“She reads the letter again, soaking in the ink, scouring the words and the space between for answers and finding none. Something wafts off the paper, like a draft. She brings the letter to her nose. It is summer, and yet, the parchment smells of autumn, brittle and dry, that narrow season when nature withers and dies, when the windows are shuttered and the furnaces belch smoke and winter waits like a promise, just out of sight.”
“He unlaced his arms and took a step forward. “You hurt?”
“Not badly.” She tried to smile, but her lips only curved on one side. “My main problem is that I’m stuck to a cactus.”
“How’d you manage to get tangled up with a cactus?” J.T. crouched beside her and started extricating her from the prickly plant.
“Well, believe it or not, I was on my way to apologize to you when a prairie-dog hole jumped up and grabbed my shoe heel.”
Her eyes travelled over the distant mountains, the wild seas to her left and the flat, snow-covered land stretching out ahead. And then she did a double take. There on the horizon, silhouetted against the sun, something moved. It was in the blink of an eye. So rapid she almost missed it. Something big and loping and most unexpected.
It couldn’t be…?
She blinked again. Whatever it was had gone.
But April could have sworn she’d just see a polar bear.