Read for the love of suzanne epub format

Authors: Kristi Hudecek-Ashwill

for the love of suzanne

Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
For the Love of Suzanne
by Kristi
Hudecek-Ashwill

Copyright © 2015 Kristi Hudecek-Ashwill

Published by
OnlineBookClub.org

All rights reserved.

This book has been published by
OnlineBookClub.org
with exclusive publishing permission from the author, Kristi
Hudecek-Ashwill. The text of this book cannot be reproduced in part
or in whole without permission.

Dedication

I dedicate this book to my mom, who was my pal and
best friend. It was the only thing she ever read that I wrote. Until
we meet again, fly with the angels, Mom.

Chapter 1

“You bitch!” he raged and slapped her
hard enough to send her sprawling to the floor. He came at her again
and yanked her to her knees by the long, blond ponytail at the back
of her head and glared at her. “How could you do that?”

She cowered, hoping he wouldn’t hit her
anymore. “I didn’t mean to,” she said shakily.

“You’re pregnant and you didn’t
mean to. How nice,” he hissed as he pulled her hair tighter,
getting a little yelp from her, glaring into her swelling blue eyes.
“Who’s the father?”

“You are,” she squeaked.

He laughed harshly. “How can that be? I
haven’t touched you in months. You’re far too ugly for
me.”

But he had touched her. He’d forced himself
on her a couple of months ago while he’d been drunk and angry.
She didn’t want to remind him of that, though. He was drunk and
she saw no need to antagonize him more.

It hadn’t always been like this. They’d
been high school sweethearts and had gotten married the summer they’d
graduated, against the wishes of their parents. Her mother had
remarried shortly before Suzanne’s graduation and her new
husband brought four daughters with him when he’d moved in.
Despite her weak protest, Jeannette had seemed almost relieved when
Suzanne had told her she was marrying Beau Dillon. Of course, she’d
told her daughter they were too young and suggested she go to college
instead, but Suzanne hadn’t listened.

Beau’s father was a minister and had refused
to marry them. With their eyes full of stars and their heads in the
clouds, they’d packed what they could into Beau’s Grand
Am, and had run away to New York City and eloped.

That was seven years ago. Although the first few
years had been happy, they didn’t have much money. They’d
moved to a small town in Arizona when Beau had landed a job as a
heavy equipment operator for a construction company. The money was
good, but she got a job waiting tables at a local café to add
to their income anyway.

Along with his new job came new friends and his
new friends liked to drink themselves stupid. He’d never been
much of a drinker and the first few times he’d come home drunk,
she’d taken care of him. But then he’d hit her in one of
his stupors. He’d hit her as hard as he would hit a man and
had given her a black eye.

The next morning, he’d apologized and was
nice to her all day, but he’d gone out that night, and had come
home and given her a bloody nose and a split lip. There were no
apologies after that. There was only blame and contempt. She knew she
should have left him after the first time, but their bank account was
dry and he’d taken her tips she’d been saving to go to
the bar.

She often wondered where the man she’d loved
had gone. He’d been so handsome with his shoulder-length dark
brown hair and dark eyes. He was tall, slim, and muscular, and had a
charming personality when he wanted to. She used to love to lose
herself in his eyes, but the love he’d once felt had been
replaced by anger, hate and resentment. Now, she feared him more than
any person who walked the earth. As big and as muscular as he was, it
wouldn’t take much for him to kill her.

She knew she was no match for him. Standing at
five feet five and weighing a hundred and fifteen pounds, she wasn’t
able to put up much of a fight. She’d tried to hit him back in
the past, but that had only served to infuriate him more. With the
advent of the pregnancy, she knew she couldn’t let him do this
to her anymore.

She wrenched away from him and jumped to her feet.
“Don’t you ever touch me like that again!” she
shouted.

He stepped back, staring at her in shock. She’d
never raised her voice to him before. “What?” he asked
dumbly.

She wiped the blood away that had been running
into her mouth from her nose. “I said, don’t touch me
like that again,” she said a lot more evenly but still
breathing hard. “I’m pregnant and there isn’t a
damn thing you can do about it. Now, stop hitting me.”

“Oh yeah?” he challenged, stepping
toward her, sending a lamp shattering to the floor.

She backed up. “Yeah,” she said
defiantly with bravado she certainly didn’t feel, backing her
way into the kitchen.

He followed her with menacing steps and venom in
his eyes. “What are you going to do about it?” he
sneered.

She quickly grabbed a butcher knife from the
cutlery block on the counter and held it to his genitals. “Get
out of here, Beau,” she said shakily, brushing more blood out
of her mouth. She applied pressure to the knife, piercing the heavy
denim material. “You’re going to lose ‘em if you
don’t.”

He stared at her as if she’d lost her mind.
“You can’t make me leave. I own this dump,” he said
angrily, gesturing toward the trailer as a whole.

“You’re drunk and I want you to leave.
Now,” she said venomously.

With a quick movement, he had her by her ponytail
again and was about to slap her when he felt a sharp pain go through
his forearm. He dropped her to the floor and gaped at the sizeable
cut she’d inflicted upon him. “You cut me,” he said
wondrously.

She scrambled to her feet and held the knife to
his genitals again. “You’re going to get it a lot worse
if you don’t leave,” she seethed, breathing hard.

He felt the point of the blade against him and
figured she might just do it. He was already bleeding profusely from
the cut on his arm. “Maybe we can talk this over,” he
said uneasily.

“We’re done talking, Beau. Get out of
here right now. You can come back for your stuff in the morning after
I go to work.”

“But where will I go?” he asked
lamely.

She pushed the knife a little harder through his
blue jeans, causing him to take a sharp intake of breath. “You’ve
never had that problem before. Go find one of your girlfriends. Just
don’t come back here,” she said coldly. “We’re
done for good this time. Now GET OUT!” she raged.

He slowly backed away from her, raising his hands
to calm her down. “Easy, honey,” he said smoothly as he
looked at her, never before seeing her like this. She was always
calm, cool and collected, not this angry beast with fiery eyes and a
desire to unman him.

After she heard his pickup start and saw him back
out of the driveway, she sat down in a kitchen chair and let the
pent-up tears of anger, frustration and humiliation roll down her
cheeks. She tossed the knife onto the table and buried her face in
her hands.

She’d booted him out at such a crucial time.
They could have raised this baby together, but she didn’t want
it to be subjected to his excessive drinking, drug abuse and
philandering. She also knew that she couldn’t take anymore of
his beatings. Not in her condition.

It was over for good.

Chapter 2

Suzanne went to work the next day and put in a
full day with Beau on her mind. She hoped all of his stuff would be
gone when she got home. She was worried about how she was going to
pay her bills and support the baby without his income, but knew she
would figure it out eventually. She wanted to stay here, but moving
back to New York was not out of the question.

She waited on a table of four big, burly men
dressed in blue jeans and t-shirts and knew they were all truckers
from a nearby distribution warehouse. They teased her about her black
eye and cut lip, laughing when they told her they hoped the other guy
got the worst of it. She gave them a congenial smile and played along
despite her acute embarrassment.

“You know, you really should call the
police,” Angela, the other waitress, told her seriously as she
was getting food out of the window. “Your old man should be in
jail for what he’s done to you.”

Suzanne watched her whisk her plates of food away
before she could even muster an answer. Angela was right. Beau should
be in jail. There were laws against this sort of thing and she didn’t
have to take it. Still, for whatever reason, she couldn’t bring
herself to make the call.

She’d come to work on numerous occasions
with black eyes and bruises where they were easy to see and had been
the topic of conversations many times amongst the patrons and her
coworkers. Yet she still couldn’t make that call.

At the end of her shift, she got into her rundown
black Chevy Cavalier that had body damage, rust and fading paint.
Beau had kicked in the driver’s door while he’d been
drunk, leaving a big dent in it, and had keyed it a few times. It
looked terrible, but ran like a top. The other added bonus was it was
paid for. She wasn’t in the market for a new car anytime soon.

When she got home, she was surprised to see that
Beau hadn’t come for his stuff. Maybe it wasn’t so
surprising. He looked like she’d kicked him right where it
counts when she’d told him to leave. Maybe he was going to hang
on as long as he could or even beg her to take him back.

She shook her head at the absurdity of that
thought. He wasn’t going to beg her for anything, and it was
easy to see him hurting her again. She needed to get his key or have
the locks changed. She thought getting locks changed would be
expensive and she was short on money. She had to get his key.

She was tired and not feeling so well. She put on
her bathrobe and went across the hall to start a bath when there was
a knock on the front door. She turned off the water and gathered her
robe around her, making sure she was covered as she went to answer
it.

She was surprised to see Pete Hood, a local
deputy, on the porch. She knew him from the café. He was a
young man with dark hair and eyes and was always polite and
respectful with her. “Hi, Pete,” she said pleasantly
with a forced smile, wondering what Beau had done now. It couldn’t
be good if the sheriff’s department was here. “Come on
in.”

He took off his hat. “Thank you, ma’am,”
he said politely and stepped inside the air-conditioned old trailer
and closed the door. He took off his sunglasses and slipped them into
the front pocket of his light blue shirt, then ran his hand nervously
over his dark hair.

She knew something was up. He never called her
“ma’am” and he’d never acted nervous around
her before. She wondered if Angela had called the cops and pushed the
thought to the back of her mind. “Can I get you some iced tea
or something? It’s really hot out today.”

“No, thank you. I’m here on official
business,” he said uneasily, fidgeting with his hat as he held
it in his hand.

“Am I in trouble?” she asked
worriedly, then remembered her manners. “I’m sorry.
Please, sit down.”

He sat down on the ripped green sofa. “Thank
you,” he said politely and cleared his throat nervously. “You
aren’t in trouble, ma’am.”

“Then it’s Beau,” she said
flatly. “What did he do?”

“Ma’am, I hate to be the one to tell
you this, but Beau was killed in a freak accident today,” he
blurted in an unsettled manner.

She sunk down in the tattered brown leather
recliner in shock. “What?” she asked as if she hadn’t
heard him right.

“It was an avalanche. They were trying to go
through a hill for that road they’re building and it sort of
just came down on them,” he finished quietly. “I’m
sorry.”

She nodded. “Was anyone else hurt?”

“No, ma’am,” he said somberly.

“That’s good. When did this happen?”

He checked his watch. “About three hours
ago. The medical examiner would like you to identify his body. Do you
feel up to that?”

She swallowed hard and nodded. “Um, let me
get dressed. Where is the medical examiner’s office?”

“I’d be more than happy to give you a
ride, if you like.”

“Thank you, Pete,” she said shakily.
“I’ll be ready in a minute.”

Suzanne couldn’t bring herself to speak to
Pete as he drove to the Medical Examiner’s office. She stared
out the windshield with her hands folded on her lap and a pit in her
stomach, dreading what was to come.

Pete didn’t press her for conversation and
escorted her into the building, opening the doors for her. He told
the portly, balding man who she was and stepped back.

Suzanne waited patiently, her heart pounding in
her chest as she watched the man dressed in a white lab coat open a
sizeable stainless steel drawer just far enough to let her see Beau’s
face.

Suzanne felt tears come to her eyes as she viewed
her husband’s handsome face that was now pale and devoid of
life. Just because she’d thrown him out yesterday didn’t
change the fact that she’d once loved him very much, had made
her life with him and was now pregnant with his child. She’d
wanted him to change. Not die.

She looked at the doctor. “That’s
him,” she said softly.

“My condolences,” he said sincerely
and eased the drawer closed again.

After a few minutes of doing paperwork and signing
forms, he gave her an envelope with his personal effects in it. His
keys, wallet and his wedding ring were all in there as well as the
money they’d found in his pockets.

“Would you like to take his clothes, too?”
the medical examiner asked her with compassion in his voice.

She shook her head. “No, thank you,”
she whispered, choking back tears again and gathered the envelope and
her purse and rose to her feet. “Thank you for being so kind,”
she said shakily, and rushed out the door to the street and broke
down sobbing.

Pete was behind her a minute later and guided her
back to the sheriff’s SUV that was parked in the lot, feeling
bad for her. He didn’t say anything on the way back to her
house, but took her inside and sat with her for a minute before being
dispatched to another call.

She thanked him for everything and after he’d
gone she called Beau’s parents in New York.

Chapter 3

John and Darla Dillon arrived at Suzanne’s
trailer, overdressed for the heat. John wore his traditional black
suit with a black shirt and white collar, the uniform of a minister,
while Darla wore a shapely black dress with long sleeves, an enormous
black hat with a huge white flower in the band and black high heels.
They both looked like they were ready for the funeral that wasn’t
to take place for another two days. Suzanne cut them some slack.
They’d never expected to bury their son.

Darla was understandably devastated; her wrinkled
face was swollen from so many tears shed over the past few days. She
looked older than her forty-seven years, but her secret love for gin,
combined with the grief of losing her only child, would do that to a
person.

John, as always, was reserved. He never drank
alcohol and no matter how he begged his wife to stop, she wouldn’t
hear of it. He never complained to anyone, but it distressed him. And
now that Beau had been so tragically and unexpectedly taken from
them, her drinking had increased and he found himself alone more than
usual. He normally dived into his work, but couldn’t
concentrate now because of his own grief. He couldn’t even pray
which distressed him even more.

Suzanne got them settled into the bedroom she and
Beau had shared and asked them if they would like some iced tea or
something to eat. They both politely declined and Darla laid down to
rest.

John followed his daughter-in-law out of the room,
pulling the door closed behind him to allow Darla some peace. He sat
down at the kitchen table as she stood at the refrigerator with the
freezer open, dropping ice into two glasses.

She filled them with tea and put the pitcher back
in the refrigerator before setting one in front of John and taking a
chair across from him. “I wish this visit was under better
circumstances,” she said morosely.

“Me, too,” he said with a sigh and
sipped the tea. “I keep telling myself that there’s
wisdom to it all, but as it is now, I’m failing to see it.”

She saw plenty of wisdom to it. She’d loved
Beau intensely at one time, but that feeling had begun to fade with
the way he’d acted. Now she felt guilty after throwing him out
of the house the night before he was killed. Of course, there was the
baby to consider. She would never know if Beau would have continued
to beat her while she was pregnant or if he would have come to his
senses and laid off. She would never know if he’d accept his
own child and love it and straighten out his life for it. God had
taken care of all of that for her; although she felt guilty, she was
also relieved.

“What happened to your face?” John
asked her curiously.

She covered the black eye with her hand
self-consciously. “I fell,” she lied easily. She didn’t
see the need to drag Beau’s name through the mud to his father.
It was over and would never happen again. She just wanted to let it
go.

“Where? It looks awful,” he said
sympathetically. “I’ll bet it hurts.”

She choked back tears at the memory of the last
fight she and Beau had. Maybe she should have let him sleep it off
before she’d thrown him out, but he was as angry as the devil
himself. “It’s okay,” she said quietly.

He looked at her with disbelief in his dark eyes.
“He hit you, didn’t he?” he asked suspiciously.

“Who?” she asked innocently.

“Beau. He hit you.”

“It doesn’t matter now, John,”
she said in a soft voice, avoiding his brown eyes. “It’s
okay.”

“My son abused you a lot, didn’t he?”
he asked knowingly.

She had always liked her father-in-law. He was
such a compassionate man, a trait that hadn’t been passed onto
his son. He was handsome with a full head of dark hair that he kept
short and combed to the side, clean-shaven, tall but shorter than
Beau, and physically fit. Not that she hung out with a lot of
ministers or priests, but he was the best clergyman she had ever
known. He genuinely cared about people and was always willing to help
anybody in any way he could.

“I think I made him mad a lot,” she
said with a heavy sigh. “But that doesn’t mean I didn’t
love him. I miss him.”

“I know you do. I’m sure this hasn’t
been easy on you,” he said understandingly.

“It hasn’t, but I’m not the only
one affected by this,” she said shakily, letting a lone tear
spill down her cheek. “He was your only child. I know you’re
suffering, too.”

He nodded slowly. “Are you okay?”

She sniffed reverently. “Yeah. Are you?”

“I will be. I wish I could say the same
about Darla, though,” he said despondently.

She blew her nose politely into a tissue and
sniffed. “How is she?”

He shook his head forlornly. “She hasn’t
been sober since it happened.”

Suzanne knew Darla had a mean mouth when she was
drunk and was sure she blamed her for everything. Darla had never
liked her. They’d never confronted each other, but had come
dangerously close on more than one occasion. The only thing that had
stopped her was the fact that Darla was Beau’s mother and
deserved respect just for that.

“I’m sorry about this, John,”
she suddenly burst into sobs. “I didn’t mean for him to
die.”

He knelt in front of her and took her hands. “It
was just an accident, Suzanne. You had no control over it. It was
God’s will,” he consoled, feeling better himself at just
saying the last sentence. It really had been God’s will to take
his son and nothing in the world would have changed it. Not one
person or thing. It was meant to be.

“But we had a fight and I threw him out,”
she wept. “I didn’t want him to die.”

He gently squeezed her hands. “I think you
put up with a lot of crap from him, Suzanne,” he said in that
knowing tone again. “I love my son and I tried to bring him up
right, but he missed something or maybe I missed something. I don’t
know. But I do know he was mean to you and I know he was no fun to
live with. You did okay,” he soothed and put his arms around
her. “You did all you could do.”

“He was so upset with me,” she
murmured into his shoulder. “I told him I was pregnant and he
went crazy.”

He took her by the shoulders and gently thrust her
away and looked into her teary blue eyes. “You’re
pregnant?” he asked with surprise.

She nodded, wiping her nose again, choking on
quiet sobs.

“He didn’t like that, huh?” he
asked in dismay.

She shook her head. “He hit me and I pulled
a knife on him and told him to leave. I did it for my baby,”
she said as if she were in trouble. “I was scared.”

“He never should have laid a hand on you,
especially in your condition,” he said seriously. “You
were right to throw him out.”

“He didn’t think he was the father,
but I’ve never had an affair with anyone,” she rushed on.
“He was the only man I’d ever been with.”

“He was running around on you, though,
wasn’t he?”

She nodded with a sniff. “Almost from the
time we moved here. He had a lot of other women. He was just so damn
good looking,” she said with a short laugh of wonder. “I’m
sure the women just fell at his feet.”

John smiled before becoming serious again. “Do
you need some help?”

She slowly shook her head. “No, thank you.
I’m going to be fine.”

He sighed heavily and entwined his fingers as if
to pray. “I probably don’t have a right to ask
this, considering how my son treated you, but after the baby is born,
are you going to let us see it?”

“Of course, I will,” she said as if
doing anything else was ludicrous. “This kid would really miss
something if it didn’t know you.”

He blushed a little. “Well, I don’t
know about that,” he said modestly.

She smiled. “I do. You’re a nice
person.”

“You’re going to make a good mother,
Suzanne,” he told her sincerely and hugged her again.

“I hope so. You’re going to make a
fine grandfather, too.”

“My son definitely missed out,” he
said softly and drew away from her and stood up. “Are you
hungry?” he asked with sudden cheeriness.

She nodded.

“Let’s go get something to eat. We’ll
bring something back for Darla.”

“I would like that,” she said with a
slight smile, brushing her tears away. “Thank you.”

Chapter 4

Jeannette Lightfield arrived with her husband and
his four daughters a few hours later. Jeannette had never married
Suzanne’s father, but had married Jim Lightfield shortly before Suzanne
had graduated from high school. He was a lawyer who was quite wealthy
and had moved Jeannette from a small town in New York to a swanky
apartment in Manhattan after Suzanne had run off with Beau. Her
mother had promptly retired and dedicated her life to raising Jim’s
four girls who were out of control, rude and mouthy.

Jim was a few years younger than her mother with
short strawberry blond hair and clear blue eyes. He was rather short
as far as men go, but he had a brilliant mind and was well respected
amongst his peers.

Suzanne really wished her mother hadn’t
brought the girls with her. She’d never developed any sort of
relationship with them being that they were so much younger. They
ranged in age from seven to fourteen and were already squabbling less
than a minute after being in the house.

Jeannette blew past them and went to Suzanne and
hugged her fiercely. “Oh honey, I am so sorry,” she
murmured in her ear and kissed her hair as she rocked her.

That drove Suzanne to tears again. She openly wept
while she clung to her mother helplessly.

“Sh-h,” she whispered to her,
comforting her by running her hand up and down her back
affectionately. “It’s all right, honey.”

Jim herded his daughters into the kitchen and told
them to be quiet, wanting to leave Jeannette alone with her daughter.

Jeannette led Suzanne to the ratty couch and sat
down with her and held her. “You can come back to New York with
us,” she said decisively.

“Not right away. I want to stay here if I
can.”

She gently shoved her head off her shoulder and
searched her face. “And do what? Work at that dingy diner for
the rest of your life?” she said with disgust.

Suzanne looked at her mother, wondering when she’d
become so pretentious. She’d always been very beautiful with
straight blond hair that hung to her shoulders, blue eyes, tall, slim
and trim, but somewhere along the line she’d lost her humility.
She hadn’t always had money and had worked at a café
herself while she’d put herself through school to become an
accountant.

“I’ll do something else eventually,”
she said with a sniff and sat up straight. “I have a baby to
consider, Mom. I have to support it somehow.”

“A baby?” she echoed with a frown.

She saw the look of disapproval cross her mother’s
heavily made-up face. “I’m pregnant,” she affirmed.

“Oh, my God. Did Beau have life insurance?”

“No.”

“Accident insurance?”

“No.”

“So, he left you with nothing,” she
said sharply.

“He wasn’t even twenty-five years old,
Mom,” she said defensively. “He wasn’t planning on
dying so young.”

“Well, that’s been made perfectly
clear,” she said indignantly. “What do you have for
bills?”

“What?” she asked dumbly.

“We have to get your affairs in order,”
she said in a businesslike tone.

“Not now, Mom,” she whined, leaning
wearily against the arm of the couch. “I’m too tired to
think about it.”

“We’re going to do it before I leave,”
she said sternly and patted her bare leg. “Now what happened to
your face?” she asked carelessly.

She closed her eyes and lied. “I fell.”

“You need to be more careful, especially in
your condition, honey.”

She nodded. “I know.”

~~~

Two days later, the family and a few friends
gathered for graveside rites for Beau Dillon. The minister gave a few
words of comfort to the bereaved family and left before they did,
which John thought was really tacky but said nothing.

Darla was more intoxicated than she had been in
the past few days and leaned on John as she sobbed. She was bordering
on hysteria and, as Suzanne laid a red rose on the casket, she leaped
at her and knocked her into it. “I told him not to marry you!”
she screamed. “I told him you would do nothing but bring him
heartbreak and misery. I was right. He hated you and now you’ve
killed him,” she wailed.

“Darla,” John reprimanded sharply,
grabbing her by her upper arm and pulled her away from Suzanne.

She wrenched away from him. “It’s true
and you know it,” she wept and sunk to her knees at the casket
and laid her head on it. “And now my baby is gone.”

Suzanne knelt beside her and put her arm around
her, crying again. The tears never seemed to stop. “I’m
sorry, Darla,” she said shakily. “I never wanted him to
get hurt let alone get killed.”

Jeannette helped Suzanne to her feet, putting her
arm around her when she got up and shot a cold glare at Beau’s
mother. “It wasn’t your fault, honey,” she told her
daughter sympathetically. “There was nothing you could have
done. It was just a horrible accident.”

John helped Darla off her knees only to have her
collapse in a heap at his feet. She didn’t move, and he knew
she was drunk and passed out. Jim helped him get her back to the car
without saying much other than he was sorry for their loss.

Suzanne walked slowly with her mother back to a
different car, getting comfort from her arm around her shoulders. “I
didn’t mean for him to die, Mom,” she wept.

She stopped and pulled her into a tight hug. “It
was just an accident. It wasn’t your fault,” she
consoled.

She felt so guilty. She didn’t know how she
was ever going to get over it.

Chapter 5

In the weeks that followed, Suzanne became very
depressed and lonelier than ever. She donated Beau’s clothes to
charity, saved the few pictures of them during happier times, and
threw away his soap, razor, and toothbrush. She sent his high school
trophies, diploma, and other smaller things to John and Darla,
thinking they might want to have them as keepsakes. She’d
considered saving them for the baby so it would have an idea of who
its father was, but realized that those good times had been gone long
before she got pregnant and he was killed. It was better to let his
parents have them. They needed a piece of him, too.

Guilt still plagued her about the night before
Beau’s death. Her intention had been to file for divorce the
day after she’d kicked him out of the house with the hopes that
she could find a cheap attorney who wouldn’t make her pay up
front or would even do it for free. His violence, drinking and drug
abuse was too much and she didn’t want her child around that
element. It was scary to raise a child alone, but it would be better
than having that type of father.

She continued to work even though her morning
sickness was almost overwhelming at times. It seemed she spent more
time in the bathroom than she did taking care of her stations. Food
was revolting to her and certain smells made her every bit as
nauseous as food did. Her coworkers were more than willing to pick up
the slack…and the tips.

She finally got a weekend off and decided to take
a drive in the desert. She thought the sunshine and fresh air would
raise her spirits and help her forget about Beau for awhile.

She dressed in a pair of short blue jean cutoffs,
a plain pink T-shirt, white ankle socks and a pair of white on purple
tennis shoes. She got a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and
got into her dilapidated car and headed out to the highway with the
windows down, letting the wind whip her hair around as the music
blasted from the stereo.

It felt good to feel semi-human again as she found
some happiness with the rock music, singing along, dancing in her
seat and even laughing at the jokes the deejay was throwing out.

She was letting loose with a “woo!”
while she picked up speed, truly enjoying herself for the first time
in months, when she came around a curve and saw a man on a horse in
the middle of the road. She slammed on the brakes and swerved to miss
him only to have the car skid off the road and roll onto its top.

~~~

The man on the horse gaped in horror at the car.
Never before having seen one, he jumped off the horse and slowly
approached it. It made an odd sound and the front wheels were still
turning. He smelled an acrid, peculiar smoke, but didn’t see
any fire and was really afraid to go near it until he saw a woman
inside, upside down in whatever it was. He’d never seen
anything like it and didn’t know where it had come from.

He was out looking for some renegade Indians who
were marauding and killing white people, and suddenly this
thing
seemed to have come across the sand from nowhere. At first, he
thought it was a mirage or a vision but as it got closer, he knew it
was real. He hadn’t run in fear as many others would do.
Instead, he’d stayed to see what it was and now he knew…well,
sort of.

The stench was getting to him and making him a
little dizzy, but he knew he had to get the woman out of the
strange…what was it? He reached through the window and tried
to pull her out, but found her restrained. He could tell what was
holding her and took his hunting knife out of the sheath at his waist
and began to cut it. It was tough and difficult, but he was managing
until he heard a small boom and saw fire between the spinning wheels.
After finishing the job quickly, he hoisted her into his arms and
began to run in the opposite direction, whistling for the horse to
follow.

The explosion sent him sprawling. Instinctively,
he covered the woman’s body with his own as debris came raining
down. His horse whinnied with fear and began to run. He jumped to his
feet. “Hey!” he called to it and whistled loudly, but it
kept running. “Damn,” he muttered, knowing it would come
back.

He picked up the woman again and moved her behind
a boulder, not sure if that thing was going to blow up again. It was
fully engulfed in flames and the heat it was putting out was
incredible. He wasn’t one to walk away from danger or
uncertainty, but he wasn’t stupid, either. He didn’t
know what had happened, how it had happened, or what it was that was
burning, but he knew fire was hot and could cause great pain or
death.

He gently laid her down on the sand and looked at
her. He had never seen such a pretty woman before. She was small and
dressed in a way that he’d never seen. It was scandalous.

He’d never seen a lady’s bare legs
like this or bare arms or a shirt of that color or style. He’d
never seen shoes like that, either. Who wore purple shoes with such a
bizarre mark on the sides? They didn’t look as comfortable as
his moccasins, but they did look more comfortable than what the women
normally wore.
Maybe she’s a person of the stars
, he thought.
He’d never seen one, but had heard they look different than
people who walked the earth. She looked normal enough, except for the
way she was dressed. Her clothes looked almost like undergarments.

She was yellow-haired. She had lots of it and it
was curly at the ends and was flying in the wind. He looked at her
slim body and her full breasts and thought she would make a fine gift
for the chief. Tall Deer always liked white women and kept them as
slaves. This one looked as if she could fit the part quite well, if
she didn’t die and he could get her to the village.

He stood up and whistled for the horse again.
After several minutes, it appeared in the distance and began to make
its way to him.

Chapter 6

Suzanne stirred slightly at the rhythmic but slow
walk of the horse. She had to be dreaming. She always loved horses,
but hadn’t been on one in years. The movement was unmistakable
and when she opened her eyes a bit, she saw the big black head and
pointy ears. She was definitely on a horse. She was still groggy and
the heat, combined with the motion, was making her queasy. She didn’t
sit up, but rested wearily against the hard back of what she thought
was a chair. She almost laughed when she thought of a chair on a
horse, but she had a horrendous headache.

Pounding. She was hearing light, steady pounding.
Under her ear. She didn’t move, but looked down and saw a man’s
hand holding the reins. Brown hands. She was riding, but with who?
She struggled to sit up straight, but his hand came to rest on her
abdomen to keep her seated and forcing her head back to his chest.

“Be still,” he commanded with quiet
sternness.

She wanted to see him and diligently removed his
hand, turning around to look at him. What she saw frightened her. The man was an Indian, dressed in buckskin pants and beaded moccasins. His bare, bronze chest accentuated the necklace made of a leather strip and several small turquoise beads.
His hair hung past his shoulders and his facial features were strong
and serious.

He stopped the horse and gazed at her, too. She
was astoundingly beautiful. Her yellow hair blew freely in the hot
breeze and her face was smudged with dirt and smoke, but her eyes
were a deep, magnificent blue that matched the clearest sky.

She blushed under his gaze, but was still
confused. “Where am I?” she asked in wonder, rubbing her
forehead in an effort to ease the pain.

He looked at her questioningly, glad she could
speak English. He’d never seen anything like her and he wasn’t
sure she was even human considering how she’d gotten there. He
thought again that she may be a person of the stars.

She blinked her eyes against the blinding sun.
Surely, this couldn’t be happening. The last thing she
remembered was driving down the road and singing along with a great
song on the radio. She hesitantly touched his arm, not sure he was
even real, then quickly pulled it back. Oh yeah, he was real.

She swallowed her panic and lowered her gaze. He
could kill her if he wanted to. Where was her car? How did she get
here? Where is here? Was this some kind of Old West show? Why was he
dressed like that? Who was he?

He could feel her trembling against him and for
some reason, he suddenly felt very protective of her. He kept in mind
that if the cavalry were to come upon them together, he could be shot
or hanged and her fate would be in their hands. Indian men and white
women were not supposed to be alone together. Still, the thought
wasn’t enough to make him give her up until he got her to his
village and Chief Tall Deer.

“Where is your family?” he asked her,
thinking that maybe she would want to return to them.

She cleared her throat nervously, surprised at the
timbre of his voice and that he’d spoken to her at all. “New
York.”

He knew where that was since he’d gone to
school in the East for several years. But it was a long way from here
which further confused him. “How did you get here?”

She met his dark eyes. “I don’t really
know,” she confessed uneasily. “One minute I was driving
down the road, the next I’m here. I don’t know where here
even is. Where am I?”

“New Mexico Territory,” he answered in
perfect English.

Well, at least she wasn’t that far from
home, but when was the last time anybody had called her state a
territory? This whole situation was getting more bizarre and scary.
Nothing was making sense.

He thought about returning her to where he’d
found her, but didn’t want to leave her out in the oppressive
heat with no water or at the mercy of the wildlife or worse yet, the
soldiers from the fort who patrolled regularly. They were pretty
lawless and would more than likely hurt her since she didn’t
look like any other women he’d ever seen. They wouldn’t
see her as a person of the stars, not that he was sure she was
either, but they killed for sport and he didn’t want her to
fall victim to their evil ways of shooting first and asking questions
later.

Then there was the incident with Chief Tall Deer
that he needed to rectify. He’d helped one of Chief Tall Deer’s
white slaves to escape. The woman had tried to drown herself in the
river that flowed near their village. He had pulled her from the
water then had taken her back to the fort under the cover of
darkness.

Chief Tall Deer hadn’t missed her for
several days, but when he’d discovered she was gone, he’d
been angry and sent out a search party with the orders that he wanted
only her scalp. Of course, none of the warriors had found her. He’d
gone along with the search party to look innocent. It had worked, but
it had left him feeling guilty about stealing from the chief. Now, he
had to make it right. He didn’t like the way the chief treated
his slaves, but his conscience would not allow him to do this any
other way.

He took a canteen off the horn of the saddle and
handed it to the blond beauty seated in front of him.

She was very thirsty and opened it as she looked
at him. “Thank you,” she said softly and took a small
drink, knowing too much would make her sick. She handed it back to
him, suddenly feeling very dizzy and, sure enough, sick to her
stomach. “Can I get down for a minute?” she asked
breathlessly, rubbing her forehead with her fingers. “I don’t
feel well.”