s their passion real, or only a mirage?
A Midsummer Night's Steam story.
On a lonely stretch of I-95 in the middle of the Nevada desert, journalist Savanna Blaine and photographer Ben Lantano find themselves stranded by engine trouble on their way back from an assignment. Their quest for a gas station leads them to La Mirage, a beautiful resort nestled in a secluded canyon where they are the only guests.
Invited to spend the night in lush accommodations, passion flares between Savanna and Ben who have suppressed their hidden desires long enough. A single touch ignites an unforgettable night in each other's arms, but the next day, when La Mirage mysteriously disappears, they're left to wonder, is their newfound intimacy real or nothing more than a trick of the summer heat?
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June 14, 2007
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Excerpt from La Mirage by Jennifer Colgan
Sweat dripped down the back of Savanna Blaine's neck and ran into the collar of her blouse. She moaned in annoyance and stole a glance at Ben Lantano who sat across from her behind the wheel of the ancient Chevy pickup he lovingly called Delilah.
Ben gave her an apologetic grin. "She leaks Freon sometimes." With his dark brows arched over deep blue eyes, his sidelong glance caused an involuntary tingle down her spine. Despite her discomfort, Savanna found it hard to maintain her annoyance at the sweltering heat in the pickup's cab. Unfortunately, Ben's smile only served to ratchet the temperature up a few more degrees past the one-hundred mark.
Another drop of sweat rolled down Savanna's neck and over her collarbone, then made a dive into the deep valley between her breasts.
Why had she gone for the Vicky's Mysteries push-up bra this morning? In the late August heat wave the powder blue lace-and-satin construction felt like a medieval torture device. Next time she had an interview in the Nevada desert in August, she'd wear loose clothing and make sure her photographer's car had better air conditioning. She felt like a wilted bouquet, cinched at the stems, her petals shapeless and drooping.
"Why don't we make a pit stop at the next diner and get some cold drinks?" Ben, the eternal optimist, wore a sheen of sweat, too, but for some reason on him it looked good. The collar of his light green T-shirt had darkened in a ring around his neck, and the ends of his short black hair stuck out over his forehead and his nape in damp spikes.
"Fine with me. You're buying." Savanna smirked. She'd had her doubts about Delilah when Ben picked her up at her apartment on Thursday morning for the trek out to Jackson Deveraux's secluded desert ranch. Of course, then it had been overcast with a faint breeze, the remnant of a passing storm. Her enthusiasm for the plum interview with the media tycoon had overshadowed any thoughts about the tenacity of a vehicle with silver duct tape patching a rust hole in the driver's side door.
"What's that noise?" A metallic ping with a regular beat interrupted Savanna's thoughts and Ben's grin faded. He reached over to shut off the useless air conditioner and his fingers brushed dangerously close to her left knee.
"It's nothing," he said.
It was Savanna's turn to arch her eyebrows. "You don't sound convinced."
"When we stop, I'll take a look under the hood. Sounds like we kicked up a rock. That's all."
Savanna eyed the landscape ahead, which was curiously identical to the landscape behind them. Endless waves of sand and rock in romantic shades like sienna and umber folded upon themselves in every direction. The lonely stretch of I-95 seemed to go on forever.
"How far is it?"
"A couple of miles."
The rumbling ping grew louder and then Delilah's engine misfired. Savanna shot Ben a sharp look. "That wasn't nothing."
"Probably needs a little water." Ben licked his lips and Savanna found herself concentrating far too closely on the movement of his tongue. It was too hot for these kinds of thoughts. She had to keep her mind on business, which at the moment consisted of willing Ben's ancient pickup to keep moving along the empty highway.
"Don't we all," she said finally after managing to drag her attention away from Ben's profile. She looked around the cab. The thermos in the footwell beside her legs held tepid coffee left over from the diner breakfast they'd had at nine a.m. after an uncomfortable night spent at a motel outside of Black Rock. They'd had to stay in the motel overnight after the interview because the abandoned ghost town Deveraux was planning to purchase with his newly minted millions offered little in the way of amenities at the moment.
The coffee wouldn't do any good for Delilah or her occupants at this point.
"I just had a tune-up last week," Ben offered when the engine misfired again.
"How old is this thing, anyway?"
"Old enough. Delilah is my first. I love her and she loves me. Though she's been a little temperamental since I cut my hair."
Savanna opened her mouth but decided to hold her comment. Instead, she rolled her eyes and Ben laughed.
"Gets 'em every time."
"Men." Why did they think of their cars like women? If only Savanna could find a man to be as loyal to her as Ben was to his Delilah.