Chapter 2

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Sarah and Jason Stowe were both avid hikers and campers who led what they considered a boring office life selling insurance out of Boston, Mass. To break up the monotony of city life and endless phone time they spent as much time hiking and camping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire as possible. They had both grown up at or near what is known as the lakes region and loved going back together. Sarah thought of herself as an amateur wildlife photographer whenever they were in the woods and loved to show off her work on their small apartment walls and at the office. Jason didn’t have much interest in animals or pictures, but he loved to spend time away from the city and head back to his old stomping grounds, and the fact that he could spend that time with Sarah made it even sweeter.

After close to seven years together and four years of marriage, he still got the same jitters when he looked at her as he did the day they met. Try as he might, Jason did his best when they were out to help her spot wildlife and took it on the chin whenever she got mad at him for being too loud and scaring off some deer or fox that she had spotted. She had already punched him in the arm twice today for stepping too heavily in the remaining snow and scaring off a pair of snowshoe hares she was trying to sneak up on.

He was about a hundred feet in front of her when he came over a small ridge in the trail and spotted a monstrous moose at the edge of a small pond in a clearing just off the trail. Quickly ducking down and trying to keep from making too much noise he gestured excitedly at Sarah. She was too caught up in trying to get a shot of a small yellow bird perched on a pine tree to notice.

“Psst! Psst!” He whispered, trying to get her attention before the moose took off.

 She didn’t hear him; she was crawling on her knees through a light snow drift trying to creep closer to the bird. Jason could see his whispers were having no luck, so he picked up a small rock and threw it underhand towards her without success. Still too busy with her bird to notice his attempts, he crawled as slowly as he could manage in his excitement trying to get closer to her. Every crack of a twig or crunch of snow made him cringe and freeze in place. I must look like an idiot, he thought to himself, glad Sarah was too busy taking pictures to realize how much of a fool her husband was being as he half walked half crawled through the mud and snow. After a painfully long minute or two he was close enough to toss a rock and gain her attention without spooking the moose, at least he hoped.

Picking up another rock he gave it a toss, this time sending it bouncing off the tree her bird was perched on. With a frightened squeak it took off over her head earning him a sharp look. She began to scold him when he cut her off with a finger over his mouth, franticly gesturing for her to follow him. Looking confused and slightly annoyed she started to stand up to follow but he held his hands out and motioned for her to stay down and come quietly. With a shrug she slung the camera over her backpack and followed him on all fours, all the while mouthing questions. Ignoring her, Jason crept back to the ridge and peeked over; the moose was still quietly grazing in knee deep water. Good, he thought, this should make up for all the other animals I’ve scared off today.

“What is it?” she whispered harshly when she had crawled up beside him.

He grinned at her and pointed over the ridge, “Told you I’d make it up to you.” He gloated, doing his best to keep his voice down. Her look of annoyance faded quickly when she poked her head over the ridge. Jason couldn’t help but grin when he saw her eyes widen and mouth drop open.

“Oh wow, he even still has his antlers! I’ve never seen them keep them this long!” she leaned over and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, “yea, I guess you did good honey.”

He crawled backwards to get out of her way and pulled himself up to a sitting position where he could watch her work, all the while smiling to himself while she fumbled with her camera bag to put a longer lens on her camera. She’s cute when she’s excited, he thought to himself. She looked back over her shoulder and gave a quiet giggle before crawling on her stomach to get a better shot. He felt butterflies at that giggle; knowing how happy this made her and loving every minute of watching her do it, even if he did screw up every now and then.

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