Read an Excerpt
The gray sky swept the ground, melding with sodden earth to obscure all but what lay an arm's span away. A door opened, and a tall, handsome woman who moved with feline grace stepped onto the porch, and stared into the mist-shrouded environs of her home. Shaking her head in mute negation, she turned, re-entered, and thrust the hardwood barrier back into place, locking herself away from the twelve hundred eighty acres of soggy meadow and rain-drenched sagebrush comprising the outer bailey of her donjon keep. Having doffed her jacket, she hung it on a hook by the entry. Turning, she viewed the kernel of her world: the old, comfortable ranch house she pulled around herself as consciously as she had earlier donned the coat of faded blue denim.
A vivid sense of living apart from humankind struck her. The very solidity of the pleasant interior accentuated the force with which that random thought impinged. Fastening on the idea, Mercedes recalled that she had seen no one, neighbor or relative, for five ... no, six days now.
That realization in no way equated with loneliness. Well aware that she and her circle of acquaintances possessed few common interests, now that the beloved husband who had lived so completely in the real world of grass, cows, horses and machinery no longer served as the anchor tethering her firmly to the land he had loved, she sighed audibly as his virile, weathered, broad shouldered, larger-than-life image spread itself across her inner vision.
Wondering a trifle uneasily whether her habitual withdrawals into an interior sanctuary--a vantage point from which her physical surroundings seemed to dissolve into a mist asobscuring as that currently crouching outside the door--constituted a danger to her mental stability, the widow pondered that point.
Seconds later, she shrugged. A laugh floated out on the ambient air as she acknowledged that if such were the case, instability ranked as a prime facet of her personality. Adept at fading in and out of an intangible mental realm even while interacting with people she liked, she readily conceded that most if not all of those well-wishers who occasionally dropped in to check on her originally entered her life as friends of her late husband, not of herself.
The mental visualization changed. A well-remembered male figure stood nude, aroused, his eyes raking her every curve, his hands reaching for her. Desire stirred: need as much of the spirit as of the flesh.
Striding into her office, Mercedes yielded to a mental seduction originating deep in her psyche. Having turned on her stereo, filling the room with seductive melody that intertwined with a fiercer theme--dissonant chords evocative of passionate arousal--she seated herself at her computer. Having brought up a blank page, she stared unseeing into its flat white opacity. Yearnings never acknowledged except in the privacy of an ardent mind generated new visions.
A whiplash descended forcefully, striking a nude body shivering half in fear, half in perverse anticipation. Writhing in the bonds holding her willing self immobilized, the daydreamer welcomed the primal lust aroused by the thought of the snaking lash.