Across a Thousand Miles

Across a Thousand Miles by Nadia Nichols

Book: Across a Thousand Miles by Nadia Nichols Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nadia Nichols
that’ll shave five or six miles off the run,” he told her.
    â€œYou’d better stay on the river trail,” she cautioned. “It’s still snowing pretty hard. The side trails might be drifted in.”
    â€œOh, no, this one’s fine. Trust me. I use it all the time.” Moments later he gee’d Merlin up over the riverbank. A few miles later, winding their way at a quick trot through the spruce woods, John Campbell’s abandoned cabin loomed beside the trail. Merlin, seeing that the door was ajar, made the sudden decision to take the team inside. Before Mac had time to shout a proper curse or step on the sled brake, half of the dogs had scaled the cabin steps and disappeared within.
    â€œDamn you, Merlin!” he growled, hobbling stiffly off the runners and working his way up the snow-covered cabin steps. The floor of the cabin was rotten and his feet broke through twice, banging his shins hard both times. It took all his remaining strength—combined with Rebecca’s help—to haul the dogs out of the cabin and get Merlin pointed in the proper direction. He waited for some sarcastic comment from Rebecca, but she remained silent, though once they were moving down the trail again, he could have sworn he heard her laughing softly.
    Forty minutes later Merlin led the team up to Sam’s hangar. The house was lit up like a palace, the big Wisconsin generator was roaring, and there were several vehicles parked in the cabin yard. Mac barely had time to open the hangar door and drive the team inside before Ellin and Sam confronted him.
    â€œMac!” Ellin cried out. “Have you seen Rebecca? The police called—they found her truck parked beside the river with the engine running and Tuffy inside… Rebecca! Is that you! Oh, thank God, thank God, you’re safe! We were worried to death!” Ellin’s hug was so vigorous that she knocked Rebecca back into the sled.
    â€œMac!” another voice cried, and he froze in the act of unsnapping the dogs’ tug lines. “Mac!” Sadie Hedda rushed toward him like a freight train, her face a mask of concern. “What happened to you? Your face! All that blood!”
    â€œI’m fine,” he said. “I fell on the ice, that’s all. Sadie, please, I need to get the dogs unhooked and fed.”
    â€œSon, you’d better sit down,” Sam said, taking him by the arm. “Let Sadie have a look at you. Your face is cut up pretty bad.”
    The warmth inside the hangar had caused the blood to flow. He could feel a warm trickle running down his neck. “It’s just a cut, that’s all, head wounds bleed a lot. I’ve got to get the dogs fed. They’ve had a long day.”
    â€œI’ll feed your dogs, Mac,” Rebecca said. “You better let Sadie look at you.” She began walking past him, and he reached out and caught her arm.
    â€œI can take care of my own dogs!” he said, and she turned to look at him, startled.
    â€œI know that,” she said. “But the least you can do is let me help you, after you fixed my truck and fed my dogs.”
    â€œMac, your face is a mess,” Sadie said. “A couple of those cuts are definitely going to need stitches, and you could have a concussion!”
    â€œNow look!” he said, releasing Rebecca’s arm and glaring at Sadie. “Right now, I’m going to take care of my dogs. When I’m done, if you feel it’s absolutely necessary, you can examine my cuts, gashes, and lacerations to your heart’s content.”
    Rebecca busied herself unharnessing the dogs and picketing them with the others on the far wall. Mac stepped out, grateful for the cold and darkness, and madehis way to the little cabin where he lived, hoping that the big pot of water atop the stove would still be hot enough to mix the dogs’ food. He lit the oil lamp, fed some firewood onto the bed of coals that still glowed

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