Hanna’s organized life has been fractured by one mistake, one incredible night with a stranger, and now her world has descended into unbearable solitude. Days burning sunlight in a mind numbing haze, nights staring into the black void enveloping her empty bed, until a peculiar man lost within his own shadows, offers a path to resolution. To purge the memories that hound her thoughts and block her return to a normal existence, she must circle back to where it all began.
She licked both lips, savoring the residual flavor. The hint of almond captured from the depths of his mouth teased her senses. She pushed further against the furnace of his taut abdomen with her bare rump. Low moans escaped her throat while his muscular hands explored…
Hanna Griffin shot erect in the solitary bed. She blindly groped the emptiness, the frigid void to her left, then covered both eyes with barreled fists. The pain of separation, the abyss between what she and Aaron were and the aloneness she now felt consumed her.
I can’t take it, this ache in my chest. Help me out of the darkness.
“Please, no more.” Her brain registered the words, yet her heart ignored the plea, remained locked in the memories, the night of unparalleled pleasures when they were connected in body and mind.
Subtle reminders prevented her escape. The sensory shock when some stranger sauntered by, his masculine cologne invading her nose, or the man at work that walked with pride, just like Aaron, churned knots in her gut. What course could end this journey to nowhere, ricocheting from one numbing task to another just to burn twelve hours of daylight. Hanna studied the blackened ceiling for an answer, a way out of this pit. A one word response across her sleep starved mind blared out.
She must purge everything he was, that they were, but how?
Of course. I must stand in the dragon’s breath.
Internship with the yellow jackets of Larimer County had convinced Hanna fighting wildfires was not the dream of her childhood fantasies. Yet the back-wrenching hours, scoured by sun and marred by ash, conveyed one lesson: only fire can conquer fire. She must return to the spark that ignited the consuming flame of yearning that would not be quenched.
The lodge at Peaks Valley.
Hanna pawed the lamp by her bed, tapped the switch and bolted toward the shower. Half way across the room, she stopped.
A day trip wouldn’t be enough. It had to be a sleep over. Get through one night, endure the shadows alone, and I'll be free.
Redirecting her route from the bathroom, Hanna scurried around the hollow apartment-cum-prison, and stuffed two days’ worth of clothes in a worn overnight bag. She darted for the door, caught the flash of a determined woman, thirtyish, peering back from the mirror, paused to examine her thin nude profile and giggled to no one.
Forgot something, didn’t you?
She diverted to the dresser, then the closet, and rifled through a dozen options. “Yes, this should work.” Hanna grabbed her purse and luggage. She juggled an apple and surveyed the room for any forgotten booty, then raced out the door.