Crossroads, North Carolina
Before the accident, I never had to seduce a man in the dark. I dazzled millions in the brutal glare of kliegs on the red carpets of Hollywood, the flash of cameras at the Oscars, the sunlight on the beaches of Cannes. Beautiful women don’t fear the glint of lust and judgment in men’s eyes or the bitter gleam of envy in women’s. Beautiful women welcome even the brightest light. Once upon a time, I had been the most beautiful woman in the world.
Now I needed the night, the darkness, the shadows.
“Put the gun down,” I ordered, as I let my bra and sweatshirt fall to the ground. Behind me, a full, white moon hung in a sky of stars above the winter mountains, silhouetting Thomas and me. My breath shivered in the cold air. Beneath my bare feet, the pasture grass was brown and frosted, glistening in the moonlight. There were no other lights in our world, not the pinpoint of a lamp in some distant window, not the wink of a jet high overhead. There might be no other souls in these ancient North Carolina ridges that night. Only Thomas, and me, and the darkness inside us both.
“I’m warning you for the last time, Cathy,” he said, his voice thick but firm. He wasn’t a man who slurred his words, no matter how drunk he was. “Leave.”
I unzipped my jeans. My hands trembled. I couldn’t stop staring at the World War II pistol he held so casually, his right arm bent, the gun pointed skyward. Thomas had been a preservation architect; he respected fine craftsmanship, even when choosing a gun with which to kill himself.
Slowly I pushed my jeans down, along with my panties. The scarred skin along my right thigh prickled at the scrape of denim. I angled my right side away from the moon, trying to illuminate only the left half of my body, my face. Half of me was still perfect. But the other half . . .
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish