The Other End

A cold nose against my neck woke me. I tried to leap to my feet, terrified that some scavenger thought my cold body could be its dinner. Or breakfast, to judge from the position of the morning sun. It didn’t work. I was too tangled up in my ratty blanket.

The dog barked, startled by my sudden movement. I scooted away. Dried leaves crunched as my bodyweight destroyed them.

I heard the roar of fire springing to life and stiffened. My head snapped around toward the sound.

“Don’t move.” It was a woman.

What was she doing out here in the woods, alone except for a curious dog, unarmed save for a flame-arrow bow?

“Why are you on my land?” she asked me.

The dog, picking up on her mood, growled.

I wish I could say I did more than blink up at her. In my defense, I’d just been awoken from an awful night’s sleep. I hadn’t slept anywhere warm or soft in what felt like an age, and while I can’t say I wasn’t used to having weapons pointed at me, there wasn’t usually a beautiful woman on the other end.

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