TORY AND GRAY
DAY FOUR. Colorado — Interstate 70, 12:30–4 pm MDT
They knew each other’s bodies now. Their after-breakfast lovemaking was different, sweet and achingly tender. Knowing he now understood her memory problem — and it didn’t change anything — was liberating. They knew each other’s rhythms and sensitivities, down to ticklish spots. Lighthearted play deepened into slow unhurried exploration as erotic need intensified.
When his mouth finally followed his thick fingers between her legs, she blew apart. Almost fainted. He didn’t stop. Just slowed, allowing her to come back to herself before her body convulsed again. She couldn’t speak, couldn’t think. Those primal groans — could that be her? Then she was gone again, shuddering uncontrollably, thighs clamped around his big head before he had mercy. He paused and lifted slightly to offer that crooked grin. Causing another spasm. “God!”
“Nope, just me.”
She whacked his head. “Insufferable. This what buffalo meat does to you?”
“No, darlin’, you do this to me.” He elbowed up her body, rampant cock nudging into the wet his fingers and tongue created. She groaned when he was all the way inside, tasting herself when he kissed her lips. Another small orgasm.
“I remember something,” she whispered. “From college.”
“Remind you of college do I?”
“The French call it la petit mort. Little death. Gallic understatement. Nothing little about this.” He shifted inside her. She clung to him. “Or — that!”
“This?” He pumped slowly.”
“Oh! Yes, that. Yes!” And they were into it, deep and slow and completely together. Passion igniting in a way transcending their first heated couplings. She was definitely learning more about her cowboy — last thing resembling cogent thought until they died together. Absolument, la grand mort.
“Rien, mon nounours…”
“Gonna assume that’s flatterin’.” Those warm eyes, so close. Big arms enclosing her. Fond amusement in his expression. “Don’t think you ever told me you speak French.”
She couldn’t respond. She was done. Boneless. Falling asleep with the man she loved. Did she ever even tell him? After their first kiss he said actions were louder than words — he had to know…
She felt him stir, plant a warm kiss on her forehead, extricate himself. Experienced a gentle amusement of her own. These lovemaking sessions put her right under, but seemed to energize him. She knew he would soon be up, clomping around the trailer, doing obscure stuff. Taking and making phone calls. Holding whatever he did for a living at bay during their time together. She’d already heard, dimly, horses and cattle and livestock auction. Even buffalo yesterday, slipping around the edges of a dream about her forgotten childhood pony…
Her slumberous prediction proved accurate: he left her again. Pulling the worn spread over her, the material of which she still could not name. No sense of loss when he left — he’d be back. She was completely at peace, thoughts adrift.
Big and rugged, her cowboy. Definitely like Lawrence’s gamekeeper. Who was so proud of his cock he named it: John Thomas! Her memory’s cooperation curved her lips in a soft smile. She fell asleep on the thought Gray should emulate the fictional gamekeeper.
A phone ringing down the hall penetrated her doze, then the rumble of his voice. She didn’t know how long she’d been asleep this time. Not a long call. Then boot- heels clomping toward her. Coming back to bed? No, he was shaking her. Gently but urgently. “Tory? Tory? Can you wake up?” Unfamiliar tension in his voice.
She felt a stab of unease. “I’m awake.”
“Phone call I just got troubles me, love. Sally, runs the Borderline? Tory, she says men are in Kanorado looking for you. Showing your picture around.”
“Shit!” The dangerous phantom she’d almost forgot slunk back to life, drenching her in adrenaline. She’d thought it banished for good. Foolish. Careless — her left hand dug under her pillow.
Dorn instantly understood. “Your gun’s on the dresser.” He straightened. “Don’t think they’re an immediate threat. Nobody’s telling them anything.”
The adrenaline rush had shifted all her senses. The reek from their repeated lovemaking made the room suddenly rank. “I need a shower!” she wailed. “And no, I absolutely do not want to see those men. I don’t care who they are!”
“Then you won’t. Go ahead, take a shower. There’s time.” He bent lower and brushed her lips with his. “I’ll put down some hay and oats for Wild Davy so he won’t get hungry while we’re gone.”
“Gone where?” He didn’t hear, already clumping down the hall toward the back door. But she loved it he asked no questions — questions she couldn’t answer — about why she didn’t want to deal with this. Just started in, arranging things to protect their magic. Protect her.
In under an hour Dorn’s huge Ford pickup was rumbling west on the freeway, steady as a locomotive on rails under his big hands. “Was that them at the junkyard?” Tory said tensely. “The men in the big gray car?”
“The Crown Vic? Strangers, anyway. Went by too fast to see what they looked like. Or for them to see us.” Buster, reacting to tension in her voice, propped front paws on the console between seats and slurped her hand. She jerked against the seat-belt.
“Jesus! Stop that!”
“Back seat, Buster,” Dorn said sternly. The dog withdrew, ears drooping. “Worried about you, is all,” Dorn said. “Trying to make you feel better.”
“Nice doggy,” she said tensely. “But no!” Dorn flipped a switch on the dash. A somehow-familiar mutter of voices emerged from beneath. “You have a — police-band radio?” She didn’t know she knew the term until the words were out.
“How they get hold of me to shoot accident scenes, remember?” No, she did not remember; he was forgetting their morning conversation. Maybe under stress forgetfulness happened to anybody. “No way to connect you to this truck,” he added. “No radio-traffic on us. If there was, somebody from a sheriff’s office would call me. Jed’s on a disabled tow in Kansas.”
“Walkabout Jed?” she said, not knowing why. “Tall hat, horse, pack mule?” Where did that come from?
“You still have his photo? Jed going walkabout?”
“In my office — “She was distracted by a jolt of fear. “My car! My lord, I completely forgot my car is at the Borderline!”
“No it isn’t, Tory. Jed put it somewhere you can get it. If you want to.”
She was suddenly furious at this big complacent lug. “What is that supposed to mean — if I want to?”
“Those men traced you through the car, Tory. Count on it. Better not go near it, unless you change your mind about talking to them.”
Which had been a snap decision against invasion of their sweet interlude. But the interlude was abruptly over. They were out in the world, going someplace else. To avoid men looking for her! She was afraid to ask if he knew why. She certainly did not. He was doing what she wanted, getting her away. But why check police-radio? She had a badge herself. Didn’t she? Wasn’t she — Vicky anyway — part of the law? Why did he think police could be hunting her?
Her sensual swoon seemed illusion now — totally erased by anxiety. What the hell was she doing in this truck with a man she didn’t actually know, and his slurpy dog? Running away from even-less-known men?Men who Gray implied had authority to issue police bulletins.
Dorn punched speed dial on his truck phone. “Jed? Gray. Strangers in Kanorado looking for the — ah, item you hooked for me. Oh, Sally called you too? Good for her! It’s at the wrecking yard? Damn! Strangers there already. They’ll want to grill ya.” He listened and she saw different expressions flit across his face. “Kansas troopers told ya, huh? Kidnapped! Not hardly. But we need space, okay? Wouldn’t go back today, I was you. You’d for sure get jumped. Okay, good idea. You know where my spare key is. Give Wild Davy an extra portion of oats tonight.”
He put down the phone, turned up the scanner. A Kansas trooper was telling dispatch the tow-truck clutch had slipped, driver couldn’t winch the disabled aboard, send a backup. Gray grinned. “Grass don’t grow under that ole boy. Jed just gave us breathing room.”
Tory didn’t really hear him. They had passed a big green road sign listing mileage to Denver. The idea of speeding toward Denver was an ugly shock — she hadn’t known she was terrified of Denver until this moment.
A high pale blue wall stretched across the horizon beneath white cumulus, reminding her of Lake Erie’s appearance driving up from Pittsburgh. Vast blue wall, optical illusion making it hover above the earth…where did that come from? The blue wall ahead was no optical illusion. Must be the Rockies, beyond Denver.
She could not go to Denver!
She didn’t realize she’d said it till Gray reached over to cover her hand in his big warm paw. “Easy, darlin’. It’s okay, Tory.”
But the truck rolled inexorably toward Denver.
He’d set cruise-control. As she must have, driving in the opposite direction — away from Denver. Fleeing the sinister slinking shadow that hurt her so badly. She swallowed.
“I don’t know why. But I can’t go to Denver! Denver terrifies me.”
“Don’t worry, love. We’re not going to Denver. We’re going to Wyoming.”
“I…can’t remember if I’ve ever been to Wyoming.”