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Authors: V. K. Black

Unexpected Places (13 page)

BOOK: Unexpected Places
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‘Explains the good, old-fashioned language.’ He kissed her nose. ‘And Mr Donahue?’

She lowered her eyes, flushing. ‘Our whole arrangement seemed so businesslike. You know, you rescue me, I pay with sex.’

Luke grimaced and took a deep, pained breath, closing his eyes. ‘Shit, I’m sorry, Ariana.’

‘No,’ Ariana said, sweet, as always. Only this time he knew it wasn’t an act. ‘It’s fine. Truly. I wanted to, um, you know…’

Even while she was eating him alive with guilt, Ariana could make him laugh. ‘Have sex?’

She nodded. Her hair, still damp from their bath, clung to her naked shoulders. ‘Yes.’

God, he hoped she was telling the truth. He cleared his throat. ‘And the virgin thing?’

‘I didn’t want to be like my mum. I’ve been fussy.’

Ariana’s simple, terse answer told him everything he needed to know about her choice of a clean-living, proper-speaking, non-swearing lifestyle. And Changpu didn’t figure in there at all. He didn’t employ sweet, untried virgins. They were stone-hearted professionals who’d do whatever it took to earn the hefty prize Changpu offered for success. Something didn’t fit.

Frowning, feeling his way, Luke said, ‘Not all guys are drug-addled arseholds, Ari. Hell, I can be pretty damn charming when I want to be. You’re a lovely girl. Why no boyfriends?’

‘Men and women don’t
have
to have sex, you know,’ Ari said, in an exasperated tone. ‘But just so you know, of course there have been boyfriends. Well, one I guess, from the commune. Ja—’

She stopped herself. She’d been going to say a name.

That prickling sense of warning, which had been Luke’s best friend for years, tapped him on the shoulder. Only days ago, it had made him turn just in time to deflect Mai Ling’s blade. Narrowing his gaze onto Ariana’s face, he saw fear, fright, and guilt, all combined in one pretty but dangerous package.

Placing his hands on Ariana’s delicate shoulders, he gently pushed her away and took a step back.

They stood, two arms’ length apart, combatants once more.

* * *

Idiot. Idiot. Idiot.

Ariana knew guilt was plastered all over her face. Any fool would know she’d been about to say something important. And Luke Donahue was no fool.

‘So, Ariana,’ he said slowly, ‘this old boyfriend. He doesn’t work for me, does he?’

She shook her head, but inwardly sighed. She’d never been able to lie. His eyes hardened. She licked her suddenly dry lips. He was back to Mr Nasty from Jason’s laptop.

‘No, sorry, I don’t believe you. Is Ariana even your name, or was everything you told me a sob story?’

She rolled her eyes. What was it with Luke and her name?

He nodded, his lips turning up briefly. ‘Okay, Ariana it is. I’ve been so focussed on Changpu, it didn’t occur to me the plant at my office might be a major player in this game.’ His eyes were back to being ice blue chips. ‘So who is it, Ari? An eager boyfriend you haven’t let into your pants yet?’

‘Don’t be crude,’ she snapped.

‘I’ll be as fucking crude as I want,’ he snapped back. As he advanced toward her she backed away, despite her best, brave intentions. He placed his strong hands around her upper arms, towering over her. ‘What is his name?’ Luke said through gritted teeth.

As she stared up into his grim eyes, Ariana felt her eyes prick. ‘Luke, I’ve just had sex for the first time a few minutes ago, and…’ She heard her voice wobble.

Luke swiped a hand through his hair. ‘Ariana…’

And suddenly she was furious. With herself for being so stupid, with Jason for being so weak, but mostly with Luke, for being so mean. She kicked him. Hard. On the shin.

‘Shit, Ari!’ he shouted, letting her go and rubbing his shin. ‘That hurt.’

‘Good, you horrible bully!’ she shouted. ‘And yes, there
is
someone at your office, obviously, but I’m not going to tell you who. So. There.’

He grinned. ‘Are you going to poke your tongue at me?’

Ariana stared down at the floor. Then she glanced up at him and giggled.

Luke leaned closer and kissed her gently on her cheek, his eyes serious now, and regretful. ‘I’m sorry. I guess you’re entitled to kick me.’ His brow furrowed. ‘You’ve drugged me, hit me over the head, done a very cruel thing to my poor dick, stomped on my foot and kicked me. But despite all that, I keep getting the idea — crazy, I know — that you’re a sweet, gentle girl. Have you really done all those things simply to get your hands on a lot of money?’

Ariana sighed, walked over to the bed, and plopped down, her feet resting on the carpeted floor. ‘I don’t want the money for me. It’s for my friend, the one at your work. He’s in a lot of trouble. I have no choice.’

Luke joined her on the bed. He raised a sceptical eyebrow. ‘What kind of trouble?’

‘He’s going to get killed, tortured to death, if he doesn’t pay some horrible men back their money.’ She clutched Luke’s arm. ‘You’re so rich, Luke. You’re a nice guy. Can’t you do this one little thing for me?’

Luke burst out laughing. ‘One, I’m rich because I don’t give away a fortune to pretty girls who give me a sob story. Two, I’m not a nice guy. Where the hell did you get that idea? I forced you to have sex with me. What kind of nice guy does that?’

‘I told you,’ she muttered. ‘I wanted to…have sex. You didn’t force me.’ She turned her head away from him, but he grasped her chin and made her eyes meet his. She sighed. ‘I’m twenty-one. I was curious, okay? And…and…you’re good looking, and, despite what you say, nice.’

He smiled and lowered himself onto the mattress, drawing her down with him. He kissed her shoulder when she lay stretched out beside him. ‘There you go, getting all carried away with that ‘nice’ word again.’ His fingers brushed the outline of her chin. As she raised her eyes to his, he tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. ‘I’m such a non-nice guy, that I don’t believe your friend’s story, sweetheart.’

‘But—’

He traced the outline of her lips with his finger. ‘I have a constitutional dislike of people who skulk around and eavesdrop. But I can see you believe him. You’re a sure mark for a sad story, Moonbeam.’

She glared at him.

‘So,’ he said, sitting up so that he could trace the slopes of her upper breasts which were peeking above her towel, ‘are you still curious about sex, Ariana?’

He grinned. ‘Because there’s lots more I can show you…’

She shook her head in confusion. ‘You…you still want to have sex with me?’

He nodded.

‘But, you
do
understand I’m going to try to steal your emeralds, don’t you, Luke?’

He shrugged, laughing. ‘And you understand I’m going to make sure I stop you?’

She stared uncertainly up at him. Could she do this? Have sex with her enemy?

With a quick flick of his fingers, he untucked her towel. It fell open. He bent his head and licked her nipple. Then he raised his eyes, smiling, an eyebrow cocked.

Ariana blew out her cheeks as she thought about it.

Then she grinned. ‘Okay. It’s a deal.’

They shook hands.

Chapter Eight

‘Oh! Oh! Luke!’

To the crowd down on the beach, Luke and Ariana were admiring the sun setting on the Indian Ocean from their exclusive resort at Ahungalla, south of Colombo. The surf rolled in a constant murmur, as Ariana leaned against the railing, with Luke standing behind her. If any member of the public, strolling along the beach’s shady esplanade, had glanced up at their balcony, they wouldn’t have seen Luke’s fingers hidden beneath her robe. Wouldn’t have seen them stroking her clitoris.

Luke pressed her hard into the railing, pumping inside her. She rocked against him.

He stilled, whispering in her ear, ‘Ari, I can’t do this so gently. We’ve got to go inside.’

Ariana giggled, for she’d been surprised at his gentleness. Oh, he could do gentle, just fine. He’d held her close and kissed her softly, tenderly, each and every time since taking her virginity on the boat.

They’d made love so many times and, it seemed to her, in every conceivable position. She grinned. Luke kept teaching her new ones. And when she’d been too sore, he’d used his tongue, and had taught her how to use hers.

He withdrew and she pouted at the feeling of emptiness. Luke laughed. ‘Hold that thought, sweetheart.’ He took her hand and drew her away from the railing. With their fingers entwined, he led her inside.

Luke ripped off his robe. Ariana’s eyes roved over his incredible body, from his hard muscled chest, with its now almost healed scar, down to his tight abs, and down further to his impressive erection, at that moment clothed in fine latex.

‘Come here.’

Her heart thumped with excitement at Luke’s rough growl. He grasped her hips and lifted. Her robe fell away as he pressed her against the wall.

He smiled again, the mischief in his eyes making her heart turn over. ‘Another new one for you, Moonbeam. Wrap your legs around my waist.’

She did as he said, not caring that he’d called her Moonbeam. Actually, she hadn’t cared for ages now. She wrapped her arms around his neck, her legs around his waist, and kissed his handsome face as she groaned. He’d pushed himself deep inside her.

‘Do you like that, sweetheart?’ he whispered. ‘I’m not hurting you, am I?’ Every time they tried a new position, he worried he might hurt her. Her opinion of Luke Donahue as a cruel, vengeful, mean man had flown out the window a long time ago.

Ariana threw up her hands in an ‘I give up’ gesture and they both laughed as she reached around to smack his backside for good measure. ‘No, for the thousandth time, you don’t hurt me. I love it when you f—, I mean when you…you know…when you do it hard…’ She felt her cheeks heating.

Luke smiled, as he continued to pump, thrusting deep inside her. ‘When I what you, Ari? Come on. Say ‘fuck’ for me, baby.’

‘Don’t call me ‘baby’!’

He grinned. But she didn’t care about the ‘baby’ name calling either. That horrible, harsh, sarcastic way he used to say it had long since disappeared.

‘I’m not going to use rude words, Mr Donahue. Now, shut up and—’

He thrust inside her, pushing her up hard against the wall. Her back thudded as Luke continued to pound. Any of those members of the public strolling below their window would hear exactly what was going on.

‘Oh, my goodness, Luke!’ Despite her teasing reminder a few seconds ago, her days of calling him Mr Donahue were in the past. About fifty orgasms ago. ‘More, Luke, please, oh harder, don’t be gentle!’

Luke gave a shaken laugh, then held more firmly to her hips, as he raised and lowered her to his frantic rhythm.

There was that tingle. Then that tightness. ‘Luke,’ she panted, digging her heels into his bottom, ‘I’m going to…’

And then she tipped over the edge and screamed with pure, sheer pleasure. Yep, those people outside were probably giggling and clapping right now.

A few more deep thrusts, then Luke, breathing hard, fell out of rhythm. He shouted as he came.

Flopping her head against Luke’s hard, naked chest, she sighed. ‘That was so deliciously good.’ Her legs buckled and she would have fallen if Luke hadn’t hugged her tightly against him.

Wondering at his silence, she glanced up and saw softness, tenderness in his eyes. Her breath caught in her throat.

Was it only nine days ago they’d shaken hands, and agreed to be enemies and lovers?

Ariana had never been so happy in her life.

When Luke had offered her a short holiday in Sri Lanka before catching her flight back to Australia, she’d fought a fierce battle with her conscience.
Shouldn’t you go home early and set Jason’s mind to rest?
demanded her stern critic. When she’d discovered there would be a hefty fee for changing dates, she’d felt guiltily happy, for there was no way she was going spend any more of Jason’s money.

Luke had laughed when she’d said she would pay him back for what he spent on her. ‘You’re missing out on the emeralds,’ he had said, kissing her. ‘Let me give you a small holiday.’

As she remembered his words, her conscience grabbed hold and tore a huge chunk of guilt out of her heart.

For when she caught that flight back to Australia, she knew those emeralds would be travelling with her.

* * *

‘Do you like it?’

To Luke’s consternation, Ariana’s eyes filled with tears.

‘Fuck, Ari.’ He swore deliberately, to annoy her. ‘I thought the bracelet was pretty, but it must be bloody horrible to make you cry.’

She giggled and frowned at the same time. As she swiped at her eyes, she said severely, ‘Don’t swear! And of course this bracelet isn’t horrible. It’s beautiful. But Luke, the bracelet and all the charms are made of gold, aren’t they? It must have been so expensive. I can’t accept this.’ She held out her arm for him to undo the tiny clasp, her eyes disappointed but full of resolute determination.

He sighed. ‘Jesus, Ari, this is a gift. A goodbye gift if you like, seeing as we’re both leaving tomorrow.’ His stomach hollowed. ‘Of course you have to accept it. It would be…’ He searched his mind for something to guilt her into taking it. ‘It would be bad manners not to accept it. I’d be offended,’ he said triumphantly.

Ariana snatched her arm back. ‘Oh, of course. I beg your pardon.’ She smiled, relieved, as she admired the delicate hand-crafted gold charms. Every place they’d been, since arriving at Arugam Bay on the east coast ten days ago, he’d waited till Ariana was resting, then slipped off and bought a charm that summed up where they were, or what they’d been doing. Well, doing as tourists, that is.

He frowned. He’d never, ever, gone to so much trouble for a girl.

Smiling, she gently touched the tiny charms that jingled on her arm. ‘Two surfboards, a leopard, a Buddha, a dolphin, oh — a river dolphin, I can tell by its short body and snout. How clever.’ She laughed. ‘And all these elephants!’ She brought her wrist up closer to her face so she could study the elephants he’d bought her from all over Sri Lanka. There were lots of elephants here. The gold ones were sitting, standing, spraying water, fighting…

‘What’s this one?’ She peered at it closely, then giggled. ‘Luke!’ she said severely, ‘This is two elephants making love.’

BOOK: Unexpected Places
8.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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