Page 37 of Fallen Daughters

What was once a long, dark, epic story had now finally found its ending. A simple kiss and the hope of a forever happily ever after.

Fallen Daughter #3


13

Rem Langston pulled the collar of his woolen coat higher around his neck, trying his best to shield against the biting wind. Winter was bound to hold on longer than normal in the Sierras this year, keeping spring at bay. It wasn’t something he minded, but cold nonetheless. His boots crunched against the snow as he maneuvered beneath the pinion pines, hanging heavy with the morning’s snowfall. Timmy Collins had been down by the river fishing and noticed a beaver building a dam. Grateful for the bit of information, Rem made his way to clear the obstruction. He wasn’t going to let a beaver’s dam get in the way of his business.

Born and raised an ice harvester, Rem made a living making ice in the lower region of the Sierra mountains and floating it down the Truckee River to the miners in the city below. Not necessarily a glamorous life, but the harvesting of ice provided a roof over his head and allowed him the luxury to care for his aging ma who’d been widowed for years now. Rem Langston was not one for complaining as he battled the mountain temperatures and worked from sun up to sun down. And in cases like now, where the sun had already set, he’d no doubt be working under the night’s moon. Blocks of ice were due for delivery by midday tomorrow, and a beaver’s dam could stop that from happening. If anything, he was reliable, and he wasn’t about to change that reputation.

Approaching the dam, Rem gave a sigh of relief to see that the river still flowed steadily around it. The collection of small twigs was far from a dam, but he made haste to clear them before an issue arose. It would be an early night after all, and he was glad since the air temperature took a nosedive in the quick time it took him to walk from Boca Town to the northern riverbank of the Truckee River.

Clearing the last twig, a scurrying to his right caught his attention. It was high time he killed that beaver so this wouldn’t be an ongoing problem. Reaching for his pistol, he inched his way toward the noise. Rem wouldn’t consider himself much of a hunter, but rather preferred to buy his meat from the local mercantile. But his pa had made sure he was capable if need be. Not to mention, he could use the beaver fur to make a nice stole for his ma.

The moonlight reflecting off the snow lit his path as he scanned the area for any movement. His finger sat ready at the trigger, waiting for the varmint to show its face. It wasn’t until he walked around a large pine, that he saw the source of the noise. Up against a cluster of trees sat a makeshift shelter composed of broken twigs and pine needles. In front of it, warming herself with a pathetic fire that barely crackled against the chilly night air, sat Birdie Bluebell.

Rem wasn’t exactly surprised to see her there. He had heard the town gossip from the school marm and the church ladies. Birdie Bluebell’s pa, Jedson Bluebell, liked his whiskey and turned mean as the devil. Word was that when his fists started flailing, Birdie became the victim. Rem had also heard that Birdie would run away for days, living on the northern riverbank in a shelter she built herself. No place for a young lady, the church women would say. They’d pity the girl, but wouldn’t do much more than talk about her. And in the end, Birdie always went back to her pa once the whiskey ran dry.

The Bluebells lived further into the mountains, in an old shack Jedson’s pappy had built before he drank himself to death. They weren’t exactly members of Boca Town, but everyone knew who they were. Birdie’s ma had gone mad, and rumor had it, she killed her babies right after each were born. How Birdie remained alive, still remained a mystery. Then one day, Birdie’s ma just turned up missing. No word, no reasons, no questions. Many believed it was good riddance.

Rem was a man who minded his own business. Gossip had no place at his dinner table—even though his ma was one of the biggest offenders. What the Bluebells did was none of his concern. But hearing about it and actually seeing it, were two different things. Watching Birdie shiver against the cold in nothing more that a raggedy-old dress, barefoot, and clearly beaten, boiled the blood inside his body to an inferno. If Jedson Bluebell were anywhere near, Rem and he would be having a come to Jesus mighty fast.

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