Sweet talkin scoundrel, p.13
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       Sweet Talkin' Scoundrel, p.13

           Tess Oliver
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  “Is that right?”

  “Yep. Sun-bleached hair. Suntanned skin. That white cream they wear on their noses. All hot stuff.”

  “Then I guess I better clear my schedule and smear some Bullfrog on my nose.”

  She popped up higher in her seat. “You’d do that for me?”

  “Already did.”

  “You did? When?”

  “Yesterday, after you told me you had the day off.”

  “Great.” She sat back with a satisfied smile. “Guess you sort of like me too.”

  Swirls of fog rolled off Tero’s windshield as we flew down the runway and brought Tero to a crawl. I turned the nose of the plane around, and we rolled back to the hangar.

  I walked around to the passenger side of the plane, opened the door and Kinley dropped into my arms. I kissed her. “I need to write some things in my logbook, then we can decide how to spend the day.” I led her toward the hangar and used my key to get in the side door.

  “Does Tero sleep in here at night?”

  “Yep, this is his bedroom.” I switched on the light in the small office I’d set up for myself and began filling out my logbook. Kinley wandered out into the hangar to explore.

  “Helloo!” she called out and waited for her voice to echo back. She popped her head into the room. “I expected a better echo.”

  “Sorry to disappoint. There are too many gaps between the panels.” I finished logging the hours and headed into the hangar. Kinley was strolling down the long workbench running along the side of the building. She stopped at the picture I had nailed to the wall above my workbench.

  I walked up behind and wrapped my arms around her, resting my chin on her head. She pointed up at the photo. “Is that you in front of the helicopter?”

  “What gave it away? The roguish grin? I was about the same age Becky is now.” I stared up at the photo. It was one of those pictures that had captured the moment so perfectly, it felt as if I was reliving that day every time I looked at it.

  “So the man next to you is Jack, your adopted dad? Becky’s father?”

  “Yep. That abandoned helicopter on Wildthorne’s runway was his favorite toy. He taught me to fly the thing when I was only ten. I think that’s where I got the itch to become a pilot.”

  “He was handsome. But then I can’t imagine Katherine with anyone who wasn’t tall and posture perfect.” She leaned farther over the bench, seemingly not realizing that as she did, her bottom pushed against me. My cock reacted instantly.

  “You know he has a bit of a mischievous grin just like you. I can see a resemblance.” She spun around. I lowered my arms, hoping it would help relieve the ache that had started by touching her.

  I peered up at the picture. I’d never really noticed it before, but Kinley was right. There was a family resemblance. “Jack had a dry sense of humor. He loved to play pranks on people. When I was fifteen, I’d somehow decided it was cool to smoke cigarettes like some of the high school kids. Of course, Katherine was always watching me with her eagle eye to make sure I wasn’t breaking any of her rules, so I had to sneak off to the other side of the island to light up. There was this massive boulder that’s concave from erosion. It’s almost a shallow cave. That was where I’d sit to puff on my smokes and try to convince myself I was enjoying it. It wasn’t working, by the way.”

  “Yeah, tried it once and threw up.”

  “So, I’m sitting there puffing away, and Jack jumps out from behind the rock in this creepy gorilla mask. Practically swallowed the cigarette. But it worked. Didn’t light up again.”

  Kinley covered her laugh with her hand. “Wish someone had filmed that.” She glanced back at the picture. “What an odd couple they must have made, Katherine and Jack, that is.”

  “Definitely a mismatch. I think it was arranged between the two families. Katherine came from some important east coast family with big ties to politicians and every other person of power. Jack sort of bit the bullet and married her for the family’s status in society. I never saw much love between them. Mostly because Katherine is devoid of that particular emotion. Let’s change topics. It’s your day off. What do you want to do?”

  Kinley walked next to the bench, running her fingers along the edge of it. She spun around with a lopsided smile.

  “What has you grinning like that, Rabbit?” I reached her, and, as usual, I had to touch her. It was an unbreakable habit that I had no intention of ever breaking. I took hold of her hand.

  She looked around before answering. “I was just thinking that I’ve never had sex in an airplane hangar.”

  “Is that right?”

  She leaned back against the bench and crossed her arms. “Uh, I think the proper response here would have been—‘gee whiz, me neither’.”

  I shook my head. “Never used the phrase gee whiz in my life.”

  “How about the ‘me neither’ part? Wait,” she continued. “Never mind. I don’t want to know.”

  “That’s probably for the best. But in my defense, I’ve spent thousands of hours inside an airplane hangar. Whereas you have probably only spent—” I waited for her to fill in the blank.

  She cast a quick glance at the clock on the wall. “Ten minutes?”

  “I think I’ve made my case.” I unzipped her coat. “Now let’s make sure the next time you’re asked, you can proudly boast that you have had sex in an airplane hangar.”

  I pushed the coat off her shoulders. A shiver pulsed through her that I would have loved to take credit for. But I was sure it was from the cold. “Probably should just get these jeans off and leave the sweater on.”

  Kinley sat on an oil drum and took off her boots. “Think my big socks are staying too.” She pushed down her jeans but left on her lavender panties. They were no more than a tiny triangle of fabric held up with two thin straps. She pretended to be shy as she lifted her sweater up just enough to expose them completely.

  “Holy shit, those panties are going to keep me up at night.”

  “Thought they might. I’ve sort of been saving them for just this kind of occasion.”

  “You mean sex in an airplane hangar?”

  “Well, I was thinking a day off with you, but yep, the hangar thing works too.” She started to roll off the panties.

  “Leave them on.”

  Her mouth tilted up on one side, revealing only one deep dimple. My pulse pounded as she looked coyly up at me through her lashes and then, in complete contrast to her dimples and shy smile, she turned around to show me the thin lavender string of the thong. The sight of her amazing ass split into two perfect white ass cheeks by the line of purple sent me across the cement floor.

  I stood behind her back and wrapped my arms around her, digging my hands under her sweater to touch her bare skin. I kissed her ear. “Rabbit, everything about you is fucking intoxicating.”

  I spun her in my arms and kissed her as I carried her to my work table. I didn’t pull my mouth from hers as I swept my arm across the table, sending my tools into a disheveled pile at the end.

  I took hold of her waist and hoisted her onto the table. A chirp of surprise popped from her lips as her bottom hit the cold surface. She leaned her hands back to brace herself. Her blue eyes swept over me from head to toe as she bent her knees and lifted her feet up to the table’s edge.

  I pushed off my shoes and pants while she gave me an erotic fucking show, dropping her knees wide open and then closing them just to open them again. I picked up my jeans and fished for the condom.

  She sat up, looking a little disappointed. “Aren’t you going to take off your shirt?”

  “You still have yours on.”

  “That’s because it’s cold in here, but—” She motioned her finger up and down telling me to take it off. “If you’re going to stand between my legs,
I want you naked.” She leaned back again and parted her knees. “It makes my most important parts very hot.”

  “Well, in the interest of heating things up . . .” I took off my shirt and held out my arms. My cock was like a compass pointing north. “Will this do?”

  “Oh yes, that will do.”

  I pushed myself between her legs and reached around her ass to scoot her forward. She wrapped her long legs around me and leaned back on her hands.

  “Oh Dax,” she said on a whisper that floated straight into my heart.

  I moved aside the tiny lavender triangle and pushed inside of her.

  Chapter 20


  The sun was lower in the sky, a reminder that my day off was coming to an end. I walked out onto the back stoop and joined Dax. The house he lived in was cramped and shabby, but it had a breathtaking view of the ocean.

  I sat on the step below him and leaned back against him.

  He wrapped his arms around me. “I love this time in the afternoon when the sun throws that light on the white caps. Makes the sea foam look like snow.”

  “You do have an incredible view.”

  “You could have it too.”

  “Your persistence is admirable, but you hardly know me. What if I move in and you can’t stand my habits? Besides, my nervous nose twitch—”

  “Which I already love so count that off the list.”

  “You are weird.” I wriggled out from his arms and moved to sit next to him on the step. “I have this terrible habit of squeezing the toothpaste tube from the top. I fluff my pillow a dozen times before I sleep. And I hum television theme songs while I’m washing dishes.”

  “Shit, you’re right. Forget it. No way I can fall for a woman with those kinds of habits. Except wait. I already have.” He hopped up. “Let’s walk on the beach and you can tell me the rest of the list. Although, I’ve got to tell you, you lost me at the toothpaste issue.”

  We hiked through the piles of dry sand to the wet packed ground running along the shore. King’s Beach was a primitive, unexplored section of coast. I’d been unimpressed by it when I’d first arrived, but more and more, I’d come to appreciate its simple, undisturbed beauty. The strip of sand running in front of the houses was littered with the debris of nature, broken driftwood, clumps of dried seaweed and broken rocks. There was no easy public access, which left the stretch of beach mostly undisturbed.

  Our footprints disappeared like ghost steps as the water washed them away. We headed toward an outcropping of slate black rocks.

  “Do you surf out here?”

  “No, too many rocks and the waves don’t break right out here. There’s a place up the coast I drive to most mornings. I meet up with a few other regulars. We sit and bullshit while we’re waiting for the perfect wave, which comes less often than you might expect.”

  “I tried surfing once when I was in South Africa. Complete disaster. Maybe you could teach me someday.”

  He took hold of my hand. “I could do that.”

  “Dax, I know we don’t get to see each other more than once or twice a week, but let’s just keep things like this for now. Maybe eventually, I can let Katherine know—”

  “You can’t.” He stopped walking and tugged me around to face him. He paused to push a strand of hair off my face. “You can’t tell her,” he repeated in a calmer tone.

  “Surely, she can’t hate you that much. Besides, it’s none of her business who I see as long as I’m doing my job.”

  Dax shook his head and stared out at the water as if he was trying to gather the right words. His Adam’s apple moved with a hard swallow before he faced me again. “If you tell her we’re seeing each other, you’ll lose your job.”

  I peered up at him, not sure how to respond. I knew Katherine was the type of person who liked to keep control, but this seemed too far of a reach even for her. “It’s my personal life.”

  “You aren’t just on that island to teach Becky. Katherine is looking for a wife for Marcus.”

  I hadn’t meant to laugh but it shot out before I could stop it with my hand. “A wife? I’ve only known the man a short time, but I’m fairly certain he’s not really the marrying type. If my arm accidentally brushes his sleeve, he just about jumps out of his skin. I’m pretty sure I’m off the list of potential brides.”

  Daylight was fading, and it was time for us to head back. We turned and started walking toward to the house.

  “I kind of figured you wouldn’t believe me. It has to do with the inheritance. It’s complicated.”

  I stopped abruptly. “Well, try me. I’m not that thick.”

  “I know you’re not thick. In fact, I’m less worried now about you being on that island and falling prey to their schemes because I know you’re too smart to be pulled in. Just believe me when I tell you that you shouldn’t tell Katherine about us.” He reached for my hands and pulled me to him. “Like you said, let’s keep things the way they are for now. Becky loves you. I haven’t seen her this happy in a long time. I would never want to get in the way of that. But know this, Kinley, I want you in my life. If you want me in yours, then I’ll be waiting.” He took hold of my face and kissed me.

  Chapter 21


  Becky lifted her hand and held out her palm. The tiny shell rolled back and forth on it. “Ta da, first whole one of the morning.” We’d been given the rare permission to hike to the beach and look for shells. I’d walked a few of the island’s edges on my own, but this was the first time Becky was allowed to join me. I’d convinced Katherine it was a hands-on science field trip. She just couldn’t find a reason to stop it. Although she gave it a good try.

  Becky dropped the shell in the bucket. “James says it’s because of the rocky shoreline. There is no smooth, easy path off this lump of sand.” She lifted her head and glanced around as if there were eyes and ears in the surrounding trees. “But I do know of a spot where there is a break in the rocks,” she whispered. “I found it when I was exploring for artifacts. In fact, I think that the tribe that once lived here long ago cleared the rocks to leave a big enough space for their canoe. That’s what they used to fish and travel to other islands. Canoes made from cedar.”

  “My gosh, Becky, I’m the student today. What a fascinating conclusion you came to all on your own. That is deductive reasoning, and it’s considered a higher level thinking skill. Well done, you.”

  “Well, I did have a little help from James.” She lifted her fingers to show just how little. It was always hard to keep my focus when she brought up James. Sometimes, because of the name and strained connection, it still felt as if she was talking about some stranger, a member of the family who I’d never met.

  “So James knows about the canoe path?”

  Becky looked quickly around. “Shh, my mother can never know I wandered that far.”

  “Unless she has some superhero hearing, I don’t think your mom can hear us out here.”

  “You’d be surprised,” she countered. “I’ve been all the way at my bedroom door, muttering about the gross broccoli she forced me to eat. She heard me all the way from the dining room.”

  I laughed as I pushed up to my feet. I dusted the sand off my pants and looked around. “The tribes from this area used cedar for canoes but I don’t see any cedar trees.”

  Becky adjusted the cap she was wearing to make sure her nose didn’t get sunburned. Her mother had given her a stern warning not to get burned. We’d spent a good half hour slathering her up with suntan lotion only to discover that it stung her eyes too much to wear. The hat was her only real protection.

  “Dad said there used to be a whole bunch of cedar trees on Wildthorne, but the people who built the manor had them chopped down to make room for those thorny monsters lining all the paths.”

  “You don’t
like the silk-floss trees?”

  “They’re all right when they’re blooming, but I can’t count how many balls I’ve popped on those things. Kick balls, soccer balls, beach balls, they’ve all come to an untimely death on the backside of a silk-floss tree.”

  “I guess that’s why you don’t see those trees on school playgrounds. I’d love to see the canoe path someday when there’s time.”

  She hopped to her feet and plucked up her bucket. “Let’s go. See those two trees where the tallest one sort of leans out over the water?” She pointed to some trees a few thousand yards away.

  “I see them.”

  “The canoe path is right between those trees. Let’s go.”

  “Another day. We need to get back to the house. Since you couldn’t handle the sunblock near your eyes, I promised your mother we wouldn’t be out here more than an hour.”

  “Oh yeah, darn it. Next time. And I’ll show you where I found some of the artifacts.”

  “That’d be great.” We headed along the path that had been lined with smooth stones to show the way to the beach.

  “I’m thirsty.” Becky swung her bucket back and forth and the shell pieces clinkered inside.

  “I’ll go to the kitchen and get us some iced tea while you head upstairs and change out of your sandy clothes. Then I’ll meet you in the classroom for math.”

  “Ugh, how about we just pretend that I did math today?”

  “Don’t think there’s such a thing as pretend math.”

  “There should be.” Becky took off at a run and I headed inside and straight into the kitchen. Aside from the noises coming from Becky’s room, the house was quiet. Marcus was, no doubt, hunched over his work table in the library, and Katherine was, more than likely, working in her office, a finely furnished room with oak cabinetry and tall windows.

  I grabbed two glasses and opened the refrigerator. A vibration behind me pulled my attention to the ham radio cabinet. A red light flashed just below the cabinet, signaling that someone was trying to reach the island.

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