The desert sand was rough on my bare feet, still blisteringly hot from the heat of the day. The sky was inching its way toward darkness, dusk was upon me. Twilight was my friend. They couldn’t see as well in the twilight hours. My breath came out in ragged gasps as I slid behind a large rock formation. My heart slammed in my chest. I could still hear the sound of their vehicles, the sand crunching beneath them. Tears slipped down my cheeks as I gulped in air. I didn’t know how much longer I could run, didn’t have a clue where I could hide. I didn’t have a choice. I had to keep moving. I couldn’t be caught. Risking a glace behind me, I took off once more my muscles screaming in protest as I urged more speed from my exhausted limbs.
There! Just up ahead, was that a depression in the rocks? It could be a cave. I could hide in there for the remainder of the night. The rock would through them off. Just a little farther. Just keep moving. Just keep running. One, two, three steps more. Good girl, keep going. Almost there. I could smell the alkaline scent of the rock when I was suddenly engulfed in light. I couldn’t help it. I froze.
“Freeze! Don’t move!”
The rough gargle of my captor’s voice shocked my system. I bolted. My feet slapped against the sand, kicking up a trail of dust and rocks. I screamed in terror as I felt arms wrapping around my waist. I kicked, scratched, bit. Nothing worked.
No, I moaned inwardly, no. Now all was lost. I was caught. It was over.
“NO!” I sat bolt upright in bed, gripping the blankets to my chest. My body was shaking and I was drenched in cold sweat. My legs ached, my eyes felt gritty. I gulped in air as I looked around. Not a desert. I was in bed. In a large bed in a large blue toned room. I’d never been to the desert. I sucked in great gulps of air, trying to calm my racing heart.
“Wanda? Babe? You alright?” A muffled voice said beside me. I looked down into two of the bluest eyes I’d even seen. But they were a deep blue, like midnight over the ocean. His black hair was tousled from sleep; two massive bronze shoulders were visible above the sheets. My heart swelled as a sleepy smile tugged at his lips.
“Yes, just…Just a bad dream.” I shook my head, a futile effort to clear the dream from my head. I was still trembling. The terror I’d felt while dreaming still coursing through my body.
“You’re shaking, babe.” He said, sitting up and wrapping his arms around me. At once I was home. Cuddled in his strong embrace I could easily appreciate the strength of his muscles. I trailed a finger along his forearm feeling his muscles twitch in response. I chuckled softly as he pulled me closer, nuzzling my neck with his lips.
“Ian.” I moaned, sinking lower into the bed. His hands slid through my hair, along my neck, bringing a whole new set of chills to my body. His lips found mine and the dream flew from my mind in a fog of pleasure. I was breathless when he pulled away; his eyes alight with passion and mischief.
“Still worried about that dream, Mrs. O’Shea?” His voice was husky as he trailed a finger down my abdomen, lifting my left hand and pressing his lips to my ring finger. The sapphire solitaire glittered in the dim light.
“I’m sure you can find a way to distract me from it, Mr. O’Shea.” I giggled as he pulled me down under the covers, his lips finding mine once more. With a sigh of pleasure I fell into his touch, allowing him to thoroughly distract me.
Morning dawned bright and clear. As usual I woke before Ian. The man loved to sleep, and after the loving he’d given me the night before I was more than slightly inclined to let him catch a few extra winks. Quietly I slipped out of bed, donned my robe, then padded downstairs my bare feet slapping against the natural pine wood floors. This house was Ian’s pride. He and his team had built it in little less than a year. They’d started the project just after he’d asked me to marry him, and a year later we’d been able to move in. I still couldn’t believe it. Smiling softly I ran my hand down the polished oak banister.
Everything in our quaint two-story house spoke of Ian and me. The walls were varying shades of blue, the carpets pale creams. The kitchen was a woman’s dream. It was so big I teased Ian I could fit my old apartment inside it and still have room to move around. State of the art stainless steel appliances waited to do my bidding. The stove was chef quality, Ian’s wedding gift to me. He knew I dreamed of owning my own catering business, and swore to me he’d do everything in his power to help me see it through.
I moved past the tiled center island and switched on the coffee pot. Ian needed coffee in the morning like most people needed air. I heard the shower switch on overhead and chuckled softly, pressing a hand to my abdomen. When would the butterflies stop? We’d been married for two years, and I still got nervous and jumpy when I thought of him standing naked in the shower, steamy water sluicing over his bronze body. I closed my eyes and imagined I was a droplet of water. I would begin my journey at his temple, caressing his strong jaw line as I slid down his well toned chest, kissing along his abs, sliding lower; lower until I finally reached his...
Gasping I opened my eyes, shuddering. Blushing furiously, I laughed at myself. Imaginings like that were going to get me in trouble. I shook my head and moved to the foyer. I thought I’d get the paper for Ian. He enjoyed reading over the morning’s news while he drank his coffee and whiled away a few precious moments.
The season was beginning for contractors. I frowned at the thought of the long days alone. I knew Ian would be leaving early and coming home well after dark. He owned one of the most lucrative construction companies in Tucson, Arizona. He and his best friend Tyler had literally built it out of the back of their pick-up truck. I was so proud of him.
The room was filling with the tantalizing scent of coffee, inhaling deeply I got a frying pan out of the cupboard and set it to heat on the stove. Humming to myself I moved to the fridge and began gathering items for breakfast. Omelets sounded good. Ian loved my Santé Fe omelet the best.
I jerked up, hitting my head on the lip of the fridge and dropping the butter. It splattered everywhere. Cursing softly I rubbed my head, bending to retrieve the fallen butter.
“Ian? Babe, did you call me?”
After a moment I realized that the water was still running above me. Holding the butter to my chest, I cautiously moved toward the island. Must have just been something outside. Shrugging I returned back to the fridge and continued to gather ingredients. I met no other incident and by the time Ian came clomping down the stairs I had two beautiful and fluffy omelets waiting on the table. He beamed at me as he came into the breakfast nook, his chin length hair still damp.
“Babe, you made omelets?” He pulled me to him, pressing his warm lips to my cheek. My stomach clenched as he slid his hands into my robe.
“I know they’re your favorite.” Smiling I wrapped my arms around his neck, toying with the ends of his damp hair.
“They are, but right now I’m hungry for something else in this room.” His eyes were hungry as he looked over my face, like he was worried he’d forget what I looked like. His large hands snaked down until they gripped my buttocks. I made a sound that was somewhere between a squeal and a moan, which brought a deep rumble of laughter from him.
“I love you, Wanda.” He brought his lips back to mine, deepening the kiss and leaving me quaking in my bunny slippers.
“Mmhmm.” Lame, but it was all I could manage as I dropped into my chair. My hand shook slightly as I lifted my coffee, and my eyes couldn’t help but follow his perfectly sculpted butt as he walked to the coffee pot.
“Did you sleep well, Hun?” I called, lifting my fork and cutting into my omelet. One little piggy after another, that’s how things went down in the O’Shea house.
“I slept great. Especially after I made sweet love to you.” He dropped a kiss to the top of my head then slid into his chair opposite me.
I blushed and suddenly became consumed with my omelet. I still couldn’t believe such an amazing man wanted me. Ian’s hunger for me was like nothing I’d ever known. Our first night together had been our wedding night, and now two years later I regretted nothing.
“Yes, that was quite wonderful.” I muttered, filling my mouth with a fluffy bite of egg. I rolled my eyes at Ian’s boyish grin as he consumed half of his egg in one bite. “That nightmare left me a little shaking. Thought I was hearing things this morning.” I chuckled half-heartedly at myself, instantly regretting my choice of words when concern stole the laughter from his eyes.
“Was it that bad, Babe? Want to talk about it?” Shoving his plate aside he took my hand in his, running his callused thumb over my knuckles.
I smiled at him, turning my hand to squeeze his reassuringly. “It was nothing, Babe, just a silly nightmare. Probably caused by the Chinese food we ate too late last night.”
His eyes still held concern, but his insatiable humor was creeping its way back into them.
“Got a busy day on the books. I have to be at the Johansson place by nine. Billy’s going to meet me there, then we’re going to ride together to the Preesley job. I don’t know when I’ll be home, Babe. But I’ll call you if it’s looking like it’ll be very late.”
The sound of his fork scrapping up egg was almost loud enough to cover the sound of my heart breaking. I knew he couldn’t stay home with me forever. He’d been so kind taking this much time off. It was time, past time, for him to go back to work.
“When are your classes starting back up?” He asked, watching me over the rim of his cup. I toyed with what was left of my egg, my appetite had vanished.
“In two weeks. I talked to Mr. Murdock the other day; he said everything was ready for me to start back.” I swallowed hard. Talking about all this was still so hard. I knew Ian wanted nothing more than to go back to normal. The last six months had taken a toll, and he was as ready as I to be normal again.
The clock down the hall chimed the half hour, making me jump. Ian rose, took his plate to the sink then came and kneeled down beside me.
“Wanda, if you’re not ready, it’s fine. No one’s pushing you, okay? Dr. Rhodes said stress would only complicate the situation.”
I pressed my finger to his lips, silencing him. “I’m fine. Honest.” I forced a smile to my lips, then did the most natural thing I could do. I kissed him.
His moan was long and slow as he wrapped his hands around my head. He tasted of coffee and paprika and Ian, a taste that was somehow exhilarating. With regret I pulled back, my fingers locked around his wrists.
At that moment his cell phone chimed. It would be Billy, wondering if he were on the road. He groaned, pressing his forehead to mine.
“I have to go.”
“I love you.”
“Always and forever, Babe.”
I sat at the table, watching him walk away. My heart lurched as I heard the door open, the click shut. Silence surrounded me. There was no noise but the ticking clock in the hall, cars passing outside, the quiet inhale and exhale of my breathing. I was alone. Or so I thought.