“Where? Were you in a cave? Did you go to the hospital? How did you survive?” The questions were live a spray of gunfire on my already assaulted body and I held up a hand.
“If you’d let me finish, I’ll tell you,” I said, trying to keep my patience. Mom glared at me balefully.
“Tell me what happened,” she insisted. Through the webcam, I caught Alex’s eye and I could read the deep concern in her face.
How much could I really tell them?
“I went out to collect samples,” I explained. “And I—”
“Alone?” Alex and my mom demanded in unison and I paused, thinking about how easily Hunter and Queenie had let me go.
“Yes,” I answered, reluctant to get into the details.
“Are you supposed to do that?” Alex asked.
“That was foolish!” Mom snapped at the same time and I rolled my eyes. I doubted I was going to make it through the conversation with my sanity intact.
“Do you two want to know what happened or are you just going to pepper me with questions?”
They clamped their mouths shut and waited for me to continue.
“Anyway, I was out longer than I expected and then I got lost,” I rushed on, wondering how much I should tell them. Obviously the orgy with the seven men who had rescued me was out of the question but what else should I leave out?
“Spill it, Sash,” Alex growled at me and I realized I’d fallen silent for too long.
“Spill what?” I asked innocently but they continued to glare at me. They could tell I was hiding something. I knew I’d better fess up to something before their minds started making up their own stories.
“I fell into a bear trap,” I sighed. “And I found a cabin where I was lucky enough to wait out the storm with some contract drillers.”
“Wait what?” Alex cried.
“A bear trap!” Mom choked. “Are you hurt? Do you have an infection?”
“No, no. These men were amazing.” I felt my heart catch in my throat as I thought about them. “I was really, really lucky.”
Don’t you dare get all emotional in front of these two, I warned myself.
“There was a medic and he took care of me,” I offered weakly, realizing their eyes were pinned on me.
“They were ALL men?” Alex asked, her eyes widening and I groaned inwardly. It didn’t matter how I spun this, they were going to be freaked out. Not that I could really blame them.
“I was lucky,” I insisted again. “If I hadn’t found their cabin…”
I shuddered to think about what could have happened. I surely wouldn’t be sitting there talking to them, that much was a certainty.
“There’s no serious damage to my leg.”
“How can you be sure?” Mom wanted to know. “You need to go to a hospital. Is there a hospital there? Oh, I knew I shouldn’t have let you go!”
She was moaning as if she’d had a say in my decision to go and I stifled a sigh.
“Who the hell puts out bear traps in Iceland?” Alex mused aloud. Before I could stop myself, I muttered, “Jimmy does.”
A pang of melancholic affection sliced through me but somehow I managed to keep it together.
“Who’s Jimmy?” Something in my voice had piqued her attention and I blushed, knowing that I was saying too much.
“One of the drillers. Listen, I’m exhausted,” I said. “I don’t mean to blow you off but I’m really behind at work now and I—”
“Hang on there, Sash,” Alex interrupted, leaning into the camera. “Are you staying there?”
The disbelief in her voice was almost palpable.
“No! You’re coming home!” Mom screamed so loudly, I was shocked Queenie and Hunter didn’t come running inside to see who was being murdered.
“I’m not coming home. I have less than three weeks here and I have a job to do.” I was trying to keep the annoyance out of my voice. “Of course I’m staying!”
Not to mention that my men are here and I’m not ready to leave them…not yet.
I had no idea if I’d see them again before I left but I also relished in the idea that they were so near. I mean, I could easily go to them—if I wanted to reopen Pandora’s box. I moved the idea out of my mind temporarily.
“Sasha, you’re hurt. You need medical attention!”
“No I am fine, really…” So much for keeping my cool. I inhaled and closed my eyes, counting to ten.
“I need you two to stop worrying now,” I pleaded. Knowing that they were on edge wasn’t making me feel any better and I couldn’t afford any more ill feelings. I already felt like I was bursting at the seams.
“Sash, I’m going to dig into Mirror, Mirror. This is unsafe work condition. Maybe there’s a story—” Alex started to say, her journalistic intuition clinging for something to do to feel helpful while I was so far away.