Authors: Monique Lamont,Yvette Hines
Evidence of Desire
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission by the author.
Hero Series: Evidence of Desire
Copyright © 2015, Monique Lamont
Cover Artist: Char Adlesperger
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To the readers who have waited forever for me to finish book three of the Hero Series; Louise Brown (the first reader that ever contacted me) and all others…thank you for always sending the ‘reminders’. To Pat Simmons who’s been a friend/support/mentor of Monique Lamont since the first major book signing.
To my family who I love and my daughter Samantha who has been a champion while I was on deadline—hugs bearsome. I never forget my colleagues and writing partner Di Topaz ‘Here’s to the butt-crack of dawn sprint writing’. I owe a final major thank you to Serenity King…You are just the sweetest and most wonderful person and you know why.
Her hands glided over his skin. Hot fingers of ecstasy caressed him, igniting his soul from the inside out. Her scent covered him, fragrant and heavy, wrapping around him causing a healing strength both calming and enticing. He’d missed her. Her taste and touch had eluded him for so long, but now she was here. Now he could lose himself in her kiss, bury himself inside of her silken depths and reach home. He wanted that. He wanted her. The need to feel her arms around him, holding him against her, clawed at his gut. A voice beguiling and soothing as a midnight summer breeze whispering in his ear and tempting him to revel in a sensual dance.
Yes, he would have her. Pulling her closer his body came alive and his heart ached to tell her of his love. They joined in the delicious beauty of the moment, their essence intertwining as one, reuniting and linking as one. He stared into beautiful almond shaped eyes and watched them sparkle with passion. Her full lips, lips that he’d kissed endlessly, smiled at him. She leaned in. He waited, but her mouth brushed his brow instead, the touch cool and restoring.
His body was on fire. The image of having his skin rinsed with hot lava could be the only explanation for the heat permeating from him. His stomach had an empty gnawing feeling to the point of pain twisting his insides. Nothing compared to the raw sting of his throat as he attempted to swallow as if he’d taken to drinking shards of glass and chasing it down with desert sand, that seemed a logical reason for the gritty and raw feel of his mouth.
Disoriented, it took his mind a moment to understand the images around him in the soft amber glow. Above his head was still the thatched roof of his rattan in the Rainforest held up by wood posts, laced with netting that draped over the windows. He could hear the rush of the Daintree River and the deep
mating call of the white-lipped tree frog, echoed by the laughing kookaburra.
Turning his head gingerly, he groaned and felt the shift of the cold compress on his head. He noticed a Kuku Yalariji tribesmen sitting beside a small makeshift fire as he stirred something in a primitive black pot that was cloaking the room in a thick, cloying spicy, sweet smoke. Parker clearly understood the implication of the aboriginal man resting against the plank boards that had been the walls of his home for years, he’d caught fever.
She had been a dream.
“Ahhhhhh!” Sonya’s piercing scream echoed around the vacant hall of the museum as she stared at some kind of hairy, spotted spider that was eyeing her in return. Moments before she’d rounded the corner from the front of the Queen Metropolitan Museum and discovered her path blocked by the creature. She was not fond of insects, but she hated spiders most of all. Every time she sidestepped, the spider did the same. Turning her head, she looked around to see if she saw anyone that could provide assistance. Her knees were already locking on her, stomach was churning and sweat was already beading up on the back of her neck and palms. The only thing keeping her upright was knowing that if she passed out, this
would crawl all over her.
Her mind screamed. She had very few options. It was too large to step on, not to mention if she missed and it ran up her leg she’d go insane. Worse, if she got it and felt that crunch under her foot, even the thought of it made her shiver in disgust. Her only choice, she took. Slipping the strap of her leather case down her shoulder, she clutched it in her hands as she raised it above her head. It almost pained her to know that once she crushed the creepy critter with it, the case would be lost to her forever. The case was a gift to herself three years ago when she got this job. No matter, because she would not pick it up off the bug and would never want it again.
Holding her breath, she closed her eyes and prepared to throw it.
“No! Don’t.” Someone called out and footsteps came running behind her.
Opening her eyes she turned, to see a short blond man who looked fresh out of college with glasses so thick he probably could see through the polished wood floor of the museum into the vaults below.
“Why not? It just a nasty bug.”
The man scurried around her, shaking his head. “No, it’s not. It is a Six-spotted Fishing Spider. He was probably headed to the fountain in the atrium.”
“He?” Sonya waved her hands. She didn’t care or want to know about spider genders. “How did he get in here?”
Gingerly, the man coaxed the spider inside a mesh canister of some type then closed the lid before he rose. “The new entomology exhibit. Arachno-That.” He let out a nasally laugh.
Shaking her head, she had forgotten about the extension onto the museum. It had been over three months since all the early morning banging and drilling had ceased. Most likely she’d put it out of her mind hoping the board had come to their senses. “Are spiders roaming free going to be a part of the attraction? Because I’m not sure it will draw in a lot of people.”
She for one would have to look for another job if that was the case.
“No, no.” He snorted again. “Not at all. We were unloading the containers and someone who didn’t know what they were doing…” his voice was laced with annoyance. “Left the top open, just long enough for this little guy to escape.”
“Oh, yes. You should see the Australian Orb weaver or…”His eyebrows lifted with excitement. “The Goliath Birdeater Tarantula of South America.”
Sonya watched the guy practically dance on his toes as he spoke. Saying spiders made him excited was an understatement.
“Good God.” Just the name of it made her vision fuzzy. “Please tell me one of those is not here and on the loose.”
“I wish…” He must have seen her eyes stretch because he rushed on, “Here, I mean. Not escaping. We only have a skeletal display of one in the exhibit.”
Nodding, slowly, she moved away from him. “I have work I need to do.”
“Of course. So do I. So many tanks…so little time before the grand opening.” His small eyes seemed to light up behind his glasses.
“Yea.” She gave him a small smile and turned down the corridor to the east wing staff elevator to quickly get to the sanctuary of her own exhibit—African American Wonders.
The sound of her own heels clicking against the high polished floor was as soothing to her as an orchestra playing Brahms’
. She’d always loved museums since she could remember. It had never entered her mind to do anything else with her life. Outside of her house and the dance studio, this place was home to her. She enjoyed being here surrounded by ancient artifacts and modern art.
Finally arriving at the elevator on the other side of the Flight History area, she pressed the down button, to take her to the workshop and vault level, in the basement. She’d check in with her staff before she went to her office. The elevator gave a soft ding before it opened and someone called her name.
Shifting her body, she turned to see, Mr. Kravers, the director moving briskly toward her. Nelson Kravers was a wide, white man with dark brown, curly hair that he applied way too much product to it in an attempt to keep it slick and tame. Sonya always noted that when her boss became flustered, his curls would pop up in odd places, curling at his forehead or crown.
“Sonya, a moment of your time, please.”
“Did you hear back from the board about approval for the African Artifacts wing?” It had been over six months since her team had presented the board with a grant petition documenting the rationale to develop a division on in her section for tribal artifacts from various African regions.
“Afraid not. You know yours is not the only proposal before them for grant funds. It takes time.”
Evidently she needed to find a rich benefactor who would drop money for her cause like the bug division. Forcefully she closed her mind off to that. The last thing she needed was to go off in the direction of thinking about her earlier encounter.
“I understand.” She turned to push the elevator button, since the door had already closed.
“Wait. That was not why I stopped you.”
She figured as much. “How can I help you, Mr. Kravers?”
“Sonya, you know how important it is for all employees to show a united front and support each other before our donators.”
“Yes, of course.”In the three years she’d been working at the Queen Metropolitan Museum, she’d grown close to most of the other curators and directors. She loved working with a staff who loved art and history as much as she did. The only people she had not met were the new bug wing people, but as soon as they weren’t within their insectarium she’d introduce herself.
“That’s what I believed. However, I noticed you had not purchased a ticket for the Friday night benefit.”
It always amazed her when they did a benefit at the museum that the employees were expected to pay. As well as still being responsible to show rich donors around and encourage them to give more money. She would think her entry would be free. However, she always paid and attended. This one was different.
“I have not missed one since I came on board here.”
Tilting his head he stared at her. “Yet, you are not signed up.”
Clearing her throat, she could see the disapproval in her boss’s gaze. “I’ve never been a costume type person and Halloween I just like to relax on my couch away from all the candy-hyped kids.”
“I understand. But, this is important for the museum.”
“I was thinking that Simeon could—”
“Your assistant already has a ticket, true. But, passing off such a grand moment to your second when so many funds have been given to the museum…” he let his words drift off as he stared at her for a moment. “So, I know I can count on you to attend. Show your support to the Archano-That staff.”
She knew an order when she heard one. Since he could put influence for or against the grant she wanted Sonya pushed all of her reasons aside. “I’ll have my ticket before lunch.”
“I knew it was only an oversight when Stacey came to me.” With a brief touch to her shoulder, he turned and headed back down the corridor toward his office in the back of the museum.
Damn, Stacey Ghent. The admissions clerk was always involved in every function the museum put on. Sonya should have known the brown nosing woman would rat her out. Stacey was bucking for event planner or office manager after Rayna retired next spring.
When the elevator doors opened this time, Sonya stepped on. Dropping her chin to her chest, she wondered if this day could get any worst. She would be forced to endure not only the worst holiday of the year for her. Hating all things scary since her friends dragged her into a haunted house when she was in seventh grade and she got lost from the group and ended up in the scary residents for over two hours, when the staff finally had to turn the lights on and locate her. That was the same reason she didn’t like costume parties where people wore masks or painted their faces. Clowns she even barely tolerated at the circus, but at least they were there to make people laugh not scream.
To top it off, she knew that the main hub of the benefit, where the food, drinks and dancing would be located
the bug exhibit wing. Not only would she spend the night trying to figure out who was who but looking around the floor and ceiling for tank escapees.
Halloween and bugs. What other issue in her life would she be expected to face?
“Girl, I am so proud of you. That is a huge accomplishment.” Sonya sat on her couch with Thai take-out on her lap before her television, the sound muted as she congratulated her best friend, Charmagne.
“I can’t stop smiling since I completed my dissertation board. Do you think you’re going to make it to the graduation ceremony in December?”
“Charmagne, I wouldn’t miss it for anything. I’m going to be standing there crying beside your father.” Sonya knew Charmagne’s father must be very proud that his daughter was walking in his path. Dean Spelling now retired from his position as president at their old college—Hudson Morris University. However, Charmagne had been an instructor at the college for years. Now, she would be Professor Spelling-Rogers.
“Yea, Dad is pretty excited and mom wants to throw a party.”
“I bet. Your mother just looks for a reason to cook and I’m happy to eat.” Sonya forked in another spoonful of her dinner and knew that she should cook more. However, she hated going through so much trouble for herself.
Charmagne laughed. “Right. Charles feels the same way. I knew he wishes I had more of my mother’s jeans than Dad. Because I can’t cook a lick.”
“You and Veronica need to stay away from anybody’s kitchen,” Sonya teased. Veronica was part of a group of their close girl friends from college.
“At least, Veronica and her two little ones have Mark.”
Placing her plate onto her coffee table, no longer interested in the take out, Sonya agreed, “True. Having your own personal chef to cook meals for you every night is a perk.” Better than take out alone.
“Well, I guess I need to call Veronica and see if Mark can give me some lessons.”
Her brow tightened. Confused, she asked, “Is Charles demanding you cook more?”
Charmagne and Charles Rogers had been married for a few years now, and Sonya could not imagine her best friend’s husband, who adored Charmagne for her high intelligence, to become all caveman and demand his woman cook for him.
“Nothing like that…” Charmagne’s voice drifted away for a moment, the silence heavy.
“Then like what?” Now her curiosity was really piqued.
“My thought is that
should know how to at least feed their children a simple meal.”
There was a light tone to her friend’s voice, filled with innuendos that it only took Sonya a second to comprehend. “You’re pregnant!”
The phone line became filled with gleeful laughing and screaming.
“We are! We are! Thirteen weeks,” Charmagne’s sigh was filled with joy. “I’ve been waiting forever to tell you about the baby. With the first three months being the most risky, I was a little nervous. I haven’t even told mom and dad yet.”
“With all the stress of you completing your dissertation in three years, I’m sure.”
Her friend had always been fast paced when it came to education. While the rest of the five friends were enjoying their senior year, Charmagne was enrolled at their same college in her first year of her Master’s program in business.
“You’re right. What is new with you?”
Sonya rose from the couch and scooped her plate up in the same motion. Walking to the kitchen, she said, “Girl, nothing. Same old, same old.”
“I find that hard to believe. You’re always involved in something or getting ready to travel somewhere. I wish I’d been to half the places you have gone.”
She knew what your friend was saying was true. Traveling had been her companion even during college. In the summers, she studied abroad just to see different parts of the world. Most of the courses she took were not even in her major, but she had refused to pass on any opportunity.
“I spoke to director of the museum. Seems they haven’t made a decision on my grant yet.”
“Oh, no. I’m sorry to hear that. I know how important the research and the expansion of your department are to you,” Charmagne empathized.
“It is.” Sonya sighed. She set her plate on the counter and stared down into her now cold dinner. “Funny thing about it though, they didn’t have any problem in funding a new eight legged critter exhibit.” She couldn’t hold back her shiver with the remembrance of the thing that crawled into her path that morning.