Authors: Courtney Sheets
The night sky glittered with stars as Jack drove the
battered Jeep toward the rental house Kalama would inhabit while at HVO. Kalama
leaned her seat back and stared up at the stars and the sliver of moonlight
above her, trying desperately to ignore her renegade hormones and the gorgeous
hunk of man in the driver’s seat. She needed to keep a cool head about her. She
was in Hawaii on a mission, not to play naughty with the handsome scientist,
especially when that scientist was a self-absorbed
who couldn’t be
bothered to respect local tradition. If there was one thing she hated, it was
disrespect for her people and their way of life.
Kalama snuck a glance at Jack’s strong profile, outlined in
the moonlight. His sandy blond hair fell over his forehead, making her want to
reach over and brush it out of his eyes. Those beautiful blue eyes, the color
of a deep lagoon, had held her captive from the moment she’d spotted him across
the room at Volcano House. An aquiline nose tapered into the most kissable lips
she had seen in years. She regretted not letting those lips claims hers
earlier, but what she had told Jack was true. The night in Volcano did have
eyes. And she was in enough trouble without compounding it. Shaking her head in
disgust, she forced her attention back to the foliage lining the road.
“How far is the house?” she asked, her voice cutting through
the silence surrounding them.
“Not far now. Just a couple miles down the road,” Jack said,
never taking his eyes from the road. “What the hell?” he asked, the question
mumbled under his breath. Kalama sat up in her seat.
“What is it?”
“Down the road a bit, do you see something white?” Jack
asked, pointing with one hand over the dashboard toward something farther down
the road. Kalama felt the breath in her lungs hitch. He was right. On the right
side of the road, an old woman in a white muumuu stood hitchhiking.
“You better stop and pick her up,” Kalama said, eyeing the
old woman for a moment before turning to Jack. His brow was furrowed in a
“I’m not stopping in the dark for some strange woman. How do
we know she isn’t some psycho killer?” Jack asked.
“She’s not a psycho killer. She’s just an old woman who
needs a ride. Be nice, pick her up.”
“You don’t know that. She could have a knife or something.
We pick her up and bam, she chops us up,” Jack said. The car was pulling up
closer to the woman. She stood there smiling, her thumb out, waiting. The
woman’s bronzed skin was craggy and her smile was missing a few teeth. Her feet
were bare and the hem of her muumuu was dirty.
, Jack?” Kalama sat, amazed. “
isn’t just a way to say hello, it’s a way of life.” At the moment, Jack was
severely lacking in island spirit.
“Don’t give me that, Kalama. I don’t need to pick up some
weirdo on the side of the road to demonstrate my
,” he said
“I’m telling you, pick her up. Trust me on this. You want to
pick her up,” Kalama said.
“I’m not stopping for some old woman in the middle of the
night and that’s final.” Jack sped past the woman. Kalama shook her head, her
lips pursed tight in displeasure.
“I warned you,” Kalama said under her breath.
“What’s the big deal, Kalama?”
“How long have you been in Hawaii, Jack?” Kalama asked, watching
the woman’s reflection disappear in the side view mirror.
“A couple years. Why?”
“You should know better,” Kalama said, mumbling under her
“Know what? What’s the big deal?”
“Never mind, you’ll understand soon enough.” Jack heaved an
annoyed sigh, which seemed to be his standard response for the night and turned
his attention back to driving.
* * * * *
The air was cooler in Volcano due to the higher altitude
than the Hilo coast. Goosebumps rose on Kalama’s bare arms and she ran her
palms over them to ward off the faint chill. The house was a sweet, green
one-story that sat a ways off the main road. Thick, tropical foliage wrapped
itself around the white trim, engulfing the house in an embrace. Leaves rustled
in the darkness, the wind plucking at the trees. Kalama felt something watching
her, hunting her. Stalking her.
“Are you cold?” Jack asked, reaching in to the back of the
Jeep to grab Kalama’s backpack.
“A bit. I’m pretty hot-blooded and tend to get cold easily.
Let’s go in.”
Jack grinned and gestured to the pathway leading to the
front door. A single sound escaped her, a soft breath of understanding. Kalama
watched Jack fumble with the key. She couldn’t help imagining those strong,
capable hands stroking over her body. No sooner had the thought entered her
mind than she shoved it away. The last thing she needed was this
arousing her interest, among other things.
“It’s a little stuck,” he said sheepishly. Placing her
backpack down, Jack braced a shoulder against the door and heaved. The wood
scraped against the jamb and finally gave way. Kalama bit back an amused
giggle. He looked so cute fighting a door. She stepped over the threshold.
“Lights, Jack?” Kalama asked, feeling around in the dark in
an attempt to locate the light switch. She turned back to the doorway to see
Jack’s large frame outlined in the moonlight. The silver light created a halo
around his muscular body. Heat pooled in her veins, liquid and sweet. Rooted to
the spot, Kalama watched Jack move from the doorway into the engulfing darkness
of the house.
The sound of his breathing mixed in the sultry tropical air,
blending with her own shallow intakes. The power of her desire for him took her
back. Jack dropped her backpack on the floor with a thud. The sound
reverberated around the room, sending a jolt through her. That meant his hands
were empty. Those large, work-hardened hands were free to roam her body.
Kalama wasn’t sure who moved first, but in the next minute
she was in his arms, her curves pressed tight against the hard planes of his
body. His kiss was gentle in his demands, his lips drifting over hers like a
wave licking the shore. Kalama looped her arms around his neck, resting her
palms at his nape and running her fingers lightly through the silky locks of
his hair. She felt his hunger build to ravenous levels as he groaned against
her lips. He deepened the kiss, thrusting his tongue into the moist cavern of
her mouth. His hands skimmed over the contours of her body, molded her curves.
Taking a moment to rest his hands on her shapely hips, Jack rocked his pelvis
against hers. The first brush of his growing erection against her stomach sent
a shock to her very core. Kalama moaned low in her throat.
Jack toyed with the edge of her tank top, skating his
fingertips over the exposed flesh of her stomach. She craved his touch like no
other. His kiss sent fire racing through her blood. She felt as if there was
molten lava in her veins. Jack broke free of her mouth and rained kisses along
her jawline, cheeks and nose. He couldn’t seem to get enough of her.
“I’ve wanted to kiss you all day, which is crazy considering
we hardly know each other,” Jack whispered, tracing the delicate whorl of her
ear with his tongue. He tugged on the tender flesh of her earlobe, biting down
gently. Kalama whimpered as a flash of desire ripped through her.
, Jack. We should stop,” Kalama said,
the words coming out in the merest whisper. She gasped when Jack ran his free
hand up under the cotton of her tank top and gently cupped her breast. He
flicked the pad of his thumb over the already hardened peak of her nipple.
“I can’t seem to stop touching you. Do you want me to?” Jack
asked, trailing a line of kisses down her throat.
“No.” The word was a whisper, an acquiescence, an
indulgence. Unfortunately the world outside had a different answer. A loud
crash came from the back bedroom, tearing them apart. Kalama jumped at the
sound and dug her hands into Jack’s shoulders. Sliding his hand from her
breast, he wrapped his arms around her waist in a comforting, protective
“You stay here. I’m going to check it out.” Jack released
her and gently moved her behind him. Kalama gripped his forearm in an effort to
get him to stay put. She did not want him going in that room.
“I’m sure it’s nothing,” Kalama said.
“It could also be a prowler. Just stay put.” Jack crept
silently to the back bedroom. Kalama watched him swing open the door and flick
on the light. Nothing. Kalama sighed. Her fears had been correct. She knew
exactly what had caused the noise, and there was no way she could tell Jack. He
would never believe her. So much for fun and games with the handsome scientist,
now because of some wayward noise, she had to get rid of him. It was for the
best, she told herself. She had already gotten too close to Jack for her
sanity. In the residual light provided by the open bedroom door, Kalama located
the front room lamp and switched it on. The living area was instantly bathed in
a creamy, golden glow.
“See, it was nothing, probably the wind knocking something
over,” Kalama said. Jack flicked off the light and returned to the living room.
“I guess.” He scrubbed a hand through his hair, further
ruffling the already disheveled strands. Kalama imagined that’s what it would
look like after a night of hot sex. Looking for a distraction to her sexy
thoughts and the memory of how his hand had felt cupping her breast, Kalama
headed into the kitchen. She opened the ancient refrigerator, not at all
surprised to see it was empty.
“Okay, so there is nothing to eat in this kitchen,” Kalama
said after finishing her search through the meager cupboards.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think to get groceries. I’ve had a lot
on my mind.” Jack sank down on the threadbare sofa that hugged the right side
“That’s okay. But I’ll need coffee in the morning or I can’t
be held accountable for the havoc I wreak,” Kalama said.
“Well, my house is only down the road a short walk. I can
bring you some in the morning. After that we can head to the grocery store.”
“Sounds good, but can we hit the farmer’s market instead? I
like to help out the local merchants and growers.” Kalama flopped down on the
couch near Jack. The cushions were soft and squishy, cocooning her in their
warmth. The raggedy sofa was more comfortable than it appeared. “Tell me about
the break-in.” Jack’s muscular chest heaved as a massive sigh of frustration
ripped from him.
“I’d rather kiss you again.”
“Kissing is a bad idea,” Kalama said, an amused smile
tugging at her lips.
“Kissing you is certainly not a bad idea. Why would you even
think that?” Jack asked, his blue eyes held a hint of confusion.
“Never mind. Now quit stalling,” Kalama said, brushing aside
the sudden urge to give in and slant her lips against his.
“The Jaggar Museum was broken into last night. Some artifacts
were taken and no one can figure out why the hell it’s happening. Not the
Rangers, not the
, not even me. And this wasn’t the first time
either.” Lines of worry furrowed his brow, a look of fatigue filled his eyes
and his massive shoulders seemed to slump under the strain of it. “Someone is
destroying the offerings left at the crater rim as well.”
“I’ll bet Pele just loves that,” Kalama mumbled under her
breath. Jack gave her a quizzical look. “Never mind. What was stolen exactly?”
“A smaller lava rock exercise ball and a glyph page on ti
cloth on loan.” Jack scrubbed a free hand over his eyes.
“What was on the cloth?”
“It was a drawing of some kind of tiki carving.” Jack sighed
and turned to meet her eyes.
“We have to get them back, Jack,” Kalama said and scooted a
little closer to him. She wanted to wrap her arms around him and hug him close.
He seemed so sad, so lost when it came to the thefts.
“Don’t I know it? We also have to stop the vandalism going
on. I have no idea why someone would want to destroy the offerings. They’re not
Kalama lifted her hand and caressed it along the back of his
neck, letting her fingers work out a bit of the tension she encountered there.
“I think maybe you should head home and get some sleep. God
knows I could use some. That flight from Vanuatu was a killer. We can go over
the details of the vandalism tomorrow when the day is fresh.” Kalama stood, not
really wanting to send Jack on his merry way, but she had no choice.
“I get the hint,” Jack said, rising from the couch and
heading toward the front door.
“I’m tired, Jack. That’s all. It’s been an interesting first
day.” Kalama followed him out, standing on the front lanai as he headed to the
Jeep. He flashed a smile, sliding into the seat. Raising a hand, she waved her
goodbye and let an answering smile light up her face.
Jack turned the key in the ignition. The engine sputtered,
refusing to jump to life. Jack’s face fell into an expression of confusion. He
turned the key again. The sound of grinding gears filled the air as the engine
declined to turn over. Slamming his hand on the steering wheel, Jack let out a
“The Jeep won’t start.”
Kalama rolled her eyes heavenward in
annoyance and shook her head. “Let me look. Pop the hood.” Kalama stepped down
from the lanai. She waited for the soft click letting her know that Jack had
indeed done as she asked. Lifting the hood, she peered through the darkness at
“Can you see anything?” Jack asked, coming to stand beside
her and leaning down, his body brushing against hers.
“Jack, I need you to run into the house and get the
flashlight out of my backpack for me.” He nodded, turning and bounding up the
stairs back into the house. Kalama waited until his tall frame was completely
out of sight and climbed into the driver’s seat. “
, you start
this car right now.” Kalama’s voice as she spit out the command. Taking a
fortifying breath, Kalama cranked the key in the ignition. Nothing.