White Winters Moonę

Free Online Short Love Story

Written by American Author Sky Taylor

Set in the Early 1900's

The quaint inn was all that remained open upon this cold winter Monday - six p.m. in the evening. A chill hung heavy in the air leaving Moriah longing for the warmth of a cozy fire - and a hot meal. Perhaps a bowl of soup. She'd settle for warm broth. But for now, she remained thankful for the three-day old biscuit which had been carefully packed away in her carpetbag.

Having no money to rent a room, Moriah hoped that the innkeeper wouldn't turn her away as all she wanted was a short rest by the warm fireplace that she'd glimpsed through the pristine stained-glass windows. She would have much-preferred a job but the 'Not Hiring Don't Ask' sign in the window rejected any hope of that happening.

Settling into a table beside the fire a woman with long, flaming red hair approached and asked of her needs.

"Would it be too much trouble to request a glass of water?" Moriah asked, hesitantly and quite unsure of herself.

"Yes, of course dear," the woman responded, the hazel eyes kneading up and down Moriah's small frame. Moriah supposed that a thousand questions were soaring through the woman's head, but fortunately she didn't pursue. "I'll bring your water directly," which she did in haste. "My name is Susan. I'm the wife of the innkeeper," she informed as she placed the glass in front of Moriah. "If you decide to stay, please let me know and I'll take care of your needs."

Moriah nodded, thanking her before Susan walked away. Then she discreetly withdrew the biscuit from her carpetbag and pinched ever-so-small bits. The smaller the bits, the longer the biscuit would last, she reminded herself, fighting her ravenous appetite. Three days without food - but she wouldn't think about that as she enjoyed her biscuit by the fireside. When one was poor, they lived moment by moment.

As she nibbled, she allowed her eyes to wander. What a wonderful old inn. It was crafted of fine wood which had been stained a dark hue. There was a long bar situated beside the table where she sat, and above the bar a magnificent mirror donned the length of the long wall. Moriah surmised that the inn had been a high-end saloon at one time, although the stained-glass windows donning the face of the inn were best suited for a sanctuary.

Her attention was deterred towards a dark-haired middle-aged woman who Moriah had not noticed entering the inn, so deeply entranced by the beauty of the inn's interior.

The woman wasn't blessed with kind features and her hair looked far too dark for her pale complexion. Her voice was deep and rushed as she ranted to the red-haired lady named Susan.

The fancy plate containing a roasted chicken dinner looked and smelled scrumptious. A saucer that Susan had set to one side of the plate held a decadent wedge of cherry pie making Moriah's empty belly roar a bit louder as the heavenly aroma drifted divinely towards her spot by the fireplace.

Susan was pouring the woman a glass of wine as she listened to the dark-haired woman continue to rant. "He's a beast! If only I'd known - why I would have never accepted the position. And he's not only rude and hateful, he is hideous to look upon. The scarring from the...accident - is....well, it's quite nauseating. I must confess, after seeing him amid good light, I had to rush outside for fear that I would fall over in a swoon - as I was quite traumatized." The dark-haired woman paused and gazed upon Susan. With wide eyes she pried, "You have seen him? Or-or at least you know of him? Surely you must have - being a local."

Moriah felt saddened - a deep emptiness settling in the pit of her stomach that had much more to do with life's harsh reality than hunger. Who was this woman to talk about another's appearance? A gentleman who had obviously experienced a horrifying accident? The woman's looks were far from fair. And everyone had a flaw of some sort, she went on to reason.

"I've heard tales from many others, but no - neither I nor my husband have met him. We arrived in the town of Wicked Wind to purchase the inn after the accident occurred...some years back as I understand," Susan informed, narrowing her forehead as the dark-haired woman pushed her untouched meal away and secured a slim hand supporting long red nails around the wine glass.

A space of silence ensued before she responded to Susan. "Yes, your words ring true. When I was hired I was informed that I would be collecting all of the necessary supplies for the estate - the food and other necessities for his ridiculous menagerie of animals. Imagine - asking a lady to collect feed for his animals. Yet another confirmation of this ill-gotten monster. Obviously, he didn't want to be seen in public. And if you saw him with your own two eyes, you'd certainly understand why he was so frightening."

The woman shivered as if she'd just seen something utterly disgusting.

"His appearance....it's truly hideous?" Susan inquired.

"So hideous that I cannot possibly describe," the dark-haired woman assured, reaching out one hand supporting the long red nails as she spoke to convey her staunch feelings.

The wind howled outside and all three ladies looked towards the magnificent oak door of the inn which was framed by the stain-glassed windows.

"It's turning bad outside and there's talk of snow later tonight. Perhaps you got away from your horror just in time," Susan eased out in thought, her forehead furrowed. "However did you get here, dear?"

"I took his horse and  buggy."

Susan gasped and the dark-haired woman quickly assured, "I didn't commit thievery, I assure you. At least he paid me through the year's end - but I should have been paid much more. And he gave me a good sum so that I could pay to have the horse and buggy returned to the estate posthaste. The horse pulling the buggy....it's quite precious to him. I was rather shocked that he allowed me to use it - but only after a scorching threat of what would happen if anything happened to the beast. And what a shame - a man with a bounty of riches, concerned more about a piece of horse flesh than me! Again, that mirrors his cold character. A coward, too hideous to show himself in town."

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