Jaxton Hughes trekked up the steep path leading from the resort to the nearby cliffs. The rivers, lakes and crystal clear pools dotting the astonishing Belize countryside were surrounded by rangy precipices. Climbing to the top of an outcropping, Jaxton marveled at the glorious sight awaiting him. The startling azure pool at least twenty feet below his vantage point was nestled between the craggy cliffs. Surrounded by exotic vegetation, the tropical paradise, rampant with color and texture, snagged his breath. Glad that he’d been wise enough to escape the crowded resort at least for the moment, Jaxton silently thanked the nature gods who’d created the stunning panorama before him. He needed to clear his head, prepare for the challenging evening ahead. In years of leading formidable missions, Jax had learned the importance of calming his spirit, to ensure that he was emotionally as well as physically prepared for the certain dangers to come. The peaceful scene below was so incongruous, so contrary to the challenges he was facing that he might have laughed. Instead he shuddered at the internal warning signs confirming his well-tuned body knew his trepidations were more than justified. Two years of arduous planning and countless setbacks would be put to the test this weekend. Jax breathed a hard sigh acknowledging that his team’s chances of success were 70/30–against. Breaking into his reverie, Jaxton was startled to see that he wasn’t alone. Standing on the edge of an opposing cliff was a woman. Or at least he thought it was a woman although she looked more like an apparition, a phantom. His heart pounding in his chest confirmed that the vision in the filmy white dress was real. Seeing her studying the crystal clear water below, Jaxton realized to his horror that the woman was preparing to jump. The warning signals that had prepared him for dangerous action in hellholes from Somalia to the Ukraine tightened his nerve endings to snare drum tautness. Acknowledging the distance between himself and the nymph poised on the edge of the precipice, he was struck by his impotence, his inability to stop her certain-death leap. Choking on the warning shout trapped in his throat, as if in slow motion, he saw the slender woman reach for the clasp on the back of her dress. In one easy movement the gauzy slip slithered to the ground revealing her naked body. Jaxton had traveled the globe, righting the wrongs that evil men wreaked on the innocent and the weak. To maintain his sanity and a soupcon of belief that good lived somewhere alongside the inhumanity of evil men, he’d sought respite in the arms of beautiful women. Stunned, Jaxton acknowledged that in all of his erotic romps seeking relief from the terrors of his world, he had never seen a more beautiful woman than the slender, blonde goddess poised on the edge of the forbidding cliff. A literal Venus rising from the water below, she stole his breath. To his shock, the sylphlike vision swept her hands high above her head. Before Jax could exhale the stifling air trapped in his chest and shout out a warning, the naked apparition rose on her tiptoes and dove headfirst into the gleaming pool a lifetime below.
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