Chapter Eight

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Zachary and Tim rode back up to the barn. They had had a good hunting trip getting two deer, four rabbits, and six quails… Zachary had also set up some traps to hopefully catch some more in the next few days.

"Get these hung up and ready to skin. I'm gonna go tell Samantha we're back and I'll come back out and help ya." Zachary said jumping off his horse and heading for the house.

He could smell the scent of apple pie and fresh baked bread coming out the open door. He saw the fabric and scissors lying on the porch by the rocker and he walked up the porch steps and into the house.

Samantha had hung up the new curtains in the kitchen and he walked over and sampled a taste of the soup cooking over the fire.

"Samantha, I'm home." he said. He didn't hear her in the house and he didn't see any sign of that pup either. He looked at the kitchen counter and saw the pistol he had given her that morning lying there. He felt panic rise in him.

"Samantha! Where are you!" He ran through the house checking every room for her but she was nowhere. He ran back outside.

"Samantha!" he yelled. Tim came rushing over to him.

"What's the matter?" he asked. Zachary ran a hand through his hair trying to calm his nerves.

"I can't find her. She's not anywhere." he said. Tim could see the fear in Zachary's eyes and understood where it was coming from .

"It's alright, Zach. She's around somewhere. She probably took that pup out for a walk or something."

"I'll wring her damn neck if that's the case! She didn't even take the gun with her."

"I think you're overreacting." Tim said matter of factly. Zachary clenched his fists.

"Don't lecture me Tim. What if something happens to her?" he demanded. Tim had never seen his friend look so scared or so angry. Tim sent up a silent prayer that wherever Samantha was that she was okay because he didn't know if Zachary would survive if something happened to her. Tim was about to say something else but then they heard barking coming from the edge of the woods and the puppy came running into the yard.

"Jake, I can't run that fast." Samantha's voice called from behind the trees and then she came into sight. Zachary's first thought was how gorgeous she looked. Her hair had broke free of the pins she had put in it that morning and was surrounding her face in a mass of red curls. Her face was red from exertion and her green eyes were shining brightly.

She was wearing a thin white sleeveless blouse and he felt his muscles tighten as he saw that the shadow of her nipples were visible through the fabric. Her chest was rising and falling quickly from her recent exertion and Zachary caught himself staring at the smooth curves of her breasts.

"Zachary. Tim. You're back. I was getting worried about you." she said pushing some stray hairs back behind her ears as she walked up to them. "Jake and I were out getting some flowers for the table." She held up the purple wildflowers she had picked in the clearing.

Zachary felt the moisture return back to his throat and his heart start beating again as he remembered his anger at her. Truly it was more worry than it was anger but Zachary had never been very good at expressing his emotions.

"Where the hell have you been?" he demanded. Samantha's eyes became full of hurt at the anger in his voice. Her full lips turned out into a pout.

"I went for a walk in the woods and found some wildflowers." she replied softly.

"Why the hell is that gun laying on the kitchen counter instead of in your hand?" he demanded. Tim walked away from them shaking his head. This was none of his business and he had a lot of animals to skin.

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