The sound of thunder reverberated across the open fields, rattling the windows of the old farmhouse, and startling a sleeping calico cat. The feline dashed from the sofa, then bounded upstairs—no doubt to hide under the bed.
The unexpected storm took Mia Edwards by surprise. She walked to the front window then parted the sheer curtains to peer outside. Streaks of lightning illuminated the otherwise dark night. No sign of Gunnar. When he left for his usual run an hour earlier, a waxing crescent moon hung low on the western horizon.
He’d been staying out a little longer each night. While Mia had no reason to doubt his devotion, she wondered what kept him. Did living here make him unhappy? The market and city park had been a short stroll from the apartment where they once lived. Here it was a five-mile drive to the nearest grocery. The closest neighbor’s house was a half-mile trek.
Mia had adapted quickly to their new lifestyle. She loved the wide-open spaces. The clean, fresh air. The solitude. Gunnar seemed to adjust as easily, but maybe that was wishful thinking on her part. He’d always enjoyed being around people, and out here, there were far fewer than he was used to. He came alive, turning on the charm when they bumped into someone, particularly their attractive single neighbor, Patti Harper.
Patti seemed enamored with him as well.
The storm’s intensity increased. Heavy rain pelted the roof. Mia hoped Gunner would find shelter—even if it was at the Harper household. The lights flickered, then went off completely, plunging the house into darkness. With only flashes of lightning to guide her, she stumbled to the kitchen for matches, candles, and a flashlight. She’d already learned living here sometimes meant long periods without electricity.
Once she lit the candles, Mia settled on the sofa. A half-hour passed before the storm subsided. The silence inside the house made her realize how much noise even a ceiling fan can make.
Tap, tap, tap. Tap. Tap, tap.
The sound came from the kitchen.
“Callie, is that you? Here, kitty kitty.”
She heard a soft meow on the staircase. Mia pointed the flashlight in that direction, illuminating Callie on the top step, still as a statue, tail curled around her legs. The cat’s indignant expression told Mia she wasn’t happy about being disturbed.
“Come here, Callie.”
She wouldn’t budge. Typical. Cats never did anything they didn’t want to do.
Tap, tap, tap.
Couldn’t be Callie. A wave of apprehension swept over Mia. She wasn’t afraid of living here as long as Gunner was with her. Where was he when she needed him?
The noise continued. Soon Mia’s curiosity outweighed her apprehension. As she tiptoed toward the kitchen, the sound grew louder. Her pulse quickened. Someone was tapping on the window. Gunner wouldn’t do that. When she took another step, her foot came down on something soft. An ear-splitting shriek rent the still air.
Callie bolted from the room.
Damn cat. So much for trying to be quiet.
Tap, tap, tap.
“That does it. Whoever or whatever is out there, I’m going to find out.” She marched into the kitchen, armed with only a flashlight. When she discovered the source of the noise—the branches of a mulberry tree tapping against the window—Mia let out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding.
Mia hurried to open the back door. A large German Shepherd dog stood at the bottom of the steps, wet but otherwise unharmed.
“Where have you been?”
He hung his head as if in shame.
“It’s okay, boy. You’re forgiven. Come inside.”
Wagging his tail, he bounded up the steps.
Gunnar was home.
About the Creator
Joan Hall writes mystery and suspense. Her writing is often inspired by her love of music. She likes full moons, cats, classic rock, and small-town life. Connect with Joan at https://joanhall.net
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions