Although she knew her way around this mountainous climb, in fact had scaled to the summit of this particular mountain a hundred times, it was the first time she was alone and injured. Throughout the climb, she’d only seen a couple of other hikers who were so engrossed in themselves, she doubted they’d even noticed her presence. No help there. Consequently, she felt isolated and vulnerable nd even a tad nervous.

She had enough food and water to hunker down for several days but she wasn’t walking anywhere anytime soon. Her ankle was swollen twice it’s normal size and throbbed for good measure. Taking off her hiking boot wasn’t advisable as she was sure she wouldn’t get it back on once she did and that would be worse. There was a stream a couple of hundred feet away and when she was a little more stable, she’d make her way there and soak her foot in the icy stream which would bring the swelling down to perhaps enough to hobble on.

As she sat considering her options, she dragged out her small hunting knife and stretched out to grab a nearby branch she figured large enough to support her weight and whittled away the attached twigs.

Laying her backpack flat beside her, she pulled out a packet of mixed fruit and nuts and munched. It wouldn’t be dark for at least four more hours so she planned on making good use of the time. Checking her mini flashlight worked, she plunked her backpack in front of her, rolled up the extra sweater she’d brought and laid it on top then propped her injured leg over top. It helped ease some her discomfort and she hoped that with a bit of rest she could continue on. Either way, she was at midpoint in the hike and there would be people and equipment at either end.

Andrea sighed. Damn her independence! Darren had offered to come and she’d turned him down and was regretting that impulsive decision in a big way at the moment.

It was an uncomfortable night and when she woke the next morning, she felt miserable and grumpy even a little sorry for herself. She grumbled as she straightened out her gear and rolled her sleeping back up, attaching it to her back pack.

Startled, she sat perfectly still. Something was coming her way. She listened to crackling branches and then heard a voice humming. Human! Relieved she sat up straighter and called out, “Hello. Hello! Can you hear me?”

A deep voice replied, “Yep, I hear ya. Keep talking, I’ll head toward your voice.”

“Was headed up the mountain but I’ve had a bit of an accident.”

Before she could utter another word, a gorgeous, big man entered her field of vision. “Hi, there!” he said in the deepest voice she’d ever heard.

“Glad to have some company.” Relief was putting it mildly.

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