Love, Lust, and Peril: Sary's Adventure Series, Book 2
Sarabande Swinford has lost her fortune, swindled by an expert con man from whom she gained in return only a handful of worthless paper and a questionable—and partial—treasure map. Taking ship to Cape Town with her lover Tommy and her son Jude, she pursues more of the map as well as its promised treasure, but encounters potential death in many forms.
She is separated from her family by plague-fearing mobs, and so goes alone in search of the diamonds the con man suggested the map would give her. Lost, she wanders across Africa’s vast, merciless Great Karroo Desert, accompanied by two men—one a stone-cold killer, the other an enigmatic, charismatic adventurer (but can she trust him?)—and must fight not only for her honor but for her very life.
Affairs changed between Sary and Hunter. Jonathon, her dead husband, had been her due and duty—her intended, their love pleasant and not frightening, a reason to rest on hot Sunday afternoons after church and a week’s toil.
Tommy was, well—Tommy. Exciting, adventurous, dictatorial at times—his head in the clouds. They shared their bodies but always seemed to be at war.
She and Hunter forged an unbidden alliance under the poisonous sun. Sary was in another world. Little by little, the lack of food and attrition of her body caused her past to seem as hazy as the new moving pictures so popular now, shown through gauze. Ignoring Ratchet’s scorn, their unions were a sweetness at the end of grueling days where tomorrows had yet to be written…if at all.
One last pleasure. One last Eden. No more plagues, no more mishaps. No rivers of blood like in the Bible…Please.
Yet their river of blood rushed to them, like a scarlet sun casting long fingers and writing their future over the dunes.
Glancing at Hunter, Sary longed for the sky to drag over them its inky robe emblazoned with stars. She wanted to wrap herself in that dark cloak. That was what she and Hunter waited for.
Ratchet was already curled by a fire lit with his tinderbox. Earlier they had scrambled for tiny lizards scampering, for no reason she could see, across their path, tearing into scores of them roasted on a knife tip. The flesh, white, tender, tasteless, no more than a mouthful, was still a change from cicadas.
“Could use a bit of chutney or good Coleman’s mustard,” Hunter joked.
The moon shone in Hunter’s eyes. He nodded at a higher dune. Ratchet eyed them, smug and knowing. Sary found she didn’t care.
Hand in hand, they walked into a world of silver sand and moonshine. He scooped a still-warm depression and spread his coat. “Willst thou lie with me, my lady?”
Sary glided into him.
Hunter. It suited him, she the huntress, side by side.
Tommy and Jonathon—Neither belonged here.
Only Hunter suited the desert and her own wild imaginings.
“Hunter…” she breathed, anticipating his mouth on hers, a hard, demanding mouth conquering her with ease—forcing lips and legs apart, thrusting tongues, another new sensation, scraping with his coarse beard. She relished it all.
He could be gentle, too, lightly brushing fingers deliciously across her back, stroking her hair in feathery touches until she wafted on the wings of pleasure, teasing her to death.
Sary lazed in a delicious half-sleep from which she wanted never to awake, just drift on the warm soft carpet and not recall a world forever lost.
None foresaw their fate, at that instant. Not Ratchet, sleeping fretful through constant pain from his brace, or Hunter, fulfilled and powerful, or Sary, deep in her own reveries.