To celebrate this special occasion, I’ll offer a sneak peak into the first chapter. Enjoy 🙂
Sneak Peek into Chapter One:
Just as Ruben was looking for a cozy place in the snow to curl into a ball, a big as fuck and scary owl flapped its huge wings and made those creepy owl-noises. Ruben fell backward and landed on his ass, his heart beat so fast he thought he’d suffer a heart attack. When he let his gaze travel up the tree, the owl peered at him with its bright, yellow eyes. It had this annoyed look going on. Like Ruben was invading its beauty sleep or something.
“Oh, shut up, birdy! I’m the one in deep shit. You’re sitting up there on your branch with your feathery ass still dry, probably digesting your latest snack, while it is poor little me whose feet and balls are freezing off down here. So quit with the bitching.”
The owl’s narrowed gaze sent an unpleasant feeling through Ruben’s body. Uh-oh. Its assessing stare probably meant it was trying to find the best spots to gnaw on as soon as the cold had finished him.
“Sorry, I honestly didn’t mean to piss you off. As a matter of fact, I admire owls. You’re… big and scary and beautiful. And kinda deadly, you know.” Ruben sighed and failed to huddle deeper into his jacket. “Ignore me, okay? Me talking to an annoyed owl means I’ve lost my marbles because of the cold and the fucking dead-end situation I’m currently in. Could you maybe promise to wait with eating me till I’m dead? I guess that beak of yours hurts like a bitch and I think I really deserve a calm death.” Ruben shivered hard. The owl seemed interested enough in the conversation, so he kept on talking.
“Somewhere I read freezing to death feels like falling asleep.” He huffed. “This statement proves that you can never trust so-called experts. Whoever wrote that has probably never been in a freezing-to-death situation. Because I’ll tell you, I don’t feel remotely sleepy and calm.”
The owl shu-huued. Ruben, sure that its reply was meant as an agreement, smiled. “Good owl. See? Now we understand each other.” It flapped its huge, elegant wings again, turning its head to the right. Huh. Maybe it’d sensed another snack under the snow? Ruben hoped not. After their nice conversation, he was fairly sure it wouldn’t attack him and pick out his eyes. He enjoyed its company and talking to it beat arguing with Toby. Big time. Ruben scowled up at it.
“Don’t even think of leaving me. It’s not nice to abandon a dying man,” he admonished. Fortunately, the owl remained on its branch however, kept staring straight into the same direction. It was a bit unnerving. Was something dangerous waiting for him between the trees? Something with sharp teeth and claws that would love to eat Ruben?
He shivered harder, lowering his voice to a hushed whisper. “What is it? Do you see something? You could give me a hint, you know?”
Crap. Maybe this was the right time to learn the art of tree climbing. The branches were low enough. The sole question was if Ruben had enough strength left in his frozen hands to, indeed, climb. And he remembered reading that bears were able to climb. Climbing would merely help him in case it was a wolf lurking somewhere. Given the frozen, numb state of his body, he’d probably fall down and onto his scrawny ass. No, thanks.
Suddenly, the owl spread its wings again and took off, sailing a short distance before coming to rest on the next branch. Ruben cursed, following it with his gaze.
Without rational reason, Ruben’s body followed it, too. Maybe it was instinct. Maybe it was the cold fogging his brain. But they continued this little game five more times. When Ruben considered giving up and calling himself officially crazy, he saw it.
A cabin. Ruben sobbed, part of relief, part of exhaustion. He didn’t see any light in the windows but Ruben didn’t care. In fact, it’d be better if the cabin were unoccupied. He didn’t want to deal with anybody in his current state—namely rumpled, frozen, and heartbroken. Collecting the last of his strength, which wasn’t that much, he gave his feathery companion a thankful nod and scrambled toward the cabin.
He desperately needed to change out of those wet clothes and find something warm to wrap around himself before he caught pneumonia. With its chimney and the wood, chopped and neatly stacked along one outer wall, the cabin looked promising.
Ruben grabbed the handrail with numb fingers, dragging himself up the four necessary steps, and probed the handle. When Ruben pushed at the unexpectedly well maintained and unlocked door, it gave way immediately. He literally fell through the door and onto the hardwood floor with a loud thud. Ouch!
Tears sprang to Ruben’s eyes when his numb and hurting body made contact with the floor. A soft carpet probably would’ve been too much to ask for he supposed. Or a sexy, muscular lumberjack catching him in his strong arms. Ruben groaned at his stupidity, rolled onto his back and merely laid there for a minute. He was so damn tired and cold. Debating with himself if it was okay if he enjoyed a short nap, he looked at the ceiling and listened to the quiet of the cabin.
Only, for an abandoned, empty cabin, it wasn’t quiet. Ruben caught a faint noise, like a floorboard squeaking under a boot and the rustling of clothes. Shit! Wasn’t the cabin as unoccupied as Ruben had thought? And if somebody was at the cabin, why was he lurking in the dark and what would this stranger do to Ruben? Had he made himself guilty by entering the cabin? This was an emergency, after all. So far, every Norwegian he’d encountered had been very nice. Hopefully, the owner of the cabin would allow Ruben to stay for a while and warm up again. If it was the owner of the cabin making those sounds and not a crazy axe murderer.
Ruben heaved to his stomach, and everything but graceful, pushed to his feet. Then he crept farther into the cabin. His breathing was ragged and he shivered from the melting snow dripping from his hair down his neck and back.
Had he been blond, Ruben would’ve felt like the dumb girl in one of those silly horror movies. All that was missing was an even dumber, Hello? Is anybody here?, before the crazy murderer came around the corner, axe raised and a cruel smile on his scarred face.
Turned out there was no axe murderer with a scarred face. Instead, Ruben encountered a very tall, very blond, and very glowering Norwegian in a knitted pullover who pointed his shotgun right at Ruben’s chest. And that was the moment when Ruben, quite spectacularly, fainted.