Samantha frowned. “I don’t think that’s anatomically possible.”
“Pull over and let’s find out.”
She didn’t need to see the sexual interest on Erik’s face because the leer was evident in his voice. The fingers of one hand wrapped around the steering wheel, she depressed the button and lowered the window four inches, let the mountain air blast her heated skin.
“I’d hate to dash your illusions with a dose of reality.” She scanned the rearview mirror for the blue highway patrol car they’d passed on the shoulder several miles previously. Snow-capped mountains loomed in the background. The speedometer marked ten miles-an-hour above the posted speed limit.
“You are my fantasy life, Samantha.”
His words tightened the peaks and valleys of her body. Overstimulation, she thought. A regular problem since she’d encountered the man in the passenger seat. Erik had just finished reading aloud from the magazine clutched in his hand, and as promised, she’d found the options on the list intriguing, if not entirely plausible.
“Cosmopolitan claims these are the twenty-five most popular sexual acts gleaned from thousands of interviewees.” He brandished the rolled-up publication.
She shook her head. “Cosmo?” Samantha drawled out the vowels. “My God, you are gay.” Changing lanes, she eased off the gas pedal when a vehicle popped over the horizon and accelerated in their wake.
Erik stroked her thigh with the glossy pages. “I hadn’t pegged you for one of those women who see conversion as a personal challenge, but if that rocks your boat; consider me cross-platform, especially if it encourages a visual of us doing the Latin Side Slip.”
“I don’t remember that one.” Samantha whistled after he repeated the description and added a personal graphic detail. “Okay, I confess that piques my interest. It sounds both exciting and energetic, but also a tad bit complicated, especially the twisting part.” Decelerating to the posted speed limit she slanted a glance at her companion. His natural high contrast coloring juiced her interest, made him sexy as hell.
She sighed internally.
The moment she’d set eyes on Erik, it felt like all the air had been sucked out of the conference room. He’d affected her from the start, wriggling past her defenses time and again. A passionate clinch in the lilac bushes after the Halloween party broke her written-in-stone rule regarding getting personal with colleagues. Understatement. Some seriously hardcore lip-locking on a stake-out assignment in November presaged her complete loss of discretion during the long holiday weekend in December.
“There’s also the – ” Erik coughed into his fist. “No, forget that one. It, uh…involves livestock.” He flipped the slick page and winked at her.
Samantha arched one eyebrow. “Cosmo promotes bestiality now?”
“It is the European edition.” Erik laughed at her expression. “And I am not gay.”
“Can you provide proof of that?” Samantha watched him in her peripheral vision, saw when he swiveled to half-face her. The tight space made his shoulders seem extra broad.
“Give me the chance and I promise to demonstrate my heterosexual commitment to your pleasure in a flat thirty seconds.” He made the three-fingered scout salute.
She snorted a rude sound. “Your lack of staying power is the kind of achievement most guys wouldn’t whip out and fly the pride flag about, champ.”
“Well I admit the first time will be a bit rushed, but hell Sam, it’s been four months since I’ve touched you. I guarantee the second round will be both energetic and uncomplicated.” His tone intensified. “I’d offer you the Gentleman.”
A quick glance showed his green gaze locked on her mouth. “That means I’d make love to you without coercion or force, doing exactly what you desire, making every touch slow and sensual. Afterward I’d quench your thirst and in the morning, bring you breakfast in bed.”
Samantha’s cheeks flushed.
Erik’s words stoked fiery images. Her argument fizzled like a candle flame in a gust of wind. Lust lurched into overdrive. During the six hour journey she’d felt increasingly like a hunk of meat in a pressure cooker, softened and seasoned, readied for consumption.
“No response, princess?”
Erik’s throaty amused whisper jerked something low in her belly. The patrolman blew past in the fast lane and the resulting gust of wind rocked the car. Neither occupant noticed.
Samantha worked to achieve a casual shrug. “That sounds nice.” She was proud of her modulated tone.
“Nice.” Erik repeated. He narrowed his eyes and leaned closer. “Give it up Sam. I refuse to believe you forgot the Fogerty Stroll that carried us out of the old year and into the new one.”
“We never did.” She almost chortled when he gasped in outraged denial.
He poked her shoulder insistently. “Yes, we goddamned did.” His inflection dropped. “Don’t you suggest the intimacy between us…didn’t happen. Those two days rank as the most mind-shattering experience of my life. I’ve been irreparably altered. A truly conscientious woman would acknowledge you’ve ruined me for others and do your duty.”
Samantha exhaled noisily. “An entire bottle of Absinthe guarantees I recall nada from that night.” She snatched the magazine from his hand and used it to slap him across the chest. “Besides, according to this European rag, we did a Jersey Turnpike and then a Fogerty Stroll.”
They had a brief tug-of-war until she let go.
“Hah, finally you accept we lit the fire.” Erik said.
Samantha dodged the sedan around an unidentifiable lump of roadkill and ignored the heat of his concentrated stare. “I’ll grant I had wet fun with someone, but you’ve yet to prove we knocked boots.”
“I’m immune to your rejection,” he smoothed a fingertip along her arm and grinned as chill bumps rose, “because your body recognizes my touch even if you refuse to remember.”
She slapped at his hand.
The road twisted through the pass and a gap in the trees exposed the opposite slope. “There’s a notation in the directions about the exit being near a ski resort.” Early spring flowers were thick in the landscape and the blooms filled the open swathe and became a yellow river spilling down the mountainside.
Erik grunted a sound of agreement. “What’s the name of the place?”
“Madrone Falls.” Samantha downshifted. “Did you bother to read the brief?”
“Why should I, you tell me everything I need to know.” He traced the seam of her Levi’s the length of her thigh and rolled a knuckle across the curve of her knee. “We’re already like an old married couple; you may as well surrender and accept we’re meant to be together.”
He retracted his hand before she could swat at him. “You could be splitting the sheets with any number of women.” Samantha pointed out.
Erik tilted his head and studied her. “Actually, I’m doing the Funky Palooza with Selena every Tuesday.” Tapping the highlighted orange route on the map, he returned her stare.
The tires struck the grooved edge of the pavement and issued a reverberating cadence before her attention returned to the windshield. “Liar.” She swerved the car back between the white lines. “If you were banging Selena you wouldn’t be so desperate and you’d be dead. Ricardo would rip out your liver if you so much as thought about trying to hit it with his wife.”
His teeth flashed at her. “Slow down.” He looked at the diagram and pointed at the upcoming crossroad. “We want exit 110.”
The lack of a number or sign didn’t make Samantha hesitate. Erik was a crack navigator, even if he acted like a hormonal teen.
He cleared his throat. “I’ve decided to never have sex with anyone else ever again, for the simple reason that if I did, you’d refuse to consider a repeat performance of the horizontal dance.”
She nodded. “True and irrelevant.”
“Explain what is so wrong with me.” Erik demanded.
Samantha coasted to a stop at the end of the turn-off and assessed his athletic frame. “Absolutely zero flaws mark your physical form. You’re totally hot, Godlike, even.
Every time you cross the room I instantly visualize doing the Wall Flower Rub.”
When he shifted in the seat and twitched his denim pant legs down a notch to release the strain on his crotch, she knew she wasn’t the only one having trouble controlling her libido.
Snapping her fingers in the air she continued. “But you’re at the top of the cootie list since we’re related.” A flutter of her hand dismissed his vehement denial. “It’s a proven fact we share a common ancestor.”
He slapped a palm on his forehead. “Two hundred years ago, for Christ’s sake. That’s at least ten generations back.” He shook an index finger in front of her nose and growled a warning. “Don’t try this argument.” He gestured toward a dirt track on the left. “That’s our route.”
Samantha looked doubtful. “Our guy must live pretty far out in the boonies.”
“The guide arrives in the morning to escort us the rest of the way on foot. That’s why this deposition went into the billing book as an overnighter,” Erik hitched a thumb at the rear seat, “thus the camping equipment.”
She gave him a languid head-to-toe appraisal. “If you unpack and set up the tent, you might be the lucky recipient of a Flip ‘N Tickle tonight.”
Erik grasped his jeans near his knees and tugged at them sharply. “You’re probably unaware of the facts, but in this state, it’s legal and legit for first cousins to wed. That means our nine additional generations of genetic redistribution invalidates your previous objection.”
Samantha moistened her lips. “Okay. I’ll concede the point.” She let the car roll forward, heard his grunt of surprise and smirked. “Didn’t Selena explain I requested you be assigned as my permanent field partner?”
Silence filled the interior.
“Uh, no. She failed to mention that.” Erik’s speech sounded strained.
“Be careful unloading the trunk. There’s a bottle of Green Fairy wrapped inside the blue blanket.” Samantha reached over and slicked a firm palm across the taut front of his jeans, felt him jerk again her pressure.
Erik moaned. “Dear God, I think I just had a False Start.”