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By Delta Dupree
APHRODISIA BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Delta Dupree
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Marriage?" Donnie shouted. What the devil would he do with a damn wife? In his current state of sexual affairs, a wife would be nothing but a frigging hindrance.
"Fontana, listen, goddamn it." Paul Tedesco settled his elbow on the desk, propped his cheek against his fist. "Spouses can't be forced to testify against significant others. You need to think about the issues. Think about the future. Survival. A number of people saw you with Susannah, and Challie saw you upstairs together."
Fists clenched at his sides, Donnie said, "I don't give a damn what the maid saw. I didn't beat the hell out of Suze." No way could anybody claim he'd hurt Pearson. Any woman. And why had every time he'd heard the maid's name or he'd caught sight of her, his dick jerked? "Suze was fine when I left her. Angry, but fine."
He marched over to the window and stared through the sheer curtains, then snatched a length of fabric back. Across the expansive courtyard, Paul's Silver Cloud was parked along the circular driveway. The driver/bodyguard, a humongous Samoan dude named Tupa, polished smudges off the Rolls-Royce. Bright sun rays enhanced July's blue skies, but thunderheads rolled in from the southwest. Dark. Ominous. Threatening as this damn situation.
Donnie spun around as the curtains fell back into place. "This is bullshit."
"Look," Paul said, holding his hands up. "Calm down. We'll get to the bottom of it. Soon, I hope. The police want to interview everyone who attended the party last night. I've got a list to turn over soon. Meanwhile, you have to keep Challie from testifying if things escalate to a trial."
Earlier this morning, the new maid had found Susannah. What idiot would attack a woman? The only thing Donnie attacked on the female species was the hot snatch between her legs.
"I don't have anything to hide." Damn it, why wasn't Paul listening or understanding? Abuse was not Donnie's game. He'd never laid a hand on a woman. Well, not maliciously. Maybe a good swat or two when she misbehaved. Or to get her undivided attention. All in fun and foreplay.
"Okay, okay," Paul said flatly. "The problem is Challie can point the finger at you, make your life miserable. Unlivable. If she tells the cops about the argument, you're in for some real problems. Mayhem I don't need."
"Exactly, an argument. Suze was pissed because she caught me with Ellie Brewsters. But I didn't fuck Brewsters, Paul," he said before his boss spit out his next belittling words. "Too many buddies are talking about her. She just has a mouth that-" Obviously he'd said the wrong shit again.
Paul's eyes narrowed. "Is sex all you ever think about? Jesus Christ." He was married, had two kids and an imaginary white picket fence surrounding this huge mansion, living ideally in loving matrimony.
Donnie's two-bedroom condo was pretty damn sharp, but it was no comparison to Paul's modern-day castle. Pool, spa, pricey artwork, a library that gave the Phoenix metro area's bookstores a run for their money. Donnie would give anything to live high and mighty on unlimited resources.
"Your dick's gonna get you into a lot of trouble one day ... correction ... it already has. Where did you go after leaving here?"
"I didn't take off right away. Um." Paul was sure to jump pissed.
"I don't think I want to hear this." Perceptive, Paul gazed back, his dark eyes filled with annoyance. "As long as you keep your damn hands off my wife."
"I'd never touch Tina." He'd thought about it a few times. She flaunted dangerous swaying hips. Silky blond hair, one tiny dimple piercing her left cheek, vivid blue eyes, she was hot, boasting honkin' knockers. Sure as shit, her sexpot was ...
Hostility gathered in Paul's dark eyes. He snapped the chair forward with a loud bang, as if he'd seen the burning lust in Donnie's gaze. "Picture this. Your balls stuffed, lacquered and rolling across my pool table before you get the chance to apologize."
Smarter than the average guy, Donnie's growing erection deflated. Clearly, Paul Tedesco had ways to control people. "I'm cool. No way would I mess with your old lady."
"Good damn thing. Saves your gonads for now." He leaned back again, rocking. "Did any guests see you to the door, wave good-bye as you left?"
He shook his head. "I took the back stairs, went out the gate. Vanessa's old man was coming up the main staircase."
"Vanessa? She's only been married to Bradley for three damn months."
"Guess he's not giving her what she wants or needs."
Sighing noisily, Paul adjusted his black horn-rimmed glasses. He lifted the half-smoked Cuban cigar from the ashtray, relit it in three big drags. The pungent aroma wafted toward air cleaners that his wife insisted they install. Outspoken Tina had iron nerves; she'd front him off, boldly defy her husband and come away unscathed.
"When I left here," Donnie continued. Why dwell on history? Think about the present, the future, his current problem becoming his biggest nightmare. "I went straight home for once, straight to bed. Alone." He never invited any hot snatch to his condo.
"Lousy alibi in my opinion. Anybody see you leave the premises or call your home phone later?"
Every bone in Donnie's body softened to rubber. Slumping, his brown-striped tie tightened around his neck like a noose. He pulled the choking polyester free, draped it over his shoulder then unfastened the top two buttons of his tan shirt as he moved across the room.
With the situation growing grimmer by the second, Donnie collapsed onto the visitor's wingchair and buried his face in both hands. "No. When I got there, I turned off the ringer as always. I needed sleep. Been out in the streets too much."
"Undoubtedly," Paul said. "The way I see it, you have two options."
Tensing, Donnie looked up. "Options? Why do I need any options? I haven't done anything wrong." He screwed up his face when Paul gave him a blank stare. "What are they, for God's sake? This nightmare has to end."
"I don't want to hear that one, Paul." Donnie tunneled all ten fingers through his hair. Why the hell was he living in Scottsdale, Arizona? Of all the cities in the United States, he'd chosen one of the hottest sons of bitches. Now his ass was on the city's hotplate, ready to be fried to a fucking crisp for a crime he hadn't committed. "What if she doesn't want to marry me?"
"Not a problem. She will."
He shook his head. "Can't do it."
"Fine. Challie knows more than she's saying." Standing now, Paul adjusted his red silk tie. Combing his thinning brown hair, he moved across the room to the maple coat rack, lifted his navy jacket and thrust his arms into the sleeves. Tailor-made Italian suits were the only threads he wore, never the assembly-line creations from the business he owned. In essence, the clothes produced-part of PT Industries-was the main reason the district attorney had been sniffing after his ass. Sweatshop, as in illegal immigrants, some would say.
"Don't leave yet. What's my second choice? I'll take it, whatever it is. It has to beat marriage by a long shot."
Paul went back to the desk. He pulled the leather chair back and said, "Take Challie to the ranch. You can stay in the foreman's cabin next to Ray's place. Then-"
The cabin was located in Bum-Fuck, Montana. Good pussy was scarce in an area of dazzling fields filled with cows, horses and manure. The great American countryside.
Paul pinned him with a level gaze. "I'll have Tina tell her you're vacationing and you need her to clean for arriving guests. I'll get a couple of my boys to join you. You've been there before, forty-odd miles away from Nowhere, USA. Closest neighbor is four miles downwind."
How could he forget? Other than fucking and fishing, the best part of Montana was horseback riding across 6,000 acres without a care in the world, the wind in his face, the smell of freshly cut hay filling his nostrils. "And?"
Paul yanked the desk's center drawer open. He withdrew his favorite .38-caliber S&W and set it on the gleaming wood. "Do whatever's necessary to take care of any problems."
Donnie straightened his back. Do what's necessary? With a fucking gun?
Was Paul really as cold and calculating as people had claimed? One particular detective had put his life under a high-powered microscope after his first wife's death. In the end, he'd pocketed millions of dollars from insurance and assets, not to mention old money Lana had brought into their marriage. When Donnie blatantly asked his boss about the incident, the answer was as chilling as an Arctic wind. Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies. Donnie's mouth had clamped shut like a trap door.
Sliding the weapon across the desktop, Paul said, "You don't have much choice. Pick one. If you have an aversion to marriage, you're looking at wearing the tears of a clown in jumpsuit orange, day in and day out, if Susannah doesn't make it."
Ah, hell. He hadn't done anything wrong, hadn't laid an abusive hand on the secretary. Now, Paul was talking jail. Hell of a choice-marriage or prison. Either way he adjusted the picture, the old ball and chain action dominated the scene with one major problem: prison meant no female activity.
"What about our lawyers? What the hell do we pay them for?" he asked.
"Real estate and commercial business mainly. I don't want them handling this particular criminal case. I can't afford to have my name or any of my businesses associated with amoral activity, not with my current state of affairs. The district attorney's been harping on my ass enough already. If you're steadfast against marriage, take the gun," Paul said. "You lack an alibi and, remember, the police have already started the investigation."
Donnie slowly got to his feet, shaking his head wildly. "You're talking ..." Hell, he couldn't get the word out.
Paul replaced the gun and shoved the drawer closed. "I've got a meeting with the symphony directors." Straightening his tie, he marched toward the double doors. "Lock the desk when you leave and put the key away as usual."
"I'm not doing it," Donnie snapped. He might as well take the pistol and blow his own frigging brains out. "Marriage or Montana. My ass'll be sealed up in prison two decades as some sloppy jailbird's goddamn girlfriend before-"
Paul swung around. His brown eyes narrowed thinner than paper. "It's not a request, Donnie. You will go to Montana and do whatever is necessary, be it marriage slash honeymoon or curbing all future problems while the perpetrator is still walking free."
Life was not going well.
Challie Baderleen had planned to go window-shopping this weekend with Aunt Hattie. Instead, Mrs. Tedesco was sending her to some out-of-the-way cabin alone with a man, leaving poor Jasmine to do all the mansion's cleaning.
Mr. Fontana was arrogant, a virtual stranger she had no respect for and had avoided. He chased any woman who wore a skirt. Almost any woman. He'd never pursued her because she wasn't shapely or leggy or big breasted. Her hair was blacker than obsidian, far from the blond women he shadowed. Curly, not straight, but it was long-sort of-if she pulled a lock straight out and held it there. Freed, the strands snapped back into unruly ringlets.
It didn't matter. Fontana had no use for her. He had no morals anyway. Without morals, a man was no good. Grandmama had always preached about bad men; although, this one was a handsome devil. He was tall and broad-shouldered. His thick hair was nearly as dark as her own, and it hung too long. Good businessmen kept theirs barbered like Mr. Tedesco's well-kept appearance.
No matter. Fontana didn't like her anyway. It showed on his face, his staring, frowning when they came in contact. With all the room inside this metal contraption, why was he sitting directly in front of her like a sentinel?
She didn't like him any more than the thought of riding in this giant bird. Was there such a thing as airplane sickness? God, she hoped not. She'd lost a hard-fought battle three weeks ago on the high seas. She might throw up all over this good-looking devil's baggy blue jeans. At least they weren't sagging britches hanging halfway down his backside. The young men she'd seen at the big shopping mall wore their pants hanging much too low on their hips.
But wouldn't that be a mess? Wouldn't vomiting knock Mr. Fontana off his cocky camel? Wouldn't she feel satisfied?
She settled back into the comfortable, soft-leather seat and gripped the armrests. Everything inside the plane was colored iron gray-carpeting, walls, the two-piece outfit the lady who'd shown them inside wore. When the bird rolled away from the building, Challie closed her eyes.
"We'll be on the runway shortly," Fontana said. "You have to buckle your seat belt."
She cracked open one eye. Seat belt? She didn't want to appear ignorant, but seat belt for what? She looked over at him, trying not to show bewilderment, and sucked in air. He'd pushed his sunglasses to the top of his head. Lord. She'd never been this close to him. His eyes were fierce. Light brown, no, hazel was what people called the color in this country.
When he leaned over to fasten her seat belt, she caught the scent of something delicious, something mouth-watering. But his hands ... penetrating heat seeped through the only cotton skirt she owned.
"Too tight?" he asked.
She shook her head. She rarely spoke, but Challie knew English well, had studied the language all her life. Except, her confidence ran low around people like him. Staying quiet was easier than holding conversations with those people above her class, especially with men. She kept her eyes and ears open, absorbed everything she could, improving her knowledge.
Two nights ago, she'd seen Fontana arguing with the blond woman. Then he'd left. Later, when she went back to check the upstairs guest baths for cleanliness, she saw him again, his hand on the doorframe, leaning into the same room. There was something different about him this time. She couldn't put a finger on it, though. Dark suit, polished shoes ... but something niggled at the back of her mind. Darn her noisy shoe soles. He must've heard her footsteps because he slipped inside the bedroom. The door stayed ajar. She heard the woman's voice again, except her tone didn't sound angry-calm, teasing. Aunt Hattie called Fontana a ladies' man, not a woman abuser.
But something terrible had happened. When Challie started her duties the next morning, she found the bloodied blonde in the same guest room.
She'd screamed. Hattie had flown up the stairs, guided her from the room and then called an ambulance. Shaken badly, Challie'd had difficulty breathing. Mrs. Tedesco had flitted around her like a worried hen.
On the other hand, Mr. Tedesco was more than worried or he wouldn't have asked all those questions. She'd played it smart and kept her answers short and sweet, knowing how close Tedesco was with his guests, especially Fontana. Saying the wrong thing might have put her at a disadvantage. Hattie would be angry if she lost the job.
"Are you afraid of flying?" Fontana asked.
She shook her head because the deafening roar inside the airplane stole her breath away. Everything shimmied. She was suddenly pressed back against the seat.
"Then why do you have a death grip on the armrests?"
Ignoring him, she risked a glance outside the small window. Buildings, trees and automobiles were moving farther and farther out of sight. The airplane pushed through low clouds. Were they leaving the galaxy? Challie swallowed several times. Of course not, but relaxing wasn't easy when her stomach cart-wheeled. Without warning, the airplane leaned far right. She almost lost her cookies and she gripped the armrests tighter.
"Sipping soda will help," Donnie said, looking outside the window, checking the flight's ascent. "Once we reach cruising altitude, you'll be fine."
When the pilot announced a turbulence-free flight, Donnie ordered two glasses of ginger ale from the only flight attendant working the jet today.
He couldn't believe it. Of all the beautiful women whom he'd laid and left, he was on his way to Big Sky Country with a broad he hardly knew. A maid, no less. A woman who was too short, too quiet and too damned reserved. Dark-headed, with a body most men would call thick. With those penetrating storm gray eyes, though, she could wear a young buck down, bring a proud man to his knees if he didn't watch out.
She wasn't gorgeous in any sense of the word. Average. Okay, maybe better than average, but she had tits like a damn sparrow when he loved immersing his face into good wallowing material. And where the hell was she born? Bronzed complexion, steel gray eyes ... she was biracial. He had no clue about her background.
Excerpted from Purely Sexual by Delta Dupree Copyright © 2010 by Delta Dupree. Excerpted by permission.
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