“A sexual what?”
Alex Donovan raised his voice louder than he’d intended on the patio of the Makana Island Bistro while having a late lunch with Maddie. He shook his head in utter disbelief. He was sure he had heard her suggestion correctly. However, his mind had frozen for a moment.
“Sexual boot camp,” Maddie said, refilling her glass with the carafe of red wine.
Baffled, he tried to focus on her bizarre idea. “Is this carnal academy for your piece?”
“Nope.” Saluting him, she gave him a salacious smile. “Private Saunders reporting for duty, Sergeant Donovan.”
“I’m going to need reinforcements for this one.” He held his wine glass out for her to refill it. “You called me sergeant a few weeks ago.” He drank some wine. “Mystery solved.”
She gazed at him from the top of her glass through her lush lashes. “Drill sergeant’s more like it.”
He grinned at her latest shit-disturbing lark. “You? Follow orders?”
“There is that.” She speared a tortellini and a meatball onto her fork. “But I’m willing to learn. Basic training shouldn’t take too long.”
He tilted his wine glass toward hers. “I think you’ve spilled one glass too many, Saunders.”
“I only had a few ounces.” She picked up a breadstick. “I can handle the heavy artillery.” Her lips formed a delicate “O” as she bit off a small piece. “Imagine what advanced combat will be like.” With her fork, she arranged two meatballs beside each other on her plate, pushed a tortellini between them and moved the breadstick back and forth on top of the tortellini.
Well, fuck me. That’s the first time his cock had ever twitched—minor movement, but still—over a plate of meatballs and tortellini she’d shaped into missionary position—however, the breadstick was a thin and pitiful replica of a dick.
In spite of his astonishment, the animation on her flushed face drew a smile out of him. “You finished molesting your lunch?”
She trailed a long, slim finger around her plate. “I spotted a shop not far from here—Adam and Eve’s Naughty Mart.” Her voice oozed with a provocative suggestion. “Do you think they sell his and hers camo lingerie—”
“Men don’t wear lingerie.”
“We could still browse.” Lifting her glass under her upturned nose, she inhaled the wine. “I’m thinking we could use handcuffs, a whistle—”
“I don’t need props.” Shut the hell up, don’t encourage her. But damn, he was curious as to what she wanted to do with a whistle.
“You should be promoted to general then.” Her rosy cheeks lifted into a smile, reaching the mischievous glint in her eyes. “When do I report for duty? And I don’t have a problem going commando.”
He rolled his eyes, cut a piece of steak and shoveled into his mouth. “Of course not.”
“Like right now.”
Chewing the piece of meat until he was sure he wouldn’t choke, he chased it down with a generous gulp of wine. She had to be dicking around. She wore a short jean skirt, black hose and boots when they boarded in New York.
His testosterone receptors would have picked up a naked pussy sitting next to him for over ten hours on a plane, even though they’d slept for most of the flight.
“Thigh highs.” She pinched the black olives he set aside for her from his salad bowl. “And I commando’ed when I freshened up and changed clothes before we landed.”
“I didn’t ask.”
“But you were wondering.” She ate the olives and took a sip of wine. “Let’s discuss boot camp commencement—”
He wiped his mouth with the napkin, set it aside and picked up his wine glass. “Dare I ask where all this is coming from?”
She straightened in her seat and spoke into her spoon as a makeshift microphone. “I, Madison Elizabeth Saunders, am an erotic creature. It is my goddess-given right to participate in the pleasure process. I demand to experience the mini and the mother of them all, the multi-orgasm.”
In the span of a couple of minutes, she had baffled him more than once.
His extraordinary sixth sense and the built-in bullshit detector he needed to survive as a foreign correspondent usually forewarned him of any unexpected dangers. However, with Maddie, his razor-sharp instincts hadn’t kicked in. He’d tried many times to figure her out and had failed.
“Hey, sergeant, you still with me?”
He glanced around, thankful the other diners were busy with their meals and had missed her orgasm speech. “Yeah. Waiting for Scotty to beam me up.”
“You up to it?” For all her bravado, her cheeks turned a darker shade of pink. But the flame disappeared and she cranked up a wicked grin. “Literally?”
He drained the last of his wine and poured a few more ounces from the decanter. There had to be a logical explanation for her new boldness.
Clasping his hands behind his neck, he leaned back in his chair and waited for the “Gotcha, Alex.” It never came. She sat in silence, a playful expression plastered on her face. “Okay, Saunders, what’s the story? Jet lag? One of your pranks?”
“I told you.” She finished the two remaining meatballs on her plate and put her fork down with a contented sigh. “I have a plan.”
He unclasped his hands and leaned forward. “I’m still recuperating from your last plan.”
She swirled the wine in her glass. “You need to keep an open mind for this one.”
Well, hell. His mind more than opened, thanks to her nookie camp idea. A kaleidoscopic jumble of snapshots reeled through his head—mouth-to-dick-combat and moisture-seeking missile maneuvers.
He shook those visions out of his head. “You and your ideas are more dangerous than dodging bullets.”
She clicked her tongue—probably mistaking his holy-fuckhorse-is-she-serious? look—for an exasperated expression. “C’mon, Donovan, where’s your sense of adventure and fun?”
“Yeah, I get it. This stunt is for Reece’s comic strip, and I’m your guinea pig. Again.”
“Those red-polished toenails did earn Reece a lot of fan mail.”
He lifted his wine glass in mock salute. “Happy to oblige. My reputation as a serious reporter, notwithstanding.”
“It’s not my fault you’re a sound sleeper. Stop napping on my couch.”
“Sweetheart.” He laced the endearment with sarcasm. “I didn’t have time to remove your artwork from my toes, and I showered at the gym that day. The guys still call me Babe.”
“Didn’t he play baseball?” The warm breeze ruffled her thick shiny hair around her laughter. “I’m sorry.” She dabbed at her eyes. “Okay, turnaround is fair play.”
Her sandal hit the wooden deck with a low thump. She swung to the side and lifted her bare foot, wiggling her toes. “I painted yours,” she said, fiddling with her hair, twirling the ends. “You paint mine.”
“Not in this lifetime.”
“I won’t tell.”
His gaze traveled from her pink-tinted toes to her well-defined bare calves. That damn kaleidoscope returned with a vengeance. He pictured himself sitting on the floor, lubing her feet with oil, her toes playing with his full balls and then wrapping her warm slippery feet around his throbbing cock, rubbing back and forth and up and down.
His dick bristled, making its way to high-noon position.
What. The. Fuck?
He did not have a foot fetish and had never fantasized about shooting his load on a woman’s toes.
“Okay.” She turned in her chair and faced him. “Let’s get back on track and talk about the hot fun we can have on this gorgeous island.”
“That joke’s over.” He drained his wine. “Everyone needs a friend to act goofy with, and God only knows why, but I’m glad you’re mine.”
He liked hanging out with two types of women: women who made him laugh–like Maddie–and women who made him horny…blonde, know-the-score babes with a big rack. He did enough thinking and committing in his career.
He tented his fingers on the table and adopted a serious tone. “Okay, what’s going on? We’ve been friends for over six years.” They had always steered clear of intimacy. He had erected an imaginary neon “Hands Off” sign over her sweet head when he had first met her. Even though their present bantering gave him the urge to bring her to bed and do her until she couldn’t walk for a week. That would suck ass big time, since he’d be performing career and friendship suicide. “You’ve never given me any indication you were interested in a–what did you call it, a sexual boot camp. Now you have this one-track mind?”
“And it’s waiting for your train to pull in.”
He poured a tall glass of ice water, downed three-quarters of it and bio-fed the ice cubes to cool him off. “You need a real vacation, not another assignment.”
“Exactly. I’ve worked my tooshie off for the past four years. If sex were a religion, I’ve been a dedicated atheist.” She finished her wine. Her expression had mischief written all over it. “Want to take a trip downtown for a boxed lunch?”
“You did not just say that.” Where did she come up with this stuff all of a sudden? “Playboy called, they’d like their porn metaphors back.”
“Oh, please.” Her lips twitched at the corners. “As if that embarrasses you.”
No, but the mental image she’d created kept his attention and cock at full mast and now he wondered what it would be like to pleasure every molecule of her being.
“Nan, it’s all fun and games until I look like a hooker.” Angel Montgomery stared at her image from the bedroom mirror. She swung around and faced her grandmother. “It’s too much.” She grabbed a cotton ball and rubbed some of the eye-shadow off her lids.
Nan Clara took the cotton ball out of Angel’s hand. “It’s not too much and you don’t look like the girl in Pretty Julia.”
“You mean Pretty Woman?”
“Yes that one.” Nan picked up the small brush and dipped it into the bright blue eye-shadow. “And you need more of this.” She smeared more shadow over Angel’s eyelids.
Angel closed her eyes so Nan wouldn’t gouge them.
“Ah, this glittery stuff will really help you pull this off.” Nan patted multi-colored sparkles over Angel’s cheekbones and forehead. “Stop fidgeting, love.” She ignored her granddaughter’s impatience and sprinkled silver stars in Angel’s hair.
“Oh, wait. Almost forgot.” Nan went to the adjoining bathroom and came back holding a bottle of perfume.
“Nan, you’re not coming near me with patchouli oil.”
“It’s not patchouli. Now, hold still.” Nan sprayed perfume on Angel’s neck and shoulders then sniffed the air. “Smells good, but you need more.”
“Whoa.” Angel took the bottle away from her and put it on the dresser. “I don’t need to marinate in the stuff.” The lavender scent assaulted Angel’s nostrils–she smelled like an explosion at an Avon factory. “Forget hooker. I’m a Madame.”
“Twenty-nine is too young to look like a Madame.” Nan laughed. “Now, if you were fifty-something like one of those tigress ladies, maybe.”
“You mean cougars?”
“Well, them too.” Nan handed Angel a tube of bright pink lipstick. “Aren’t you glad my papa sent me to beauty school? My skills came in handy today.”
Angel dotted her lips with the lipstick. “Sure.”
Seeing the enjoyment on her grandmother’s face, Angel bit her tongue, stopped fidgeting and shoved her apprehension aside.
Nan pinched Angel’s cheek. “Don’t forget to shake and wiggle like that actress Donna Moore in the movie Jilly and I watched the other day.”
“It’s Demi Moore.” Silver stars flew in front of Angel’s eyes as she shook her head. “And I’m not performing a striptease.”
Angel grabbed the contract off the dresser, held the paper up and read it over. “I’ve never taken this type of order before. You’re sure you wrote all the details down accurately?”
“I did.” Nan ran a short, purple tinted fingernail along the contract in Angel’s hand. “Like it says right there, it’s a bachelor party.” Her grandmother swiveled her seventy-five-year-old hips. “Just do some bumping and grinding like Demi. Can you rent that DVD for us again?”
“Focus, Nan. Did you explain that I’m not a stripper?” If food and shelter weren’t necessities, she’d have shredded the contract into confetti. But the client had forked over a hefty wad of cash for this stint. “I’m just delivering the party favors and singing one congratulatory song, right?”
“Yes, that’s all you have to do.” Nan continued gyrating and Angel couldn’t help but giggle. “While you’re there, pick yourself up a nice bachelor.”
“It’s only been a few months since your hip replacement,” Angel said. “Be careful with the expensive hardware. Which reminds me. You have a doctor’s appointment Monday afternoon, and I’m busy. Do you mind if I ask Mr. Pratt to take you?”
“I don’t mind.” Nan stopped dancing and winked. “Does that mean you have a date on Monday?”
“No, I have an interview for a contract position, and it could run late into the afternoon.”
Nan handed Angel the card with the bachelor party address. “But Monday’s Valentine’s Day. You should be spending the day getting all dolled up to be wined and dined, not stuck in a stuffy office with some old coot.”
“Not to worry. I’ll leave the old coots for you.”
“Smarty pants,” Nan said. “No old geezers for me. I like them young, wearing chaps that show off those cute buns. And how about that fireman guy with the suspenders and no shirt on?”
Angel slipped on her heels, using the bed post for support. “I should never have taken you to see Magic Mike.”
“You’re right.” Nan pulled out a few singles from her apron’s pocket. “When we get some extra money, we should hit one of those shows and see the Chippy dancers in person.” She waved the bills in the air, grinning as if she’d won the lottery. “It’ll be fun to slip a few of these down their pants.”
Maybe I should have let her gouge my eyes. “Nan, please, not a good visual.”
“Oh, you,” Nan said, putting the bills back in her pocket. “You’re too serious. You need to go out and enjoy yourself more.” She touched the ends of Angel’s hair. “I have an idea.” She opened the top drawer and pulled out a curling iron. “Sit down so I can curl and tease your hair.”
“Hair is fine.”
“Your hair is pretty, but you need to be more adventurous with it,” Nan said. “It needs a lot more height. You know, like those girls on the Jersey Lake Show.”
“Jersey Shore, Nan.” I seriously need to cancel cable TV. Her movie addiction is bad enough.
“I could style your bangs something like this.” Nan raked her fingers through her own salt and pepper short hair, loaded with gel, making the ends stand up straight.
The last time Nan had experimented with a curling iron she’d singed Angel’s left eyebrow. Angel adored Nan, but not enough to let her wield that weapon near her head again.
Angel had moved in with her widowed grandmother six months ago to help her out financially and upkeep the house her grandparents had lived in most of their lives. More importantly, Angel wanted to live there to nurse Nan back to health after her hip replacement surgery and assist her with some minor health issues.
Nan had been quite the hairdresser slash cosmetician in her day when white eyeliner and bouffant hair was all the rage. Angel had managed to dodge Nan’s fondness for reliving her beauty parlor day’s using Angel as her guinea pig to make her over, until today.
Today she gave in and indulged her grandma. All for the sake of Angel’s small business.
Angel stared in the mirror again. She hardly recognized herself. I look like a pole dancer. This guy’s check better not bounce.
Nan plugged in the curling iron.
Angel unplugged it and glanced at her watch. “We don’t have time for a new hairstyle.”
“Right.” Nan took the curling iron and put it on the dresser. “You don’t want to be late.” She waved toward the doorway. “Now get going. The handsome young man suggested you arrive after lunch.” Nan’s cheeks took on a rosy hue when she smiled. “Guess you’ll be dessert.”
“Oh, yeah.” Angel patted her behind as she picked up her coat. “There’s always room for Jell-O.”
St. Valentine’s Junior High
Highway to Heaven
“Yikes. Watch. Out…everybody!” Angel-in-Training Pippy shouted as she zoomed across Cloud 98 on her super-cosmic skateboard. “I–I can’t stop….”
Cupid waved his arrow. “Uh oh, the Pipster’s done it again.”
“Yee stars and little fishes.” Pippy wind-milled her arms, trying to stay upright. “Tasha, help me out,” she yelled at her golden retriever puppy. “Grab my robe and…slow me down.”
Tasha scampered alongside Pippy. Her floppy ears bounced as her fluffy tail twirled around like a helicopter’s blade.
“It’s not play time, Tash,” Pippy managed to say as she ducked under the rainbow. “I have to get to class on time. In. One. Piece.”
Tasha performed a front roll, landed on all fours and walked with a wiggle toward Nova, the two year old retriever and St. Valentine’s archery mascot.
“Stop strutting and pay attention. I need you.” Pippy blew strands of her bright red hair away from her mouth. “I’ll never get my wings if I don’t get an A in Derek’s Flight Class.”
Tasha yapped, caught up to Pippy and scurried behind her.
“Finally,” Pippy said. “Now, grab on to my uniform.”
Tasha bounced up and chomped down on the tail end of Pippy’s white robe. The maneuver was a good idea in theory–just like all of Pippy’s ideas–but it didn’t slow the skateboard’s wheels down.
The fleece robe flew off of Pippy, landing on her puppy’s head.
Tasha scampered and yelped playfully before she yanked the robe off her head and clasped it between her teeth.
“Aw, cheese-whiz and crackers,” Pippy said, practically out of breath. “It didn’t work.”
Pippy heard the laughter of the students lined up in the hallway below.
She probably looked like a Lifesaver roll on steroids with the clothes she always wore under her uniform robe–tangerine capri pants, a cherry red blouse, lime green sweater and neon yellow runners.
Tasha leaped-frogged over Pippy and raced ahead of her.
Feathered sheets flew out of silver-sparkled gloved hands and scattered over the white vapor hallway when Pippy zoomed by Halo-Creation teacher, Victoria. In Heaven, the student angels called their teachers by their angelic given names.
“Oops.” Pippy turned her head and yelled, “Sorry, Veeeee…”
“Pippilina?” The deep voice and teeth that looked like white lightning belonged to Principal J.P.
Since his pearly whites were blindingly shiny, that meant he was smiling. J.P. was cool for a principal.
Even cooler when he smiled.
A smiling principal was a good thing.
Pippy surprised herself by staying upright on the skateboard as it slowed down long enough for her to talk to the principal. “Yo.” She waved. “How’s it going, Sir?”
“Yo?” he asked. A frown colored his voice. She could tell. It didn’t sound like he was smiling now. “Pippilina, what is going on?”
“Alternative transportation project, Sir.” Pippy wasn’t sure if the principal heard her, because the skateboard had spiraled out of control and had now rocketed over to St. Valentine’s air hockey arena on Cloud 99.
She skate-boarded right in front of the Red Wing’s goaltender. The yellow star-shaped puck narrowly missed her head.
“Hey, Pip! You blocked my shot,” the Ninety-Niner’s superstar center yelled.
“Sorry, Wayne.” Trying to stay upright, she managed an apologetic smile. “See ya.”
She looked straight and took in the thousands of purple, yellow and pink diamonds against a background of mother-of-pearl marble, glittering up ahead.
The Pearly Gates.
“Uh-oh,” Pippy said in a shaky voice. “This is not good.”
The doors were shut and two turtle doves held up a white poster. Written in bold, blue lettering the sign said: Back in One Hour.
She still couldn’t slow down her skateboard nor make it stop. “Oh, this is bad. Real bad.” She clasped her hands together and prayed it wouldn’t hurt too much. This time.
The gate loomed a mere foot from Pippy’s freckled nose. “Yikes. This is gonna be painful.”
She squeezed her eyes shut and inhaled a large dose of heavenly air.
Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven…She counted down in her head, knowing she’d soon make contact with that gate.
The heavy, locked gate.
She counted down to two and suddenly couldn’t feel the skateboard beneath her feet any longer.
The air trapped in her lungs swooshed out of her, sounding like a set of out-of-tune bagpipes.
She drifted up.
Way, way high up.
Pippy opened her eyes and gasped. “Huh? What just happened?”
She wasn’t going to crash because she was flying.
Flying! On her own, and it wasn’t a dream.
Tasha’s yelps echoed from miles below. Pippy looked down as she soared high above Soft Cloud Café, where the high school angels waved and giggled.
“Yup, that’s right. I’m flying. Woo hoo.” Pippy held two thumbs up. “I totally rock.”
A sweet scent drifted in the air. Pippy inhaled the delicious aroma of pink cotton candy. Pink as in Lucinda’s–or as Pippy liked to call her, Lucy’s–curly hair. “Nah, I can’t be that unlucky.”
A hand tugged gently on Pippy’s collar.
She turned her head upward and met the twinkling blue eyes of the Divine Guidance Counselor, Lucinda.
“Um, nice catch?” Pippy said with a nervous hitch in her voice.
Lucinda frowned as she tucked Pippy’s skateboard under her arm.
Wrong thing to say.
“What I really meant…well, thanks for rescuing me, Lucy,” Pippy said then corrected herself. “Sorry, I meant to say, Lucinda.”
“You’re welcome,” Lucy said, guiding Pippy to the feather-weaving class. She dropped Pippy off outside the classroom door.
Pippy peeked through the stained glass window. Weaving class had started. She was late.
Pippy stared down at her toes. “Guess my wheels are grounded, huh?”
“That’s a given,” Lucy answered, floating upward.
Oh, how Pippy longed to get to high school so she could learn how to float like a grown up angel. Like her idol, Lucy.
“Meet me in my office tomorrow morning,” Lucy instructed. “After the New-Day-Candle-Lighting Ceremony.”
Lucy pointed to the gold door knob on the classroom’s door, nodded and drifted toward her pink crystal office.
Pippy’s cheeks grew hotter than a mini-cloud-smore.
Jason pointed toward the tree. “Turn around.”
“Do you ever take orders?”
Shocker.” He placed his hands on her shoulders and turned her around. “Try it this once.”
Sabrina faced the tree. “Now what?”
“I’m going to get rid of your headache.” He touched the clip in her hair. “I’ll have to undo this first. That okay?”
He unclasped the clip that held her hair in a ponytail. Her hair fell in thick waves down to the middle of her back.
He couldn’t resist running his fingers through the length of her soft hair.
She tipped her head back and looked up at him. “Cook, knit and a hairstylist?”
He slipped the hair clip into his jacket pocket. “Relax and let me work my magic.”
“Magic as in twisting my hair into an updo?”
He shook his head. “Do you think you can stay quiet for ten minutes? I guarantee your headache will go away if you do.”
“Ten minutes, huh?”
“I’m that good.”
“And modest,” she said.
“Are you going to be quiet now?”
She tilted her head forward and he noticed a slight wince before she tipped her head forward. Her headache was stronger than she’d admitted.
He smoothed a few strands of hair away from her face, exposing her neck—smooth, long and looked so damn stroke-able, lick-able, kissable—all of the above. He’d always been a sucker for a woman’s neck. The anticipation of exploring it with his hands and mouth, and the satisfaction of hitting a woman’s erogenous zone.
Lifting his gaze skyward, taking quiet deep breaths to compose himself he moved his hands up to her forehead. Using his fingertips, he added gentle pressure on each side of her head.
Her pleasurable sigh added pleasurable pressure below his belt.
He focused on the tree trunk, staring straight ahead, concentrating on helping her find relief from her headache, and ignoring his mounting desire to explore the back of her neck with his mouth. Mentally shaking that thought out of his head, he slid his hands to her scalp, kneading tender, circular movements.
The sound of her low, soft moans conjured up sexy images in his head. He clenched his jaw tight, and calculated the square root of a non-perfect square.
He pressed his palms on each of her temples, applying moderate pressure, again triggering her moan zone. If that soft sound wasn’t enough to drive him to distraction he had to endure her delicate touch as she placed her hands over his.
She rubbed the back of his hand with her thumb.
Killing me here.
It was going to take a helluva lot of financial equations to tamp down the desire coursing through him.
Business. Think. Business.
He focused on the tree trunk and mentally computed how much it would cost to renovate the inn when his glance took a detour from the tree to her face, now gazing up at him.
The moonlight caught her eyes, making them sparkle like sapphires.
Excerpts: All rights reserved. Copyright: Selena Robins