All right, you asked for it! Here's c...
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|Mon, 12-03-2001 - 6:42pm|
All right, you asked for it! Here's chapter 1 (m)
Let me know what you think, don't be shy, I can take it. Also I can't remember if you use quotes when a character's thinking to herself?
Lyssa didn’t see the hazard lights in the fog and snow until she was nearly on top of them. Normally she didn’t pull over for strangers on the side of the road; but it was the middle of a snowy night, and likely no other cars would pass by until morning. So she slowed her Wrangler and pulled up next to the car.
A tall man in a battered bomber jacket hunched over the engine beneath its open hood, a cell phone scrunched between his shoulder and ear. He looked up into her headlights and she thought, “Well, I’ve got my mace in my pocket. He looks harmless enough.”
“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she muttered to herself, as she rolled down the passenger window, “I shouldn’t be doing this. I haven’t done anything like this in years.” She called out to him. “Hey! If you promise that you’re not some kind of psycho who’s going to rape me or otherwise harm me, I might be able to help you!”
Lander tucked the phone into a pocket, shaded his eyes against the glare of the headlights, and slammed the hood down. “Damn phone won’t work out here.” He tried to remember a time when he’d been so glad to see a car in the middle of nowhere and couldn’t. “I’ve been trying for an hour to call Triple A.”
He tramped over to the Wrangler through the snow and slush. Lyssa tried not to take in the length of his legs in those faded Levi’s. “Do you have one I can try?” He ran a tan hand through his tousled blond hair.
“Nope, hate ‘em. Wouldn’t do you any good anyway, it’s this storm.” Too tall for my own good, she sighed. Too drop-dead gorgeous for anyone’s good. She flicked on the domelight and peered out past him at the car. Close to a half foot of snow had already built up around its tires. Still, she did feel sort of bad for him. If he left his convertible out here all night, the top would be ruined. Then again, if he was stupid enough to own a convertible around here, maybe he deserved it.
“Nice ‘Vette. What’s the problem? Dead battery?”
“No, the battery’s fine. I’m not sure what it is, transmission, I think.” Lander shrugged. “Thank God you happened by. I thought I’d be stuck out here all night.” He reached a large hand through the window. “Lander Garrick, ”He smiled, showing a set of handsome dimples and row of gleaming teeth.
“Lyssa.” She extended a gloved hand. Her smile came slowly, shyly. Long legs and blond hair she could resist; dimples were another whole story entirely. She knew she was in for trouble.
“Don’t worry, I’m just a lowly English professor,” he said, “Not a psychotic bone in my body. And I’d really appreciate a ride into town.” He folded his forearms on the window frame and leaned in the to get a better look at her. “How far is it?”
She smelled wonderful, like spiced oranges and what else? Vanilla? And that long black hair. He hadn’t seen long hair on a woman in ages, not in two braids over her shoulders like that. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-two, twenty-three, maybe. He wondered why she was out alone in the storm.
“About another 20 miles.”
She peered out into the storm again, considering the possibility of towing his car in to town.
She gauged how quickly the snow was piling up and just how long it would take, given the weather, then decided against it. She’d be welcome at Jake and Diane’s but was reluctant to impose on them another night. On the other hand, she didn’t want to drive back home again in this storm either.
She glanced at Lander. There was an openness about his tanned face. He seemed friendly enough, and obviously not a local. What harm could it do to help him? Then again, maybe he was some kind of psycho, like in those true crime novels Sam liked to read.
“Twenty miles, well, that’s not too bad...” Lander caught the wariness in those lovely green eyes of hers. He liked the way her full lips pursed as she looked out into the storm. He didn’t blame her if she thought it too risky to help him. He hadn’t expected anyone to stop at all.
“Yeah, but it would take us forever in this blizzard,” she said finally, her decision made. She’d have to take him home. “And it’s so late already. I’ve got a tow rope. We can pull your car in to my house. It’s only a couple more miles. ”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to inconvenience you.”
“Well, we can’t leave it here anyway, it’ll be covered with snow by morning at this rate. You don’t want to have to dig it out, and besides the snow would totally ruin the top.” She climbed out her door, zipping up her parka.
“Damn,” Lander thought, “Beautiful and a girl scout too.”
“Sounds good,” he said.
Lyssa trudged around the back of her Jeep in a pair of no-nonsense snow boots. A delicate-looking sarong fringed in red swished around her legs. Lander watched her rummage in a toolbox for the rope and wondered at the odd ensemble. Finally she found it and handed it to him, glancing up at him with those green eyes.
“Let me do the honors,” he said, and looped it around the trailer ball. She watched him silently, hands in her pockets, making sure her mace was still there just in case.
“So what are you doing out here all alone?” He felt around for a place to tie the rope under his car’s front bumper.
“Coming home from a friend’s.”
“Oh yeah? Thanksgiving party?”
“Sounds like fun. Turkey, yams, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings, I suppose?”
He yanked on the rope to make sure it held and straightened up to his full height.
“What were you doing out here alone?” she looked up at him again, not even shivering in the cold.
“Oh, I was out at the Gap. Watched the sunset, hiked around, wanted to do some stargazing but it was so cloudy...I shouldn’t have stayed out so late.” He shrugged. “But then, I wouldn’t have met you if I’d left earlier.” He grinned, showing those dimples again.
His grin might have broken the ice between them if Lyssa had given it a chance. “The Gap’s nice,” she replied, “Let’s get going before it gets worse.” She climbed back into her Jeep. He had no choice but to walk back to his car and let her tow him through the snow to her house.
“I must be crazy,” she thought, pulling out slowly onto the snow-covered road. “I shouldn’t have done this, I could be putting myself in all kinds of danger. I don’t know anything about him.”
She glanced at him in the rearview mirror. Then again, she mused, he doesn’t know anything about me either. For all he knows, I could be a serial killer who keeps the remains of my unfortunate victims in my attic. She smiled at the preposterousness of it and then realized Jake would definitely yell at her when he found out.
Back in his Vette, Lander passed the time by wondering just what it would take to thaw out the ice in those green eyes. To put some fire them instead. He hadn’t expected the sudden attraction any more than he expected anyone would see him out in the middle of nowhere this late on such a snowy night.
They pulled into what must have been her driveway. In this blizzard it was hard for him to tell. Finally he made out a good-sized log cabin with a garage, surrounded by shadowy trees. She pulled into the garage.
He climbed out and started untying the rope, his fingers beginning to numb in the cold. He hadn’t bothered to bring any gloves on his foray to the Gap.
“I don’t think we can get it in the garage,” she stood over him, “But we can throw a tarp over it til morning. I can call the tow truck tomorrow.”
“I’m sure it’ll be all right. Thank you, you really didn’t have to do this.”
“Let’s just hope my power hasn’t gone out.” She fumbled around for a lightswitch. He hoped the power had gone out. He imagined her lighting her fireplace, candles flickering all over the room.
He imagined peeling off that parka and discovering what else was underneath it besides that flimsy skirt.
“I’ll have to think of a way to repay you.” He followed her into the garage, disappointed when the light came on. He caught the cold look on her face and wished he could take it back.
She walked over to a tool bench and found a folded up piece of red plastic. “This oughta do,” she said, and shoved it at him.
“Jerk,” she thought, and headed for the back door. “I knew I’d regret this. I should have left him out in the snow. I should have let him freeze in that damn convertible.”
It finally occurred to Lander that she might be married, or otherwise attached. “I only meant that you’ve been so generous. I didn’t mean anything more than that. I hope I didn’t offend you.” She paused in the doorway and turned around. “I really didn’t mean to.”
“It’s all right,” she shrugged, but her eyes were still as cold as the storm. “Come inside when you’re done. I’ll get you something warm to drink.” Maybe he really was nice. She wasn’t so sure, but she’d let him come this far.
“Welcome to Tara,” She opened the back door for him a few minutes later. She swept her arm around the kitchen and kicked off her boots. He’d actually knocked. She couldn’t believe it. She’d invited him in and he’d knocked first.
“Tara?” He momentarily bewildered by the word and the sudden warmth of her kitchen. She’d already put a teapot on the stove. A basket of tea bags sat on the counter next to her sink. He sank down into a cushioned chair next to the large oak table.
“Yeah, haven’t you ever read Gone with the Wind?”
“Oh, that Tara.” He peeled off his jacket and threw it over his chair back.
“It’s a little joke.” She shrugged off her parka, revealing a white t-shirt that hugged every curve. “I’m trying to be hospitable. So make yourself at home, Mr. ‘I’m-just-a-harmless-little-English-professor.’”
Lander smiled and watched her turn to get the basket of tea bags, appreciating what that t-shirt did for her full breasts. He’d just begun to relax when huge brown animal landed in his lap. “What the – ” He realized it was only a dog, a very large Rottweiler with its front paws on his thighs, licking his face.
“Oh, and meet Guillaume. If you turn out to be more than just a harmless prof he’ll be glad to rip your arms off. Or anything else he comes into contact with.” She smiled again, in that slow, shy way that made Lander’s cheeks feel flushed. “C’mere, leave him alone.” She grabbed the dog’s collar and let him out the door. “He’s been cooped up here all day. Sorry about that. He gets lonely sometimes with just me around.”
“Don’t worry about it.” He wiped his face on his sleeve. So she wasn’t attached. She handed him the basket.
“Like tea?” He nodded. “The water’ll be done in a couple minutes. I’ll be right back.” She padded out of the kitchen in bare feet and he noticed a tatoo on her ankle, but couldn’t make out what it was. He heard her footsteps upstairs.
He glanced around the cluttered kitchen. She had magnetic poetry on the fridge and he resisted the urge to look for sexy words to arrange. He got up and looked into the living room instead.
It looked comfy too, and it did have a fireplace. He walked past the leather sofa and coffee table to a book-lined wall. He noticed a battered copy of Gone with the Wind, a couple shelves of classic fiction, some Shakespeare, some poetry, a set of encylopedias. “Damn, a girl scout and literate too,” he thought, and smiled to himself.
The tea kettle whistled and she padded back down the stairs.
“Can I light your fire?” he said as she passed.
“What?” Lyssa stopped behind the couch and glared at him.
“The fire, I meant. In the fireplace,” he pointed.
“Oh - yeah, sure, there should be a lighter and some tinder there by the screen.” She continued into the kitchen, shaking her head. He wasn’t a psycho, just a tongue-tied fool.
In a few moments he had a small fire going. He sat down on the sofa and took off his shoes. Now if the power would just go out. Her mantel was lined with candles and pinecones. A stack of sketchpads and pencils was piled on the coffee table. He started to pick one up when she reappeared.
“Here’s your tea,” she yawned and handed him a steaming mug. “You can sleep in the guestroom, let me just make sure the bed’s got sheets.” She disappeared again down the hall. Guillaume curled up in front of the fire.
“Thanks for letting me stay.”
“Sure.” The phone rang and she went back into the kitchen to answer it.
Lander watched her walk by and willed the power off. She’d taken those braids out and her hair hung nearly to her waist in soft waves. The way she walked made her sarong’s fringe swish. He realized he wanted her, right then, right there. He sipped his tea and strolled down the hall to check out the bedroom. He sat down on the huge log bed and ran a hand over its patchwork quilt.
In the kitchen Lyssa knew it was Jake before she answered. She’d promised to call him as soon as she got home from his house.
“Jake? Hey, sorry I didn’t call sooner.”
“Lyss, thank God you made it home all right! I was starting to get worried,” said her brother.
“Well don’t. I’m fine. I just stopped to pick up this guy who was stranded on highway 23, couple miles from here. Lander Garrick, some professor at the college. Thinks he’s got a dropped tranny, can you send a truck out in the morning?”
“You picked up a guy? Lyss, are you nuts?”
“I know, I know. I haven’t done anything this stupid in years, right? You don’t have to lecture me, I’m already beating myself up for it. I just towed him here, that’s all, I’ll take him to town in the morning when I go.” She twisted the phone cord as she talked. “He does seem fairly harmless, ok? And you know I can take care of myself.”
“Lyss, you don’t even know him. You could be putting yourself in a dangerous situation,” Jake echoed her earlier thoughts.
“Well, I couldn’t just leave him out there could I? He��d have frozen out there all night. You know how deserted this road is on a holiday night, especially in a storm like this. He’s harmless, I’m sure of it. Well, almost sure anyway. Now promise me you’ll send a truck for his car in the morning, ok?” She tried to convince herself as much as him.
“Promise me you won’t do something stupid like this again, Lyss?”
“Come on, Jake. I’m the most cautious person you know!”
His laughter on the other end of the line made her smile.
“All right, just promise me you won’t do this again and I’ll drive out myself and get the car.”
And check up on me, thought Lyssa. “I promise.”
“You know I’m just a phone call away if you need anything...or if anything gets out of hand.” Jake didn’t want to hang up. He didn’t like the sound of the situation but he couldn’t watch over her twenty-four hours a day. Still, he worried. He didn’t want to see her hurt again. “You know me, your old worrywart brother.”
“I can take care of myself, really. And I’ve got Guillaume. I’ll call you in the morning ok?”
“All right, take care, sis. Call me if anything happens, ok, I’m probably going to be tossing and turning all night. If he tries to hurt you I’ll --”
“Jake, I said I can take care of myself. Now goodnight! Oh and thanks for calling. Oh, and I love you, bye.” She hung up and grabbed a shawl off one of the chairs.
Jake hoped she’d be ok and went to bed uneasily.
Lander walked back into the living room just in time to hear their last exchange. “Everything ok?” He asked.
“Yeah, my brother’s just worried. It took me longer to get home than I thought it would.” Lyssa wrapped the shawl around her shoulders. “The room ok?”
��It’s great.” He walked past her to put his coffee mug in the sink. “I’d have frozen out there if you hadn’t stopped. I know you’re taking a chance on letting me stay here, but you’ve got nothing to worry about. You can trust me.”
“Uh, yeah.” She looked up at him and thought she probably could. It was too soon to tell. She had a sudden overwhelming urge to let herself get lost in those blue eyes of his and immediately forced herself to squelch it.
It would be so easy. She could curl up in the guest room bed with him and just forget about everything. She was just exhausted, that was it. It was clouding her mind, making her fantasize about things better left alone. If she didn’t get some rest she’d be a mess in the morning, in more ways than one.
“Well, I’ve got to get to bed. I’ve got to be in town at nine. I can drive you in.” She turned to head for the stairs, Guilliame trailing behind her.
“I’ll put out the fire,” said Lander. He watched her leave. He knew he shouldn’t push his luck but the urge was so strong.
“Thanks.” She felt him behind her and tensed instinctively. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders, pulling her shawl around her snugly. He knew he shouldn’t have done it, but he couldn’t help himself.
“Sweet dreams,” he whispered, and she paused for a minute, letting him hold her that way. Then she strode upstairs, locked her door behind her, and fell into bed, Guillaume at her feet.
Lander sank into the guest bed not long after. But he couldn’t sleep. He kept thinking about her, about those bare feet, those full breasts. When he finally did sleep, he had fitful, erotic dreams like he hadn’t had in years. He kept waking up, thinking he’d heard her come into the room.
Just before dawn, he gave up, got up, showered and looked for something to do to til she woke.