Sorry, baby, she said.
All in good time.
You know Ive started seeing Nelda Qivits again.
She put her hand on his chest, scratched him lightly, sighed, and let the hand trail southward. Liar.
I see things are not altogether all right down there.
What are you
I think I could
Mmmm, oh, God. . . .
You should register those hands with the FBI, he said a few minutes later. Theyre lethal weapons.
That would explain why I won the shoot-out, she replied with a giggle.
He laughed out loud, pleased that her joke was dirtier and more original than his own. But how to get into the real issue? Am I imagining things, or did we just have a breakthrough?
Progress, at least. She shifted to put her head on his chest.
He was silent for a time. What do you think accounts for it?
Its just different out here. I dont know.
Maybe its being out of that house.
She stiffened again. Dont overanalyze it. Leave it be.
I withdraw the remark, your honor.
Noted. A long moment passed. Then she relaxed again and rolled toward him a bit. The tent was filled with the smells of lavender, sex, and his own sweat, now cooling.
It was nice, but it does seem a bit one-sided, he ventured at length. Anything I can do to reciprocate?
She shrugged. Someday, maybe. For now, your pleasure is my pleasure.
He flipped back the sleeping bag to cool off andnow that his eyes had adjustedto admire the curve of her calf thrown across his thigh in the dim light seeping in from the evening sky.
You know something? She was serious, suddenly. Mmmm? He was drowsy and hoped this wouldnt get too deep.
Youre so polite.
Mmmm. He tried to stay drowsy, thinking they could work this out tomorrow, whatever it was. But so polite? He opened his eyes, resigned to it. Meaning?
I mean, you keep trying, but not too hard. Sometimes Im not sure how much you want me. With my past, I could understand. . . .
WellI mean, my God, look at you. Youre the most beautiful . . . what man wouldnt. . . .
She was silent, slightly tense against his side and chest. Iare you saying you want to be taken?
I dont know. Maybe its what I need. Some women do. By force?
Sometimes. If its someone they trust. They want to be wanted that much.
Are you one of those women?
I dont know. I want to be normal, is all. I just dont know what that is. Her hand drifted south again. But I see the idea interests you at least a little?
Of course. He moved the hand back to his chest. But Im not the caveman type. For us, what we have is normal, for now.
Well, then, have some more of it, on me. She rolled over and kissed him, hard, her hand moving south again. This time, he let it roam.
Active awoke when the sun got high enough to heat the tent and spent a few minutes studying her face, the foxlike set of her eyes, her hair lying against the honey-dark skin of her neck in the orange half-light. Finally he eased outside, clothes in hand so as not to wake her by moving around in the tent. Everything looked blue until his eyes adjusted to normal light, and he did a hopdance on the cold, damp moss as he dressed. At least there was no frost yet. Maybe Indian summer would last out their week at One-Way Lake.
Excerpted from Village of the Ghost Bears by Stan Jones. Copyright © 2009 by Stan Jones. Excerpted by permission of Soho Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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