In the flickering of the lantern's golden flame, a shadowy solitary figure stood across the room, observing the sleeping occupant. The dim light projected through the amber glass cast eerie shape-shifting characters up and down the burgundy rose-papered walls. In the gloomy darkness, the specter reached out to Lisa Welsh, begging for solace, straining to be felt.
The fragrance of roses permeated the dimness, tea-scented, teasing the senses of the unwitting guest. Except for the rustle of sugar-drained leaves dancing against the windows, the room remained deadly quiet.
Suffocated by the heat of the coverlet, Lisa tossed the quilt aside. Quickly chilled, she tugged it back over her shoulders. The darkness threatened to swallow her whole and drag her into the hellish pit of a nightmare again.
Groggy with sleep, she thought about Tom, the image of him, smug, his eyes blue and cold. "I found someone else," he'd said, and it echoed in her mind like a damn broken record. A girl barely out of high school. The bastard. At twenty-one, Lisa was already over the hill? She blinked tears back. She refused to give him any more space in her brain.
She attempted to think of something pleasant. And then she had it.
A Trojan warrior's fingers pushed the silky gown up her leg--she, being his Trojan princess hostage. His muscular thigh tensed when he pressed his nude body against hers. She ran her hands over his sculpted back, mesmerized by the smoothness of his skin against her fingertips.
In the flutter of an eyelid, the chills resumed, and the darkness returned. A shudder shook Lisa's body.
Murky figures moved closer. "She can't last long." A man's gruff voice made no attempt to quiet his comment in Lisa's presence.
"We can't wait any longer. The sale--"
"I know, I know, the buyers are getting suspicious. In a town this size, the word will soon get out."
"What do you propose to--"
"You know what we have to do. She'll never be missed."
The heat, the chills, the muscles that ached with every twitch of her body...