The blizzard that pounded Denali the day before our arrival left everything covered in a thick blanket of cold snow. For as far as I could see, everything was pure white. It was as if the world had become a blank void. I was comforted by the sight. It correlated with the way I had been feeling for the past two months. Blank and void.
I stepped closer to the window of the small log cabin Phil had rented for us and pressed my fingers against the cold glass. I relished the slightly stinging sensation on my skin and smiled when I realized that nothing here would remind me of my mother. Alaska was almost the polar opposite of Phoenix and that was the reason I'd chosen this place for a vacation. Phil had not been so pleased with my choice but went along with it regardless.
"When I suggested a vacation, I thought you would pick some where reasonable like Fiji, The Bahamas, or even California! But Alaska? I don't know who's crazier, you for suggesting to come here or me for agreeing to come here!" Phil ranted as he plopped on the couch and proceeded to take off his socks that were now wet thanks to the snow that had fallen down inside his boots.
I smiled apologetically and went to sit beside him. "I'm sorry Phil. I didn't know there was going to be a blizzard but you have to admit that it's absolutely beautiful here," I said.
He sighed and nodded his head. "That it is," he agreed.
"Plus there is so much to do here. Mountain climbing, hiking, white water rafting!" I exclaimed clasping his forearm in both my hands hoping to transfer my excitement to him. He was hurting just as much as I was and I wanted this trip to be fun for both of us. We both enjoyed all things adventurous and that was another reason for my choosing to come here.
"Do you think the climbing will be better here than in Phoenix?" he asked.
"Well we'll sure find out tomorrow," I replied, earning a smile from my step-dad and making me feel a lot better. I loved him fiercely and now he was the only person I had left. He had married my mother, Renee, when I was thirteen and adopted me soon after. I had no real memory of my biological father Charlie. Renee had left him only weeks after I was born and he died a month later in a car accident.
Renee was the type of person who was never satisfied. We had moved all around Arizona because she could never find a place that she really liked. She changed jobs more frequently than she changed her underwear and boyfriends more often than that. When we settled in Phoenix and she married Phil I was overjoyed. I thought that we would finally be able to just live a normal life, and we did for a very long time.
Renee had seemed so happy that it never occurred to me that she was getting bored again. It became clear though one morning when Phil and I awoke to a huge breakfast waiting for us in the kitchen and a note on the table that read:
I'm sorry. I just had to.
Renee had just up and left. She had taken nothing with her but the entire contents of her and Phil's savings account. Her departure left me sad, angry, disappointed, confused and most of all hurt. Why hadn't she taken me with her? After a lot of thought it occurred to me that maybe all the times we moved and the constant changes she made in her life were not to get away from those boring locations and dead end jobs but maybe all this time she wanted to get away from me.
Phil assured me that this was not true but deep down I knew that it was. I tried to pretend that I didn't care, that her abandonment meant as little to me as I did to her but it was not always easy to pull off. Especially in Arizona where everything reminded me of her and all the good times we'd had. However now that we were in Alaska I was ready to really move on and put Renee behind me.
I stepped eagerly inside the restaurant ready to be out of the cold. I was so unaccustomed to it and I was terrified that I would be riddled with frostbite and have to get all my extremities amputated. I glanced at Phil to see if the cold had been affecting him like it was me but I found him to be in some sort of trance.
His jaw was hanging open dumbly and his eyes were fixed on something across the room. I couldn't help but laugh at his expression. I had never seen him completely transfixed like that before. I followed his gaze and gasped at what I saw.
She was quite possibly the most beautiful woman in the world. Her skin was so smooth and flawless with a complexion as pale as the snow outside. She had long silky blonde hair and impossibly long legs. Her eyes were the strangest yet most stunning golden color and fixed on Phil and I. She smiled the most dazzling and monstrously seductive smile and I blushed wildly in response. I didn't even want to see how Phil responded. I got the feeling I would get a glimpse of something below that border that no stepdaughter should take notice of on her stepfather.
The smile was bad enough but then she began to walk over to us...