Please note that the depiction of Native Americans in this story is from the perspective of a scared young woman, who has been raised to believe that they are little more than mindless savages. It is not meant to portray reality, just her view of it. I sincerly hope that it does not offend anyone.
Nebraska — Winter, Late 1800s
The wind cut across the prairie, every snowflake like a tiny razor cutting into her skin. She stumbled forward, not knowing what else to do, unable to remember how she had come to be out in this storm. Her mind was nearly as blank and impenetrable as the blinding gales of snow that kept her from seeing more than a few feet in front of her, as she slogged through the calf-deep drifts.
Is that a light? Is that a house? She stared with eyes that refused to focus properly at the tiny beacon of hope ahead. It appeared like an angel through the wall of white, a golden haze of light indicating something was out there. She took another step forward, and more details emerged.
She saw a window, the glass thick and milky. It was from there that the beautiful light was emerging. Right next to it was a stout wooden door. She could almost feel the warmth even though she was several feet away.
Hope surging within her, she lurched toward the door. Her strength was failing, as was her ability to think clearly. Keep moving, she thought, vaguely recalling that to stop moving was to die. Even though she was confused and weak, she remembered that much.
A final step, and she fell heavily up against the door. She raised a hand to knock, but the elements at last overwhelmed her will and determination.
She knew no more.
Kenneth Willis heard the thump against his door, and immediately went for the shotgun over the mantle. On a night like this, a man did well to be ready for danger when he heard strange sounds in the night. Peeking carefully out the window, he could see nothing, save for the blowing snow outside from the storm that had come raging in during the late afternoon. Walking back to the door, he held his shotgun ready and opened the door a crack.
Kenneth propped the shotgun up against the wall when he saw her lying in front of the door. It was obvious the woman was frozen, and it was impossible to tell if she were even breathing. A quick look around revealed only her fading tracks leading to his door. Cursing, he picked her up and brought her inside, shutting out the weather by kicking the door closed.
Inside in the light, he could see that all her clothing was threadbare. Petticoats shown through numerous tears and holes in her woolen dress, and her fur-lined cape was just as tattered. Her shoes looked as if they would fall off in a stiff breeze. Long, dark hair hung in matted tangles, but still reached down well past the middle of her back. She was a small woman, almost childlike. Kenneth guessed she would only reach his chest if she were standing, and he only stood six feet tall. The swell of her bosom and her features belied her stature, and announced beyond any doubt that she was no mere girl, but a woman.
Carrying her to the bed, he could see that her skin was pale and ashen, frost rimming her lashes. She drew only shallow breaths, and all of her clothing was stiff with ice. Shaking and calling out to her drew no response, so he tried to remember what an old trapper from the Yukon had once told him about freezing.
Her skin was ice cold, and defying propriety, he unhooked one of the latches of her dress and slid a hand over the skin beneath. It too was near ice cold. If not for the slight rise and fall of her chest, Kenneth would have assumed her dead.
What was it that old man said? Once you get so cold, you can't warm up again 'cause your body just can't heat up. Kenneth pinched his fingers and thumb against his forehead with one hand, and toyed with his short, dark beard with the other, trying to remember what the old man had said to do if someone he knew got so dangerously cold.
"Get her out of the wet clothes," Kenneth muttered. It was highly inappropriate for him to consider undressing her, but he decided that life was better than modesty, and she was surely close to death.
Working the frozen latches of her dress open proved to be nearly impossible, so Kenneth retrieved a knife from the table and simply cut the fabric. Upon trying to figure out the stays and petticoats beneath the dress, he shrugged and sliced these with the sharp blade as well. The dark tangle of hair on her mound, and the sight of her firm breasts, once again reminded him that it was no girl who appeared on his doorstep this night.
Shaking those thoughts out of his head, Ken pulled off her shoes. He frowned upon seeing the obvious signs of frostbite on her toes. Her fingers and the tip of her nose evidenced hints of frostbite as well.
The trapper had told him that your body just couldn't warm back up on its own once it got so cold. Heat would have to come from the outside until a person recovered enough that their body started working properly again. A warm place would work, but Kenneth's house was only just warm enough to be tolerable. That left the alternative the old man had offered for when you couldn't get the victim to an enclosed space.
With more than a little trepidation, considering the chill of the house, Kenneth started pulling off his clothes. The best, and quickest, way to transfer heat was to wrap up in a blanket with direct skin-to-skin contact. Attraction for the beautiful woman intruded upon his concern, but Kenneth pushed those improper thoughts away, and finished removing his clothes from his lean, muscular frame.
Crawling into the bed, he pulled all the blankets and furs over them both, and then gently rolled her onto her side, facing away from him. He nestled up close to her, wincing from the biting chill coming from her as their skin touched. He pulled a blanket up over their heads, thinking that his breath would help warm the space as well. Wrapping one arm over her body, he tented the woolen cloth so that it would not obstruct the woman's shallow breathing.
Just the touch of her skin had him shivering, and not in any way that he would normally while touching a nude woman. He wondered if all of his efforts were in vain, considering how cold she was, and how slowly she breathed. He endured, trying to get their skin in contact wherever possible, to give his body heat to her.
Kenneth's day had been filled with laying in firewood, and he was tired to the bone. His mind drifted and his eyelids were heavy. He nodded off a few times, for how long he didn't know. Upon awakening again, he realized the woman was shivering, and he could hear her teeth chattering. That's a good sign, I think. She was still unresponsive when he tried to talk to her, so he just remained up against her, noticing that she did feel a bit warmer. Soon sleep overcame him again.
It was still a few hours until morning when Kenneth awoke again, groggy and confused. After a few moments, he remembered the woman in his arms. He was encouraged to notice that her breathing was much stronger, and that her skin felt warm against him — very warm.
His arm was also draped over her body and across her breasts. One very stiff nipple pressed against his wrist, sending an unavoidable surge of blood into his loins. He fought the arousal, but his cock still swelled slightly against the back of her legs.
Thinking that the danger was likely past, and not trusting his baser instincts at the moment, Kenneth crawled out of the bed and dressed, leaving the woman beneath the warm blankets. She rolled over on her back as he stood, a slight smile on her face. He matched that smile as he dressed in his underclothes and picked up one of the blankets. After stirring up the fire, he settled into his rocking chair and pulled his blanket around him to doze.
When he awoke with the dawn, Kenneth saw that the young woman was still resting comfortably. His grumbling stomach and aching bladder let him know that it was time to get up. He pulled back on the rest of his clothes and a fur-lined coat, and then headed outside to the outhouse. The storm had blown itself out during the night, leaving the prairie covered in a blanket of white. Even a man like Kenneth, who wasn't fond of the cold, could appreciate the untouched beauty of the scene.
After drinking it in for a moment, he slogged through the snow to the outhouse, and then to the barn to get some eggs, and feed the stock.
She awoke confused and aching to the smell of pork sizzling and coffee brewing. Sleep was reluctant to release its grip on her, and it took quite some time for her to open her eyes. It took even longer for her to come to her senses and take in her surroundings.
She muttered, "Where am I?"
Kenneth turned from his skillet, sliding it off the stove to avoid burning the bacon, and asked, "You alright, Miss? You were in a bad way when I found you outside my door last night."
"Who are you? How did I get here?" The young woman muttered as the world slowly came into focus. She started to sit up, and then started when the chill air kissed her bare breasts. She quickly jerked the blanket back over her body and gasped out, "Where are my clothes!"
Kenneth turned his eyes away from her, with no small amount of difficulty, until she covered up again. "I had to cut them off you, they was frozen solid and only would have leeched the heat out of you if I'd left them on. My name's Kenneth — Kenneth Willis. Found you outside my door last night, near frozen to death."
.... There is more of this story ...