The train lumbered through farmlands. It traversed dense forests. It crossed bridges that spanned impossible gorges. It snaked its way through mountains, clinging to the edge of cliffs high over rivers that sparkled in the afternoon sunlight.
My companion and I gazed out on all this wonder in comfortable silence.
My new friend was older than I. He wore a tweed jacket over a handsome nubby sweater vest. He seemed to be a seasoned traveller. From what little passed between us, it was clear he had a sturdy intellect. The miracle of his countenance — as his was a very fair face indeed — was due to high cheekbones, a strong jaw, and the straight, narrow nose of a greek statue.
He had golden hair and nearly colorless blue eyes, from what I could see beyond his lightly tinted glasses. I had yet to see him without them.
Richly scented pipe tobacco perfumed the air as our train lumbered over a mountain pass, lurching and groaning with effort. Our little window to the world filled with glorious white capped mountain peaks, and in the very next instant, a tunnel plunged us into a Stygian void.
I froze, seized by sudden, juvenile anxiety — an old and familiar fear of the dark. My heart thundered as I waited, counting the seconds until the train passed through the tunnel and into daylight again.
Hot breath caressed my neck. “Come with me,” a voice invited.
Christ. Darkness and childish nightmares forgotten, I remained paralyzed for an entirely different reason. Lips I’d seen smile sweetly at herds of contented dairy cows — lips too absurdly full and soft to exist on a man’s face — caressed the sensitive spot just beneath my ear.
“Come. With. Me,” he punctuated each word with a nip.
The hair on my neck rose and my breath left my lungs in a shudder of longing. The tip of a tongue — moist and hot and sinuous — traced the shell of my ear. Heat crackled all over my skin.
“Come with me,” he said again.
My entire body tightened with desire. Hunger and dread warred within me. Yearning like I’d never known.
Light flooded the car and I could breath again. I glanced around and found my companion leaning indolently against the exit. I met his searching gaze. The only hint he gave of what he’d said — what he’d done — was in his momentary hesitation before leaving the car.
He didn’t look back.
I struggled to catch my breath — to find my feet — and then I followed him.