Surrounded by only wilderness and wild animals was supposed to help Scott Meyers deal with the shit that happened that year. With New Year’s only hours away, he needed to put the past behind him so he could start fresh. He had been there since Christmas Eve and it was proving to be more of a challenge than he thought it would. The snow hadn’t stopped falling since Christmas morning, and he was beginning to go a little crazy. There was no escaping the cabin until the storm let up but thankfully he had enough wood to keep him going, even if he was stranded there for weeks.
This cabin had been his childhood home, a place of happiness and memories. It was shortly after he turned twenty that his father had a heart attack and died, leaving this place to him. After that it had only been used occasionally. Now he had been using it as a place to escape from his life anytime he could get away. It didn’t matter if it was only for an overnight trip or for a few days. Every time he left here, he seemed to come away a better person, moving closer to letting go of the mistakes of his past.
Now if he could just give up the biggest ghost—Liz Hoffman. The one woman he’d loved who had walked out on him. She hadn’t liked the man he was becoming when his business law firm took off. A few well-placed clients, and suddenly he was in over his head. He never suspected defending a doctor against malpractice would bring mob connections to his door. Now that he thought about it, he realized he should be surprised it didn’t happen earlier. After all, with his practice just outside of New York City, the mafia was a frequent threat.
He glanced up to the fireplace mantel where the reminder of her sat. A glass elephant, with its skin a silvery gray, bright blue eyes that almost seemed to be watching him, and the long tail which hung down the back where a smaller elephant had wrapped his trunk around it. Liz always had a thing for elephants, and when he saw it in the shop a few weeks before her birthday, he had bought it for her. That was the day he had come home to find all of her things gone. She had simply vanished.
He should have gotten rid of that figurine but every time he thought about it he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Well, this year was the end. It would be gone by New Year’s Eve, because he was closing the door to the past and to Liz. Then, when he made it back to town, he was done; no longer would he defend low-life scum. He was shutting down his firm and moving out of the city. Maybe he’d move back to this little cabin; he didn’t need much. Maybe teach a class at the community college, or write that book he had always wanted to write but never had the time for.
He didn’t care what he was doing as long as it wasn’t the same life he had been living for the last several years. At forty-three, he needed more out of life than what he had. He had given up on the idea of a wife and family, but there was more to life than that.
J.R., his old German Shepherd who had been sleeping in front of the fireplace, perked up his ears and began to bark frantically.
“What is it, boy?” Scott rose from the chair, grabbing the rifle he kept mounted above the fireplace, and peeked out the window. Snow was all he could see. It was coming down hard and heavy, the wind blowing until it howled, tossing up freshly fallen drifts. “I don’t see anything. Old man, I think it’s your ears and the wind. Go back to sleep.”
As if to insist Scott was wrong, J.R. rose from the rug, stretched, and tipped his head back in a howl.
“Fine, if it makes you happy, I’ll go look.” He grabbed his coat from the peg by the door, slipped it on, and shook his head at the dog. “If this is nothing, you’re going to sleep out in the cold tonight.” The threat was a dead one; they both knew he’d never do that to J.R. The poor dog was too old, and even if he wasn’t, he was Scott’s only companion.
J.R. came up next to him,