After a much-needed weekend of riding in the hills, Jesse returns to the ranch to find her lover, Meg, in trouble—ex-husband trouble. Meg had been raped, battered and bruised. It’s up to Jesse to rescue her and to see that justice is done. It’s also up to her to prove to Meg that their love can endure anything.
She drew on the reins, stopping Pepper, and swung her leg over his butt, dropping to her feet. Quickly unbuckling the belly strap, she hauled off the saddle and rough horse blanket, letting them fall to the ground. Pepper whickered, pawed the rocky ground then snorted, as if asking if he could go. Jesse pulled his head toward her and eased the bit out of his mouth. She scratched his soft nose and said, "Off you go, get a drink."
As if he understood, the big chestnut horse turned and headed for the stream. The willows along the opposite bank shielded the water from the direct sunlight, and the moss-covered ground a few yards away were like a velvet beacon calling to her. She flipped off her hat and smiled when it landed in the only patch of long grass on that side of the stream. Running her fingers through her sweat-damp hair, she felt goose bumps rise on her gritty neck. She had to wash it. The trail dust was driving her crazy. While unfastening the buttons of her shirt, she scanned the sun-dappled area reassuring herself that no one had found her secret swimming hole.
Half-naked, the light breeze cooled her over-heated flesh. Her nipples rose, sending a shiver down her spine. She cupped the small mounds and sighed when the rough callused tips of her thumbs inadvertently brushed her nipples.
"Oh, Meg," she breathed and pinched the hardened nubs. She tweaked them, and gently tugged on the puckered flesh, until, with a shudder, she forced her hands away. "Damn, I miss you, girl."
Quickly, she dropped her hands to her belt buckle and worked the leather free. A moment later, she pushed her jeans down over her hips. A nearby boulder provided a seat. With her jeans and panties halfway to her knees, she toed off her boots. Sweaty work-socks came next, and she let out a groaned sigh of relief when her feet were finally naked. The grass was wonderfully cool and she wriggled her toes, sighing with pleasure as she went to her saddlebag and retrieved a bar of lye soap. The water was where she wanted to be, so after tossing her jeans toward her shirt and socks, that's where she headed and was soon ankle deep in the icy current.
"Keerist, that's cold!" She sucked in her breath against the chill. Goose bumps brushed her neck, quickly raced down her chest and arms, and across her belly. Arms crossed under her breasts, she took another step into deeper water, wanting to get in before she lost her courage. Cold bit at her shins, then her knees as she slid off a smooth rock, barely steadying herself before going completely under. Her breath caught. Her heart beat wildly, but she continued to wade deeper. By the time she was up to mid-thigh, her feet and lower legs had acclimated to the cold. She took a couple of deep breaths to build her courage, then lowered herself into the frigid water. Gritting her teeth, she managed to keep from screaming as the water took her into its cold embrace.