Triplets for The Millionaire - K.C. Crowne
Alright – come on, little guy. Almost got you right where I want you.
I stalked through the forest, silent and swift as the expert hunter I was. I had my prey in my sights.
The little guy in question was a kit fox – the smallest of all fox breeds native to the States. He was long and sand-colored, about the size of a Labrador in the middle of being a puppy and a fully-grown hound. Hell, the fox didn’t actually look too dissimilar from a puppy, with his big eyes and pink tongue that he let hang out of his mouth when he needed to catch a breath.
And I was thankful that catching a breath was finally on his to-do list. I’d been chasing the little bugger through the snow-dusted forests of Colorado for the last hour, and I was ready to go in for the kill.
I took a slow, deep breath of my own, making sure I was good and steady. It was late afternoon, the sun streaming in angled beams through the bare branches of the trees above. We were in the dead of winter with snow still on the ground. The temperature had risen slightly above freezing for the day, so the snow was melting into clear pools that gathered in the dips of the forest floor.
My prey had his eye on one of those clear pools. He stepped gingerly toward one of the puddles on black paws – paws that had caught my attention and made me certain he was just the prey I’d been waiting for. When he reached the edge of the pool, he lowered his furry, angular head and began lapping up the water with quick flicks of his tongue.
Doesn’t get any more perfect that this, I thought. I raised my arm, my eye to the sights. He drank still, ready for me to make my move. After pulling in one slow breath and holding it in my lungs to get my sights straight, I lined up the shot.
Stay just like that, I thought. Don’t move a muscle.
The shot was so damn perfect that it took all the restraint I had not to smirk and let my cheek rise enough to put my sight at an angle. I kept my composure and slowly, slowly, pulled the trigger.
The shutter of my camera snapped once, twice, three times. I took one photo after another, catching the kit fox in action. He drank more of the water, and I made damn certain to get some photos of him with his tongue out, his black paws curled up under his sleek body.
In the middle of a beautiful shot, I heard a snap-crack in the near-distance. The fox quickly lifted his head from the shimmering water, his eyes in the direction of the noise. I was too much of a professional to get distracted. I kept my sights on the fox, snapping again and again, catching him in the act of running to safety.
As I watched him run, my visioned blurred. The fox turned into a brown, fuzzy mass in my sights, my vision so unclear I couldn’t even make out his black paws.
“Fuckin’ hell.” I rose, letting go of my camera so it dropped to my chest and hung from its neck strap. I pulled off my gloves, the cold air biting my skin, and rubbed my eyes.
I knew it wouldn’t help. It’d been months since my eyes had gone wonky like that, and I knew the only thing that would fix them was time. The scene around me was a blurry mess of white and green, and I turned to sit on the trunk of the fallen Aspen tree I’d been using for cover.
Minutes passed, however, and my vision didn’t clear. I blinked and blinked, trying to focus my eyes. Come on, come on, I thought. If I die in the middle of some forest stumblin’ around blind…
The moment the thought finished, I blinked one more time and my vision returned. Slowly but surely, the blurriness faded as if someone were turning down a dial. Things became clearer, and soon I could make out all the details of the forest scene around me, down to the drops of melted snow hanging off the ends of the branches.
I stood and pulled the zipper of my Canada Goose parka shut, bracing myself against the cold. I blinked a few more times to make sure my vision was clear, a pleased smile forming on my lips when I realized