• "It's hard ter find plants that'll grow during the winter," Jake said. "My advice would be ter bring money ter buy fruits and vegetables, or harvest 'em during the summer and fall and store 'em fer winter."
    "Is there anything else one would need to know to survive a winter in the mountains?" June asked, her mind whirling with the information he'd given her.
    "Not that I can think of," he said. "Why d'ye ask?"
    "No reason," she said. "I was just curious."
    "That wasn't mere curiosity, June," Jake said. "Ye're not planning on spending the winter in the mountains, are ye?"
    "I most certainly am not!" she said quickly. "I just wondered how mountain people survive during the winter."
    "It's not as easy as it sounds, is it?" June asked. Jake shook his head.
    "No, it isn't," he said. "Ye have ter keep yer wits about ye at all times out 'ere. Otherwise, ye'll end up dead from exposure, starvation, infection, or wild animals."
    "And I thought it'd be fun just to go camping in the mountains," June said.
    "It might be fun," Jake said, "if ye know what's around ye and what dangers to avoid."
    "Yet you've been out here for two and a half years?" she asked. He nodded.
    "I live out 'ere," he said. "These mountains are my life. When I die, I want to die in these mountains. This is my home."
    "I understand how you feel," she said. "But I do wish you'd think about returning to civilization once in a while."
    Jake shook his head.
    "What would people think or say if they saw my scars?" he asked.
    "There's only one way to find out," June said. "Come back with me. I want you to meet my family. I have a feeling they would like you."
    "I don't feel comfortable around people," Jake said, "especially since the attack."
    "That's because you've been away from people far too long," she told him. "You need to see what it's like living with others."
    "I'd rather just stay here," Jake said. June sighed softly.
    "As you wish," she said. "But be warned: you will meet my family, one way or another."
    "Good luck with that," he said under his breath. "We should get some sleep."
    "Alright," she said, stifling a yawn. "I'm tired, anyway."
    "Good night, June," he said. "I'll see ye in the mornin'."
    "Good night, Jake," June said. She rose and entered the tent, zipping the flap shut behind her.
    Jake waited for several minutes before he rose and put more wood on the fire. He didn't even flinch when his friends of the night joined him. There were four of them now, as opposed to just one two years before. His friends were wolves, two of which were barely half-grown. The other two were the mother and father of the two pups. Jake had known the adult male wolf the longest, as Jake had saved the wolf's leg from a hunter's trap. Ever since that incident, the wolf had joined Jake every night, to be fed and guard his camp. Come daybreak, all four wolves would be gone until darkness fell again.
    The next morning dawned warm. Jake rose with the sun, went to his cave and retrieved his fishing gear, and then headed for his hidden lake for a bit of fishing. Within an hour, he'd caught our trout and two catfish. He decided he would cook two of the trout for breakfast and smoke the other four fish.
    As he approached the campsite, he saw June emerging from the tent.
    "'Tis a bit early ter be up, ain't it?" he asked. She looked up as he began to relight the fire.
    "Not really," she said. "I woke up when I heard you moving around earlier."
    "That was an hour and a half ago," Jake said, slightly surprised. June nodded.
    "I couldn't get back to sleep, so I just decided to get up and stay up," she said.
    "Why didn't ye let me know ye were awake?" he asked.
    "Should I have told you?" she asked. He nodded twice.
    "I would've taken ye fishing with me if ye had," he said.
    "You would've?" she asked. He nodded twice.
    "We'll go later today, if ye'd like," he said, adding more sticks to the now-smoldering pile of brush.
    "I haven't been fishing since I was a kid," June said. "Truth be told, it's been so long that I'm not entirely certain that I remember how to do it."