New Short Romantic Mystery!
Birds in Paradise
(An Aloha Pete Mystery)
By Dorothy St. James
Barking Dog Press
$0.99 ("LIKE" Dorothy's Facebook fan page for a FREE coupon code)
I rubbed my eyes not quite believing what I was seeing. What in the world was Aloha Pete doing up there? Up on the stage? With the hula dancers? And under a starry sky in the palm-tree lounge of a touristy hotel, at that?
Not that I minded seeing him dressed in a scanty leather loincloth and swinging around a wooden spear. Because, I didn’t. In fact, after seeing Pete’s darkly tanned chest I forgot all about the man with the white hat who had followed me into the hotel bar. Transfixed, I sank into the closest wicker chair, my gaze locked on the small wooden stage where three men—counting Pete—and four women were dancing.
I’d never seen Pete with his shoulder length silky black hair loose from the leather strap he wore. But oh, it was loose and beautiful now. And my heart couldn’t help but pound in concert with the primitive moves of the dance. The bounce-thrust-bounce of his hips in time to the deep thrumming of the drums.
A passing waiter placed a mai tai on the table in front of me. I gave him a grateful smile and then took a long sip of the sweet drink.
Okay, okay. I know what you’re thinking. But only if backed into a corner would I admit it out loud. I’ve had an elephant-sized crush on Pete from the first moment we met. He was a uniformed cop back then, and I was a fledgling pickpocket. Luckily for me, he had a soft spot for young women down on their luck. Instead of arresting me—like the honest cop he was—he gave me a handful of cash and put me in contact with his aunt, a dark leathery-faced woman everyone calls Mamma Jo. She manages one of the original low-rise hotels in Waikiki. In lieu of rent, she lets me clean the rooms.
Through her and the company she keeps, I fell into my current career. Private investigations. Who knew an ivy-league-dropout, beach-bum-failure would have a knack for solving crimes? I certainly didn’t.
Five years later, Pete has graduated from officer pounding the beat to respected detective for the Honolulu PD, and I’ve built a reputation as an effective private detective. Sometimes we find ourselves working the same cases.
It makes Pete grumble and swear in his native Hawaiian.
And still, I have that elephant-sized crush on him.
But nothing is going to happen.
It isn’t as if he even likes me.
Heck, I saved his life. Took a bullet in the shoulder to keep it from landing square in his chest just a few months ago. And what thanks did I get? A scowl. Oh, and he threatened to toss my butt in jail.
With that in mind, I knew I was wasting my time when the drums stopped beating. But my heart didn’t listen. It continued to pound. The lights came up and a line of tourists rushed the stage to have their pictures taken with the dancers. A hotel photographer with an instant camera was selling copies for ten dollars. It was an investment I was only too willing to make.
I hurried over to the stage and jumped into the line. I knew Pete wouldn’t recognize me right away. Thanks to my disguise I looked like any other tourist. A silky flower-print dress that didn’t quite reach my knees and a large straw hat with a matching band hid my blond hair and most of my face.
At the hotel, I blended quite well.
He gave me an empty smile, tossed his arm over my shoulder, and posed for the camera.
“A-lo-ha—” I tipped up the rim of my floppy hat so he could see my smiling face. “—Pete.”
His arm stiffened. “Kyra? What the hell are you doing here?”
Though I’m a firm believer in the truth—I swear, I am—I couldn’t help but remember Pete’s dire warning that if he found out I was back in the private detective business, and working without a license, he’d haul me down to the station and lock me away. Forever.
“Having a girl’s night out with some friends.” The lie came easily enough. I gave a nod toward a group of women who were giggling and a little more than halfway toward being plastered. “And you?” I lowered my voice. “Don’t tell me that you’re working undercover.”
His arm stiffened a bit more. “I’m doing a favor for my cousin. He has the flu and couldn’t find anyone to fill in for him.”
“I’m impressed.” I stepped aside so he could pose for a picture with a giggling teenage girl. I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off Pete’s invitingly naked chest or wipe the goofy grin from my lips. “Really impressed.”
“Go home, Kyra.” He turned toward me and away from his flock of adoring fans. His scowl was back. “And forget that you saw any of this, okay?”
Out the corner of my eye, I caught sight of the man who’d been following me. He was heading across the bar and toward the beach.
“Sure,” I said, and gave into the urge to lay my hand flat on Pete’s smooth chest. “No problem.”
After a breathless moment I jumped off the stage, paid the cameraman for the picture of the all-too-serious Detective Pete in his native garb, and hurried after the other mystery man in my life. This was no time to play games, not with my heart, anyhow. Whether I had a license or not, I still had a job to do and a mountain of bills to pay.
“S-she’s been-been missing for nearly a week!” Anna Hartfield, a young woman with bleached blond hair and a perky little nose, collapsed into one of my office/living room/hotel bedroom chairs, and started weeping.
I handed her a tissue. “And this has never happened before?” I asked her, using my gentle, new-client voice.
She looked up at me, her eyes wide and somewhat confused. She dabbed her damp nose. “B-before?”
“Has your sister, Tina, ever run off before?” After a long silence I added, “With a man?”
Anna shook her head vigorously. “I told her it was a bad idea, but we weren’t making enough money with our waitressing jobs to cover the rent. Everything is so expensive out here on the islands. I told her that we should just go back to Iowa. But she wouldn’t listen. And now she’s gone.”
My stomach twisted. “What was your sister doing?”
“She—” Anna looked up at me suddenly, her eyes filled with terror. “She’s not like the others. She was just trying to make things work for us here. It was just until we found something better.”
“You need to tell me,” I urged her. “What was Tina doing?”
Anna continued to shake her head as pearly tears dripped down her cheeks.
“Was she dealing drugs? Robbery?” I swallowed hard and hoped it wasn’t what I feared it might be. “Prostitution?”
“She said she’d just do it a few times,” Anna sobbed. “She said she’d be careful and only get involved with rich tourists. I begged her not to go, but she went out anyhow and never came home.”
I closed my eyes for a moment. Two young, pretty girls had already gone missing in the past few weeks while peddling their trade. I’d poked around—strictly out of curiosity—after the second girl had disappeared. The next day my mysterious shadow man had entered my life. Hell yeah, I thought it was too much of a coincidence. Tug on the right chains and all sorts of creatures show up. But other than my new shadow, I was coming up empty-handed.
Like the other missing girls, Anna looked to be about eighteen. Her sister was a year older. They were both too young, too innocent to be sliding down that dark path. I know...I could have easily ended up there myself.
Five years ago, picking tourists pockets was barely getting me enough money for food. I was getting close to being desperate enough to agree to trade my body for a dry, safe place to live. Sleeping on the grass in a park loses its luster pretty fast, even in paradise.
My heart ached for the two sisters. I reached out and gave Anna’s hand a squeeze. “I’ll see what I can do to find her.”
“I-I can’t pay you,” Anna stumbled over her words. “At least, not yet. But I don’t know what else to do. The police, they don’t seem concerned.”
I’m sure the police were concerned, but in a case like this one there wasn’t too much they could do other than wait for a body to show up.
I, on the other hand, could devote all my time to focus on this one case. Not getting paid for it would hurt. But there was no way I was going to turn Anna away.
“Have you called your parents yet?” I asked softly. “You should let them know what’s going on.”
She agreed to call her parents only after I promised to talk with them and assure them that I would do everything possible to find their daughter.
That evening I hit the streets with my butt squeezed into a black spandex skirt that, and I’m not kidding you, I’d bought thinking it was a headband. My generous upper parts were barely covered by an electric blue halter-top, and I’d gobbed on enough makeup that I when I passed Mamma Jo in the hallway on the way out, she introduced herself as if I was a new guest.
Gad, I was uncomfortable parading down the street in my rubber flip-flops while fighting the urge to tug at my skirt. Rule number one to undercover work: blend. On the glitzy sidewalks of Waikiki in front the high-priced storefronts of Channel and Versace, where I liked to conduct my PI business, this outfit stuck out like a sunburned Midwesterner. Unfortunately, where I was headed I would look conservative.
Daisy, a small but tough, oriental woman who couldn’t have been much older than me, was the first to greet me when I stepped off the bus. She followed me as I wandered a short way down a narrow alleyway where a group of ladies were standing around, waiting for men to find them.
Okay, Daisy hadn’t exactly greeted me. She’d growled and displayed her pretty row of white teeth, save for one that had been chipped during a violent encounter her first time on the streets.
“Did Mamma Jo finally kick you out of your cushy nest?” she asked me.
“Maybe she’s working for the police now,” a dark eyed beauty I didn’t recognize said. The girl sounded scared. Several of the other girls started to crowd around.
An election was coming up, and that meant the police would be put under extra pressure to clean up these back streets. I didn’t blame the politicians, the police, or the women peddling their bodies for that matter. They were all doing what they thought was necessary. I blamed the men who paid for the women. Heck, I wouldn’t mind seeing any of them hung up by their—
But I’m straying from the main thrust of the story.
Brandi, a plump bleached blonde who had to be close to fifty, pushed a brochure into my hand. “It’s not too late,” she said quietly. “There is help for you. All you have to do is ask.”
I glanced down at the paper she’d handed me. It was a flier from a local church.
“You’ve been saved?” I asked her, somewhat surprised. Brandi had been a fixture out here. The young ones thought of her as ‘the original hooker’.
“I can’t believe how stupid I’ve been all these years.” She puffed on a cigarette. “These girls, they don’t have to make the same mistakes I have. There are other options.”
“I know. I was lucky to find one early on,” I said, and handed her back the brochure.
She blew out a stream of smoke and shook her head. “Then what’cha you doing here?”
I held up my hands and gave her a wan smile. “I’m just looking to talk.”
“Talk. Right. And those are your talkin’ clothes?”
I rooted around in my purse for the photo of Tina that her sister had provided. “They sure are, if you’re willing to talk about her,” I said after pushing the picture into her hands.
Brandi scrunched up her nose and made a face.
“She belonged in the tourist areas. This street ain’t a pretty place. Not a place for beginners. I told her to repent. To save her soul. But she told me she couldn’t. Not until she got enough money. Like money is more important than salvation.” Brandi shook her head. “Poor stupid kid.”
“We all start out that way,” I pointed out.
“What you whispering about over here?” Daisy pushed me out of the way and snatched the photo from Brandi. “Who’s that?”
“Tina,” I said. “Her sister told me that she was working in this area a few nights ago. She’s gone missing.”
Daisy turned the photo on its side and squinted. “Why you care?”
“Because she can’t be much older than eighteen, and she can’t survive out here alone.”
“I was doing fine on my own ever since I was fourteen,” Daisy said. A couple of men were heading in their direction. “And I’ve got money to make.”
Taking a gamble that Daisy did know Tina, I grabbed her arm. “I’ll give you $50 to stay and talk with me for a half-hour.”
I had to pay up front. And the two men were greeted by a couple of other girls. Daisy shrugged and turned her gaze back to the photo.
“I told her to go work in Waikiki. But she said she’d heard about the police and didn’t want to risk getting caught. Most of the business has gone inside nowadays, anyhow. It’s slow out here.”
“So she stayed?”
Daisy grimaced. “We didn’t make her welcome.”
“I gave her a brochure. She needed guidance,” Brandi said, her voice rising. “You all need guidance.” She raced over to where the two men were talking with the girls. “Repent. Turn away from your evil ways.”
The men took off running. Alone.
I bit back a cheer. Good for Brandi and her new goal in life! The girls who’d just lost business didn’t share my enthusiasm. They started cursing up a blue streak.
Daisy laughed. “Between Brandi, the police, and the indoor establishments with their influx of young Vietnamese imports, I’m wasting my time out here. We all are.”
“So why don’t you look for something better?”
Daisy shrugged. “I suppose I will sooner or later.”
“Do you remember if Tina had any luck finding a man to...um...hook up with the other night?”
Daisy closed her eyes. After a long silence she said, “I don’t know. I want to say no. I don’t remember seeing her walk off with any of the guys. It would have caused an outburst, you know, with the other girls. But I don’t remember her hanging around all night, either. Perhaps she found somewhere else to work?”
Before leaving, I questioned the other girls. None of them were as helpful as Daisy. With nothing better to work with, I visited a few other spots in the downtown that night, talking with the women, trying to find out if Daisy was right. Did Tina try and find another place to work?
By sunrise, I felt as if I’d been down every street in Honolulu, and no one other than Daisy and her friends had recognized Tina’s photo.
Exhausted and feeling more than a little discouraged, I went home and collapsed in my bed. Less than a half-hour passed before the sound of someone trying to break down my door woke me up with a jolt.
As soon as I unlatched the lock, the door swung open and bounced violently off the wall. A wild-eyed Aloha Pete thundered into the room. He grabbed my arm with bruising strength.
“I thought we were friends,” he shouted as he took in every scanty inch of the street-wear I hadn’t bothered to remove. “More than friends.”
My heart stuttered. Had he come to the same conclusion I had ages ago? And had he found being apart from me for even a moment longer unbearable? Was he truly expressing an interest in making our relationship more personal? More intimate?
“Y-yes?” I said, my mouth going dry as my hopes soared.
His voice deepened. “You’re my ‘ohana. My family.”
“Oh,” I said and rubbed my blurry and, suddenly, teary eyes. “Family. Like a sister.”
I huffed and tried to pull out of his bruising hold.
“For God’s sake,” he said, and tightened his grip on me. “Put on some decent clothes so I can take you out to breakfast.” Very brotherly sounding, I was forced to admit to my breaking heart.
“Let go of me, then.” I batted at his muscular arm. “I can’t get dressed with you swinging me about like a broom.”
“No, I suppose you can’t,” he conceded, and backed himself into the hallway. “I’ll be waiting for you.”
Birds in Paradise
(An Aloha Pete Mystery)
By Dorothy St. James
Barking Dog Press
$0.99 ("LIKE" Dorothy's Facebook fan page for a FREE coupon code)
Available from Smashwords, Kindle, coming soon to all major e-book retailers.
~Dorothy St. James
Author of FLOWERBED OF STATE, Book 1 in the White House Gardener Mysteries
May 2011, Berkley Prime Crime
"...a bright blossom in the garden of cozy mysteries." ~ Sherry Lewis, Mystery Author
World War Two changed the lives of all GIs who went into battle, but in the case of Private Paulsen, post-war transformations prove wildly more dramatic. After undergoing one of the world’s first sex change operations in Europe, the Private returns home with a splash…a brand new identity. Pearl Paulsen is instantly the most intriguing and yet reviled celebrity in the country, but her fame provides little comfort when she’s missing the man she loves. When Pearl meets up once again with George, the soldier she fought beside at Normandy, will the sparks they'd suppressed during the war return with a vengeance? Now that Pearl has the body she’s always wanted, can love bloom between the two?
by Giselle Renarde
lyd Category: Transfix
Length: 30 pdf Pages / 4000 words
Heat Rating: 3
Formats Available: pdf, prc, lit, zipped html,
lrf, epub, RB,
Ebook Cover Price: $2.00
George stopped short as he approached the Grand Marigold Hotel. Pearl Paulsen! There she was, before his very eyes! His whole body felt topsy-turvy as he surveyed her, from the rhinestone brooch clipped to her mink pillbox hat, down past a matching mink coat, and all the way to her seamless stockings and high-heeled shoes.
Apart from Hollywood starlets, Pearl Paulsen was the most recognizable woman in the country. When she first returned from Europe, her photograph was smeared across the cover of every national daily. Even now she appeared in the odd newsreel, still greeted by the jeers and hisses of cinemagoers. But George never hissed, and he held to the hope that very few among the hecklers held any feelings of enmity toward poor Pearl.
And now she stood before him, chatting with the dapper men and elegant women of her sycophantic clique. Pearl Paulsen! What a glamorous girl she’d become since the war! With her blonde SwirlaWave hairdo and her deep red lipstick, she looked nothing at all like the young private George had landed beside on the beaches at Normandy.
His mouth opened and a name tumbled out. The wrong name: “Howard!”
Pearl’s head whipped around. Her gaze was hard when it met his. And then recognition sparked, thank goodness, and her expression softened. She smiled faintly at first, but her lips soon wore a full-blown grin. Excusing herself from her elite circle, she ran to George and threw her arms around his shoulders.
“Why if it isn’t good old Georgie Kensington! Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes!” Backing away to get a load of George in full military uniform, Pearl snapped up her fallen shoulder bag from the ground. Her wide smile gleamed. “How long has it been? How are you? What are you doing in the big city?”
George wasn’t terribly interested in talking about himself. His life was a bore. He’d much rather hear about hers.
“Is that fellow giving you trouble, Pearl?” one of the men from her clique called out.
“Heavens, no!” she chuckled. The late-evening sky threatened with drizzle, and Pearl grabbed George firmly by the arm and dragged him beneath the hotel’s overhang. “I would like you all to meet a darling man I served with in the army. This is Private George Kensington.”
He’d risen significantly in rank since the war, but George didn’t bother her with that information. The clique mumbled their hellos and then resumed conversations amongst themselves—all but the man who’d interrupted their reunion. “So you knew our girl Pearl on the battlefield, did ya?”
The man’s intense smile made George nervous. “We were like brothers,” he replied in earnest.
“Brothers!” Pearl released a shimmering giggle. “I certainly hope you don’t see me the same way now!”
George gazed down at his feet. “Why, no ma’am. No, I certainly don’t.”
Canada just got hotter!
A Post-Valentine's Day treat!! What happens if you find you have... ONE WIFE TOO MANY??
Wilson Struthers is an ambitious attorney who advances his career by marrying eighteen-year-old Andrea, the boss’ daughter. Things go according to plan... until Andrea is lost at sea. Seven years later, Wilson marries again. Then the fun begins!
The shower’s jet of warm water couldn’t dispel the growing cold spreading throughout Andrea’s body. This man, this Will Struthers, was someone from her former life.
It was as if a missing puzzle piece had suddenly fit into place. His deep voice kindled a rush of feelings within her, shaking her to her very core.
The feelings swirling through her were neither good nor bad. Rather, she felt incredibly anxious.
Whatever her previous life had held, it couldn’t compare with her present one. She didn’t want to go back to being Andrea Last-Name-Unknown. More than anything, she needed to continue as Anakalia Lawai’a.
After turning off the shower faucet, she stepped out of the ball-and-claw-foot tub. She dried off, and slipped into her terrycloth bathrobe. Next she wound a towel around her wet head. Her actions were done by rote. Her mind was a million miles away.
Or rather, her thoughts were one floor below, in the kitchen, with Nathan’s handsome friend.
What if Will is my husband?
She shuddered. No. It’s impossible. It can’t be. It can’t be. She used the phrase as a mantra to shut out these disturbing thoughts and images.
Andrea hurried into her bedroom. She pulled off the towel and started to comb out her hair. What was most important right now was to concentrate on what she needed to do. Not to think about that man, about her past. She had to help Mama Kalala cook. So she had to dress. She had to focus on the little things.
The doorknob to the connecting bedroom jiggled. Without thinking, she unlocked the door. On the other side of the threshold stood the man she was trying to forget.
Him. Will Struthers.
He eyed her from head to toe and blinked rapidly. His tanned face turned rosy red. “I-I beg your pardon. I didn’t mean to intrude.”
His embarrassment made her grin. Nothing erotic here. She was completely covered. And just to make sure, she held the edges of her robe closed against her chest.
Andrea backed away from the paneled door so he could enter. “Not a problem, Will. I have three brothers. I’m used to sharing a bathroom.”
None of what she said was really true, but he wouldn’t know that.
She turned toward her bedroom. “Well, I’ll let you have your privacy.”
He tapped her on her shoulder. Even through the terrycloth, his touch seared her skin.
“Listen, I know this may sound odd, but I feel as if I know you from someplace.”
Oh great. He felt it too, then. Her long dormant memory started to bubble as if getting ready to boil. Soon the dam would burst.
She did not want that to happen.
She turned back around, her bare feet squeaking on the parquet wood flooring. She played innocent. “Really? You don’t look familiar to me. I rarely leave the Big Island. You said you work for ESP. Sometimes I visit Oahu to see my brother Tomas and his wife, Hi`ilani.”
She believed him to be an outsider, though. He didn’t have an island feel about him. Especially since he wore an expensive executive suit... in the bathroom.
And she absolutely itched to escape from his company.
He smoothed dark hair off his forehead and shook his head. His gaze never left her face. “No, that can’t be it. I work for the firm, but out of Richmond. I only visited Oahu once before.”
Richmond. As in Richmond, Virginia. That rang an unwanted bell.
She inched closer to her bedroom door. “I’ve got to get dressed and help with dinner.”
A haunted look came into his dark brown or black eyes. “I was on Oahu seven years ago.”
“Oh!” she inadvertently gasped. Seven years ago her new life began. This was no coincidence.
She shrugged as if his words were inconsequential. “That was a long time ago, wasn’t it? Well, I’ll see you downstairs.”
He held out his left hand as if to prevent her from leaving. The gold gleam on his ring finger caught her eye.
Married, but not to her.
Thank goodness. Her wedding ring had been made of white gold.
Andrea made a very hasty retreat and took great pleasure in shutting... and locking the connecting door.
Susanne Marie Knight
Read outside the box: award-winning Romance Writing With A Twist!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Now Available: One Wife Too Many (Uncial Press)
Seven years after his bride is lost at sea, Wilson marries again. Bigamist!
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6axHmA8xwc
The Minx Tobin Mystery Series: The Ill-gotten Insurance--Case Two (Desert Breeze Publishing)
Minx's dead friend turns up alive... but not for long. Will the life insurance have to be paid twice?
Book Trailer for Case Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGy7DzneQ2Y
A NOBLE DILEMMA (Aurora Regency, Aspen Mountain Press)
Bethany has a guilty secret that if discovered, will scandalize Polite Society and her new love, the Earl of Ingraham. What would Jane Austen do??
Book Trailer: http://www.blogger.com/
Claudia detests Mark. Mark detests Claudia. But they both love Jason Paul...
Two years after Claudia’s bisexual husband Jason Paul leaves her to live with Mark, she finds herself unemployed but desperate to stay in the city. As she sees it, the only solution is to move in with her ex and his lover Mark, whom she despises.
When she comes to prep her new bedroom with a fresh coat of paint, Mark immediately criticizes her work. Of course, she won’t hand over her brush to him, but concedes to let him help. Before she knows what’s happening, however, sparks ignite, and Claudia begins to recognize the romantic and erotic possibilities of having two men in her bed and in her life...
Genres: Contemporary / Romantic Comedy / Interracial / Multicultural / Ménage (M/M/F) / Group Sex / Bisexual Activity (M/M)
Heat Level: 3
Length: Amber Kiss (8k words)
Canada just got hotter!
She had filled out a little more in the last few days, lost that grayness under her eyes and in her face. In her new blue gown and with her hair streaming out behind her as they cantered over the downs, Alyson was more vivid than the fresh summer green of the trees, so bright to his eye after the muted, dusty colors of Outremer. She was more delicate than the scattered cowslips, speedwell and orchids that bordered the chalk track they were racing along, giving the horses their heads. She rode superbly - but then, what did Alyson not do superbly?
And she is mine. Guillelm wanted to utter a war-cry from sheer bravado, utter pride and joy. At the castle gate, one of his guards had asked if he was hunting today and he was, though not with hawk or dogs. His present quarry needed more subtlety, and patience. Patience above all, Guillelm reminded himself, thinking once more of Heloise of Outremer and her dreadful warning.
Desperate to avoid that fate with Alyson, he had planned this day as he might a military campaign and only prayed that his preparations would be to her liking. He knew the arts of war but less those of peace. How did an English lord entertain his lady?
He had taken food from the kitchen for them but now, as he spied a stand of oak trees where they might shelter from the midday heat and relax, he was unsure. As a girl, Alyson had enjoyed romping and eating out of doors but as a woman perhaps she would consider those things too unmannerly, even coarse.
‘I thought we might stop here, allow the horses to graze.’ Fool! It must be obvious that is only an excuse, he thought, scanning the sparse grass under the trees. ’If that is acceptable?’ he went on, compounding his error by actually asking permission.
Alyson nodded and reined in. Swiftly dismounting, perhaps so that she did not have to endure his touch, she knelt by one of the oaks. As he wondered what she was doing, Guillelm watched her take a worn knife from her belt and begin sawing at the bracket fungus growing at the base of the trunk.
‘This may be useful for my healing,’ she explained, lifting the fungus onto a clean scrap of cloth she had produced from somewhere about her person.
‘Healing is surely in God’s hands,’ Guillelm began, recalling old childhood tales of poisoned toadstools, but Alyson wrinkled her nose.
‘It may be, but Christ gave us wit and nimble fingers to aid ourselves,’ she said.
He knelt beside her and took her knife, plunging it into the grass.
‘That is a very round reply, mistress.’ Would she be teased by him, Guillelm wondered. Dare he tease?
The matter was resolved when Alyson thrust her tongue out at him.
What was she doing? Guillelm was no longer nineteen. Because they had stopped beneath the dappled shade of an oak tree, had knelt close to a small, gurgling stream that she could hear but not see, it did not mean that he remembered what she had never forgotten. She had allowed the memory of that afternoon, by another oak wood, on another sultry summer’s day, near to another clear, swift-flowing brook, to govern her actions.
Appalled at her folly, Alyson tried to rise to her feet but was snared in a pair of arms that pinioned her own hands helplessly by her sides.
‘The last time we were this way together, you saved my life.’
‘No, no,’ Alyson demurred, pleased and at the same time alarmed that he did remember. She tried to squirm free of her captor.
‘None of that.’ Still clasping her - so strongly that she felt bound by fetters of iron - Guillelm lowered his head. ‘I mind it well, Bright-eyes.’
‘You called me dragon then, too, when I was ready to confront the royal foresters, and you dragged me under cover. Into brambles, I do believe.’ He was smiling, but then he added seriously, ‘Had those woodsmen caught us, straying into part of the king’s forest, there would have been no mercy for me.’
Alyson nodded, thinking how Guillelm had found a dead deer and had dressed it for meat, recalling how stubborn he had been to keep the deer, although by law all such game was reserved for the king. He was even ready to fight the foresters, whom with her quick hearing she heard riding across the stream before she and Guillelm were seen.
‘You flung yourself on me and brought me to my knees. I remember your words: “You cannot fight five armed with bows and swords and you with only a hunting knife, even if you are as brave as a dragon.” Your good sense saved me. And at the time I was astonished that such a slip of a girl could take me down so easily.’ Guillelm brushed her cheek with his, whispering, ’Your quick wits made me think, reminded me of what really mattered. Your own safety.’
Alyson blushed, aware, as she had not been at fourteen, of the truth of Guillelm’s statement. Then, her only thought had been to save him from the harsh laws of the forest and the king’s justice; she had not considered her own position, or vulnerability, a girl at the dubious mercy of six men, all strangers to her and she to them. ’I was naïve,’ she said.
‘We both were.’
‘You really saved me,’ Alyson went on, but Guillelm shook his head.
‘We saved each other,’ he said. ‘Did I ever thank you?’
‘Did I kiss you?’
Alyson’s heart felt to leap almost out of her ribs. Breathless, all eyes, she waited as his mouth touched hers. She sighed, leaning into the kiss and he gave a mighty groan, gathering her closer, his hands releasing hers to cup her face.
Dazed with the sweet pulse of pleasure coursing through her as their kiss intensified, Alyson did what she had dreamed of doing for years and playfully traced a finger down the length of Guillelm’s nose and then, as he started slightly with surprise and drew back a little, teased her thumb over his upper lip.
‘Little witch.’ In his mouth, the words were an endearment. He nibbled her finger and softly drew her hand away, claiming her lips a second time with his own.
Tingling with sensation, Alyson wondered if she was experiencing anything akin to what the great mystic Hildegarde of Bermersheim had once described as being like ‘a feather on the breath of God.’ There was something almost unearthly to their embrace, the very air about her and Guillelm seem to crackle. When they broke apart to look at each other, the sun seemed brighter, the scent of the bruised grass beneath their knees fresher, the luster in Guillelm’s eyes deeper. His whole face glowed, the fine bristles trembling on his upper lip.
‘You are…’ He swept a hand along her arm, raised her hand and kissed the knuckle above her betrothal ring. ‘I wanted to do this seven years ago.’
‘And for so long I feared you dead.’ In a chilling flurry of remembered horror, Alyson pressed herself against Guillelm, hearing his heart but wanting still more, to be closer, flesh against flesh. ‘Dead!’
She shuddered and he rocked her, crooning a snatch of song. ’Remember this little tune?’ he asked.
‘My Lady’s white rose. It was on everyone’s lips that summer.’ At fourteen Alyson had not known the name of the song. ‘You would whistle it sometimes, to tease me.’
‘Do you still snap your fingers when you are angry?’
‘You will have to wait to find out,’ Alyson replied.
‘If you do, then as your betrothed I may devise some suitable punishment for you.’
‘You can try,’ Alyson answered lightly, hoping her face gave no hint of her darker thoughts and Lord Robert’s ‘punishments’.
Guillelm glanced at her keenly and she shifted slightly, disturbed by memories and by more direct physical discomfort as the dull ache in her knees finally registered.
‘Ach! My legs have gone to sleep!’ Guillelm scowled, then laughed as Alyson said quickly, ’Stamp your feet and rub your calves, that will bring them back to life.’
‘What else do you suggest, physic?’ Rising, he lifted her with him, dangling her from his arms.
‘Food,’ Alyson answered determinedly. ’For you will have brought some victuals for our journey, I think. Now, are you going to set me down?’
Guillelm grinned and did so.
To read more and for buy links, please go here:
Best wishes, Lindsay Townsend
Good morning everyone! I'd like to share a hot excerpt from Breathless Surrender, my second Quickie with Ellora's Cave.
"Please let me go."
"I can't do that." She gasped sharply when he tweaked her nipple,
then lapped at it as if it were a sweet sucker before returning his
mouth to her ear. "You know you want this too. You've been wondering
what it would be like with me." His teeth tugged at her ear. He prayed
she showed some common sense.
Reid tore off the rag covering her eyes and their gazes met—his
brown to her blue. Her eyes widened and she blinked several times,
probably to focus her gaze. "I don't know what kind of game—"
He let his hands smooth down the backs of her thighs and said in a low
tone, "This isn't a game, Alexis. I promise I'll explain as soon
as I can. But for now I need you to trust me." If he couldn't get
his meaning across they were in trouble. Their gazes remained locked.
Reid could almost see the wheels turning inside her head. She was
weighing his words, making an obvious effort to understand him. "I want
you to act like you're afraid."
"I am afraid," she whispered.
"No, I mean like you were, before you knew it was me."
Faced with the prospect of six months of hard work going down the drain,
Reid decided to force the issue. He kissed Alexis roughly, caressing her
exposed breast and running his thumb over the taut crown. She stiffened
and tried to pull away. Good. He knew Juan, in his sick, twisted mind,
expected to see resistance and action. Less talk. Reid tangled his
fingers into her hair to hold her head still, forcing his tongue inside
her mouth. She promptly bit down on his bottom lip.
Shit! Reid pulled away, fingering the wound. They were both breathing
heavily, though for different reasons. The fear he expected to see in
Alexis' eyes was overshadowed by her growing anger, which only
fueled his. "We only get one chance at this little show, baby." He drew
her nipple into his mouth and sucked it while touching her in places
that kept his cock rock hard. "We better make it count."
Reid could see the change come over her face the second he pulled away.
He could see it in the sudden clarity of her eyes. Either she finally
understood what he wanted of her or she was desperate and grasping the
only lifeline she'd been offered since her nightmare began that
morning. He kissed his way along her jaw to her ear. "I'm going to
fuck you, Alexis." He whispered the words.
She caught her breath. Reid brushed the hair behind her delicate ear,
inhaling a subtle fragrance that teased his senses further into
overdrive. Holding her gaze, he removed the knife he carried in his
pocket. Her eyes widened with fear, but before she had a chance to react
he reached up and cut the rope above her wrists. As she fell, he caught
her against him. Then he gathered her into his arms and headed straight
for the bed. He dumped her onto the thin mattress and stood above her,
eating her up with his eyes. Giving her time to run her gaze over him to
confirm for herself that he wasn't kidding.
Reid damn near lost control when her eyes reached his hard-on and
lingered. His cock throbbed and he damned himself for the raw lust
coursing through his veins. Maybe he was a little more like Juan than he
There was no disguising the fact that Alexis was frightened. But there
was something else in her eyes too, a kind of excitement, perhaps an
acceptance of things to come. Maybe her instinct to survive had kicked
in and she figured she'd do whatever it took to stay alive. Even if
it meant giving herself to a man she didn't know other than a polite
acknowledgement when they passed in the hallway.
Aware time was slipping by, Reid pulled his tee shirt over his head and
reached for the snap to his jeans. He hesitated only a second when her
eyes flared, then kicked off his shoes. Before long his jeans were
joining his shirt on the floor. A whimper escaped her but nothing else.
Reid couldn't tell if it was a sound of fear or pleasure. He decided
to leave his briefs on, lowering his body until he covered her. The
second his raging cock came in proximity to her pussy it strained and
pushed in a demand to be released.
A grunt escaped him before he could stop it and Reid ground his hard
flesh between Alexis' thighs. She cried out and she pushed against
his shoulders. He slapped his mouth down on hers, easily forcing his
chest down against her breasts. When her hands came up, her long nails
scraping the flesh at his sides, he took hold of her wrists and pinned
them to the bed above her head.