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Cover Art copyright 2012, Lazette Gifford, All Rights Reserved

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I wasn't supposed to be there. I should have been spending a romantic weekend with my fiance -- former fiance as of about an hour before -- but the planned tryst turned out to be a bad idea. I took off from work a couple hours early and found Earl and his other girlfriend sunbathing, nude, by the pool. And in rather close quarters. There was, of course, a scene. He yelled and I broke his nose and shoved the engagement ring so hard on his little finger they'd probably have to cut it off -- finger or ring, I didn't care at that point.

I got in my Jeep and headed for my desert home, far away from the busy metropolis of Barstow. The sunset fell in an array of stark reds and unnatural purples as wild clouds blew fast over the open desert. I could see lightning strikes coming closer on my left. Rain hit, leaving dusty trails of muck on my windshield.

I cursed the weather, Earl, and life in general. I wasn't exactly hysterical with grief over the unexpected demise of my engagement, though. I was, I reluctantly admitted to myself, relieved. In fact, I was looking forward to spending some time alone for a change --

About a quarter mile ahead lightning struck to the left of the road, bounced twice, and rolled across the cement before stopping, half buried and glowing in the sand.

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