By Jeannine Van Eperen
Women's Fiction, 325 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald
A Perfect Husband is a story of family, of secrets, love, lust, trust, deceit, and of sisters and promises. It is set in a small desert town in California and in the lush green and also snowy small city of Appleton, Wisconsin. Will a change of scenery right a wrong? Or will it forever haunt and torment?
Nothing is so dark as a moonless night on the desert! Jessica knew she was only a couple miles from the restaurant and another few miles to the house, but the dark always gave her the creeps. It was a lonely ride this time of night, eleven o’clock. Until nine or so there was traffic enough to keep one busy with other drivers’ car lights, and then again around midnight, some night workers plied the street, heading to the airbase at the end of the road, but right now she was in the “in between” with little light and very occasional cars.
At first she was glad to have these hours. With the moon usually hanging bright in the sky, the drive was a rather pleasant one, but tonight, no moon, no houses on this stretch…it was so very dark.
Jessica glanced in her review mirror and saw headlights behind her and they appeared to be moving up fast, faster than the posted forty miles per hour. She should have been happy to see someone else on the lonely road, but without reason the car’s quick advance frightened her.
“Fool,” she muttered. “Slow down. There’s a curve coming up.” But the approaching vehicle didn’t slow until it was just a few feet behind her. The driver blinked his lights and tapped the car horn lightly. If that driver thinks I’m pulling over for him, he’s got another think coming! Jessica kept her car at an even forty. The driver pulled his car beside her and started edging into hers forcing her to move partly off the road, then he pulled ahead and cornered her. Fortunately, there was a flat part to the right before a two foot drop off. Jessica quickly checked around her, but in her panic forgot to lock the passenger-side door.
The other driver got out of his car and started back to her. Her panic lessened a little as she recognized the man, a patron of the restaurant where she worked—an attorney and she’d heard a rather sleazy one—but maybe there was an emergency and he was trying to warn her. All kinds of reasons quickly flitted through her mind as he strode over to her window.
“Anything wrong, Mr. Solarno?” Jessica asked.
“Everything’s okay now that you stopped.”
“Had no choice. You ran me off the road. Did you do that on purpose?”
“I had no choice. You wouldn’t stop. Whatcha doing? Playing hard to get?”
Jessica rolled up her window. The man was drunk, smelled like beer and scotch and onions, and God knew what else. Before she could get the car in reverse, he climbed into the passenger side of car and started to edge close to her.
“Get outta here!”
“No, little lady,” he said. “You were strutting your stuff all evening at the Fiesta Room, egging me on, so now I’m here to see what you have to offer.”
“Nothing! Get out of my car!”
“Not till I get what I came for!” He pulled at her blouse and brought the material down over her shoulder.
Jessica swat at him and fought as best she could. “I said get out!”
“Come on. You know you want it.” His hands started under her skirt.
Jessica finally got her door unlocked. She grabbed the car keys in her hand and as he tried to pull her down under him, she scratched his face as hard as she could with her keys.
He yelped and moved away.
She quickly got out of the car. She didn’t know what to do. Cars were so rare on this road this time of night.
He caught her wrist and wrestled the keys from her hand and tossed them into the scrubby brush that grew on the desert. “Bitch!” he yelled as he punched her face, then he scrambled back to his car. “God damn bitch!”
Jessica gathered her long skirts about her and ran into the desert as far from him as she could get. Her face throbbed and she shook with terror and indignation as she watched him get into his car and plow out, wheels hurling stones and sand at her car.