I know Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. is the unofficial start to the summer season. Only it actually feels like summer at my house. Here we are, for the second weekend in a row, sweating our butts off because it’s too hot for this time of year, and the a/c is not yet fixed. Turns out the motor we were told to order was not the right size, and the one we actually need is on back-order. Ugh. First I thought, hey, no problem, I’ll just catch up on the magazines that came this week, and the Sunday paper, do a couple of chores and some writing until the thunderstorms in our forecast get here and cool it down.
( thermometer with hot temperature – Depositphotos )
It was a good plan. Except we haven’t gotten any of those storms allegedly headed our way, and it is almost 90. Windows are open, but that just lets more hot air in, and it doesn’t move well through the house because of the layout of the windows–except for the kitchen and the front door, no windows on the back of the house align with any on the front of the house. None. So the fans don’t help either. So I’ve mostly spent my afternoon hot and cranky while weeding out the week’s magazines and the paper, and not written a single word because I can’t get in the right mind-set. And not done my chores either, because they involve hot water. Nope.
So before I go hunt down a couple of sugar-free popsicles, I have a little story snippet for you, this time from Hunting Medusa.
Andi kept up her steady pace as they trekked farther into the forest. The sounds of the birds and chattering squirrels kept them company, as they had for the past two hours. He didn’t try to carry on a conversation with her while they walked. He was clearly accustomed to physical activity.
Which meant she’d have a harder time than she’d anticipated in ditching him.
Not that she’d imagined it would be easy.
Nothing could possibly be easy about this. Her luck clearly didn’t run in that direction.
She paused to take a sip of water from the bottle she’d tucked into the side of her backpack, and he stopped beside her. Warmth spread up her spine, and she frowned into the bottle she held. Stop it. He was not potential mate material, no matter how happy her hormones were when he was near.
“All right?” He took a quick drink from his own water, his arm brushing hers as he did so.
She shifted her weight onto her other foot, away from him. “Fine.”
He met her gaze.
Her pulse skipped.
“I know you don’t want to trust me, but you can. On this, you can.”
It sounded like a vow, she thought, panic making her heart beat faster. She didn’t want to believe him.
But on this one thing, she realized she did. Of course she did. Even though she hadn’t wanted to, she’d trusted him not to kill her after they’d made their bargain for the scissors. He’d earned it.
She swallowed, her mouth dry, and lifted her water bottle to her lips again, giving herself a distraction from the intensity in his green eyes.
He sighed, then took another drink.
Andi closed her eyes briefly, girding herself, and capped her bottle. The next stretch would be more of a challenge. Maybe this would be where her luck changed.
Two hours later, she panted softly, her heart pounding hard as she put one hand on the nearest tree trunk and dropped her head to pour the rest of her lukewarm water over the back of her neck.
Straight up the side of the mountain, and he was still not doing more than breathing hard, the bastard.
She felt her backpack shift, and glanced to the side.
“Getting you another drink.” He tugged a bottle out and then rezipped her pack.
She mumbled her thanks and chugged down half the bottle in one go. Then turned in time to see his throat working as he swallowed the last of his bottle. His skin glistened with sweat, muscles beneath shifting and making her want to touch. With her fingers, her tongue.
She inhaled slowly and looked away again. It seemed she was stuck with him. At least for now.
He touched her arm, and she lifted her gaze. “Do you want a break?”
She shook her head. “Not if we want to get there before dark.”
He frowned. “What if I think you need a break?”
Andi felt a little surge of annoyance. “You’re not my father.”
“Thank Goddess,” he muttered, brushing away a drop of perspiration from her temple.
“Andrea, I’m just trying to point out, and obviously badly, you had a really rough day yesterday, and maybe you should take it a little easier than you have so far today.”
“I’m sorry.” She took a drink from the fresh bottle. “I haven’t had to run for my life before, and I’m not used to requiring help, and apparently, neither is sitting well.”
Kallan smiled a little, and his fingers slid down to the corner of her mouth. “Apology accepted.” He leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose lightly, startling her.
She resisted the urge to shift her head so their mouths would meet. Instead, she put her bottles away and adjusted her pack on her shoulders. “The next leg should be easier.”
He gave her a knowing smile, but kept his mouth shut.
And she found herself smiling back.
But her smile didn’t fade as quickly this time.
As she walked, more slowly now, she let her mind drift to what it would be like to actually have a real relationship again. If she could ignore the fact he’d come to kill her, there were other aspects of the past few days she could get used to. Like having someone to talk to who didn’t think she was a complete nutcase. Like having someone who not only believed in the myths that shaped her life, but had also been influenced by them. Like the smoking-hot sex.
She fanned herself a little.
“You all right?”
Heat climbed her throat. “Still cooling down from that last segment,” she called back over her shoulder. “Jackass,” she added under her breath.
She resolved to think of nothing but getting to safety for now. Getting distracted by wishing for things she knew she could never have wouldn’t keep her safe from Kallan’s cousin.
Andi froze in mid-stride, her heart thundering in her chest suddenly, and it wasn’t from exertion this time. Her gaze stuck on the dark, shiny creature lying across their path, and her pulse pounded in her ears.
His hands landed on her shoulders. “What?”
“S-snake,” she whispered.
“Are you kidding?” He moved to stand beside her, and looked into her face. “You’re serious,” he said after a couple seconds, a grin tugging at his mouth. He glanced to the trail ahead and started to laugh. “It’s only a garter snake.”
Andi ground her teeth together, heat climbing her neck to her face, but not in a good way now. Just because that damned Athena had cursed her to sprout snakes on her head every month didn’t mean she liked them.
He laughed until she wanted to hit him. Or better yet, turn him to stone. Too bad she wasn’t PMSing anymore.
Not looking at Kallan, she folded her arms and waited for the snake to finish slithering across the path.
Still chuckling, he gestured to the trail ahead. “All clear.”
She hated him. Sticking her chin in the air, she marched past him, barely resisting the urge to smack him as she went. She consoled herself with that mental image for a few minutes, of punching him square in the nose. Or mouth. Maybe knocking the smug grin off his face. Drawing blood would be good. She curled her fingers into fists at her sides as she went, only vaguely aware of him close on her heels.
After a while, though, she grew more aware of his nearness, as the forest darkened around them. His heat was within reach, if she stopped and stretched out her arm. Not that she would. Especially not now.
Now that I’m reading that, I think it would have been better if I grabbed a winter scene from the second in the Medusa trilogy, or maybe from one of the shifter stories, to cool things down. Well, too late now.
How are you staying cool on this long weekend? Or are you where it is too cool and you’d rather it was warmer?
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