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«The Pleasure Girl», Jan Springer

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Jan Springer

Logan Leigh sat on his midnight-black stallion and gazed down into the early morning frost-covered valley below. A lone spiral of gray smoke drifted from one of the several rock chimneys of an old white clapboard, two-story farmhouse, and to his surprise, an unusual warmth sifted through him. Coming to this place felt like he was coming home. Weird that he would think that way of this valley nestled in the Rocky Mountain foothills of Alberta, Canada, a place he’d never seen before, but that’s what he felt.

The warmth of the sight urged him to hurry up and ride down there, but he knew the dangers for a man on the run. He needed to keep an eye on the place and make sure there were no surprises when he rode in. Aside from laundry fluttering in the cold breeze on the line, there appeared to be no sign of movement. Past experience, however, cautioned him that looks could be deceiving.

Members of the gang he rode with had told him a pleasure girl lived alone down there, and despite the insistent hardening of his cock at finally having some female companionship, he knew he’d have to force himself to sit up here a while longer until he was sure they wouldn’t be interrupted by a posse.

Then he’d ride in.

 

*  *  *

*

 

It was getting dark fast, and she needed to get cleaned up at the water pump and grab her laundry off the line before it got too creepy out here, Teyla Sutton thought as she struggled to close the damaged greenhouse door. The darned hinges had been ripped off several weeks ago during a violent wind storm, and the plate glass door was so heavy she could barely move it, but she knew getting the door into the proper position would keep the heat from escaping the building, and so she struggled with it until it gave a good closed fit.

Wiping a bead of perspiration off her forehead, she wrapped her thick wool cardigan tighter around her and headed into the chilly wind toward the water pump in the middle of her farmyard. She’d been working inside her greenhouse for most of the day, planting a new crop of carrots and Boston lettuce, weeding and watering the rest of the plants, and enjoying the moist warmth, compliments of the southern exposure of the building as well as the solar heating.

But out here in the gloomy evening, it was a different story. Since the Catastrophe over four years ago, the weather had turned cold. Sure, the sun continued to shine during the day, but it just wasn’t warm enough to grow most crops or any flowers anymore.

Since the weather had turned bad, she’d had to make do without pretty much everything. Food at the store in town was priced out of her reach, so she’d turned to growing her own food in the greenhouse. She fished or hunted her meat and got her water supply from the well. For her, there was nothing but healthy organic living these days, and she was lean, thin, and healthy because of it.

But boy, she could kill for a large double-double coffee and a plate full of apple fritter doughnuts about now. As if her tummy knew exactly what she was thinking, it growled in protest, the spooky sound sending another volley of shivers up her spine, making her think of a growling grizzly bear ready to pounce on her from behind the nearby pine trees, encouraging her to pick up her pace.

She didn’t like being outside when it got dark. Every shadow became a potential murderer, and every sound became a pack of wild dogs that could be lying in wait, ready to rip her throat out and dine on her. Despite the spooky shivers racing up her spine at her vivid, overworking imagination, Teyla forced herself to smile at her silliness.

She’d been lucky since the Catastrophe. She didn’t get unexpected visitors because most humans had been killed, disintegrated actually, compliments of the solar flares. Many of the survivors tended to live in what was left of the cities and didn’t really bother with her, way out here in the foothills. She had, however, heard rumors of cannibal gangs roaming around killing and eating people because meat was just simply too expensive for the average person. Those cannibals stayed mainly in the populated areas where the food, so to speak, was more accessible.

At the pump, she quickly pushed the squeaky handle up and down until the cold water splashed out. Grabbing the bar of homemade lye soap she kept beneath a tin cup, she hurriedly washed her hands and face, shivering in the cold breeze. Thrusting a bucket beneath the pump, she filled it with water. Once she got inside, she’d get the fire roaring at the woodstove and wash herself more intimately with warm water. Yes, she had solar water heating in her farmhouse, but she preferred to use it only when absolutely necessary. She knew if her solar parts broke down, they would be too expensive to replace or even get, for that matter. So she tended to play pioneer with her water, lugging buckets and heating her water on her kitchen woodstove.

She was about to lift the full bucket when a jolt of alarm ripped through her, stopping her cold. At the sound of a horse neighing, her head snapped up, and shock and fear cracked through her as she saw a big, dark-haired man wearing a black leather jacket and tight blue jeans quietly leading a black horse into her yard not more than forty feet away.

Oh, darn! Why hadn’t she seen him coming?

She forced herself to remain as calm as possible. Forced herself not to make any fast moves in case he went for the rifle in his scabbard. But her fingers sure did ache to reach for the gun sitting heavy and loaded in her cardigan pocket.

“Can I help you?” she called out, wishing her heart wasn’t pounding so violently against her chest.

“Mrs. Teyla Sutton?” he asked. He spoke quietly, as if trying not to spook her, but damned if she wasn’t ready to either run for the farmhouse or start shooting at him.

“That’s right,” she answered, cursing herself for the shakiness in her voice. Okay, so he knew her name. That was a good sign, wasn’t it?


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