An Excerpt From: GHOST FLUTE
by Kimberly Dean
The music came again just as Serena was drifting off to sleep. It floated on the breeze outside her bedroom window and slipped through the tiny holes of the screen. Alive on the air, it circled around her restless body, caressing her and tempting her. She shifted on the bed, caught in that hazy land between sleep and wakefulness. The melody stirred something inside of her.
The song was as haunting as it was beautiful.
A long, mourning note vibrated over her skin and her breath caught. In that instant, she awoke fully. Her eyes popped open and she was immediately aware of her surroundings. Yet still, the music called—and her body responded. She stretched, trying to ease the ache, the absolute yearning… A damp sweat covered her skin and her thighs trembled. The arousal was so acute, she sat straight up in bed. Her hand went to her heart and her gaze darted to the corners of the room.
“Who’s there?” she whispered.
Only the night music answered. It was still out there, throbbing with sensuality. The song tugged at her.
It wanted her.
A flute. Somebody in the backyard was playing a siyotanka.
Swinging her legs off the side of the bed, Serena clenched the edge of the mattress and listened harder. The sounds were coming from behind the house, back near the trees that lined the small creek that fed the Missouri River. Her feet touched the floor and she rose silently, leaving the lights turned off.
The mid-August air was heavy with humidity. It clung to her skin, even though the night air had cooled from its mid-day extremes. Central air conditioning was a luxury on the reservation and her aunt and uncle’s window unit in the living room didn’t reach back to the two small bedrooms. They didn’t even let it try, closing off the living area to save energy. She’d tried sleeping on the couch, but it was too short and lumpy. That left the guest bedroom. She didn’t like sleeping with the windows open, but it was a necessity. For the past few nights, the breeze had been her only salvation.
Until it had started singing to her.
Tiptoeing to the back door, she peered through the window into the darkness. The moon overhead was bright, casting an eerie, bluish light across the landscape. Long prairie grass shifted in the breeze, creating moving shadows. The leaves on the trees rustled with nocturnal life, but she couldn’t see anyone standing back there.
She could hear them, though.
The music seemed stronger and clearer. Sweeter. Goosebumps popped up on her arms. She rubbed them briskly, but felt the music pulling a stronger response from her. Her nipples beaded hard against her tank top and an ache settled deep in her belly.
She was out the door and onto the back porch before she could think better.
Outside the music wasn’t muted. It was full and textured. Alive. Her hair blew with the breeze, away from her face, as the tempting song kissed her cheeks, her neck and the sensitive spot between her breasts. She shivered, her arousal swiftly changing to hunger.
Her fingers wrapped around the porch banister as she scanned the dimly lit copse of trees. She wanted… No, she had to find the source of that music.
She needed him.
Her feet started moving. They skipped lightly down the porch steps and into the damp grass. With each step she took towards the trees, the music became more sensual, more irresistible. Her heart rate sped up and her feet followed suit. He was back there. Waiting for her. Needing her.
Nothing else mattered. The music swooped and swayed, tangled around her, immersing her. She began to run, oblivious to anything else.
Until a hot hand wrapped around her arm and jerked her to a stop.
“Serena?” a low, male voice said.
She let out a shriek.
And the music vanished.
“What are you doing?”
Broken from her near-trance, she jerked back from the man—only to stumble on a rut in the ground beneath her. The stranger caught her by both arms and steadied her. The hold was warm and strong, but she felt trapped. Captured.
She hadn’t expected anyone to be out here. Other than… She didn’t know what she was doing out here!
Wide-eyed, she looked at the man who’d appeared from out of nowhere. The moonlight smoothed some features and sharpened others. High cheekbones were lit, while dark pools of black lay where eyes should be. His long hair seemed nearly blue and his tanned skin absorbed what light there was, making him almost appear as a living shadow. The fear shimmering along Serena’s nerve endings pierced deeper when she recognized him.
She swallowed hard. When had he gotten home? She usually got up to close her windows when she heard the rumbling of his truck. She looked around quickly and was surprised at how far from the house she’d ventured. What had she been thinking?
She hadn’t been thinking. She’d been reacting. Pure, deep-seated compulsion had stripped her defenses and blocked all other instincts.
They were in the deepening shadows, almost to the tree line. Back this far, none of the neighbors could see her—other than the neighbor next door, the one who’d already found her. Arrowhead’s house sat next to the Little Feathers’ at the end of a long dirt road. Together, their small cabins backed up to the trees where nobody else could see. Nobody else could hear.
“Hey,” he said, drawing her attention back to him. “Are you all right?”
Her fingers curled. Despite the breeze, the air felt heavy and warm next to him. Much too warm.
Although he wasn’t wearing much more than she was…
Serena tried not to look—willed herself not to look—but her body was too roused to be ignored. The music had toyed with her. She could still feel the sensuous touch of the notes and hear the promise on the wind. As frightening as Chayton Arrowhead was, he was sexier for it.
And had to press her thighs together hard.
While his face might be hidden in shadow, his body wasn’t. All he wore was a pair of khaki pants. His chest and his feet were bare. He was lean, dark-skinned and roped with muscle. His black hair blew in the breeze, swinging halfway down his back. He had more Sioux blood in him than she did and it didn’t take much of a stretch of her imagination to see him as a warrior of old dressed in soft deerskin leggings. He looked dark, intense and scarily sexy.
Her own private fantasy.
Music suddenly floated across the wind, one faint note, low and trembling. Serena looked sharply to the trees and Chayton’s head turned as he followed the glance.
“What is it? What do you hear?”
Her mouth parted. He couldn’t hear it? It was all that was in her head. The tone was sweet and pure, echoing off the trees.
Until it disappeared again.
Confused, she listened harder. Was she really hearing a flute? Or was it something else? Something natural that he took for granted? She lived in the city. The sounds of the reservation were comforting, but abnormal to her. “I…I’m not sure,” she said hoarsely.
“Then where were you going?” he asked.
She shifted uneasily, the prairie grass scratching at her legs. She didn’t know.
She didn’t know.
Her heart began fluttering too fast. She’d been pulled out that door. By what, she couldn’t say, but her destination certainly hadn’t been him.
She watched him carefully, the fear taking root. She shouldn’t be out here with him. He was wilder than anything that awaited her in the woods. He was too earthy, too primal.
And he had a reputation that scared her.