An Excerpt from: Last Chance's

Chapter 1

Copyright © 2006 Kit Wylde

All rights reserved, Freya's Bower.

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Susan looked out her front window. The view never failed to amaze and spellbind her. When the sky was clear, the rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada reached for the heavens in all their splendor. That's one of the reasons she had moved to this little ranch at the base of the Sierra Nevada range. Sure, it was a bit of a drive to her job at Dragon's Plunder in Fresno, about forty minutes one way through beautiful country, but it was worth every minute in the car just to have the peace and quiet.

She loved how the orchards changed color in the fall from green to yellow to orange and red. And, in the spring, they came alive again, bursting with color: snowy white and different shades of pink. The peace and quiet gave her time to think, heal, regroup. It took time to grow accustomed to the quiet and vast open space. Her nearest neighbor was a good half-mile away. Coming from five years in Los Angeles where the biggest lot in her part of town was less than a quarter acre and the quietest time of the day could never rival this all encompassing silence, it took a lot of adjusting. But, it certainly beat Los Angeles. How she had managed to live there for five years without going crazy, she would never know. Maybe it was because of Don.

An eagle's cry pierced the air. Susan sighed. Best not to think of Don. That part of her life was over and done with, and it wouldn't do any good to replay it in her mind.

The stained glass, butterfly wind chimes hanging in her living room tinkled in the stillness of the room. It was the ghosts again, admonishing her to move on and forget about the past, but how could she? He'd been every thing she'd thought she'd ever wanted in life. He was handsome, smart, had a great sense of humor and was great in bed. What woman wouldn't want that? "Yeah, but you weren't the only one he slept with," whispered a voice in her mind.

Waving her hand next to her head as if shooing away an annoying insect, she walked over to the mirror and stared at her reflection. She turned her head back and forth and tried to examine herself objectively. She wasn't that bad looking, was she? Gray eyes stared right back at her. They were big, but not huge, slightly slanted, fringed with dark, thick lashes and gave her a fey look. Her wavy, brown hair had blond highlights and was cropped short in a pageboy cut. Straight was all the rage, but she'd never cared much about fashion -- not enough to straighten it, anyway. High cheekbones, lush, full lips and a retrousse nose that had a dusting of freckles completed her look. On closer inspection, she could see faint lines around her eyes. She pulled back to look at the rest of her body.

Her body wasn't that bad. Maybe she had added a little more padding in the rear quarters over the last year, but that was all for the best. Don had always harped on her about staying trim and model perfect. Of course, that meant starving oneself, daily visits to the gym, and never eating any thing that would turn into fat. She hadn't been "blessed" with an extremely fast metabolism, but she wouldn't complain. Yes, she definitely looked much better now with a few extra pounds than a year earlier. One good thing about leaving Don was being able to splurge and eat chocolate ice cream more than once a month. Matter of fact, she could eat whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted and know that no one would lecture her for doing it.

The wind chimes tinkled again, drawing her from her reverie. Looking at her watch, she noticed it was time to get to work. She may have left a cushy, office job in LA with great benefits and given up a much larger salary to come live here, but she didn't regret it. Her co-workers at the Dragon's Plunder were great. If it hadn't been for the emotional support of Martha and Rick, the couple who owned the store, her first few months here, she would have returned to Don like he expected.

She remembered that final moment between them. It was pretty ugly. How could she forget it?

Don had come home with another woman's perfume on him. It wasn't the first time, but she'd decided a month earlier it would be the last time. That night had been the final straw. His blond hair was disheveled, as if fingers had run through it. She bet those fingers hadn't been his. She knew who the strumpet was: his newest acquisition... um... secretary. Not hired for her abilities on the computer or with the phone, Chloe was the typical LA, peroxide blonde with the plastic surgery boobs. God, if they weren't a dime a dozen!

"Where have you been?" Susan demanded angrily. "We were supposed to go over to my sister's tonight. They held dinner as long as they could. I finally had to tell them that we wouldn't make it."

He brushed past her, ignoring her questions.

"Don't you have anything to say? Anything at all? Maybe an apology?"

He just kept walking toward the back of the house where their bedroom was.

She followed him, her bare feet making little noise in the plush, beige carpet of the hallway. "What... are you a coward now, too, on top of being an adulterer?"

Slowly, he turned to look at her. His blue eyes snapped furiously. "What did you say?"

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