Monday, May 15, 2006

Kin to the Saboteur - Ch. 12

Adam followed Elnora’s directions to the letter and soon he was upon an undiscovered natural wonder. Was this natural wonder the eighty foot cascade of water flowing over stair-like rock formations into a crystal clear pool below? A pool that was illuminated by the rays of the setting sun pouring through the elevated gaps in the rocks on the west side of the cave. No, the natural wonder Adam had in mind was the beautiful naked woman swimming in that clear pool.

Feeling his heart and loins stir simultaneously at such a sight, Adam was grateful that he’d thought to leave his horse several yards away from the cave-like enclosure. He wouldn’t have wanted to disturb the bathing beauty for anything. Yes, Halona’s build was slender and athletic with defined muscles in her arms and legs. Yet it still looked full and so womanly soft, especially with her generous bust, slender waist and shapely bottom. And she was only olive-skinned where the sun didn’t shine. Everything else was a nice deep bronze color.

Standing behind the large boulder on the left, opposite the one that Halona’s clothes rested upon to his right, Adam observed the swimming woman in silence. He watched as Halona took several leisurely laps across the width of the pool which had to be at least six feet deep. The spray of the falls made the whole area feel cool and refreshing. He could only imagine what the water felt like.

Deciding that he wanted to find out, Adam began to quickly and quietly shed his clothes and put them on the boulder he stood behind. The whole time his eyes stayed glued to Halona’s swimming form.

Meanwhile in the water, Halona continued to try to swim out her frustration and fear. She’d long wondered what kind of man would finally accept her challenge and actually win. Now she knew. His name was Adam.

Adam had hair like the richest red clay Halona had ever seen. Sweet, honey-brown eyes that could attract any bee. And for all of his citified talk, Adam worked like he’d been born and raised on a farm. He was always helpful to others and he never complained no matter how hot or tiring the day became.

But what did Halona do when she came face to face with this unusual man who wasn’t ashamed to arm wrestle a woman and do everything he could to win? She high-tailed it and run like a coward, unable to face her destiny.

I never thought myself to be yellow, Halona mused with lingering anger. She was mad as a wet hen at herself. She was also angry about the fact that she was falling for a man she could never have. With all those freckles Adam had to be a full-blooded white man.

Suddenly all of Halona’s thoughts were driven completely away as something splashed in the water to her right. Knowing that distance would be her greatest friend at a time like this, the country heiress kicked off with her legs to put some space between her and the unknown intruder. When she was in shallower water, she stood upon her feet. Then drawing one hand up to hide her bosom, while she snatched the other hand below to hide her lower paradise, Halona prepared to quickly back out of the pool just as the intruder’s head resurfaced.

“Wait, Sakari!” Adam called out as he swiped water from his eyes. When he could see clearer, his eyes widened with pleasure.

Halona stopped moving at the sound of her middle name. “Adam?! What are you doing here? And turn around!” she barked, quickly realizing what he was gawking at.

Adam did as she requested, even though he’d already committed her curves to memory while watching her in silence a few minutes ago. No doubt the image of those curves would visit him in his waking and sleeping hours from now on, and Adam had no problem with that at all.

“I mean you no harm, Miss Halona. The water looked so inviting after that long hot ride from town and I thought I might cool off a bit, too,” Adam explained.

“But how did you get here? This place is virtually unknown.” Halona quickly backed the rest of the way out of the pool. As for committing things to memory, she would never forget Adam’s wide shoulders or that hairy muscular chest that looked like it was etched in stone. Despite herself, Halona wanted to touch it to see if it was truly as hard as it looked.

“I could say that I followed you, but the truth of the matter is a caring friend shared my concern for your welfare after that arm-wrestling defeat and told me where to find you,” Adam confessed.

“Remind me to sock Elnora real good,” Halona muttered as she began to rapidly dry herself behind the large boulder. They hadn’t had a catfight in years. Maybe it was time for them both to lose a bit of hair. At least that’s what happened the last time Halona and Elnora fought.

“What’s that?” Adam asked over his shoulder. He hadn’t been able to make out her last comment.

“Nothing, just reminding myself to thank Elnora for her concern, that’s all,” Halona replied with a gleam of revenge in her eyes. As she spoke, she deftly moved the white towel she’d brought along earlier over the bulk of her body. When her body was dry enough, she wrapped the towel about her wet hair turban style and started to re-dress.

Adam nodded. “Yes, she’s quite a friend.”

“Yeah, quite a friend,” Halona recited, buttoning her dress up with hasty fingers. The only things left to put back on were her boots. Then after practically slamming sand-covered toes into those boots, Halona gave Adam the okay to face her again. “You can turn back around now.”

“Thanks.” Adam did as she requested and began to move towards the shore.

Upon seeing his hairy muscular torso give way to narrow hips that didn’t appear to be covered with anything beyond them, Halona slammed her eyes shut and stuck out her right hand. “Stop right there, mister! Do you have on anything underneath that water?”

Adam didn’t move a step further. “No, but neither did you for that matter. I assumed that that’s how you all swam out west. I didn’t want to offend you with my eastern ways.”

Watching Halona blush was just too good for Adam to disclose that he’d kept his custom-made, flesh-colored breeches on and that they’d only dropped just a tad lower in the water. In reality, he was more decent than she’d been just a few minutes ago.

Halona’s cheeks rushed with color. “I only swim in the buff when no one else is around. I would never show that much of my body to anyone.”

“Not even to your own husband?” Adam surprised even himself with that question since marriage to Halona was definitely out of the question. He knew that even if he did marry the country heiress and gained access to her land and her finances, which would satisfy his father and provide the backing for his publishing company, he would have to do so at the expense of revealing the other half of his heritage.

The release of that information could prove brutal to Adam’s law practice in New York and to his future business. The northeast was certainly more progressive than many other parts of the country and even had fewer miscegenation laws, but there was still a racial barrier to contend with.

Halona’s eyes snapped open and her tone grew formal and terse. “Husband? Wh…what exactly are you proposing, Mr. Thorpe? Seeing as a marriage between us could prove to be null and void in many states, including this one.”

Halona had been taught a lot about the law from her father and knew not to get her hopes up at all concerning a union with an all-white man in this country with its constantly changing legal system. At present there were only seven states without miscegenation laws and most of them were in the northeast with Minnesota and Wisconsin as the exceptions.

And although the majority of Miskito residents knew that Halona was of Indian’s descent, some secretly speculated that she had a bit of Negro in her, as well. They based that belief upon how brown she got in the summertime, how brown her mother used to be, and the uninhibited marrying practices of her mother’s tribe. That kind of speculation could likely pose a problem in the eyes of the courts. And Halona had neither the time nor the patience to try to prove the specifics of her heritage.

“I’m not proposing anything between us, Miss Ackerman,” Adam replied, just as formally. “However, I was speaking of the man in your future. Would you deny him the right to see as much of your beautiful body as he liked?” he added, taking a step further. A bold step further, considering his current state of undress. Adam might not be able to marry Halona Ackerman, but he would make her want him so badly that she would be willing to sign over whatever he asked for.

“My future husband would be the only exception.” Although everything in Halona wanted to close her eyes and relish the fact that he’d called her beautiful, she did not act on that urge. Nor would she close her eyes out of modesty this time, either. Not when she saw the unspoken challenge in Adam’s eyes, the challenge that dared her to look away again.

Halona would not concede defeat in this particular contest of wills. And to prove it, she began to allow her eyes to travel upon Adam’s frame at leisure. She even went so far as to light one of the lanterns that she kept in the sand between the boulders for her nighttime swims now that the sun had finally set. Halona suppressed a sigh of relief when she discovered that Adam had kept his unique breeches on. Yet when her gaze traveled back up to his honey-brown pools, only an open dare could be seen in her ebony eyes.

Observing the return challenge from Halona and her bold act of lighting the lantern for a better look-see at his frame, Adam ventured even further. Despite the fact that he moved at a snail’s pace, his pulse was racing with excitement. He’d never met a feisty woman like Halona in his life and everything she did seemed to stir fierce things within him. Things that Adam wanted to explore to the fullest...right now.

“Lucky man to be privileged to all that I’ve seen today,” Adam said, intent on fanning the flames between them any way he could as he inched even closer to her.

“And your future missus will be lucky to see all that I’m seeing right now,” Halona countered as her eyes traveled downward again, beyond his hips to his soaked breeches. Although she could not hide the blush in her cheeks at seeing parts of him that only a wife should, she did lower the lantern away from her face before it turned really red.

Didn’t the cold water have ‘any’ effect on him? Halona mused, unable to forget what she’d just seen. If only she’d kept her eyes above his neck.

Adam chuckled as he finally closed the distance between them. “Unfortunately, I have no desire to ever marry. However, if I were to marry, I would hope that my missus looked half as beautiful as you.”

Beautiful, there was that word again. Halona had never been called that word twice in one day. She was starting to feel all mushy inside, yet her chin stayed firm and high as she met Adam’s gaze. In the distance the sound of fireworks could be heard.

“Mr. Thorpe, it appears that we are missing the fireworks,” Halona said, trying to change the subject as she bent to place the lantern back down in the sand. She hated that her words had come out a bit on the breathless side just then.

“No, we are not,” Adam replied, reaching for Halona’s hands and pulling her upright again. The electricity sparking between them was enough to light up the whole city of Miskito.

“Adam…” Halona protested weakly, right before he lowered his head and claimed her mouth in a hungry kiss.

Lip met lip, tongue met tongue and soon loud moans of animalistic pleasure could be heard echoing in the small cave as Adam and Halona began to satisfy weeks of suppressed passion. Each flicker, each suckle, each delicious smack increased the intensity of the moment and weakened even the strongest resolve.

Then conceding defeat for the second time that day, Halona surrendered to the urge to roam Adam’s wet hair. The feel of his auburn locks between her fingertips was like an aphrodisiac, arousing and escalating her desire, making her want to touch even more of him. And she did. Halona’s bold hands moved downward from Adam’s head to his neck and on to that magnificent hairy chest of his. It did her heart good when a powerful shudder rocked his body, and not from the cool air hitting his damp skin, either.

Adam kissed Halona long and deep, intent on leaving a brand on her very soul. She would remember him after this summer was over. She would remember him well. Adam would see to it that she yearned for him even after she’d married the man that destiny had for her.

Extending his kisses to her neck and collarbone, the exploring man sought to taste where no man had tasted before. Despite Halona’s unusual ways, Adam suspected that she was just like most other respectable women in the west and was saving herself for marriage. And although he felt like a cad for thinking this way, Adam found that he wanted to be the man to claim Halona’s virginity. To slide endless kisses up and down her satin skin, to see her eyes flutter with passion, and feel her quiver with ecstasy as he rocked her fervently with his desire.

Suddenly, like the fireworks going off in the distance, fireworks began to go off in Halona’s mind even as she pressed her body that much closer to Adam’s. She couldn’t allow herself to continue kissing a man in a secluded place like this. A half-naked man at that. She was already a social outcast. If the wrong people learned of this encounter, no decent man of any color would marry her. Then where would that leave Halona? Childless and even more alone?

Snatching away from Adam, Halona’s rising anger caused her to soundly slap his left cheek in reprimand. “Do not take such liberties with me again, Mr. Thorpe. I am not only your employer; I am also a respectable woman. Furthermore, I am no night crawler that takes pleasure in slipping into strange men’s beds.”

Wanting to remind Halona so badly that she was a willing participant in their little tryst, Adam ignored that inclination and his stinging cheek for the greater good. He intended to get what he came out here for and then go home and start his company. Yet he could only do it with Halona’s cooperation. As a result, he had to continue to play nice.

“My apologizes, Miss Ackerman. I had no right to take such liberties with you. I will pick up my last wages on Friday,” Adam replied, moving further away from her, towards the boulder that held his clothes. If resigning his position didn’t put him back in good graces with Halona again, he didn’t know what would.

“No!” Halona said quickly, too quickly and too loudly. Somehow the thought of Adam leaving her in any way produced a level of pain. That pain showed up in her anguished tone.

Adam paused from putting on his white shirt. “Ma’am?” A puzzled look was upon his face, yet his heart was beating with joy from the implications of her sorrowful response to his resignation. Could it be that Halona didn’t want him to leave, either?

Taking a moment to clear her throat, regain her composure, and lower her voice, Halona expounded on her previous statement. “What I meant to say was that there is no need for you to quit your job. After all, I did kiss you back and I kind of took certain liberties of my own.” Her fingers were still tingling from the contact with his hairy chest. “I figure if you can forgive me of my part, then I can forgive you of your part.”

Adam smiled and returned to buttoning up his white shirt. “All is forgiven, Miss Ackerman.”

Halona felt relief like no other as she smiled in return and picked up her well-concealed weapon housed in a chasm of the largest boulder. “It’s Miss Halona to all of my workers,” she reminded Adam as she made her way towards the mouth of the cave. “Just remember to dull the lantern when you’re done,” she added, before exiting the cave altogether.

“Yes, ma’am, Miss Halona.” As he watched her leave, Adam felt his smile slowly turn into a wide grin. He also felt a strange, unfamiliar stirring in his heart.

~~<<>>~~

Sheriff Birch sat in his office the day after the Fourth of July celebration, meditating over the results of today’s questioning. Starting from the day after the rattlers had been found on the Ackerman farmland until now; Hezekiah had questioned each of Halona’s employees, one by one, as their schedules allowed. The last interview had been with Adam and it had been very interesting. Also very informative.

Hezekiah had been almost reluctant to question Adam at all. After all, the man hadn’t been in Miskito long enough to have started those accidents on the Ackerman farm. However, based on what he’d learned about Adam today he was so glad that he had interviewed him.

Although it was clear that Adam didn’t have any negative feelings towards Halona, it was also clear that he had a plethora of positive ones for her. In fact, if Hezekiah didn’t know any better he’d say that the auburn-haired man was in love with Miss Ackerman. Every time Halona’s name had been mentioned today, Adam got this sick puppy dog look in his eyes and he couldn’t seem to stop smiling.

No doubt about it. That man is definitely in love with Halona Ackerman, Hezekiah mused as he crossed Adam’s name off of his suspect list. Now there were only two suspects left. One was a suspect because he came into Halona’s life around the same time the accidents started to occur. The other, although reformed now, was a suspect due to his troubled past and tendencies towards unhealthy pursuits of money.

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

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