Being an Indie author is rewarding in a lot of ways. I love having the freedom to write my stories my way, to release them when I’m ready, to place them in markets of my own choosing.
But as an Indie author, the element of time can be frustrating as the demands of the day job encroach on my thoughts and my writing time. As a result, it sometimes takes much longer to complete a book than I would like. I’m finding that to be the case right now.
When the power went out, Blake wasn’t surprised in the least. If anything, he was surprised it had lasted as long as it had. This was undoubtedly the worst storm so far this exceptionally dry summer. Angry lightning streaked across the dark sky, with thunder booming almost instantaneously. For microseconds, the flashes illuminated the entire lake like mid-day.
He slid open the sheer drapes that shrouded the sliding glass doors overlooking the lake and settled in, book in one hand, a second bottle of Lebatt Blue in the other. Leaning back, he rested his feet on the battered leather ottoman, content for the moment to watch the storm’s fury.
His eyes moved to the dark shape in the middle of the lake. He knew from experience that a wild storm like this one was a dicey proposition in the tiny island cabin. For one thing, because it was situated on the crest of the island, the wind howled mercilessly around the structure. And being on the highest point, with thirty-foot pines towering over it, the cabin was a natural lightning rod. The thunder would be deafening.
He wondered how Shasta was faring. As he watched, another jagged bolt etched a path across the sky. He chuckled lightly, picturing her, eyes wide, with the covers pulled up over her head. I should check on her first thing in the morning.
Eventually, he lit the oil lamp beside him and began to read. Bear paced anxiously back and forth in front of the huge window. He’d never been a fan of storms, not since he’d been a pup. Suddenly the dog stopped pacing and whimpered softly.
“What’s wrong, boy? You’re okay, it’s just a summer storm.”
Bear whimpered again and woofed softly. Frowning, Blake set down the book and stood beside the dog, looking out into the stormy night. “What is it? Is something out there?”
Then he saw it. A tiny point of light between him and the island. It bounced and tossed as it…
Blake shook his head. “No way. No way is she in a boat in the middle of this storm.”
In the next instant, lightning flashed and he saw her clearly, Shasta, huddled against the wind and rain, steering the tiny skiff toward the lodge’s dock. She was battling against the ferocious gusts of wind and white-capped waves on the lake that threatened to capsize the boat.
“Son of a bitch!” Blake growled. “No more sense than a…” He threw on his boots and shrugged into his rain slicker, pausing to don his headlamp before pulling up the hood. “Son of a bitch!”
He kept his eyes on Shasta as he stalked out to the dock, crossing to the end to wait for her. When she was close enough, he held out an old wooden oar and she grasped the end of it, allowing him to pull her the rest of the way to the side of the dock. Blake reached down to cut the motor and grasped her by the upper arms, pulling her out of the boat.
She stood in front of him, eyes wide with terror and she was soaked to the skin, not having bothered with a rain coat. He shouted above the storm. “God dammit, Shasta, what the hell were you thinking?”
She just blinked up at him, shaking either from fear or cold, or both. “Come on, let’s get you inside.” He easily scooped her up in his arms and she buried herself against his chest.
Blake was shaking too, but it was from anger. She’d recklessly endangered herself. If he hadn’t seen her, if the boat had swamped… It was beyond his comprehension. He carried her straight into his cabin, kicking the door closed behind them. He set her down in the kitchen and stepped back.
“Explain yourself.” He crossed his arms and watched her expectantly.
Shasta stood shaking, her red hair plastered to her head, her soaked white camisole completely sheer, her pink pajamas clinging to her legs. She crossed her arms, too, but the gesture was self-protective rather than angry. It only served to push up her breasts, punctuated by hard-tipped nipples, made harder by being cold and wet. He worked to ignore them, trying to understand what she’d been thinking.
“I…” she stammered, “I was so scared.” She was shivering constantly now, and a trickle of blood ran down the side of her face.
Blake lifted her chin gently. “What happened? Why are you bleeding?”
Her head shook slightly. “I don’t…” her teeth chattered, “I don’t know.”
Peering closely, he saw a cut at the hairline above her right temple. Swiping the hair back, he spied a sliver of glass and carefully removed it. “Come with me,” he commanded.
She followed him through the living room as he picked up the oil lamp and carried it into the bathroom, where he lifted her up and sat her on the counter. The cut on her head had begun bleeding in earnest when the glass had been removed. Blake used a gauze pad to apply direct pressure on the cut. Shasta sniffled softly as tears ran down her face.
“What’s wrong?” he growled.
“You called me Shasta,” she sobbed.
He snorted. “What you did was a very ‘Shasta’ thing to do. That’s the least of your worries right now. Hold this.” He moved her hand to hold the gauze and he reached around to turn on faucet in the bathtub.
She sat shivering, watching the tub fill with hot water. Clouds of steam filled the room. He left for a moment, returning with a flannel shirt of dark blue plaid, which he hung on a hook on the back of the door. Next he turned off the water.
“Let me see how it’s doing,” he murmured, carefully peering under the gauze. The bleeding had slowed. He took a bandage from the medicine cabinet and applied it over the cut. Shasta was still shaking like a leaf.
“You’re almost hypothermic. I want you in the tub. Strip.”
Shasta blinked up at him.
“Don’t make me tell you twice.” His voice was quietly intense as he lifted her off the counter and stood her in the middle of the floor.
Shakily, she pulled the camisole over her head, dropping it to the floor. Blake watched unblinkingly, a hard expression on his face. She hooked her thumbs into the top of her pants and slid them, panties and all, down her legs. She nearly tripped stepping out of them, and Blake reached to steady her.
Naked, she stood trembling as he devoured her with his eyes, starting with her perfect round tits and their tight pink points, her narrow waist and the flair of her hips, the bare cleft at the junction where her legs met. After all, she’d been on display on the dock the other day, surely she wasn’t shy now. He knew he was being an ass and he didn’t care. Anger still thrummed through his veins.
“Get in the tub. I’ll set a timer for fifteen minutes. After that, the water will cool off too much to help.” He disappeared, returning moments later with a kitchen timer which he set on the bathroom counter.
“Why aren’t you in the tub? Was I unclear in some way?” he snapped.
Shasta touched the wall for stability as she dipped one foot into the tub. “It’s hot.”
“It’s supposed to be hot. We have to warm you up.” He watched her step in with the other foot and ease herself down. She looked like a drowned rat, peering up at him all wide-eyed.
“When the timer goes off, get out and dry yourself. You can put this on,” he indicated the flannel shirt he’d hung on the door. “You will go into the bedroom and sit on the edge of my bed. You will wait until I come back. Is that clear?”
Shasta nodded silently.
“I said sit. You will not lie down, you will not get into the bed. You will sit. If you’re cold, there’s a blanket you can use to wrap around yourself. Do you understand?”
Again, she nodded. A look of annoyance crossed his face, and then passed. He nodded sharply. “I’ll be back.” He closed the bathroom door behind him and she heard him speak to Bear. “Stay here, boy, keep an eye on her. I need to think.”
While it’s far from finished, I’m aiming for a December release. While you wait, the complete Rannigan’s Redemption is currently available in all the usual outlets.