Vicki Diane Westling      
The Outdweller

The Outdweller
by Curtis D. Vick

About the Book:
THE OUTDWELLER is a romance/adventure story. Its main character, Brant Turrell, never wanted to complicate his life in the Superstition Wilderness area of central Arizona by allowing anyone to share it; especially someone as beautiful as  the woman he finds gagged and left for dead on a cool winter morning in the desert. But after finding her, he has little choice. She will not allow him to take her to the police for fear that her would-be killers will learn that she still lives. Turrell knows his life might forever be altered when he takes her high into the mountains to his secret home-place. And he is right.

When the thugs come into the wilderness to find the woman they failed to kill earlier, Turrell is waiting. He is an expert at traveling along the trails and surviving in the harsh terrain. The killers with their .38 snubbies and nine millimeters enter strange and dangerous turf when they come against him.

About the Author:
Curtis D. Vick lives with his lovely wife, Dorinda, near their three children and six grandchildren in Prescott, Arizona. He has a B.A. and an M.A. in English from Arizona State University. No novice at venturing into the wilderness, he often goes there to shoot, cut firewood, or explore. But the author is also familiar with city life; he lived as a teenager in Terre Haute, Indiana. And he and Dorinda lived in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, for some years. Always informed regarding his subject, Mr. Vick writes factually and with confidence. His characters are believable and engaged in doing interesting things.

Curtis came to Arizona as a young man in the military. He drives a GMC four-wheel drive pickup and shoots a Henry .44 lever action rifle. He's been known to write poetry. THE OUTDWELLER is his third completed novel.

"Here," he said, handing her his cap, "use this like a fan and try to keep the smoke away from your face. Sorry I don't have any dry clothes for you."

"It's alright," she said. "If it means I can eat some more and have another cup of that good coffee, I can put up with a little smoke and damp underwear." And then, in reference to her crying and fighting against him when he had taken her from the other chamber, she added, "I'm sorry about losing it like that."

He didn't say anything in reply to this; just looked steadily at her for a moment. He could see that she was very afraid.

"I don't want them to see me," she continued, returning his gaze, "They think I'm dead. They'll come back for me if they see me alive. God, I hope you're not one of them. You're not are you?" And her eyes fastened on the big gun at his hip.

He looked away and began filling a tin cup with steaming coffee. Handing it to her he said, "Have some more of my specially brewed instant coffee. Watch it, it's hot."

For the next fifteen minutes, while the rain soaked the surrounding desert, they sat and fed themselves in the pocket of safety and seclusion that had been created by the blind violence of antiquity. When they finished eating, he cleaned up and put things away. Looking over the rock wall into the other side of the cave, he told her about the water that was now flowing through the wash she had been lying in.

"I can hear it," she said.

He thought she seemed to be settling down. He hadn't pressed her for her story before because he knew she was in a state of shock. In fact, he told himself, she still was. But they would be here for awhile. The rain wasn't going to let up in the next hour or so.

Finding her had thrown a considerable pebble into his pond, had laid a lot of responsibility on him. He felt he had a right to know something about her. He looked at her sitting in the hammock with the tin cup in her hands.

"You balance that thing pretty well," he observed.

She was gazing absently past him at the cave's entrance. Outside it was cold and wet. The desert lay in that special envelope of fragrance that only a rainstorm could bring. The wind was fresh with the scent of creosote bushes. A little of it whipped inside, accompanied by a soft moaning as it played through the cracks and hollows of the rock. In the background, far away, low rumbling told of the thunder heading toward the northeast.

Responding to his comment, she gave him a weak smile. Even with her blood-caked hair, and her chin, cleaned and bandaged as it was by him, and still showing smears of blood, she was very easy to look at.

"Thanks," she said. It sounded as if she meant it for the coffee, but the look she gave him when she said it showed she intended it to mean thanks for everything.

He nodded his head toward her in acknowledgement, then said, "I don't mean to be intrusive, but how'd you come to be out here tied up and shot in the head? Who are the bastards that did this to you?"

His words caused tears to well in her eyes again.