All for love 3 series.., p.32
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       All for Love - 3 Series Starters, p.32

           Kris Pearson
 

  It was noisy but fascinating. She peered from side to side as they threaded their way past vicious drops and over snowy peaks. This was nothing like flying in a commercial airliner. They were close enough to see unexpected little lakes and tarns full of velvety green water, thousands of feet above sea level. The alpine vegetation became sparse. The up-thrust rocky crags were majestic as organ pipes.

  Matthew drew her attention to some fleet-footed animals swarming up and over a sharp ridge—some sort of deer she presumed.

  Through the headphones she heard, “Himalayan Tahr. We might see some Chamois, too.”

  “How do they keep their balance?” she called back.

  He grinned and shrugged.

  For much of the journey they were the only people in the world—no visible farmhouses, no fences, no roads, no power pylons. She was astounded how empty and undeveloped the country was. Prehistoric. Truly the earth as it must have been when dinosaurs roamed the plains they’d left behind.

  The winter sun glanced off the pristine snow below them. Sometimes it even felt possible to reach out and touch it as Matthew piloted them through passes and gullies, and the plane floated past jagged snow-dusted rock faces.

  The engine note changed and she looked across at him with alarm. He smiled and shook his head. Tipped a hand down to let her know he was starting his descent. She nodded and relaxed.

  They droned ever lower, below the tops of the mountains down to dense green forest that lay like a huge crumpled quilt over the primeval land.

  A veil of cloud sped by, sunlight winking through it. He pointed across to the end of the valley and Kate recognized the scene every Kiwi calendar featured sooner or later. Mitre Peak—so triangular and tall that wispy clouds passed by less than half way to the summit.

  The icy dark water of Milford Sound sparkled with a trail of sunshine. The airfield was close now. A surprising number of other small planes and helicopters had already landed, and a umber of coaches were parked near the famous hotel.

  Matthew set down with a gentle bump, taxied off the runway and rolled to a stop.

  Within minutes, Kate found herself boarding a boat named Water Nymph. Not one of the big tourist craft... this was a nicely appointed pleasure cruiser belonging to a tanned and bearded friend of Matthew’s. She could hardly refuse—he’d apparently arranged yet another treat for her, and now he’d neatly separated her from the crowds. She drew a deep breath, clenched her jaw, and managed a tight smile of appreciation.

  Bob of the beard waved cheerily as Matthew piloted the boat out. “Lunch in the fridge,” Bob shouted over the increasing gap. “Don’t drink it all at once.”

  They burbled out onto the huge fiord. The surrounding mountains rose straight from the water, for these were old drowned valleys carved during the Ice Age. Waterfalls plunged a thousand metres or more down the sheer sides.

  Kate sat outside, marvelling at the scenery. The frisky breeze tugged at her hair, so she twisted it up and pulled the knitted angora cap over it. She’d expected to be part of the tourist throng at the hotel or on one of the big boats, but Matthew had thwarted that scenario with ease and left any signs of civilisation far behind. They were soon hundreds of yards from shore and quite alone. He cut the engine, and they drifted. The only sounds were water sucking and lapping at the boat’s sides, the muted roar of distant waterfalls, and occasional calls from birds.

  He settled into the seat beside her, unzipping the jacket he’d added over his sweatshirt. The breeze was less chilly now they were still. “You don’t need this on any longer,” he said, pulling her cap off so her hair cascaded loose.

  She drew a sharp breath. He was far too close again. Now she regretted her game with him in the boutique.

  She leaned away and stood, but the rocking of the boat made balancing difficult. She stumbled—and grabbed his shoulder for support. His arms snaked around her waist in an instant, yanking her to stand between his knees. He slid forward and trapped her with his thighs.

  “Kiss me,” he said, tilting his head back at her.

  She stared down, horrified, at his handsome demanding face.

  “No, Matthew. Sorry.”

  “Kiss me,” he repeated. “Bend over so your hair falls all around me again.”

  “No,” she exclaimed, trying to twist away. “I don’t steal other people’s husbands.”

  “However much you might be attracted to them?”

  Oh hell. She made a supreme attempt to keep her gaze locked with his. “However much.”

  “So you are?”

  “You’re very nice,” she said carefully.

  He gave a snort of amusement. “You’re thinking more than nice. We’d be fantastic.”

  “Perhaps.”

  “You know we would, Katie. We’ve been fencing around each other for two long frustrating days. Kiss me.”

  “I’ll be gone on Sunday,” she tried, attempting again to escape, and knowing she really wanted him to hang on tight and make the decision for her.

  “I’ve waited long enough.”

  “You might feel like that, but maybe I don’t? And I told you—I don’t steal other people’s husbands.”

  “Very laudable of you, but I’m no-one’s husband any longer. Whose do you think I am?”

  She had no way of avoiding the topic now. “You’re Lottie’s of course.”

  Her world stood still as he slowly shook his head.

  “But...” She snatched a quick breath. “Charlotte McLeod... Matthew McLeod...” the same names, living in the same home. You’re—”

  “Her half-brother. Same father.”

  She stayed poised above him, brain rapidly re-running the data. Her suspicions were now confirmed. But did that make things better or worse? Awash with longing and relief, she stared down at his infuriating triumphant face. “Why didn’t you tell me that?” she demanded.

  “Didn’t occur to me. You knew she slept upstairs.”

  “No I didn’t. I knew there was a bedroom there. Maybe for when she painted late. That’s all I knew.”

  He shrugged. “Did you ever see me treat her as a wife? Did I ever kiss her like a husband would?”

  Their chaste embrace in the hospital flooded back into her memory. A pat on the shoulder. A peck on the forehead. Now it was Kate’s turn to shrug. “Why didn’t you just say at the airport, ‘Hello, I’m Matthew, Lottie’s brother’?”

  He gazed at her with a thunderous expression. “Jeez Kate, maybe because I was totally thrown. She really hurt herself in that accident. Blood all down her face.” He shook his head sharply, perhaps to banish the scene from his brain. “She couldn’t walk. And I had to get her to hospital somehow, worrying about how bad the bang on her head was. Not to mention suddenly finding I had to entertain you as well. I’m sorry. It probably didn’t occur to me.”

  She relented slightly. “You’re very kind to her.”

  “She is my much loved sister, Katie. My wife is long gone. Did you really think I’d make a play for you if I already had a woman in the house?” His eyes held hers—magnetic, serious.

  Kate bit her lip, willing her thumping heart to calm down. He’d become everything she wanted, and everything she’d tried to steer clear of. “Some men might?” she said, realising she’d offended him.

  “That’s quite an opinion you have of me.” His eyes now flashed with undisguised annoyance. “You really thought that?”

  “Some men wouldn’t be so scrupulous.”

  “I’m not among them. So kiss me.”

  Oh God, she wanted to so much. Wanted to do a lot more than just kiss him. But the job? Their living arrangements? Surely kissing him again would throw everything into turmoil?

  “No,” she said, bending a little lower so her hair slipped past her shoulders and started to curtain him. She shook her head. The soft dark wings brushed his hard-planed face. He waited.

  “No,” she repeated softly, as she lowered herself enough to feel his breath feathering over he
r.

  “Yes,” he whispered, threading his hands into her hair and tugging her the tiny remaining distance.

  The moment Kate’s lips touched his, her fragile resolve evaporated. She followed his lead as he nipped and licked in a long, slow, delicious exploration. Matthew gathered her closer and closer until she finally lost her balance, fell on top of him, and they broke apart, laughing.

  “God, the things I want to do with you,” he said, pulling her onto his lap with surprising ease. “But probably not out here with hundreds of tourists training their binoculars on us.”

  He cupped her face in his palm, and stroked his thumb gently over her cheek.

  “They’re a long way away yet,” she said, exploring his face in return. Her fingers traced the edges of his mouth, and he closed his silver-blue eyes. Kate laid her lips on his again and they sank into another long, dizzying kiss, arms sliding around each other until they pressed tightly together.

  She breathed him in. Cologne and clean cotton. Spices and honey. Heat and temptation. Tasting like heaven.

  So big and strong that for the first time ever she felt almost petite.

  Time slipped by until the wake from one of the big tourist boats reached them, setting them bobbing and sloshing, and making them draw apart with surprise.

  “How many binoculars?” Kate gasped. How long had they been lost in each other, oblivious to the approaching vessel?

  “They’ll survive the sight.” Matthew held her close to counteract the water’s chop. “They’re plenty far enough away.”

  She peeked over his shoulder. “If they’re even looking.”

  “Yeah, probably not, but we should go inside because I have more than this in mind.” He kissed her again, this time with deliberate intent, and finally drew away. Their boat continued to dance and sway. He held out a hand. Kate shuffled off his lap, stood, and wrapped her fingers around his. They staggered toward the cabin.

  He threw off his jacket, and reached for hers before drawing her down onto one of the padded seats and cupping her face in his hands. “Now,” he murmured, “let’s do that again.”

  And he did. Slowly, gently, teasingly. His lips brushed over hers in taunting caresses, lifting, returning. Kate burned for more, yet wanted the wash of tempting sensation to last and last. No man had ever turned her on so fast or so surely. She’d die now if he stopped. She drew in a quick quivering breath as he trailed his fingers down her neck and undid the top button of her cardigan.

  He nipped and nuzzled, strengthening his kiss as she responded with tiny moans and gasps. The second button slipped free, then more. His tongue stroked along the edge of her sensitised top lip as his fingers glided across her breast. She shuddered with the blissful slippery promises he offered. The confusion and uncertainty slid away. There was only now—and she was alight and alive under his hands.

  She’d never felt so desired, so claimed. Matthew had made it clear he wanted her, would enjoy her, and would provide unlimited enjoyment in return. She had no doubts he’d deliver on his promise.

  Desperate to touch his skin, she curled her fingers around his neck and threaded them into his hair, but it was nowhere near enough. She ran her hands over his hard chest, lower, lower, until her fingers made contact with the waistband of his jeans. He breathed in sharply. But no—if he was making her wait, she’d play the same game. She burrowed up under his sweatshirt, sliding her hands around his back and pulling him close. Hot, smooth, supple. Her fingers kneaded his dense muscles, and she scraped her nails along his spine, pushing and clawing as their lips and tongues danced in ever-increasing passion.

  Kate gasped as Matthew tipped her backward along the seat, folded the fronts of her cardigan aside, and dropped to his knees beside her. She smiled dreamily as he bent to sprinkle small kisses over the tops of her breasts.

  He drew back. “Need that T-shirt off. Up you get.” And he pulled her upright again, slid her out of the cardigan, and began to peel her out of her tee. He smiled when he uncovered her barely decent black and red bra. “This again,” he murmured, no doubt remembering her caught up in her jersey, embarrassed, and on display.

  “All I have with me.”

  “Not complaining in the least,” he said, laying her down again, stroking where he’d kissed her, advancing slowly toward the lacy edge, and finally tucking the cups down.

  Kate drew a deep breath of anticipation as he hovered above one nipple, holding her eyes with his. He laughed in triumph as she finally growled and pushed herself up to him. Then he took her between his teeth, worrying at the beaded peak until she just had to have more. She grabbed his head and pulled him close, her body tingling white-hot with wanting as he sucked and licked and nipped.

  Slowly he released her, and looked down into her eyes again. “You smell like flowers,” he murmured. He lowered his nose to her skin and inhaled, then turned his cheek and smoothed his face down over one breast, into the valley between, and up again until his lips captured her other nipple. He gave it a little nip—and his mobile intruded with a polite trill.

  “No...” she groaned. “Horrible timing. Ignore it.”

  Cursing, he rummaged for it in his discarded jacket, dividing his attention between the caller’s name on the little screen and Kate’s breast.

  “Bob,” he said pleasantly, blowing cool air over her and making her tighten even further.

  She growled, and he smiled. But his attention was slowly diverted. Kate covered herself up, furiously disappointed that he’d desert her for the phone, and trying not to let it show.

  He concluded the call and shot her a wry grin. “To be continued,” he said. “See what he’s left us for lunch. We have to get back to Queenstown in a hurry.”

  Kate parted her lips to object, and he nodded. “Yeah—not fair at all—but there was heavy weather expected through here tonight, and the front’s coming in faster than they calculated. We need to get the plane out well before the storm hits.”

  She gave a shivering sigh. Her body had not switched off after being so skilfully aroused. “You had me half way there.”

  “You had me more than half way there in that boutique,” he said, tugging his sweatshirt down and re-starting the engine. “And just for the record, if you thought I had a wife, why were you turning me on like that?” he called over his shoulder.

  “You started it, grabbing my foot and planting it where I couldn’t wriggle free.”

  “Enjoyed your attempts though.”

  “So I felt.” She rose and pulled her cardigan on again. Then went to stand behind him, pressing her face against him, enjoying his scent in return.

  Matthew reached an arm back and pulled her closer. “I had no idea if you’d give in and play.”

  Kate set her hands on his waistband, pushed up under his sweatshirt again, and linked her fingers over his taut belly. “I could hardly slap you away in front of the boutique lady,” she said. “And by then, I wasn’t certain about things anyway. Hamish threw a comment out last night that made me wonder. ‘Goodnight to Sis,’ I think.”

  She felt him flinch. “Why didn’t you ask, Katie? We wasted the whole night. I was dying for you.”

  “Not the sort of topic you can easily raise without giving the game away,” she suggested.

  “What game?” His tone was sharper than before.

  She wondered why, and whispered right in his ear, “Figure of speech. I wanted you too, but if I’d asked about Lottie being your wife, it would have been a pretty transparent invitation.”

  Was it only her imagination, or did he relax a little?

  Matthew turned his head far enough to nuzzle her hair. “I’d have accepted in a heartbeat. Get the lunch, woman. And do those buttons up or we’ll never get home.”

  Kate grinned, and left her cardigan unsecured and her bra on display as a deliberate tease. She bent to the little fridge and investigated what Bob had provided. Ignoring the very nice bottle of champagne, she removed a beer and a juice, and the big p
latter of chilled kebabs. Juicy chunks of succulent lobster had been threaded on skewers for easy eating, and a bowl of peppery dipping sauce and slices of crusty buttered baguette accompanied them. She set everything on the built-in table beside Matthew. “Beer or juice if you’re flying?”

  “Precious cargo,” he said, choosing the juice. He glanced sideways, then reached across swiftly and touched the cold bottle to her nipple, rubbing it up and down as she tried to jerk away.

  “That’s going to need warming up now,” he said, keeping one hand on the controls, and bending to fasten his hot mouth on her breast. “And we’ll never bloody get home at this rate,” he mumbled through a mouthful of bra. “Stop tempting me.”

  ~♥~

  Matthew stared ahead as he piloted the Water Nymph back across the deep dark waters of Milford Sound. Kate had retrieved her T-shirt, done up her cardigan, and donned her jacket again. She fed him skewers of lobster and slices of baguette, and he tipped his bottle of juice up now and then to wash the crumbs down, but his mind was far away.

  Was she here to spy? To relay information back to her father?

  And if so, why hadn’t she jumped his bones the previous evening? He’d made it more than obvious he was interested in her. If the delicious Ms Pleasance had visited Queenstown as the bait in a honey trap, she should have made the most of her opportunity. Tried to worm her way further into his life instead of worrying about him being married to Lottie. That sounded too moral for the role he’d cast her in.

  He frowned, barely concentrating on the boat, and much more occupied with Kate. This morning had been pure enjoyment. Taking her shopping was unexpected fun—especially after seeing her in that devastating dress. And most especially after she’d reacted to his boot-lacing game. God, his eager cock had certainly given his interest away, but she’d joined right in with her wriggly toes in those ridiculous socks, and he’d known there’d be more flirtation to follow.

  The flight had been magic. The spectacular scenery had wowed her, and it was great seeing things through someone else’s eyes. Someone else who mattered.

 
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