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PATTY PATILIA SAT on her bed in her favorite sleep shirt, wide awake. Her skin still crawled from the violating hands in her dream. She could rationalize everything that had happened to her consciously--especially the certainty that Arlin Korbus would never harm anyone ever again. She'd seen him die, after all. But that did nothing to stop her subconscious from resurrecting him.
In her dreams she was still bound by duct tape, her screams muffled and her struggles useless. She felt the cold touch of the knife's flat edge sliding against her skin while the sharp side sliced away her clothing. There was no escaping the thoughts of shame, terror, and helplessness; they lived as vividly as if they'd just happened moments before. And when she dreamed of the spider, she always woke up screaming.
The hardwood floor creaked as she walked to the bathroom and drank some water. She had the upstairs studio in an old house that was divided into three apartments, and as she looked around at her meager belongings, she felt a rush of disappointment. I graduated a year ago, she thought, and here I am still living like a student, playing my songs in coffeehouses basically for tips. My CDs sound like crap. Maybe my dad is right. I'm just another whiny bitch with a guitar. Nothing special at all.
She picked up her guitar from its stand by the bed. Music had always been her voice when words failed her. She put the strap over her shoulder and began to pick softly as she paced the room. As she fumed, the gentle strumming changed to a grind of great raw chords that, even with an acoustic instrument, sounded loud and violent. She continued until there was a knock at her apartment door.
She froze, and saw by the clock that it was nearly two in the morning. She pulled on her robe and opened the door as far as the security chain allowed, prepared for the irate neighbor she knew stood outside.
Instead, it was a young man she'd never seen before. A reflexive jolt of fear went through her.
"Hi," he said. "I, uh . . . heard you playing."
She choked down the lump in her throat. Strangers never used to terrify her. "I'm sorry, I know it's late, I just got carried away. It won't happen again."
"No, it didn't bother me at all. In fact, I really liked it." He smiled and ducked his chin demurely, and she felt a totally unexpected tingle that dissipated almost all her fear. "My name's Dewey, by the way. Dewey Raintree."
She giggled. "Really?" Although she could see only half his face through the opening, she was almost instantly infatuated. He was exactly the type of boy she always fell for like a skydiver with a bad parachute: slender, about her height, with disheveled dark hair and round John Lennon glasses. His smile was open, kind, and apparently came easy. The twinkle in his eyes woke the dormant butterflies inside her.
He smiled bashfully. "Yes, really. I know it's a little silly."
"No, I'm sorry, I just . . . It sounds kind of like a character on a TV show. The Adventures of Dewey Raintree."
"Would I travel the country in a van solving mysteries?"
Again she giggled. "With your semiverbal Great Dane?"
"Named Ramlet?" he said in a Scooby-Doo voice.
Now she really laughed, and so did he. When she paused for breath he said, "The reason I knocked on your door was that I thought maybe we could play together." He raised his own guitar case so she could see it. "I'm not very good, though. They say rock and roll is three chords, and the truth? I know two chords and some gossip."
He's a musician, too, she thought, and her knees grew weak. All the emotions and feelings she feared gone forever surged back, apparently determined to make up for lost time.
"I know you don't know me, and I don't expect you to let me in," he said quickly. "I thought maybe we could sit on the porch downstairs. The two guys in that apartment are gone for the summer, so we shouldn't bother anyone if we're quiet."
She hesitated then, the butterflies suddenly replaced with the buzzing, beelike terror. Before Arlin Korbus, this would've been a no-brainer; she had thought the world safe, and that people were basically good.
As if reading her thoughts, Dewey said, "Tell you what. Call or email someone and tell them you'll be with me if you want. Heck, take a picture with your cellphone. I promise, I have no ulterior motives." He grinned shyly. "Okay, that's not entirely true, but I promise to be a gentleman."
Close and lock the door, her fear said.
Bite me, she said to her fear. "Give me two seconds to get dressed and send that email. I'll meet you downstairs."
He actually blushed with delight. "Great. I'll see you there."
RACHEL LAY AWAKE in bed, her hair still damp from her post-swim shower. She was naked, staring up at the ceiling, her nerve ends still janglingly alive. Her hands ran slowly, lightly, over her skin. Her cat Tainter slept on the floor beside the bed, his light feline breathing the only sound.
Mainly she felt relief. The spirits still wanted her, and they loved her enough to use their magic to remove the ghastly marks of her captivity. The medical procedure to do the same thing was long-term, expensive, and painful. And when she'd asked for help with Patty, they'd promised to do so. She wondered how that would manifest.
Then with no warning, her thoughts turned to Ethan Walker and their single night together. Ethan of the strong, supple body and melting blue eyes, who accepted her tale of the lake spirits and responded to the magical call for help sent through them. She'd killed Arlin Korbus on her own, but without Ethan's aid escaping from that basement, Patty Patilia would have died.
The spirits had accepted Ethan; if she brought him to the water and made love to him there, she could be like any woman with her human lover. It was something she'd wanted ever since she understood the nature of the lake spirits' power over her. And what had she said to him? I'm afraid if you stay around right now, every time I see you it'll remind me of what happened. And I don't want that. Not for me, and not for you. That hadn't been the truth, though. The truth was that she wanted him desperately, but she still hesitated and wasn't at all sure why. What was she really afraid of?
Still, her hands changed from reassuring caresses to something more purposeful. She should've been exhausted, all desire burned out by the spirits' ravishing, but at the memory of Ethan's touch it roared back at full intensity. She knew she couldn't achieve orgasm, but neither could she stop, and she squeezed and touched herself urgently, moaning softly so as not to wake the cat. She writhed on the bed, one hand clamped between her thighs, the other cupping a breast, content to be awash in mere desire after the series of shattering climaxes in the water.
AND ACROSS THE isthmus, in bed beside Dewey Raintree, Patty Patilia felt a very similar satisfaction.
From the Paperback edition.
Posted November 19, 2010
In Madison, Wisconsin the "Lady of the Lake" Rachel Matre recuperates from her harrowing experience in which the lunatic Arlin Korbus kidnapped and tattooed her before she escaped (see Night Tides). Diner owner Rachel heals rather quickly because of her link with the friendly spirits of Lake Mendota though doubt lingers in her mind because she almost failed her mortal and supernatural friends.
Murder near the lake disrupts the spirits. Additionally, Rachel's recovery stops abruptly when an evil spirit arrives. The malevolence cuts her off from her spirit allies and the tattoo has her craving for what she should avoid. As she tries to learn what is going on and whether her friends in Lake Mendota are okay, Rachel obtains help from Ethan Walker. With time running out, she fears for the safety of the townsfolk, the spirits of the lake, Ethan and lastly herself as an ancient deadly mystery has surfaced near Lake Mendota.
This is a delightful aqua urban fantasy starring a wonderful woman still recovering from the trauma she suffered in Night Tides, which the large tattoo serves as a reminder. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Rachel's link to the water spirits is abruptly severed and never slows down as she obsesses to do the right thing by them and the people of Madison, but also finds herself battling with dark desire. Fans will enjoy this engaging thriller wondering whether the now Dark Waters will become Rachel's grave.
Posted April 24, 2011
No text was provided for this review.