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Hot buttered rum standal.., p.8
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       Hot Buttered Rum: Standalone Romance (Silk Stocking Inn Book 4), p.8

           Tess Oliver

  “Uh, maybe I was being a little hasty. I’m sure the laundry can wait.”

  “Great.” Coco’s smile radiated through the room. She picked up the tray and I rushed to get the door for her. “Turner said he’d pick you up on the beach at ten.” She winked at me as she walked past. “I’m glad you decided to stay.”

  Chapter 13

  I leaned against the side of the boat. The wind and salty mist brushed my face. The Pickled Pepper was no luxury cruiser, but it was rugged and had plenty of charm, just like its dashing captain.

  Turner looked exceptionally hot standing behind the wheel with his dark sunglasses and his black captain’s hat as he steered us toward a small island sitting in the midst of at least a dozen other small islands. Some had quaint houses hiding between the palm trees and shrubs. Others looked completely desolate with no signs of life other than the pelicans and gulls flying overhead.

  The roar of the motor fell to a rumble. As we neared a rocky shore, Turner moved a lever and the vessel floated into reverse. I turned to admire his strong forearms as he steered the boat so that the bow was turned away from the rocky shore. He shut off the engine. The only sounds remaining were the occasional screech of the gulls and the far off sound of music coming from a nearby island. Turner pressed a button and gears churned below deck. “I’m lowering the anchor. This is as close as we can get. It’s one of the reasons my dad gave up on making this a vacation spot. My mom wasn’t too keen on rowing to shore.” He pointed to the extremely small dinghy stored under the stern. “Hope you don’t mind a short trip. I’m sure the canoe accident is still fresh in your mind.”

  With the boat holding steady in the mildly choppy water, Turner walked over and joined me at the railing.

  “Yes, but that incident ended so well, I barely remember the horrifying moments when I thought I would be dragged out to sea and my lifeless body would be eaten by fish and other icky sea things. Really, I’ve hardly given it another thought.” I reached up and flicked my finger against the brim of his hat. “By the way, this is a good look for you. Although I’m pretty sure you could walk out in a bright orange clown wig and it would still be a good look.”

  His shoulders relaxed. “I’m so glad you said that. I’ve got the clown wig in my quarters, I just wasn’t sure if I should put it on or not.”

  “Awk!” Dexter’s squawk shot out from below deck.

  “He’ll want to tag along. There’s a particular tree he likes to perch on. I think it makes him feel like an eagle. Is that all right?”

  “Of course, but only if he’ll sit on my shoulder. I fancy myself quite the pirate wench, you know?”

  “Oh trust me, I know.” Turner took that as a cue to pull me against him for a long, deep kiss. Dexter’s squawk brought it to a reluctant end.

  Turner whistled and the bird flew out with another loud squawk. He landed on Turner’s shoulder, but he spun around so that our arms touched. “You can take a ride on pretty girl today.”

  As if the bird understood every word, he bobbed his green head up and down with a nod and scooted over to my shoulder. He was heavier than I’d expected and his tiny talons poked through the cotton fabric of my shirt.

  Turner seemed to sense my discomfort. “Are you sure? He’ll only be slightly insulted if you ask him to climb back over to my shoulder.”

  “No, I love it. I just don’t wear birds that often. I did have a pigeon land on my head once in a park when I was a little girl. It gave me nightmares for a week. But Dexter is much better mannered than the pigeon.”

  Using a pulley and rope, Turner lowered the dinghy into the water. He climbed down into the boat first and held it steady. Dexter’s wings startled me he raised them in a wild flutter. His tiny feet pushed off my shoulder, and he soared into the air and toward the island. Turner looked back to watch as Dexter landed on the top branch of a tall tree growing from the side of the island.

  He looked back up at me. “Sorry, he tends to be impatient. But don’t let that stop you from being a pirate wench. I was kind of looking forward to it once I got you up to the house.”

  “I am feeling a little less piratey without my parrot, but I guess I can still give it a whirl.”

  I threw my leg over the side, gripped the ladder and descended into the tiny boat. The unsteady deck caused me to grab onto Turner, or more accurately he grabbed onto me. “Got ya’.” He kissed me once on the mouth, a short sweet one that was nearly as pleasant as the long, deep one. That might have been because everything about Turner was pleasant. He held my arm as I sat down on the small wooden seat across from him. Then he sat and used the oar to turn the dinghy away from the Pickled Pepper. The fabric on his shirt stretched tight over the muscles of his arms as he paddled us through the choppy water.

  “We can’t stop here because of the rocks. They are bonus for security because they make it hard for anyone to reach the island. Unfortunately it’s hard for me too. I have to paddle around the end to a small, hidden stretch of beach under some Manzanita trees.”

  Hearing Manzanita and sitting at almost water level in a toy boat took me back to the canoe incident. I had to work hard to keep the panic from taking over. I crossed my arms around myself and took deep solid breaths.

  Turner dug his oar into the deep, dark water and the tiny boat sailed over the surface. “Ginger, are you all right?” He was already so in tune with my feelings. I couldn’t think of the last time I’d dated a man who knew what I was feeling or thinking before I even mentioned it.

  “I’m fine,” I said weakly. “I’ll just be glad when we’re back on solid ground.” I looked over at him as he confidently paddled us toward his island paradise. Just watching his powerful arms drive the oar into the water made me relax some. I didn’t think I’d ever feel scared again if I always had those strong arms to protect me.

  I uncrossed my arms and braced my hands against the wood plank beneath my bottom to keep from falling off the seat. With my head clearing and the tingly sensations of a panic attack disappearing, I was able to look around and take in the natural beauty of the island.

  The shiny twisted branches of the Manzanita trees jutted out over the water, their roots tucked tightly into the gray rocks that made up the outer edge of the island. It was a thick, lush chunk of land that looked as if it had been sitting there untouched since the days of dinosaurs. Or at least since the days of pirates. I glanced around at the other islands. Most had the same trees and shrubs, but some had been cleared more than others. “Do you think these little islands were connected at one time?”

  “Absolutely. Time, weather and ocean have carved them into this little subset of islands. Most are privately owned, like my dad’s. A few of them have really amazing beach houses. One even has a swimming pool. I must warn you that my place is unfinished and not elaborate. I decided to keep it more primitive. Mostly because that was all I could afford and because I thought it would be more fun. I’m not even hooking up electricity. It’s a lot like camping.” The current and his paddling helped the dinghy roll toward the trees.

  “Duck your head,” he warned as we passed beneath the gnarled branches.

  A long patch of silvery sand sat hidden beneath the trees. With a few more strokes the boat slid up on shore.

  “Wait right there.” Turner hopped out of the boat onto the wet sand and dragged the dinghy up farther. Then he offered me his hand.

  “Remember, it’s a little rustic,” he reminded me as he led me up a path of rocks.

  “I’ll say,” I said, teasingly, “the last personal island a man took me to had a two story mansion with a deck and whirlpool. And the one before that . . .”

  “All right, I get it. I won’t disparage my little chunk of paradise anymore.” We hiked through the dense, shady forest of dark green succulents and wide leafed palms until we reached a perfect little clearing. In the cen
ter of the clearing sat a small four sided hut with a thatch room and a rustic stone walkway. Sunlight glinted off the round windows.

  I couldn’t hold back a smile. “It’s like a hobbit house. It’s absolutely perfect. Who needs a mansion when you’ve got this?”

  “Somehow I knew you’d appreciate it.” Turner turned and kissed me. Then he took hold of my hand and led me into the house.

  The interior was as quaint as the exterior. A wood burning stove with its long crooked pipe leading up and through a hole in the ceiling stood in one corner. A small bed that was piled high with quilts sat against the opposite wall. A table with a driftwood base and two chairs sat beneath a round window. The window had a nearly panoramic view of the back side of the island and the ocean beyond.

  “It gets stuffy in here on hot days.” Turner walked over and pushed open the window. “The bathroom isn’t much, I’m afraid. Sort of an outhouse with cold running water. The real one is a work in progress.”

  “It’s wonderful, Turner. I can’t imagine how nice it would be to have something like this to get away from the stress of the real world.”

  He walked over to a small cupboard that had been attached to the wall next to the stove. “I’ve only got a few things to eat. Nothing keeps. Whenever I plan to come here for a weekend, I bring an ice chest. So sorry that I’m not much of a host.”

  I pressed my hand against my stomach. “Are you kidding? After a day and a half with Coco’s food, I’m going to need to fast just to get rid of the extra pounds.”

  Turner walked over and pulled me against him. “Nope, not feeling any extra pounds just all the right curves in all the right places.” His blue eyes glinted in the light coming through the window. “Since I like you so damn much, I’m going to show you my favorite place on the island. But you’ll probably get wet, so you’ll want to leave your clothes behind.”

  A laugh shot from my mouth. “Very funny.”

  “No really. Unless you want to ride back to the inn in wet clothes. Your choice. But it’ll be a lot more fun naked. No one can see you because we are alone on this island.”

  “My gosh, you’re serious.”


  “What about Dexter? He’s up in the trees somewhere keeping his eagle eye on the place.”

  Turner reached up and started unbuttoning my shirt. “As I’ve said before, that bird can get his own pretty girl.” He parted the open panels of my shirt and pressed his mouth against the swell of my breast. “This one is mine.”

  Chapter 14

  In the end, I chickened out on the buck naked idea. Although, not completely. Turner who had stripped down, like me, to just his underwear and shoes, hiked along the sandy path to his favorite spot.

  “When the guys on my engineering team ask what I did this weekend, something tells me my only response will be a head to toe, dark pink blush.”

  “What? That’s no fun. You should tell them. That way they’ll know just what a badass adventurer you are.” Turner stopped behind a large smooth ball of granite. “This is it.”

  I stood with my hands on my hips, secretly trying to catch my breath, and trying to look opinionated in my lacy bra and panties, another pair of provocative, sugary confections provided by my hostess at the inn. They were beautiful and fit better than anything I could have chosen myself.

  “It’s a rock,” I declared confidently. “A very nice rock but a rock nonetheless.”

  Turner reached up and patted the massive boulder. “Yep, she’s a beauty. If you climb up on her, you can see far enough out to watch for passing cruise ships and tankers. But we’re not climbing today.” He held out his hand, and I finished the short climb to stand next to his rock.

  “Now, give it a few seconds and you’ll see the other reason I love this rock.” He took hold of my hand and tugged me closer. Our bodies pressed together. Instantly his cock reacted as it strained the fabric of his briefs and pushed against my belly. “While we’re waiting . . .” His mouth covered mine and we kissed, half naked, completely alone in the middle of a lush tropical island. All of it was just a little too unreal to imagine.

  I was lost deep in his kiss when I felt my bra fall away. My nipples rubbed against his hard chest as I tightened my arms around his neck. On the other side of the rock, the ocean roared as if moving closer. Seconds later we were sprayed with a cooling mist. I pulled my mouth from his and laughed as I pushed my face up into the salty shower.

  Diamonds of water glittered on Turner’s dark hair. He reached up and combed it back. “I know it’s not all that spectacular, but I think it’s pretty cool. When the tide comes in, the waves hit the rocks on shore just hard enough to produce a misty shower.”

  “I love it. It’s amazing. This place is amazing.” I reached up and ran my fingers along his jaw. “And I guess I don’t have to tell you what else is amazing.” What I really wanted to tell him was that I’d never fallen so fast for a man. Hell, I’d never really even fallen for a man until now. Until Turner. But I kept the words inside. I knew this was just a weekend tryst for him. I’d be leaving the inn this afternoon, and I doubted I’d get much more than a good-bye kiss. I’d have to steel myself not to let my emotions show when I drove away. Then, I’d allow myself a good cry once I got back home. I had a big work week ahead, and I’d have to get over the heartbreak fast.

  “I’m glad you came with me today, Ginger. I wasn’t sure if you’d stick around.”

  “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”

  He pressed me up against the rock. The surface was smooth and slick with water. Turner’s mouth covered my breast as his hands slid along my sides to my panties. Seconds later the panties were on the ground. I found myself standing stark naked in the middle of an island, shielded only by nature and the incredible set of arms around me.

  As Turner’s hands explored my body another light spray of refreshing ocean water cooled our skin. Turner pinched a condom out of the waistband of his underwear and then pushed the briefs down to set free his raging erection.

  Water dripped off my face as I gazed down at his cock. I trailed my fingers along the long shaft and rubbed my thumb over the fleshy tip. His deep groan pushed an idea in my head, and without another thought, I dropped down to my knees. I held his cock firmly in my grip as I parted my lips and took him into my mouth.

  His large hands cupped my head, and his fingers tangled in my hair as he held me against him. I tightened my lips around him and slid my mouth as far as I could go, while stroking the rest of him with my hand. I moved back and forth, pulling my lips along the tight hot skin, making sure to finish each pass with a tongue tease.

  His fingers tightened in my hair. It seemed he was close to coming. But before I could finish what I’d started, he growled and released my hair. “I need to have you now, baby.”

  I drew my lips along him one last time. He grabbed hold of my arms and lifted me to standing. He was nearly too impatient for the condom. The second he’d rolled it on, he pushed his mouth over mine. His hands cupped my ass and he lifted me, bracing my back against the rock.

  His hand slid down and he hooked my leg and brought it up around his waist. I lifted the other and wrapped my legs around him as he thrust into me. As if it had been timed, the cool ocean mist sprayed over the rock and over our heated skin.

  Turner moved hard and deep inside of me as he held me in his grip and braced me against the smooth, cold stone. Our bodies were connected, and it seemed for those hot moments, our hearts were too. As Turner brought me closer and closer to climax, I felt as if he was the only man who could ever give me that elusive happy ending. Everything between us worked so perfectly as if our bodies had been made for each other.

  “Baby,” he groaned, “I could fuck you all day, every day and still not have enough of you.”

  I wrapped my arms and legs tigh
ter and squeezed my thighs against him to let him know I wanted even more of him. His hands gripped my ass as he pushed harder against me, stirring up heat and friction against my clit. As the ocean sprayed its cooling mist over us, my body shuddered and writhed with an orgasm. My moan floated up into the blue sky and was lost in the canopy of trees.

  Turner gripped me so tightly, I thought he’d squeeze the air from my lungs as he pushed into me again. He kissed me hard as he came.

  Our breathing slowed, and I lowered my legs to the ground. A breeze brushed through the trees and tickled our wet skin. Turner reached up and pushed a hair off my face. The gesture, along with the accompanying smile, melted my heart a little more. Then he pulled me into his arms and held me.

  All I could think about was how hard it was going to be to drive away from the inn and from Turner.

  Chapter 15

  After an afternoon that was, by far, one of the most romantic in my life, Turner had dropped me at the beach in front of the inn. He had to visit to the local filling station at the next marina. He promised to return in an hour.

  I hurried through a shower and got dressed in the clothes I’d arrived in. Coco had packaged up all the other clothes for me to take home. As hard as I tried to pay for everything, she refused. If there was ever an award for best innkeeper in the world, Coco would be a shoe in. She could also win for most magical and best cook and baker. She was truly extraordinary to the point that I was sure Rory wouldn’t believe one word of my weekend story. I was still having a hard time believing it. And, in the midst of it all, I had met a man who I couldn’t stop thinking about.

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