Glare ice caught the last of the day's light, making the surface of the frozen river shine like wet glass. The dogs kept a steady pace. Dillon spotted overflow – where water below pushed up and over the ice – along the bank, far enough away that it wasn't a threat.
At 7:15, they reached Rohn checkpoint – a Bureau of Land Management cabin sheltered from the wind by tall spruce trees. Ideal for getting some rest. Other teams had arrived ahead of them and were in various stages of settling in.
"I'm staying," Dillon told the checker.
In the time it took to collect his drop bags, lay out straw for his dogs, inspect paws and dispense snacks, set up the cooker and shovel snow to melt for water, exhaustion set in hard. He'd slept maybe six hours in two days and 188 miles. Numb, he sat with his headlamp aimed inside the three-gallon pot and stared at the tiny bubbles forming and bursting on the bottom. What's that saying about a watched pot?
Who cared. His eyelids drooped.
A dog's sharp yip yanked him awake. Bands of green and blue shimmered across the night sky.
I never get tired of seeing that.
Claire. Her eyes made him think of Jack Daniels, the seduction of that first swallow and the warmth it generated in his belly. He hadn't taken a drink in six years, nine months and...long enough he'd lost track. But the sharp, not-quite-sweet taste lingered.
Like the after-taste of Claire's mouth pressed to his. Thinking of her made him ache for tangled sheets, skin pressed to skin, things he hadn't allowed himself to need in a long time. Linked to a past he'd worked hard to bury, wanting her was complicated. He told her she could have whatever she wanted, but was he prepared to give it?
What if she wanted the truth?
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish