Chapter 12

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Anya didn't bother trying to fall asleep that night. There were too many thoughts running rampant in her brain.

She had made it through dinner and the clean up afterward. Everything for the next day was prepped and ready to go. Anya had gone through everything twice in an attempt to put off finally going up to her room and facing a sleepless night. Eventually, everything that was needed to be done had been. She had no other reason to stay downstairs.

She laid in her bed, staring up at the ceiling, her eyes tracing the molding the ran along the edge, the Inn's antique design peaking through all the modern improvements that had been made over the years. Her ears picked up any slight sound, guests walking past her door to get to their own, and soon enough the Inn fell silent.

Anya could hear her breathing as she allowed another hour to slip by in silence, a precaution to make sure she was the only one left awake. Grabbing her robe from where it hung on her bedpost, Anya slipped out of her room as quietly as possible, her feet moving instinctively to miss where the ancient floorboards squeaked.

She closed her door with a soft clip behind her, her socked feet moving down the thickly carpeted hallway and hurrying down the main stairs. If Eve had heard, she would have peered out her door and seen no one and no reason to think anyone was up and moving about.

Anya slowed her pace once she reached the bottom floor, the entirety of the place expanding out before her, the only person conscious at that late hour. Anya pulled the edges of her robe tighter around her as the cool night air was several degrees cooler than her snug room. Hot chocolate sounded delicious at that moment and so Anya made her way to the kitchen.

With a steaming mug held tight in her hand, Anya walked into the empty lounge, taking a seat on the row of window seats that lined the large windows.

Outside the snow was still coming down as hard as ever. Out in the distance, just faint hints of life stirred as Anya could hear the snowplows making the rounds on the country roads to keep the drifts from piling up too high. She knew soon enough that she would catch Frank out with his snowplow attached to the front of his truck.

The sound of movement reverberated softly through Anya's quiet little bubble. From what she could make out, it was the sound of the kitchen door opening.

Her mind gave her plenty of reasons to ignore it, as Gloria had left out a tray of sandwiches and cookies as well a full pot of coffee for the farmhands working into the night to keep the streets clear. Anya had seen them while making her cocoa.

Soft footsteps came a few minutes later, once Anya's attention had returned to the falling snow outside. She pulled her robe closer over her shoulders as she turned to see who else had failed to find sleep that night.

She shivered for a completely different reason when she found Manny standing just outside the entrance to the lounge, a mug of hot chocolate held in his hands. She sat up straighter as her eyes averted to miss his.

"Hi."

His words came out as a whisper but they reached Anya's ears with ease. There was no other sound with which they needed to compete.

"Hey."

As she was the only person around, it would have only added more to the awkwardness welling up in Anya's chest if she didn't respond.

"Is it safe to approach?"

Anya couldn't help rolling her eyes at his attempt at a joke. Her exasperated sigh almost sounded like a laugh in the stillness.

"Sure. I won't bite."

"Promise?"

Manny took a seat opposite Anya, his eyes following to the winter scene playing only inches from them. His position mirrored Anya's as he tucked a leg beneath him and leaned against one of the many pillows lined up along the window.

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