Hot buttered rum standal.., p.3
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       Hot Buttered Rum: Standalone Romance (Silk Stocking Inn Book 4), p.3

           Tess Oliver

  I stepped back and swept my hand around to point at Dexter. “You know your bird, sir.”

  Turner looked down at his wet shoes. “I’m going to be hearing it from Coco. I’ve already tracked rainwater through the house.” He stepped into the room. Dexter peered up from the tomato clutched in his toes for a brief second and then returned to his treat.

  “It’s strange,” Turner said as he faced back to me. “He never takes off like that. Especially in a storm. He’s lucky he made it back to the inn safely.” He had no qualms about letting his eyes travel over me from head to toe. In the business world and at work, it was a behavior that would have angered me, but standing in the middle of my sumptuous bedroom at the inn, I allowed myself to take pleasure in it.

  Turner seemed to appreciate what he saw. I know I was feeling the same way about him. Even dripping wet with rain, gazing at him was like looking at the mouthwatering cover of a romance novel.

  Then something about it all, me, standing completely alone with a tall, wet stranger, a stranger who looked as if he was more than curious about what I was hiding under the plush robe, made me feel just a little naughty. And, sadly, I couldn’t remember the last time a man had made that hot curl of steam swirl through my body. This man definitely had.

  I couldn’t stop myself.

  I lowered my shoulders a smidgen. As planned, it resulted in the robe parting just enough to give him a much better view. His hot blue gaze went straight to my cleavage. I hoped my movements had been too slight for him to think I’d done it intentionally, but when his mouth kicked up in a cocky grin, I realized he’d seen right through my motive.

  The heated flush that had swept over my body rushed down to concentrate almost solely between my legs. My pussy tingled as if subtly trying to remind me that it was down there and in bad need of some personal attention.

  As if Turner could read my thoughts, he moved closer, shrinking the gap between us. He was close enough that I could feel the cold rainwater evaporating off his clothes, skin and hair. I inadvertently licked my lip, and I could taste the ocean salt floating in the heated air between us.

  “How was the bubble bath?”

  His question surprised me. “How did you know I’d taken a bath?”

  Without the slightest hesitation, he leaned his face close to my neck and inhaled deeply. He hadn’t touched me with more than a tendril of his warm breath, but my body reacted as if he’d smoothed his, no doubt, callused hands over my skin.

  He straightened and the blue in his eyes had darkened. “Hair tied up in a loose bun, fragrant soap on the skin and the fizzling sound of dying bubbles coming from the next room.”

  I smiled. “Ah, that’s how.” I inclined my head in the direction of the parrot who was busy pacing the chair and staring at my plate of food. “I thought maybe you two were working as a team or something since Dexter just happened to land on the window overlooking the bathtub.”

  “Did he?” He cast a proud glance in the direction of his pet. “He does have an amazing sense of direction.”

  “I’ll take him back to the boat before he loses the tiny bit of self-control he’s holding onto and jumps on your plate.” Turner stepped back, and I worked hard not to show my disappointment. I wasn’t completely sure where I thought this unexpected visit was going, but, apparently, my lascivious subconscious had been waiting for something more than him breathing in the scent of my skin.

  Turner walked over to pick up his bird. His wet shirt clung tightly to his skin and I couldn’t stop from gawking at the width of his shoulders. The warmth surged through me again. All these years I’d been writing romances, and here I was, standing in the same room with one of my fictional heroes. Only this one was real, dark long hair, magnetic gaze, blazing smile and all, and he was about to walk out of my room.

  I decided to blame it all on the hot bath and the surprising turn my weekend had taken as I reached down and loosened the belt on my robe just enough to show my naked skin all the way down to my belly button. The sides of the robe parted and stopped just before exposing my nipples.

  I drew in a long, deep breath and waited as Turner coaxed the bird away from the chair and onto his shoulder. He turned around. Under the glow of the room lights with the backdrop of the storm outside, he looked every bit the pirate.

  His smooth dark brow rose slightly as he gazed appreciatively at the newly exposed skin. I bit my lip and silently wondered if I had completely lost my mind as he walked toward me. I should have pulled shut the robe. I should have backed up and shown him that this wasn’t me, that the wanton, wild woman standing in front of him was just an imaginary character from one of my stories.

  But my feet didn’t move, and my hands didn’t pull shut the robe. The whole weekend seemed like a fantasy, the inn, the hostess and the man standing just inches from me. That made it that much easier to tamp down any of my usual inhibitions and give into my desires.

  Turner flicked the parrot away. The bird gladly returned to the chair to keep watch over the dinner plate.

  Turner moved so close that I felt the wet tip of his shoes against my toes. His dark lashes curtained his eyes as he gazed down at my body. I held my breath as his hand, still slightly cold from the rain, slipped past the edge of the robe and came to rest on my waist. The plush fabric moved aside enough to expose my nipple. He slid his hand along my side to my breast. His thumb swirled around the nipple, tightening it to a rose colored bud and at the same time filling my pussy with a rush of hot moisture.

  The breath I’d been holding flowed out on a long sigh as he lowered his mouth and teased my nipple with his tongue and teeth. My skin grew hot with a flush. I pushed the robe off my shoulders to be cooled by the air in the room. His hands parted my robe completely and he lifted his mouth away from my nipple to gaze down at my now exposed pussy.

  He grinned appreciatively. “Definitely not a red head.” His hands swept over my shoulders to push the robe off my arms. It pooled at my feet. I was stark naked in front of a man I’d hardly exchanged more than a dozen words with, yet the notion of picking up the robe to cover myself never even edged into my mind.

  I should have felt embarrassed or ashamed of my behavior, but I wasn’t. I was, just like the heroine in my story, so starved for passion it was easy to ignore societal rules.

  Turner’s long hair was still damp from saltwater as I tangled my fingers in it. The cold wet fabric of his shirt rubbed against the nipples he’d made tender with his teasing. His strong hands circled my waist, and my feet hovered just above the ground as he lifted me and pushed me up against the wall.

  My back pressed against the cool plaster, a stark contrast to the fire burning between my legs. I was nearly out of my mind with the physical need to be satisfied. It was absurd timing, but in my haze, I tried to think of another occasion where a man had made me this delirious. I couldn’t find one.

  When Turner’s mouth covered mine for a long, deep kiss all the surroundings fell away, and I was transported into a dream-like world where nothing existed but the two of us. The erotic dream was abruptly shattered by a loud squawk. I stiffened in Turner’s arms, but the sound didn’t slow him at all. His large hand smoothed over my bottom.

  I pulled my mouth from his. “But what about Dexter?”

  “He can get his own pretty girl. This one’s all mine.” His mouth covered mine again.

  One hand firmly gripped my ass as the free one returned to my breast. Turner pushed his shoe between my bare feet and wiggled it back and forth to part my legs. He peeled away from the kiss and gazed down at me with a dark, hungry gaze that sent a shiver through my body, a shiver that straddled the line between fear and excitement. On the one hand, I was tight in the grasp of a tall, muscular stranger, who could be just as dangerous as he was handsome, which gave me some pause. But on the other hand, I wanted to be right there in his powerf
ul arms, completely his captive to do with what he liked.

  Captive. That word flashed through my mind, and I thought about the perfect man I’d described to the very persistent website, Coco’s website, the website that seemed to know everything about me.

  How was any of this possible? Was I dreaming this? Were my stories coming to life in my daydreams? Was I making a big mistake? The questions were like a splash of cold water. I straightened and backed away from Turner’s body as much as the wall behind me would allow.

  Turner reluctantly lowered his hands, and I groaned in disappointment. I swallowed hard trying to figure out how to come out of this without seeming like a terrible tease. I had, after all, been the one to start it by opening my robe.

  “I suppose that’s my cue to shove off, eh?” he said. The hitch in his deep voice proved that he was equally disappointed.

  “I’m sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s just the bubble bath and the—” I stopped myself realizing that I was just looking for an excuse.

  Turner leaned his forearm against the wall and leaned as close as he could get without actually touching me. “You know what I think?”

  I peered up at him, waiting for his response.

  He lifted his hand and let the back of his fingers trail over the skin from my breast to my stomach. “I think you are a beautiful, smart, independent woman who likes the idea of letting her guard down behind closed doors.” His fingers danced a light circle around my belly button. My nipples hardened and warm gooseflesh covered my skin. “Tell me, my beautiful, wanton wench—” His fingers continued an erotic path to my pussy. “How long has it been since someone made you cry out in pleasure?”

  I sucked in a breath as his fingers slid through the folds of my pussy. My desire to have him touch me was no longer a secret.

  A roguish smile tilted his mouth as his fingers found the moisture pooling between my legs. “Ah, the sweet nectar of a woman who needs to be fucked and fucked hard.”

  The gasp that followed should have been one of shock. It should have been but it wasn’t. His rough, coarse words only served to make me more wet with desire. A physical reaction that did not escape his notice.

  “Hell, woman, you are about as fucking sweet as honey.” He pressed his mouth against mine as his fingers plunged inside of me. I grabbed hold of his arms for support and knew there was no turning back. I would finish with an orgasm or melt into a puddle from disappointment.

  Instinctively, I spread my feet farther, inviting him to go deeper.

  “That’s it my sultry captive, spread those sleek thighs and let me feel every inch of you.”

  I held tightly to him as I moved my hips in rhythm with his hand. The heel of his hand warmed my clit with friction as his fingers impaled me, drawing out more cream from my pussy. Turner knew exactly what he was doing. His prowess coupled with the fact that it had been so long for me brought me quickly to orgasm.

  “Fuck yes,” I cried as I came against his hand. His free arm went around me, to steady me as the hand between my thighs continued to make me shudder with pleasure. He stroked my pussy until I could no longer stand on my own. Then he swept me into his arms and carried me to the bed.

  I gazed up at him, the dark, sea soaked stranger who had touched me intimately and made me writhe in pleasure, as he covered my naked body with the downy quilt on the bed. He leaned down and kissed me lightly on the lips. “Good night, my pretty wench. I’d tell you sweet dreams, but I’d rather if you had some good raunchy ones. Preferably with me as the main character.”

  Turner whistled and Dexter flew across the room and landed on his shoulder. He flashed me a white smile before closing the door behind him.

  I turned over and curled deep in the blankets and mountain of pillows. I could still feel the heat of his hand between my legs. I wished that the tender ache he’d left behind would last forever. And that was my final thought before I drifted off into a deep sleep.

  Chapter 5

  Enjoy. It was the last word Coco had uttered when she left me for what turned out to be an incredibly luxurious bubble bath session followed by the best night of sleep I’d had since I was a baby swaddled in soft cotton blankets. Of course, the most enjoyable part of the evening had had nothing to do with the bath or the bed.

  I blushed thinking about Turner and wondered how the heck I would face him if I ran into him again. Would I run into him again? I hoped so.

  I’d woken to an amazing assortment of pastries and spent a good fifteen minutes agonizing over whether to eat the pecan twist or the cheese Danish. There had been no sense wasting any more time thinking about it, so I ate both. Without asking, Coco had even known exactly how I took my coffee, very black with a splash of cream. It was as if she knew everything about me. The logical, engineering side of my brain sent out a signal that said I should have been a little freaked out by it all, but the creative writing side of my brain squashed those worries by repeating Coco’s wise words—’ignore the impossible and go with it’. The logical side might have won out if it weren’t for the cozy bed, glorious bubble bath, delicious breakfast treats and the faint tenderness that lingered from Turner’s touch. I was still having a hard time believing that his visit had happened at all. The few mind-blowing minutes with him had seemed much more like a hot dream.

  I stared in the full length mirror and gave my reflection a nod of approval. Along with the fabulous breakfast, Coco had left me a pair of denim shorts, a soft flannel button down shirt and a pair of hiking boots that fit perfectly. I could spend an hour in a department store looking for a pair of jeans that fit well and still end up with jeans that were too tight or too loose or both. The shorts Coco had left me fit me as if they’d been sewn directly onto my body, and I had to admit, with the right fit, I looked pretty damn good.

  I headed downstairs and found Coco in the kitchen measuring ingredients. It happened again. As I rounded the corner into the kitchen, I caught a glimpse of an elderly woman whose shoulders were rounded from age and whose hands were mottled with age spots. But by the time I took my first step onto the tile floor, the image I’d seen, or at least thought I’d seen, had vanished, and a vibrant with youth woman looked up from the bag of brown sugar. She had a streak of white flour across the smooth olive skin of her forehead.

  “I’ve had the canoe carried down to the water’s edge for you. The paddle and life vest are on board.” She tossed the cup of brown sugar into her mixing bowl. “Hope you like apple cobbler? It’s the perfect dessert to follow up lobster pot pie.”

  “I’m nearly dizzy just thinking about that lobster pot pie. I so rarely eat homemade food anymore. I guess I should take that canoe ride right now before I grow too plump for it.”

  Coco laughed off my comment. “By the way, how does everything fit?” She surveyed my outfit and boots and smiled with approval.

  “Perfectly.” I glanced down at the new outfit. “Somehow, I’m not surprised.”

  “Good. Let’s keep the real surprises for something other than clothes. Let’s get you out on the water.” She wiped her hands on the dishtowel and led me out onto the back stoop.

  The sky was teal blue with patches of white cotton clouds. The water was a tranquil, deep blue in a cove formed by layers of algae covered rocks.

  Coco leaned out and pointed to a copse of trees with twisted dark red branches that were as smooth as glass. “You’ll see a lot of fish if you head toward the Manzanita trees. Just follow this brick pathway along the rose garden. It’ll take you straight to the sand.”

  “Great. Can’t wait to start my adventure. I have to admit, I haven’t done anything like this in a long time.” I headed down the steps.

  “Oh, and Ginger,” Coco called just as I reached the rose garden.

  I looked back over my shoulder.

  “Don’t paddle past the white buoys,
or the tide will pull you out to open sea.”

  I squinted into the sunlight reflecting off the water. At the far ends of the cove two white buoys bobbed back and forth in the tide. I waved back to her to let her know I understood and continued on toward the beach.

  Chapter 6

  The life vest was unwieldy and puffy. After several frustrating minutes of trying to paddle the canoe with it on, I pulled it off. I’d always been a good swimmer, and the water in the cove was nearly as calm as a swimming pool.

  It took me a good twenty minutes to get my rhythm with the paddles, but once I got the hang of it, the canoe sailed over the glassy surface. I headed in the direction of the Manzanita trees, figuring I could relax in their shade for a bit.

  The pointed front of the canoe dipped and popped back up as I traversed the gentle ripples rolling across the otherwise smooth surface. Cold water sprayed my face and arms each time the canoe slapped against the water.

  Coco had been right. The closer I got to the trees, the more fish I saw swimming in iridescent schools of shimmering silver. I knew almost nothing about fish and wouldn’t know a trout from a salmon, but they were still fun to watch.

  A layer of warm ocean air hovered over the water, and I could taste the salt on my lips. One particularly big tree jutted far out over the water, throwing out a nice, cool shade. I maneuvered the canoe to stand beneath it. I rested the paddle across the canoe and shoved the life jacket behind my head for a pillow.

  My eyes drifted shut and I listened to the quiet lapping of the water against the roots and the trees gripping the shore. It seemed the trees were there not just to provide shade for a passing boat but to keep the sandy shore from melting away in a storm.

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