Chapter OneShe was there.
Somewhere in the rambling log home.
No doubt Jenna Hughes felt secure. Safe.
But she was wrong.
As the first flakes of winter snow drifted from the gray sky, he watched from his hiding spot, a blind he'd built high in the branches of an old-growth Douglas fir that towered from this high ridge. Her ranch stretched out below in frozen acres that abutted the Columbia River.
The rustic old house was the core of what he considered her compound. Graying logs and siding rising three stories to peaked gables and dormers. From the ice-glazed windows, cozy patches of light glowed against the frozen ground, reminding him of his own past, of how often he'd been on the outside, in the freezing weather, teeth chattering as he stared at the smoke rising from the chimney of his mother's warm, forbidden house.
That was long ago.
Now, focusing the military glasses on the panes, he caught a glimpse of her moving through her house. But just a teaser, not much, not enough to focus on her. Her image disappeared as she turned down a hallway.
He refocused, caught a bit of movement in the den, but it was only the old dog, a broken-down German Shepherd who slept most of the day.
Where was she?
Where the hell had she gone?
Be patient, his inner voice advised, trying to soothe him.
Soon you'll be able to do what you want.
The snowflakes increased, powdering the branches, covering the ground far below and he glanced down at the white frost. In his mind's eye he saw drops of blood in the icy crystals, warm as they hit the ground, giving off a puff of steam, then freezing slowly in splotches of dark red.
A thrill tingled up his spine just as a stiff breeze, cold as Lucifer's piss, screamed down the gorge, stinging the bit of skin above his ski mask. The branches above and around him danced wildly and beneath the mask, he smiled. He embraced the cold, felt it was a sign. An omen.
The snow was now falling in earnest. Icy crystals falling from the sky.
Now was the time.
He'd waited so long.
A light flashed on in the master bedroom and he caught another glimpse of her, long hair braided into a rope that hung down her back, baggy sweatshirt covering her curves, no makeup enhancing an-already beautiful face. His pulse accelerated as she walked past a bank of windows then into a closet. His throat went dry. He refocused the glasses, zoomed in closer on the closet door. Maybe he'd catch a glimpse of her naked, her perfectly honed body, an athlete's body with large breasts and a nipped in waist and muscles that were both feminine and strong. His crotch tightened.
He waited. Ignored a light being snapped on in another part of the house. Knew it was probably one of her kids
Come on, come on, he thought impatiently. His mouth turned dry as sand and lust heated his chilled blood. The master bedroom with its yellowed-pine walls and softly burning fire remained empty. What the hell was taking her so long?
How he wanted her. He had for a long, long time.
He licked his lips against the cold as she reappeared, wearing a black bra and low-slung black jeans. She was beautiful. Nearly perfect in those tight pants.
"Strip 'em, Jenna," he muttered under breath that fogged through his insulated mask.
Her breasts nearly fell from the sexy black undergarment. But she headed into her bathroom and he readjusted the lens as she leaned over a sink and applied lipstick and mascara. He saw her backside, that sweet, sweet ass straining against the black denim as she leaned closer to the mirror and within that smooth glass surface, he stared at her wide eyes, silvery green and rimmed in thick black lashes. For a second she seemed to catch his eye, to look right at him and she hesitated, mascara wand in hand. Little lines appeared between her arched eyebrows, a hint of worry. As if she knew. Her eyes narrowed and his heart pounded hard against his ribs.
Turning quickly, she stared out the window, to the gathering darkness and the snow now falling steadily. Was it fear he saw in her green eyes? Premonition?
"Just you wait," he whispered, his voice soft in the deadly quiet forest, the snow becoming thick enough that her image was blurred, his erection suddenly rock hard as he conjured up pictures of what he saw what he would do to her.
But that instant of fear was gone and her lips pulled into a half smile, as if she'd been foolish. She flipped off the bathroom light, then headed back to her bedroom. Once in her cozy master suite, she yanked a sweater from her bed and pulled it over her head. For a few seconds he felt ecstasy, watching as her arms uplifted and for a heartbeat she was blindfolded and trapped in the garment, but then her head poked through a wide cowl-neck and her arms slid through the sweater's sleeves. She pulled her rope of hair from the neckline and walked quickly out of view, snapping the lights off as she entered the hallway.
Hot desire zinged through his blood at the thought of her.
And soon, very soon, to be brought to her knees.