DAN HARRINGTON STOOD SIX feet, three inches tall, with light-brown hair and piercing gray eyes, ruggedly handsome and a muscular two hundred and twenty pounds; a seasoned combat veteran who considered himself to be a rational man.
But an event earlier, shortly after midnight had caused him to question this self assessment when yet again awakened by another disturbing dream. In it, an ethereal voice had told him to take a walk in the forest surrounding the isolated hunting lodge he had rented for the week. A lodge rented in faint hope the change of environment might put an end to his nightmares.
Following the dictates of this latest dream, he dressed, took the pistol from under his pillow and followed the trail into the dark forest. A trail that led a mile and half to a small lake, near a moon-bathed glade. It was there she appeared suddenly out of nowhere, a startling vision, a beautiful native Indian woman who emanated an aura and charisma of trustworthiness that overwhelmed all his senses. Her raven hair was plaited, the twin decorated braids tumbled like dark waterfalls over her shoulders. She wore an elaborate doeskin dress beaded and fringed, matching moccasins and an elk-tooth choker around her delicate neck.
He tried to appear casual as he felt the cold steel and the stag grips of his pistol, which seemed real enough. Convincing himself he was awake, he approached the woman, but hesitated when her body language indicated she was afraid and ready to bolt.
Immediately he stopped and said, “Good evening.”
She cautiously nodded recognition.
“Isn’t it a little late for a walk in the forest?” his question made him feel foolish.
Again she nodded.
“Do you live around here?”
“Yes.” Her haunting voice mesmerized him. Her almond-shaped eyes gave an appearance that was almost Oriental. She had prominent cheekbones and her skin was the color of sage honey.
“How is it you're out alone this late?”
“I...I came to warn you.”
“Warn me?” Her response caused him to frown. “Warn me about what?”
“Sleep with your weapon in your hand tonight.” There was that ethereal tone to her voice as in the dreams. It sent icy chills down his spine.
“Am I in danger?”
She nodded solemnly.
Slowly she shook her head, her braids swinging.
“If not from…”
She interrupted, “From the woman.”
He was caught off guard, took a deep breath, then asked, “You mean from my wife?”
“No,” again she shook her head, “from the woman.”
He was puzzled. “But there's only my wife, back at the cabin.”
“She is not your mate. Sleep with your weapon. Trust me; sleep like the mountain lion. Keep one eye open.”
“I don't un...”
Again she interrupted. “I must go now.”
“Please don't, I need to know more.”
“Just heed my words.”
“Will I see you again?”
“Tomorrow night,” she assured him, “when the moon is again overhead.”