Excerpt from the novel “Great Pretenders”

From Chapter Two 

….the  young blonde woman was standing above a pretty little creek in a remote part of the Rockies.  The clear water moving over red-brown stones was deep and cool.  It looked to her like iced tea.

Being far from the trail, she assumed she was alone.  But young blonde women are a suspicious lot when it comes to getting undressed, so she double-checked, squinting behind her, scanning the hills, then across the creek into the pines.  Seeing no sign of anyone else, she took off her sweaty hiking clothes.  The cool air against her skin made a welcome change.

womanswimming

...being far from the trail, she assumed she was alone.

Down by the water’s edge the smell of damp stone was strong, overpowering the pine smell that had been with her all day, especially in the early morning before sunshine heated and thinned the air.

A nagging sense of insecurity.

She hesitated, then jogged back to her belongings.  She knelt over an open backpack, rooting around, her loose hair falling forward.  With one hand she flicked it back, laying it over a bare shoulder, and with her other she withdrew a sheathed hunting knife which hung heavily from a weathered, leather belt.

She buckled this on and returned to the creek, now primitively armed, anticipating the pleasures of a swim.  She waded in until the moving water touched the junction of her legs, dampening blondish curls there, turning them dark.  She took a deep breath and dove in against the current, swimming below the surface, kicking, arms forward.  She broke the surface, stood and tossed her head back, her long hair throwing off an arc of silver spray.

Refreshed, now needing warmth, she waded to the other side, to a flatrock overhang sitting above the water in dry sunlight.  In the distant hills, the man with binoculars watched.  It was his lucky day.  The girl lay naked on the warm rock.  Eyes closed.  Skin and hair drying quickly in the mountain sun.  There was only the steady sound of moving water and the occasional breeze quivering the aspens, making their leaves crackle softly.

She stretched, a lioness at midday.  Then a speck of red streaked overhead, crossing the creek into the pines behind her.  She turned.  A cardinal?  Rare for this altitude.  Not found in the mountains.  The girl happened to be a student of such avian esoterica and became interested, no, not just interested, intrigued…

She stood, looking again for hot red against forest green.  Nothing.  Then a flash as the bird flew to another tree.  Red with black.  “A scarlet tanager?” she said aloud, to no one (as far as she knew), and walked off her warm rock, away from the creek toward the trees to get a closer look.

 

...a species not of these mountains

...a species not of these mountains

 

The bird flew to another perch and the girl followed, jogging naked on the stony ground, climbing above the bank now, entering the woods, eyes on the bird.  It swooped away and down, disappearing behind a rocky outcrop.  The girl moved quickly, making use of this temporary screen to shorten the distance without the bird seeing her.  The sheathed knife flapped against her naked buttock as she ran, an encouraging pat, pat.

She peeked around the rock.  Nothing.  She scanned the trees but the bird was gone.  She thought it could have been an Eastern bird, a species not of these mountains.  It would have been an important sighting, but the bird didn’t sit still long enough for her to confirm it.  She turned, walking back quickly to her place by the creek.

The distance back seemed greater than the distance away.  She had no thought of time when following the bird.  Suddenly, she felt unsure.  Was it this far?  The creek had to be just through the trees ahead, and she ran toward them, feeling chilled.  She got to the trees and saw nothing beyond but more trees.  She stopped, heart pounding, knowing she was lost.

3 Responses to “Excerpt from the novel “Great Pretenders””

  1. I discovered your blog when I was searching for something unrelated, but this post came up as a top result, your blog must be amazingly popular! Keep up the awesome job!

  2. Craig Fleming says:

    Lost, alone, naked (‘cept for the Knife, pat, pat)… Boy, is she in big trouble! Two-Fisted Bird Man to the rescue! I see you have an eye for Beautiful Birds of many varieties, keep up the good work, my friend…

  3. Scottie says:

    More, Please.

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