“Well, the weatherman says it’s going to be cold tonight, we could use some firewood in here. There’s wood out there under the carport that needs chopping and it’s so hard for me. Would you mind?”
“No problem. I’ll get right to it.”
He went out and found an axe next to the woodpile and set to work. Once in awhile he would see the curtain move on the window and he knew she was watching him. After awhile he went inside for a glass of water and saw her on the phone.
He knew it was wrong to eavesdrop but he needed to know so he moved along the wall and listened in.
“…Listen, I told you, it’s going to be fine. No, there’s no need; I can handle it. What? I don’t know yet. I’ll call you. Yes, that’s right. I have to go.”
He stepped into the bathroom as she hung up the phone, waited a minute, then flushed and came out into the kitchen.
“Thirsty work. I could use a glass of that ice water.”
“Of course, you just sit down and rest, I’ll get it for you.”
She brought him some water and a plate of cookies. “You don’t have to chop all that wood son, we just need some for tonight.”
“Oh, it’s fine. I don’t mind doing it.”
She was looking at him with an intensity that began to unsettle him. He glanced out the window at the driving rain, willing it to stop.
“Jeremy, you haven’t told me much about yourself. I don’t mean to pry but I’ve been wondering, what are you doing on the road?”
“Well, things weren’t too good at home. I don’t really like my new stepfather much and I just needed a change of scenery. I’m heading for California. Got some folks out there I can stay with. Get a job, see what happens.”
“So what did your folks say when you told them you were leaving?”
He shifted uncomfortably. “I, uh…didn’t tell them.”
He thought he saw a slight smile lift the corners of her mouth but it was so quick he couldn’t be sure.
“So no one knows you’re out here.”
Now why the hell did she say that he wondered? He shrugged and let it go. She got up and got him some more ice water then sat back down again.
“You know, Jeremy, it’s nice having company. I’m so glad you chose my yard to hide in.”
At a loss for more to say he finished his water and stood up. “Well, I’m gonna go chop the rest of that wood. Thanks for the cookies.”
He headed back out, relieved to be out of there. He was starting to worry again. Sometimes she seemed all right. Other times she gave him the creeps. He stared at the driving rain and shook his head. Picking up the axe he heaved to with renewed vigour.
Standing at the window peeking through the curtains his host smiled and watched him work then she went back to the kitchen and got out some ingredients and tools. She thought about her guest as she bustled about the kitchen. Turning on the oven she began whistling a tune and thinking about things. She was content.
When Jeremy came back in the house and hour and half later a wonderful aroma hit his nostrils and he followed his nose to the kitchen. She wasn’t there, but when he turned to check the living room she was standing in front of him.
She had a ten-inch chef’s knife in her hand.
Part 4 Tomorrow