Sheralynn stared out the train window at open prairie rolling by. The XYY Ranch was nestled in the shelter of the New Carpathian Mountains…or so the online website said. She snapped her laptop shut; her battery was low and the circle of dark mountains would gobble up her wifi bars. She leaned against a stack of carry-on luggage not hers (her kit bag was stuffed under her seat), and closed her eyes.
We waited, stamped our feet in the deep snow. Night was at its longest; Bitter Winter ruled. Today Santa Lucia would arrive, her crown of candles pushing back the darkness, her basket of hot cranberry-cardamom buns and those sweet, tiny oranges swinging heavy on her lissome arm.
But the dawn didn’t come. Continue reading