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Fiction Mystery Urban Fantasy

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

“Shaney, wait. My phone’s missing. It can’t be that far back. I just checked it on the lift,” said Bruno. His eyes begged an apology and Shanitra completely understood the angst of losing not just important numbers, but also all kinds of personal goo-gas not filed anywhere else.

She said, “It’s okay, honey. I’ll wait right here.”

Bruno nodded and skied back the way they had come. She lost sight of him around the small but dense copse of fir trees.


Once out of sight, Bruno ducked into the trees and came out a few seconds later with the yellow caution tape he’d stashed there the night before. He poled one end of the tape into a neon orange cone and attached the other end to a tree, effectively preventing anyone from coming down the mountain behind them.


He skied swiftly back to Shaney. His pearly white teeth the only thing showing in his goggled and bundled face. “Found it! And it works fine!”

“Awesome!”

“Well, you ready for this?” He nodded towards the crest of the slope.

“You sure about this? I don’t remember it being on the resort map…”

“Sure, it’s on it. The concierge says it’s the newest addition to the line-up. And strictly for A- class skiers. I’ve been dying to try it…if you’re not up---”

“No, no! I’m game. It looks like there’s a frozen lake way down there…off to the right. See?” She pointed an insulated red glove in that direction.

“How romantic.” Magic words. He knew it too, under the tinted lenses he winked.


***


A week earlier, things were a little tense between them. 

Bruno had arrived at her apartment with wine in hand. “Wow. Smells great!” He exclaimed as he hung up his cashmere overcoat by the door. 

“Surprise! Made your fav, Sweetheart. And chocolate mousse…my fav.”

Bruno wore a heathered charcoal, merino wool sweater over slim fitting black Dockers. The soft wool caressed his muscular frame and accentuated his broad shoulders and narrow waist. He took Shaney in his arms and she kissed his delicious, faintly pepperminted lips. He was smooth shaven except for a sexy soul patch the same sandy blond as his hair.

She pulled away and looked into his hazel eyes.

He said, “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. But…” Her wide deep brown eyes held intriguing gold flecks. The scattering of freckles over her cheeks and nose made her look ten years younger than twenty-nine. Bruno brushed her soft, dark hair from her cheek. “I’m just a little stressed out.”

“Here, let’s have some wine. I brought a cab, a ’77 Shereford.”

“Mmm, yummy.”

He opened the wine and placed it on the glass living room table to breathe. He admired her slim, athletic frame in a simple yet chic dusty blue pantsuit, as she brought in two long stemmed glasses. She said, “Alexa, play the Marvin Gaye playlist.”

A soft, cool female voice said, “Playing Marvin Gaye playlist.”

‘Let’s Get it On’ began playing from hidden, surround sound, Bose speakers.

The couple kissed for a few minutes. Halfway through the song, Bruno poured the wine.

“Mmm. This is good.” Shaney said. She’d grown used to the finer things in life since meeting Bruno. Designer clothes, five-star restaurants, romantic getaways on private jets. Sadly, he also had a wife. 


He never went into details of his profession. In fact, he smoothly changed the subject when it came up, saying it was too boring to talk about. Shaney figured it was a touchy subject because he worked for his wife’s father, a megalomaniac chip maker in Silicone Valley. He was unnerved by how religious his wife’s family was. They were old school Mormons. In her books, that meant not just a little bit cray-cray. Shaney would bet her Blahnik boots they were also racist. In some way, all the negatives added danger in an exciting way to their romance; the sex was amazing.


Bruno placed his glass on the table then tilted her heart shaped face towards him with his fingers on her chin. He said, “Hey Beautiful. There’s that look again.”

“You know me so well…and I love you so much.”

“I love you too Babe. So, spill it. Is it Ned again?” Ned was her gay co-worker and best friend. He’d recently announced his desire for a sex change operation. 

“No, it’s not Ned. He’s actually happier now and pondering the name Nadine.”

“Sooo…?”

“Okay, I’m just gonna say it. I’m pregnant.”


Bruno sat like a rock. His healthy complexion faded to pasty blotches. She noticed how much the grey at his temples had grown to twice the expanse during the two years of their affair.

She started crying. She didn’t know what she’d expected. But the ice-cold rock in her belly threatened to hatch a nest of vipers. The conscience on her shoulder screamed ‘not a good reaction!’


“Um, you’re not thinking of keeping it are you?”

“You asshole. That’s cold.” Her watering eyes narrowed, and fresh rivulets escaped down her dark cheeks. “It’s a baby. Our baby.” She didn’t need to say more.

Bruno said, “Baby. I love you. But I will lose everything if this ever got out.”

“You’re all I need. I don’t care about all that stuff.”

“I do. I like the way things are. I can’t have a kid out in the world.”

“Things change. We can be even better.”


Bruno stood and held his head in his hands as if it was about to fly off his neck like a rocket. Without saying another word, he stalked to the door, grabbed his coat, and left.



Two days later, Bruno sent her favorite flowers to her office. Big, colorful, Gerber daisies in summery shades of fuchsia, orange, and tangerine, bobbed their heads as her secretary brought them in and placed them on her desk. The notecard said, ‘Dinner at Maxwell’s tonight. Pick you up at seven.’ The secretary raised her slim red brows and said, “Oh thank God! Maybe now we’ll get our ole Shaney back. What? You’ve been so mopey.”


At first, Shaney was irked at Bruno. ‘The audacity!’ She thought. ‘He’s been such an ass! He’s a selfish PIG! I should refuse to see him ever again.’ But then, she really wanted to hear what he had to say. She was ever the hopeful, glass-is-half-full person who persevered against the negative till the bitter end. It wasn’t in her to just give up or be vindictive. And besides, ‘it’s his flesh and blood growing in me.



She wore a slinky black dress with an asymmetrical hem and long, drapey sleeves. She wore high heeled boots and a double strand of cream-colored freshwater pearls that accentuated her mocha skin tone. Her long, London Fog cape swirled behind her as she stalked down the hallway and out her apartment’s front door to the idling Linclon. It was long and black, Bruno’s father-in-law’s taste, not his. He was more of a red Porsche kind of guy, but he knew Shaney found the old-school limo romantic. No room for a champagne bucket in a Porsche.

Bruno opened the back door for her.

She silently glided past him leaving a wake of springy La Vie Est Belle in the frosty February night air.

Bruno went around to the other side and got in. It was frosty in the limo as well.

He took her hand. A small but positive sign. The air unfroze…just a smidgen.

They said little on the way to the restaurant. Shaney had never gotten used to ignoring the hired help. She was uncomfortable speaking freely around butlers, servants, and chauffeurs. Besides, he knew how she felt, when he was ready, he would start.



At a maroon-clothed table in a corner by the window, they sat across from each other, the mellow candlelight softening the tension between them. The flickering warmth lit up the gold in her mesmerizing eyes. His were cold. His smile seemed forced...then a veil was lifted and Shaney thought, ‘I misread all that. I am looking for the negative. Stop.’


Bruno took her hand and said, “I am so sorry for my behavior last week. That was insensitive of me…I just sort of …freaked out. You know Wendy can’t have children…”

Shaney tried to pull her had away at the mention of his wife’s name. But Bruno held it fast and covered it with his other. He said, “I know it’s a lame excuse. But I’ve always wanted to be a father. I was overcome by too many emotions.”

“So, what are you saying?”

“I’m saying that I will go with whatever you want. I’m not sure what will happen, and I guess we have nine months to figure it out. But Shaney, we will figure it out. I am excited to have a son or daughter…absolutely delighted!”


Shaney read his eyes and saw a hopeful face that reflected her own. She said, “You’ve made me so happy.”

Later that night, they made love for the last time.


The next morning, in her bed, Bruno said, “Hey, Valentine’s Day is coming up. And we have something to celebrate. I was thinking we try out that resort in Colorado, the one fifty miles northeast of Aspen, The Hatmo Resort…little skiing, little romance…hot sex.”

Shaney’s giggles erupted uncontrollably like bubbles from a hot spring. She added, “A fireplace and hot tub…eggs benny in bed.”

“I’ve been wanting to try this place. Heard the longest run is over an hour all total.”

“Really? Cool!”


***


Looking down the slope, Shaney was exhilarated. She looked to Bruno. He was grinning and nodded. She went first. 

She glided like an Olympian, Woosh, woosh, woosh. She flew like a red bird, fast and sure. Halfway down, she hollered, “Whoohoo!”

Bruno followed in her wake, making opposite tracks in the snow like a DNA pattern down the slope. 

The blocked off run was twenty minutes to the first plateau. Bruno slid up to Shaney, spraying a rooster tail of fine powder, and said, “Whoo! Told you it’d be great!” He had pulled down his face cover and kissed her face where she had lowered hers.

They had another slope to ski, the excitement and anticipation of what was right around the corner.

“That was amazing! And look! How beautiful the lake is!” She said.

Bruno said, “let’s walk around it. It's an hour until dark.”


As they walked towards the lake, the wind picked up and howled through the trees. A long, strange howl intertwined with it like an eerie Phantom of the Opera symphony.


“What was that!?” cried Shaney.

“I don’t know. A wolf maybe?”

“Really? Uh…don’t think so.”

The ululating howl came again. It was closer.


Shaney latched onto Bruno’s arm. They walked together until she tripped over something. He pulled her up.


She said, “Look! You see that?” She was pointing to footprints in the snow. They were at least twice the size of a man’s foot- a giant’s foot. She had tripped over a set of antlers buried in the snow.


“What the heck? What could have made those?!” Shaney cried, pointing at the prints.

“Calm down. I don’t know. Maybe a bear.”

“Okay. A bear.”


“Rooooowwwwrrrrr. Seeeeeyoouuuuuu”

“Did you hear THAT?!” Screamed Shaney.

“What the fu---”


The trees behind them shivered and great mounds of snow flopped from the fir branches. ‘Foomp. Foomp.”


Bruno grabbed Shaney’s hand and pulled her towards the lake.

The eerie cry sounded again, “Seeeeeeeyoooouuuu, aaargh!”


The footsteps whumped closer.


Bruno pulled Shaney under the firs. He put a finger to his lips.

An eight-foot shadow passed by the fir tree boughs. And a shaggy pair of ‘legs?’ passed by, ‘stomp, stomp, stomp…’


“Did you see…? What the hell was that!?” She was panting, out of breath. She knew instinctively that whatever it was, was huge and not afraid of being seen. If anything, it wanted to terrorize.


Again, a strange, long howl, sounded like words, “IIIIiiiseeyou. Pig! IIIIiiseeyourEEEvilheart!”


The words whipped on the wind like flags. “Did you hear that!?” Shaney screamed against the sound of the howling wind.


“I don’t know! Come here!” He pulled her deeper under the shelter of the boughs.

He reached far under the branches and found the club-like branch he knew was there.

The heavy thumps of the footsteps diminished, and Bruno said, “Is it gone?”

Shaney suffered a moment of irritation and an epiphany. Out loud she said, “Really?! You fucking pig! You’re the man! You go look!”


Bruno raised the club-like branch from behind his back. And the reality of the situation slammed into Shaney like a lightning bolt… but it was too late.

He raised it high and brought it down on Shaney’s head.


***


Shaney woke up. 

She saw roughhewn log walls. A window with a red gingham curtain. She felt heat from a massive river rock fireplace… and the softness of a downy handstitched quilt. She tried to recall the events up to her blackout, but all was fuzzy. A minute later, her tinnitus faded away; she heard the merry fire crackling and…’the sound of someone humming? Yes, the song was…the Cheers song?’

She smelled pot-roast. Meaty. With potatoes and carrots. Her mouth watered. She tried sitting up to look around.


“Hey, hold up. Go easy.” A deep, mellow voice rumbled.


It was unfamiliar but sounded much like Barry White’s.


She found a cool glass of water in her hand, and she realized she was very thirsty. She drank and her head cleared in a flash of memory, unreeling like a movie in her head, but sped up a little bit. “Bruno!” she said aloud. “He tried to kill me! Wait! Am I dead?” Shaney sat up and really looked around.


A giant came to her and knelt at her side. He was covered in shaggy white fur. She thought he looked like Chewbacca. She said, “I’m either dead or dreaming.”

“No. No, you’re not either. I’m just me…some say …Yeti. Some say Sasquatch. But my name is Mark.” He smiled a toothy grin and Shaney fainted.



She opened her eyes again. Same warm, cozy cabin. A Yeti in the kitchen stirring a pot. He saw her seeing him and came to her.


“Hey. How ya doin?”


Shaney pushed back into the plush pillows behind her. The first thing she remembered was about Bruno. She said, “He tried to kill me.”


The giant, hairy man in front of her nodded. She said, "You're Mark."


After a minute she said, “So…where am I? Where is Bruno?”


The hairy Sasquatch shrugged and said, “You are here in my home. The locals way back called me ‘Hatmo.’ You and your baby are fine. Tomorrow, I can take you to the lift back to the lodge. Here, check this out.” His big, furry fingers tapped over a keyboard on the table by her knees.


On the computer screen in front of them, was a map of the resort. Mark the Yeti, pointed to an ex that marked the ski lift.


“How do you know all this?” Shaney lifted her hands all around in confusion.


“This is my resort. Hatmo is the local Indians’ name for me.” He smiled. It was a scary smile, very toothy. He got up and went to the kitchen.

He came back with bowls of stew and thick cut crusty bread.

Shaney tucked in like the world was on fire.


“MMMmmm.”

“You like? My momma’s recipe.”

“Yes. Mmmm. So good! The tators and carrots and onions- so good! The tender meat! Is it pork?”






January 22, 2022 04:26

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1 comment

Mae Stroshane
13:48 Jan 24, 2022

Not your standard romance, for sure, especially the shocker at the end!

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