It’s going to be another cold, lonely night in this mountainside mansion.
Running a hand through my hair, I look out the bedroom window at the ground blanketed in white. The snow falls hard, and the sky grows dark and all I can think about is, what comes next? My future seems as blank as the landscape before me.
It’s certainly not this town that keeps me on this mountain. Calling it a town at all is a stretch. Not that I’ve spent much time there.
No, it’s my mother’s dying wish that has me here. She loved this place here in the mountains of Washington. She built it in her last year of life, while I was living in the Swiss Alps as the general contractor for my stepfather’s company instead of being by her side. He never let on how ill she was, but why did I listen to that man instead of following my heart?
I’ll never make that mistake again.
But now she’s gone and I’m living in her memories; I’m looking for a purpose though, some real meaning in my life.
God knows it’s time I start living for more.
I knew my mother was sick, but I thought she had more time. That we all had more time with her.
But time is a trick. And it played me for a fool.
When I finally came to see her, it was too late. She was already gone.
And I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.
She needed me, and I wasn’t here for her.
So, living in her home and keeping this place up, is the least I can do to keep her memory alive.
Even though I don’t deserve anything good. I didn’t even hold my mother’s hand as she lay dying.
What kind of man am I?
I shake my head at my reflection in the window. I’m not a man at all.
I’m a beast.
What kind of man would have done such a thing?
I move around the manor, making sure windows are locked against the storm, I curse the fact that I’m so damn stuck, just like the window in the library. I use my elbow to push it down into place, locking it securely, cursing under my breath. Why the hell did I fire all the people who worked here? The upkeep of an estate is a massive undertaking, and I’d rather be in the woods than here, closing curtains and lighting candles.
I love the rocky terrain and the fresh air and earth under my feet, but this winter in the mountains of Washington State has turned me even colder than I once was. I feel my body growing frigid. My face is turning to a permanent scowl as the snow piles on. And my body longs for a woman to keep me warm the winter through.
The moon shines over the expanse of white and I walk to the bar in the library and reach for a bottle of red wine, pouring the Malbec in a glass—my mom had a wine cellar, unfortunately, not casks of whiskey like I’d prefer. The decor here is pretty damn ornate. Mom always liked the finer things in life. I can imagine her picking out the grand piano, the marble entryway, and the candelabra. It’s fussier than I’d choose, but I know she loved it.
The power’s out and the fire blazes, but inside I feel stone cold.
I take a swig of wine, unable to take my eyes off the window, as if I were waiting for something... or someone.
And deep inside I suppose I am. I’m angry about my mother’s death, about being here in an empty house with no family left to call my own. I’m a man without purpose and it’s eating me up inside. It forces me to push away the people I’ve known my entire life, including the staff of the estate that I let go. So, now I’m alone.
Dammit, I wish I weren’t this way. But it would take a special kind of woman to crack open my heart. I’ve never been a people person and now it’s only getting worse.
Then I see something move out of the corner of my eye.
A woman runs across the field, stumbling as the snow barrels into her face.
She wears the glow of the moon on her face. It illuminates her fine features into something precious. Something beautiful.
Something that should be mine.
With one look, something primal stirs inside me.
I’m hungry for a woman... and not just any woman, but a special woman.
As I watch her, the wind whips harder around the mountain. Everything is dark, but thankfully my mother’s multitude of candelabras are lit.
I strike a match and light a flame just as the woman pushes open the iron gate, her eyes taking in the gargoyles on the eaves, and she climbs the front steps of the mansion with a bewildered, but determined look in her eye.
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