Zac's face. She knew this was the magic suggestion, and saw the excitement flush the brunette's features.
Abel grinned, and began singing the frog song. Zac quickly joined in, their voices, low and high, mingling and filling the quiet space of the dark bedroom.
Soon, within about ten minutes, Zac's voice began to falter, then fade, then disappeared altogether. Abel smiled, and laid a gentle kiss on her friend's cheek.
"Night, Zac," she whispered, and closed her eyes.
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