“Take your damned hands off my wife.”
Lila knew Joe Jenkins her whole life and had seen him in every kind of mood and with every type of expression. She thought so anyway, but she was wrong.
Joe stood on the path behind them about fifteen feet away, looking big and dangerous, holding a short axe. His soft hat was falling down over his forehead, causing shadows that prevented Lila from seeing his expression clearly. He had not raised his voice when he spoke, and he still seemed almost relaxed and at ease standing there. The only indication of his mood was the lower part of his face. His lips were pressed so tightly together there was white around his mouth. Around him, there was an aura of violence. Not so much in word or movement, but a crackling feeling of imminent danger. In that instance Lila feared not only for Carson Anderson’s life, but for her own too.
Mr. Anderson let go of her fast as he could, trying to step back, but her skirt and apron were still wrapped around his leg. No amount of pulling and twisting seemed to be able to release them. All the while Joe stood there, watching them silently. In an agony of embarrassment and humiliation, Lila finally managed to wrest her clothes away from Mr. Anderson’s leg and stumbled back, sitting down hard on the front steps. Finally free, he backed away slowly, holding out his hands as if Joe might charge him like a mad bull, looking back and forth from her to Joe.
“Mr. Jenkins, I know how this must look to you, but I’m sure I can explain if you’ll listen,” he said.
“Explain?” Joe asked quietly. “You’re gonna explain?”
“Y-Yes,” Carson sputtered, “I think I can. You see, it wasn’t what it looked like to you. I mean, I was not-uh-I wasn’t about to?”
“Make love to my wife?” Joe finished for him, again with that quiet, flat, emotionless voice.
Excerpt for Adult audiences:
Lila used to try and imagine how it would feel to have a man touch her and put his arms around her, but never in her wildest dreams did she imagine anything like what Joe did to her. She watched him as he left her for a moment and stripped off his shirt and trousers. She raised herself up on the pillow to see all of him, not knowing how she had the nerve to be so bold. Maybe she should have been scared, since she’d never seen a naked man before, but somehow she wasn’t scared at all. He was as beautiful as sin. He was at least six feet tall and handsomely made, sleek with muscle, and sure in the way he moved. He knelt beside her on the bed, and for the first time that long day, looked her straight in the eyes. She could hardly breathe as his hands unbuttoned her dress and slipped it off her shoulders. His pupils widened a bit in surprise as she lay back against the pillows, and he cupped her breast with his hand.
“So beautiful,” he murmured, and his other hand pulled against her skirt, eager to have her undressed. He buried his face against her breasts, and Lila trembled at the way he stroked her body and murmured soft words in her ear. How he reacted to her—the way he kissed her excited her. She would have died for him in that moment. He positioned himself and placed his large, warm hands under her hips and pulled her up to him.
“I’ll try not to hurt you, Lila. Just lay still now, and I’ll be quick.” With that he thrust himself into her, and the pain shot through her so she gasped and moaned and tried to twist away. He held her even tighter to him, not moving, holding her tight around him till the pain ebbed away a little, kissing her on her forehead with soft little kisses that melted her heart. When he moved slowly in and out, through the pain, she felt something else too, a yearning for something, though she didn’t know what. She only knew she couldn’t get close enough to him.
Joe moved faster and faster, thrusting against her so hard she wondered if he would crush her. She found she didn’t care. Breathing hard, he moaned and pulled her hips tighter to him. Her heart so full she knew it would burst, she pulled him down to her, trying somehow to help him, caressing his back, nuzzling her face against his. His thrusts became quicker and harder. She welcomed them, wanting to please him, to make him hers. He groaned and stiffened, gasping, pulling her so tight Lila thought her bones would break and melt into his. Happiness and fulfillment thrilled her, because she satisfied him. Lila was his wife and not only in name. All of her dreams about Joe, which seemed so impossible once, incredibly came true. He must love her a little.
Before he subsided against her, sinking his head down on her shoulder, he whispered softly in her ear, “Annie, oh, Annie.”
The words hit her like a hard blow. Lila lay still for a moment listening to his harsh breathing. “No, it’s Lila, Joe,” she whispered urgently, but he rolled away, falling beside her on the bed, half asleep already, the firelight flickering over the strong planes of his face. Gently, Lila pulled the quilt up over him and laid her head beside his on the pillow, her hand against his chest.
“I’m Lila, Joe…it’s me,” she whispered in the dark.