McCoy nearly threw himself to the floor when a thunderous boom jarred him from sleep.
Wisps of out-of-focus dreams of holding a beautiful girl’s cool hand, and smiling amber eyes, were torn away as he glanced wildly around the darkened room.
Was the ship being fired on?
Disoriented, he fumbled for his tricorder, its small screen glowing next to him.
No alarms were sounding. No one was reporting to battle stations.
He wasn’t on the ship. Bella had brought him to a cabin, saving him from certain death in the frozen wastes.
What if something was trying to get in? He had no weapons to defend himself. Why hadn’t he brought some of the knives down from the attic?
Because he was a doctor, not a mercenary, and it had never entered his mind. Kirk and Spock wouldn’t have been caught so flat-footed. On an unfamiliar world—and Earth in twenty-ten certainly was—it would be completely illogical not to have some sort of defense.
Sadly, no one had ever accused McCoy of being logical.
Visions of being surrounded by roaring grizzly bears and snarling timber wolves filled his head.
The best he’d be able to do would be to throw the tricorder at whatever it was and hope he hit it.
Blocky instrument held firmly to his chest, he huddled in the corner and tried to decide if he should make a break for the attic. A bear wouldn’t fit through the square opening. He would be hidden, and he would have the knives.
The door being flung open put an immediate halt to all thoughts of escape.
A hooded, human-shaped silhouette filled the doorway. The faint glow from the still-burning lantern didn’t cast enough light for McCoy to make out more than that.
Much larger than Bella, McCoy felt his impending doom. Was there any chance the coat made the person appear much bigger than he actually was?
Icy fear gripped McCoy’s insides, and he held the tricorder even more tightly, his hands shaking.
If it was going to be the end, it was a darn shame he didn’t have his boots on.
Appalled at his mounting fear, he shook himself. It wasn’t a grizzly, it was only a man! McCoy was a Starfleet officer and trained for that sort of thing! He’d follow protocol, offer a greeting and, if he was attacked, then he’d throw the tricorder. He wouldn’t go down without a fight, boots or not.
Pleased to have a plan, McCoy cautiously cleared his throat and tried to speak as steadily as possible. “Hello. My name is Leonard McCoy.”
There was no return greeting or any response at all. The man merely shifted just enough to reach for the edge of the door and quietly push it closed. The impossibly loud click of the latch was enough to send McCoy’s already thumping heart into high gear.
The only exit from the cabin was blocked—unless McCoy could leap through a window. The problem with that strategy was the coat Bella had loaned him was across the room.
Shivering with fright, or maybe the cold that was let into the cabin, McCoy gingerly reached for the blanket and tugged it up his chest as if it would offer some protection.
As much as he longed for Bella to return, he prayed she wouldn’t make an appearance yet. He was feeling oddly protective of her, even after reading about how indestructible vampires were. She could take care of herself. Regardless, he didn’t think it would be wise to let the stranger know someone else had been with him.
McCoy took it as an encouraging sign that there’d been no bloodshed yet.
Maybe the person didn’t speak English. All McCoy could do was give it another shot, sticking to as much truth as possible.
Was the newcomer the owner of the cabin, or was he also lost? Could he have been a thief looking to rob the place?
McCoy wasn’t getting any sort of clue as his face was still hidden by the fur-trimmed hood.
The truth it would be. Mostly.
“I was lost and freezing.” McCoy gulped. “It was snowing. There were wolves nearby.” Though he had no idea how far he’d been from the cabin when Bella found him or how long he’d been asleep after Bella had brought him there. He should have asked her.
Since it was dark again, he’d obviously slept the day away.
Squirming slightly under the silent perusal, McCoy felt a twinge of guilt. “I needed shelter.”
Incrementally, he was feeling less tense, until the intruder stepped farther into the room and pushed back the hood, revealing pale skin and hair lighter than his own.
McCoy didn’t know who he had expected, but a white man hadn’t been his first choice.
The man tugged off his gloves and stuffed them into his coat pockets. He unzipped the heavy parka, pulled it off, and hung it on another hook by the door. After a quick brush of Bella’s coat with his fingertips, he slowly turned back and glided to the chair Bella had occupied and sat down. He leaned back, resting his left arm on the table and propping his right ankle on his left knee.
Something about the stranger’s fluid and utterly soundless movements sent another shiver of fright streaking up McCoy’s spine.
Determined not to display his unease, McCoy studied him and just waited. The man looked young. He was wearing boots, blue jeans, and a grey University of Alaska Fairbanks sweatshirt. Could he have been a student there?
The clothing seemed completely ordinary to McCoy, for the time he was in, but he still fought to suppress a shudder. Something about him made the hair on the back of McCoy’s neck stand straight up.
It had to be because he hadn’t said a word.
McCoy locked down his muscles to remain still.
His fingers were beginning to feel the strain of his death-grip on the tricorder, and he loosened them one by one.
If he was the cabin owner, why hadn’t he said anything? Chastised McCoy for breaking in and making himself at home? Demanded an explanation?
Despite the young man’s unthreatening posture and completely calm expression, McCoy was more than a little intimidated.
When the man blinked, McCoy gasped and nearly choked on his own air. His instincts were screaming at him to run for his life.
The intruder had golden eyes like Bella! He was a vampire!
There was something in the report about a vampire’s eyes changing colors, but damned if McCoy could remember—he was too busy trying to crawl up the wall backwards.
“Bella—where is she?” the man asked in a low, quiet tone.
Even with a voice as decadently rich and smooth as his granny’s dark chocolate butter-cream frosting, McCoy’s stomach dropped to his feet and his heart became jammed somewhere up around his Adam’s apple.
How had he known she’d been there?
It could only be the non-husband. He’d tracked her down at last.
Spending time and talking with the most beautiful girl he’d ever met would be a good memory to take with him into the afterlife—if there was one.
How ironic to travel to parts known and unknown throughout the universe, meeting all sorts of beings of every imaginable shape and configuration, only to end up dead at the hands of a jealous husband.
Resigned to his fate, McCoy accepted his impending, possibly very painful, death. He regretted not even holding Bella’s hand, but it had been fun while it lasted. His last days had been well-spent.
Wasn’t his life supposed to flash before his eyes? All he could conjure up was an image of Bella nervously twisting her fingers together in her lap and looking up at him through those long, dark lashes. Her bright, shining eyes as she spoke about the way that Edward guy had treated her. Her disillusions and disappointments. Her broken heart.
Anger overtook his fear. It boiled up through him from the pit of his belly and his teeth clenched. He was a crewman on the starship Enterprise, and they never just rolled over and gave up!
He realized he was standing on the cot and the tricorder was still in his hand.
Doing the only thing he could think of, he threw it.