She sat at the window, temple pressed against the cold glass as snowflakes often interrupted her line of vision. Her emerald gaze remained locked on the fire blazing just beyond the tree line, and her brows seemed permanently creased in wonder. She vaguely registered hearing her mother down in the kitchen, closing a cabinet door, the soft clinking of glass bumping against one another but was focused on the roar she swore she could hear from the orange flickering light.
The sun was slowly setting, the moon rising as if being pulled by the hot ball of light and the snow that covered the ground seemed to sparkle, lighting up the trees just beyond the fire. She felt as if she should be at peace, with the soft white light surrounding the window; instead chaos consumed her as the flames spread further, melting the snow and burning everything in its furious path.
"Rowan! Go outside and get your father for dinner!" She turned away from the window then, felt her cold temple and cheek warm then shuddered at the thought of feeling the rest of her body drop to that temperature. "Rowan?" Her mother called to her again and she cleared her throat before yelling back down the stairs.
"I heard you, I just need to put on some shoes!" She grabbed her boots then muttered, "And about forty pounds to be able to survive out in the freaking sub zero winter weather." It was a struggle to tie up her boots as she fought to lean over, her extra two sweat shirts, her winter jacket and two scarves serving well to make her look at least forty pounds heavier. "Should have put the boots on first." She grumbled as she clunked her way down the dark wooden stares and down into the foyer.
Her mother leaned out of the kitchen, looked her over then grinned and for a moment Rowan felt like she was looking in a mirror. "You're going to be outside for a whole two minutes." She laughed and shook her head, disappearing once again behind the kitchen wall.
"Lesser men have died in one!" Rowan called after her then puffed up her cheeks, clunking her way to the door. She pulled her thick gloves from one of her many pockets, put them on and closed her hand around the door knob and twisted. The smooth metal refused to budge as her hand slipped around it like it was made of wet soap. "Oh come on!" She kicked at the base of the door, ill tempered and jerked a glove off of her hand then jerked the door open.
The cold blast of air that hit her face took her breath away for a moment and she felt her bones shiver under her skin.
"Oh, jeez." She groped behind her head, closed her fingers around her hood and jerked it over her dark brown hair and half way down her nose then scrambled to put her glove back on. "Unnatural..." She muttered as she carefully stepped down the icy steps, clinging to the rail next to her. "Stupid ice..." She grumbled as she stepped to the side, off of the ice covered walk way and into the soft crunch of the snow. "Too cold to even make a snow man." She grumped as she slowly made her way to the line of trees. From under the edge of her hood she could see the light of the fire flickering eerily across the snow and she felt her heart squeeze as she made her way closer to the tall flames.
"Dad?" She saw her breath freeze as she called out to him, and jumped as something cracked loudly and crashed into the fire, sending sparks into the air. "Get a grip, it's fire, it's not like it's going to reach out and grab you." She scolded herself then rolled her shoulders, moving into the tree line. "Besides, it's warm..." She edged her way around the pile of burning wood and felt herself start to sweat from the heat of it. "Dad?" She called again and pushed her hood up a bit, to be able to see more in front of her. The light of the fire washed over the ground, over the trees and the snow covered rocks and to the work shed her father spent so much time in, creating things. She shifted, squinted then her eyes went wide, her pupils dilated and her breath rushed from her lungs in the sound of a strangled cry.
Fire light danced playfully over his body, pinned to the shed by pieces of wood. The blood that had run down the dark wooden wall of the work shed was now frozen in crimson crystalline trails. She felt the blood rush from her face, from her limbs, felt the energy leak from her legs as her knees buckled and the ground rushed up to smash into them, softened barely by the snow. Her eyes stared unblinking at his form, pierced by wood through his chest, arms, neck and thighs. His mouth was hanging open, jaw slack, saliva frozen on his chin, swirled with blood. His eyes were open, the green now frosty white. She felt the bile rise up, she felt the hysteria follow behind it, and as she retched and screamed and sobs his frozen eyes turned to her, his head tilting and his jaw cracking loudly, like ice breaking as his voice whispered out.
"You killed me."
"No!" Rowan roared as she sat up in bed, tears streaming down her face and hair flying around her wildly. She looked around, saw her temporary bedroom come into perspective and she scrambled out of bed and ran to the bathroom where she emptied the contents of her stomach into the toilet, coughing violently.
Slowly the room stopped spinning, her stomach stopped churning and she could breathe again.
"Goddamn it." She sat back against the cool wall, shivered at the feeling then relaxed. "Fuck." She pushed a shaking hand through her hair then her shoulders shook, and she tilted her head back and laughed. Rowan laughed until her sides hurt, until she couldn't breathe and until she fell over on the floor, her nose nearly bumping a bare foot covered by black baggy sweatpants.
She shifted, rolled over onto her back, mindless of her nightshirt riding up dangerously high on her thighs and met curious blue eyes.
"I heard you scream," His voice sent a shiver of delight down her spine and she watched him, no longer laughing. "I figured you had a nightmare again." He crouched down and grabbed her under the arms, hauling her up to sitting once again. She felt like she was a child, and decided to sulk like one.
"So sorry for disturbing your peace." Her chin jut out and he sat down slowly on the floor next to her.
"Did I say anything like that?" He let the annoyance show on his face.
"Have I ever said anything like that?" He watched her brows pull together and was happy to see that the color was slowly returning to her cheeks; it must have been horrible.
"No you haven't, but..."
"Then why do you do that?" He resisted the urge to lay his hand on hers.
"Do what?" She watched his handsome face, saw the concern there and felt a glow start in her chest.
"Assume you know what I'm going to say, or what I'm thinking."
"You do it to me all of the time." She scowled at him.
"Yes, but I'm always right." Her scowl grew, and she squashed the small glow in her chest, putting it out.
"You're an asshole."
"That's Mr. Asshole to you." He gave her an even stare, and his face was composed, showing nothing of his thoughts; it was business like. Rowan felt the embarrassment start to crawl up her back, she had just called her boss an asshole, the man who was protecting her, an asshole.
Her mumbled apology made him want to grin.
"Regardless of what you were thinking, I'm sorry for disturbing your peace. It was just a bad dream." She tried to stop the shiver from rocking her body and failed.
"Do you want to talk about it?" The kindness in his voice made her stomach clench and she turned her face away from his.
"No," She shrugged gently then stood. "For once, it was just a dream. It wasn't something that actually happened, or that can happen."
He watched her walk out of the bathroom then looked at the floor, relieved.