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Last Updated: September 17, 2008 16:27:05

Dark Possession by Christine Feehan

MaryAnn frowned at Solange.  “I’m not sure this was such a great idea.  You may like being out in the open, but I feel very exposed here.  I think staying in the house was a much better idea.  I’m heading back.” 

She glanced down at her boots, covered with muck.  No one was going to give her sympathy for ruining her favorite pair of boots, least of all jungle girl.  She heaved a sigh.  How in the world had she ended up in such a mess?  Destiny.  Her best friend.  And where was she now?  Probably snuggled up, safe and warm with her hunky man while MaryAnn slogged through a jungle filled with leeches, rabid leopards and the wild jungle chick.

“Out here I can smell them coming at us.  We have more room to maneuver.”
MaryAnn slapped at mosquitoes, drew out her bug spray and lavishly and rather maliciously depressed the button to empty half the bottle around and over her.  “Okay, look.  You stay and smell them coming.  I’m going to curl up with a good book in the comfort of a cushy chair.”  She turned her back on Solange and started back along the muddy trail.

Why did everything in the rainforest have to be so wet?  And the stupid rain fell endlessly.  Bugs bit and snakes crawled and the wild jungle woman climbed trees and swung from the branches. 

Jasmine fell into step beside her.  “I think I’ll join you.”
“This is mutiny,” Solange said, following them.  “Jasmine, what has gotten into you?”
Jasmine pressed her hand tightly against her stomach.  “I don’t want to live in the forest anymore.  I want to sleep in a bed and eat real food…”
MaryAnn swung around.  “Real food?  What does that mean?  You don’t eat grubs do you?”  She shuddered.  “I’ve seen those survivor shows and let me just say, they’re all nuts.”  Her gaze flicked to Solange.  “Girl, it’s got to be said.  You’ve got a few issues that need to be addressed.  Your clothes are a fashion emergency.  And your hair…”  She shook her head.  “We’re just not even going to go there.”
“What’s wrong with my hair?”
“Have you brushed it in the last two days?” MaryAnn countered.
“I haven’t exactly had time.”
“There you go.  A woman always has time to brush her hair whether she’s in the jungle or not.”  She looked rueful.  “My hair grows in this kind of climate, but I haven’t given up.”
Solange opened her mouth and then closed it again, her tilted cat’s eyes looking a little disdainful, a haughty expression on her face.  “I’m trying to keep us alive and you’re worried about clothes and hair?”
MaryAnn burst out laughing.  “You’re very good at intimidating people, aren’t you?  Is that how you keep everyone at a distance?  I’m from the city, girlfriend, and I hang with some tough chicks.  You’re just not that scary, Solange.”
Jasmine laughed.  “Oh, she’s scary all right.  She fights better than most men, and few people can go up against a male jaguar, even a female jaguar, but Solange can.”
Solange bared her teeth at MaryAnn.
“My best friend kills vampires,” MaryAnn pointed out.  “She carries around weapons, goes through doors, turns into mist and generally is a major badass.  Can I just say not impressed?”
A faint grin flirted with Solange’s mouth.  “You really aren’t afraid of me, are you?”
“Nope.”  MaryAnn flashed her an answering smile.
For the first time, Solange relaxed a little, pacing along side of her.  “You’re so…girly.  But even when I know you dislike the rainforest, you still go out in it and do whatever needs doing.  I can’t quite figure you out.”
MaryAnn waved her hand to encompass their surroundings.  “This is your jungle, and there are all sorts of dangerous things in it, but you know your way around and you feel very comfortable in it.  My jungle is the city.  I grew up there and I’m comfortable with the danger I find there.  I counsel battered women and victims of crimes.  That means I have to go into places that most people avoid.  I sometimes have no choice but to try to help them get out before their killed.  Isn’t that what you do?  Your world may seem a little more primitive than mine, but only because the men in your world have fur and claws.  Mine have guns and fists.”
“I never thought of it like that.”  Solange brushed back strands of hair spilling around her face with the impatience of a woman who never paid attention to her looks.  “I think of city women as being so prissy.  They come to the edge of the rainforest and stand around in skimpy, inappropriate cloths so they can catch they eye of some idiot male.  If I happen to be close by they grab their men and look at me as if I’m trying to steal from them.  I don’t want a man.”
MaryAnn glanced at her sharply.  There was pain in her voice—even hurt—that some of the women would treat her with suspicion when she risked her life on a daily basis to save women’s lives. 
Jasmine moved closer to Solange, an unconscious sympathetic gesture.  “I don’t want a man either.”
“All men are not like the ones you’ve run across,” MaryAnn said.  “The danger of doing the kind of work you or I do, or even something such as law enforcement, is that you see only the really bad things in life and none of the good.  You two need to take a break for a while.”
Solange held up her hand as they came to the edge of the forest just before reaching the house.  She moved out on her own and MaryAnn couldn’t help but admire her.  She was obviously a capable fighter.  She moved in silence, her body flowing with easy grace.  She looked catlike, and—it had to be said—unbelievably sexy and beautiful.  She barely made a stir going through the tall grasses.  As MaryAnn watched, Solange went down on all fours, shifting, fur sliding over powerful ropes of muscle.  She padded on four paws and disappeared completely into the tall grass.
MaryAnn let her breath out, unaware until that moment that she’d been holding it.  “Now that,” she said to Jasmine, “is intimidating.”


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