Willow, Alaska 10:51 p.m.
The moon shone bright overhead, half covered by a thick clouds in which light snow fell from. Every tree and branch were blanketed with a thin layer of white, pine needles sticking through like frozen pin cushions. The air was as silent as the snow, without a hint of breeze or sound. I stared up at the taller, more mature trees above me, looking at their branches that seemed to claw at the sky.
I had never been to Alaska before.
There must have been a good reason why Reid wanted to lie about his drift point, I just didn’t know what that reason was yet. I looked around for any sign of him, hoping he would be close by. I stepped forward but paused, seeing a splash of red against the snow. A trail of it disappeared into the woods to the right. My breath hitched and my knees were becoming weaker by the minute.
With the forest being so quiet and undisturbed, Reid’s blood staining the snow seemed unreal, like it didn’t belong here, where everything seemed so perfect. I wanted erase it from the ground the way I wanted to erase what had happened.
I started forward, following the small trail of crimson, trying to avoid looking at it anymore than I had to. The trees were dense for a short while, but when they thinned out I stopped.
Reid stood with his back to me, as still as the old trees on either side of him. The black T-shirt he wore outlined his figure against the white earth and trees. He stood leaning a little to the right so his hips weren’t perfectly alined. The way he held himself made it appear that he had been standing there all day; tired and worn out.
The snow was nearly soundless as I stepped forward, but there was no reaction to if he had heard me.
I came to a stop beside him and studied his face as he stared forward. The color had returned to his skin and he no longer appeared sick. The bruises and cuts were still there, along with the dried blood, but his eyes had life in them again. Though, there was also something added to them: a deep pain.
Gaining enough courage, I forced my eyes to travel down his torso. His right hand covered the wound, but dark blood already started to drip over his fingers and onto the ground. His whole hand was covered in red. His body seemed to be in shock from what happened, and he had yet to really feel the pain that was to come.
When I looked back to his face, his eyes still stared ahead blankly. A shiver ran down my neck and along my shoulders before I followed his gaze.
At first, I saw nothing but forest, but the longer I stared, something started to take shape. It was a cabin. At one time it could have been a house from the size of it, but the years of abandonment forced it to become what it was. It was a part of the forest. A section of the wooden porch was broken and missing, the steps bowed in the middle, and only a few of the many windows were still in tact. The roof sagged slightly in middle but seemed to be holding strong against the harsh winters.
“This is where I grew up,” Reid murmured. His fingers twitched over his wound and he flinched. “And this is also where my parents died.”
My eyes traveled over the cabin again, not able to imagine what he went through every time he came here. The emotions must have flooded him every time he thought of this place. No wonder he didn’t like talking about his past. There was nothing that he wanted to remember.
“I’m sorry I lied to you.” Finally, he tore his gaze from the cabin and onto me. “I don’t know why I didn’t tell you, but I should have. I think I was afraid of losing you.”
“Why would you lose me?”
He smiled to himself, but it was a sad one. “I seem to lose everyone who gets close to me. You know I’m not perfect, far from it, and my past always haunts me no matter what I do.” He looked me straight in the eye. “I wasn’t there when they died, and I still don’t know who had done it. And for some reason, this seems to be the place I always come back to.” Reid looked at the cabin again, breathing a little heavier. “It’s my drift point, even when I don’t want it to be.”
His free hand lay limp by his side, and I took it in mine, brushing my fingers over his knuckles.
Reid closed his eyes.
“You haven’t lost me yet,” I said, “and you’re not going to. You may have a different past than I do, but that doesn’t change who you are now.”