Captive family in chains
They paused on the crest of an icy ridge, breathless after a long climb on slender cross country skis. Tracy Baldwin threw back her head to rasp in deep gulps of the chilling cold, crystal-clear mountain air. It didn't help much. Her aching lungs still felt like two lumps of fire.
She laughed weakly and said, "I can't wait to get back to the city and breathe smog. My body needs air thick enough to see." A raw gust of wind swirled a soft wave of auburn hair across her face. Tracy shivered and swept back the loose strand, gazing in awe at the trackless, virgin-white snow layered deep in the valley below.
Tracy's daughter Karina stood beside her, a lithe and tawny, redheaded teenager. Silky hair like red-golden tongues of flame fell halfway down her back. It shimmered brightly in the light of the setting sun.
"Oh, Mom!" the girl said scornfully. "Just look at that beautiful view. The jagged mountain peaks, the forest and miles of pure white virgin snow. Would you trade scenery like that for a city of glass, steel and dirty concrete?"
"Right now I'd trade my ass for a good hot bath," her mother said with unusual frankness.
They'd been on the wilderness trail for five days with no more hot water than could be heated in a small pan. The rich, womanly scent of her musk grew stronger, despite daily sponging. It embarrassed Tracy now, and her husband, Dick, said they were still three days from the trail head.
"I could live like this forever!" Jo Decker exclaimed.
Jo was Tracy's niece, her sister's daughter, and only six months older than her cousin Karina, although she looked far more mature. Her once almost scrawny little girl figure had blossomed with a full set of stunning curves in the last year or so. And then, just before joining the Baldwins on their winter camping trip, Jo bleached and dyed her long hair to shining silver-blonde.
"Being in the high country makes me feel so wild and free!" Jo said. She tossed back her head and whirled it around to express that feeling of joy. The brisk cold wind caught her hair and swirled it like a silvery mist. "What do you think, Uncle Dick? Isn't this the most spectacular view you ever saw?"
"It sure is!"