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By Bonnie Edwards
APHRODISIA BOOKSCopyright © 2008 Bonnie Edwards
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDM's voice rolled over her, whiskey smooth, pebble rough. With the deft hand of a master, he took her into the realm of the sensual. Throaty and hot, the distinctive sound rolled like rumbling skies around the master cabin. The poetry he read of love, loss and betrayal followed paths he created along her searing need, until she found her most needful flesh and, with a lover's touch, tipped herself over the edge toward release.
Fingers slid through slick, tender flesh, moist and plump. Around. Around. Trickles of need whispered to her womb deep and empty.
Her whole life was empty these days. But she couldn't think of that, not when release beckoned. Her breath slowed, deepened as her lungs reached for air. Her heart thumped, pulse beats rose as sensation took over again, thought drowned.
His voice came back seductive and deep and pulled her again into the quiet of rising expectation. She closed her eyes as his voice entered her, hot against her heart. The remembered weight of a chest pressed to hers, of thighs pushing with power between her own, flesh sliding into flesh, pulling along nerve endings so taut they screamed. His voice in her ear, strong, sexy and low, carrying her along. Taking, stroking her neck, her chest, nipples and down with slow strokes of his tongue.
With two fingers inside, she rolled her precious pearl of nerves with her other hand until she crested, weak and small.
Music rose all around, sweeping through her as the last pulses ebbed. It was enough. It had to be.
She wasn't about bar prowls for sex, and she couldn't have a relationship. Not now, maybe not ever again.
Rolling to her side, she listened to the song he played for her, just for her, full of pain and loss. When it was over, she threw back the covers and went to wash her hands.
DM's voice came back on, quieter, more seductive than before. The man was good. The man was cool. The poetry was gone now, replaced by his rolling commentary on the blues songstress highlighted tonight.
Victoria's CHOK blues-in-the-night radio disk jockey was the hottest thing this place had going for it. Well, him and the guy over on the houseboat side of the marina who stared at her all the time.
Francesca Volpe couldn't remember squat about numbers. Never could. So she wrote important ones down until they stuck in her memory. Sooner or later, she'd remember the combination of this safe. But sooner wasn't now, so she yanked at the piece of paper in her shorts pocket and flattened it out on the wall in front of her while she dialed the combination.
Finally, the safe door clicked open.
Blown away by the fact that she even had to use a safe, she dug way into the back. Fiona's thong was in here somewhere.
Cold, hard diamonds against warm, soft velvet filled her hand, and she lifted the scrap of material gently. Fiona should have kept the thong in the designer's box, but no; her sister had decided the rich didn't give a rat's ass about their possessions so she didn't have to either.
The thong caught on a corner of a thick manila file. Anxious not to tear the velvet, she set it down, then pulled out of the safe everything that could possibly be in the way.
She took out a fireproof box that contained so many important papers her head swam. It held her sister's will, her sister's house deed, her sister's insurance policy. Next came file folders, then a copy of her parents' will. Everything came out, even the ownership papers for the yacht.
A yacht, for cripes sake.
Frankie Volpe was standing in the saloon of a yacht with four staterooms. Up to her armpit in a wall safe and she still couldn't believe it. Go figure!
And since when was a living room called a saloon? They belonged in old westerns, not on million dollar floating palaces.
She leaned in tight to the wall and winked at the scruffy brown dog that had all but adopted her. "Hey boy, how you doin'?"
He cocked his head and wagged his stubby tail. She'd decided he must've had it caught in a door when he was a puppy. It wasn't cropped exactly, more like he just lost the tip. He was her kind of dog, lost, lonely, a little rough around the edges, but lovable.
"Ah! Got it. Finally." She pulled out the thong and set it carefully on the coffee table in front of the leather settee. Looked more like a built-in sofa to her, but she still had a lot of boating terms to learn.
She considered the thong. Diamonds, glittering and cold, littered the front vee of black velvet. She shivered to think of all those sharp edges so close to the joy button. Oh, ugh.
The deep safe had been stuffed full. She took care to set all the papers and files back into the safe in reverse order, to be sure it fit.
When she turned back to talk to Scruffy, all she saw was his stubby tail and wet feet heading topside. He'd snatched the thong off the table and taken off with it!
"Hey! You little pervert! Give me back that thong!"
But he was gone when she got to the deck. His bouncing short tail was just visible as he raced along the floating dock toward the houseboats tied up a couple of docks over. A small community of houseboaters called the marina home.
Her former doggy pal must live over there in one of the houseboats.
She took off at a dead run after him, not caring that she was barefoot; night was falling and the floating dock was strewn with heavy gauge rope and chains. She picked her way as quickly as she could through the obstacles, keeping one eye on the scruffster as she went.
She wasn't quick enough. He disappeared for a full minute, but she'd bet anything he'd taken off for the waterfront park on Dallas Road. Oh shit, if he got to the off-leash part of the park, he'd drop the thong for sure.
She ran faster, no longer needing to watch him except in her mind's eye. He was a playful mutt, sure to have doggy pals. She imagined a tug of war, the velvet tearing into several pieces, the diamonds flying in every direction. "Shit! Shitshitshit!"
Her thighs burned with her run, her lungs strained, but her heart knew she'd lost him. She bit back a sob, gathered strength and picked up her pace again.
She reached the bottom of the ramp, steep now because it was low tide. Grabbing onto the rail for support, she dashed up the incline. She dragged in a heaving breath. Her chest blazed hot, and she could swear she felt the beginnings of a heart attack.
Oh man, how did she ever get this out of shape?
She wheezed once more and launched her aching self up the ramp, metal surface rough against her bare feet. The hard metal honeycomb was there to prevent slipping in heavy weather, but for bare feet, it was a killer.
She reached the halfway point when the dog reappeared at the top of the ramp and headed straight down toward her, tongue lolling out of his mouth.
Lolling out of his empty mouth.
She stopped, put her hands on her knees and dragged in a deep, burning breath. Her grateful lungs expanded.
"You ... you ... lost it ... I'll ... I'll ... kill ... kill ..."
He licked her hand as he trotted past her down the ramp. At the bottom he turned right toward the houseboats.
Frankie dragged her body the remaining few feet to the top of the ramp, then searched the immediate area, but there was no thong in sight. He'd disappeared for long enough to bury it, or tear it up or, worse, hand it off to another dog whose owner would recognize the diamonds for what they were. A bonanza.
Lightheaded, she sank to her butt and laid her head to rest on the rail support. That thong was worth fifty thousand dollars!
She had to get it back.
If she was lucky, they'd find it when they did the dog's autopsy. She scanned the marina laid out below her.
The floating dock was cement and ran from right to left with several docks running perpendicular, like straight fingers out into the harbor. Each finger contained several slips. To the left was the marina side or the visitor's pier with visiting boats of varying sizes. Farther down were the fishing boats. To the right of the ramp were three fingers for houseboats. A subdivision of them, in fact.
She'd liked them, and the idea, at first sight.
But the sight she wanted now was of the dog, heading to the one he called home.
His bouncy rear end showed up as he reached the third finger.
A man, correction, the man who'd been watching her every time she was within view, whistled to Scruffy. The dog bounded faster.
She couldn't lose sight of the dog again, so she dashed down the ramp as fast as her bare feet on the rough steel would allow.
Whistling for the scruffy little dog might not mean a thing. Maybe the hunk was just another soft touch who fed the beast, the way she did. Either way, he hadn't seen her mad dash because he turned away and sat on one of the lawn chairs on his deck. He faced away from her toward the inner harbor and put his feet up on the deck rail. Settling in for the night, she assumed. Great. He could help her search for the thong.
Daniel Martin cracked open a beer and settled in to watch the ferry to Seattle churn out of the harbor. One beer before work took the edge off, warmed his throat, soothed his nerves and put him into a blues frame of mind. He'd gone from domestic brands to beer from all over the globe to test the effects of each one. Tonight's was Dutch. He tilted the bottle away, glanced at the label out of habit, ran his tongue around his teeth to gather the flavor then took another sip. Not bad.
He put his feet up on the rail of his float home and nearly dropped his brew when Barkley jumped into his lap. "Easy there, boy, you'd think you'd know better than to squish the package. Oof! Get off." He picked Barkley's back paw out of his crotch with a grunt. Instant relief.
The dog licked his chin.
"Is that ... is that ... your dog?" asked a husky, heavy-breathing female voice from behind him. He craned his neck around and dropped his feet to the deck at the same time.
It was the hottie he'd noticed from the yacht on the marina side. "You could say that. He's been mooching off me so long, I guess he does live here."
Good thing his paw hadn't damaged the goods. The goods in question sprang to life, as usual, at the sight of the compact, dark-haired dynamo.
The woman was built just for him, he was sure of it. And it was about time she showed up. They'd been glancing each other's way ever since she'd washed ashore.
He grinned, thinking the dog was good for at least three doggie snacks for delivering her. "Has Barkley caused trouble?"
Her chest heaved in and out a couple times, breasts rising and falling with each heave. He did his best not to look, but she was in a bikini top that left little to the imagination. And Daniel had a great imagination. "Down, boy," he said, not sure if he was talking to Barkley or his libido.
"He took a thong. And I didn't see where. It's not anywhere near the top of the ramp, because I followed him."
"I see. Was it leather? He's got a thing for leather." So did Daniel, but it wasn't the time to mention it. "Shoes, that is." Maybe after he got her shoe back for her, she'd be grateful.
"Not a shoe. A thong." She looked exasperated. "You know." Deep heave. "Underwear." Her breath was still labored, still entertaining him with soft jiggles of flesh and cleavage.
The image of her fine behind parted by a thin strip of leather made him sit up fast and straight. He put his hands up in surrender. "Oh, I see. As much as he loves leather, he loves women's underwear even more." The count was now officially up to four dog biscuits. "His favorite day of the week is when Bitsy Mayer, two slips over, does her laundry. He takes her panties all the time."
"I don't give a rat's ass about Bitsy somebody's underwear."
He played at being offended. "Bitsy does. She's on a fixed income and the underwear she favors is expensive," he quipped.
His reward? A reluctant lopsided grin that winded him with its hesitant charm. He went on, digging for more. "They come with that heavy-duty flat panel in the front to firm the belly and some kind of stitching up the back to make the most of her butt."
Damn things cost him a fortune every month. "I'm beginning to suspect Bitsy enjoys the idea of me shopping for her undies." He gave an exaggerated shiver. "Bitsy's sixty-eight."
Her raised eyebrows put an end to the fun. Her smile disappeared. So, okay, she wasn't impressed with his comedy. He'd always been better with the blues.
But still, a lady shouldn't have to fight with Barkley over her underwear.
"Are you sure you want your thong back after he's dragged it all over the pier? He chows down on them sometimes. Tears the crotches right out."
"Yes, I want it back! Regardless of the condition. He ran up the ramp with it, and I've got to get it back. Do you know if he has a hidey hole anywhere? Does he bury stuff?"
She looked about to cry.
"Hey, it's a thong. I'll buy you a new one." He liked that idea. Much more fun than buying for Bitsy.
"It's a special thong. My sister needs it. She's on her honeymoon and she called to have me send it to her." Her voice got higher and more agitated with every syllable. She sounded desperate now.
"It's not yours?" That was too bad; he liked the idea of fantasizing about her in a thong. He'd never seen the sister.
"You can buy your sister another. I'll take you to a nice lingerie store I know." That could be fun.
She looked about to spit nails. "I've got to find that one. It's special."
"Very. Look, it's got sentimental value. She bought it to celebrate her engagement and planned to take it on her honeymoon. Now she's on her honeymoon and she wants it."
"I see." He pretended to think hard when all he could really think about was the spectacular rise and fall of her breasts. He didn't want to be a pig, but he was a red-blooded male and there they were: round and pert with the nipples that pointed upward like two perfect pearls. "You could still buy her a replacement," he suggested.
She took another deep breath, but this time he figured it was one of those looking-for-patience deep breaths that women did so well, not an out-of-breath-from-running kind of heave.
And a woman looking for patience was not likely to agree to a date. "I'm sorry, but I don't have a clue where he'd bury it. But I can help you look for it first thing in the morning. I get home from the station around five A.M."
It wouldn't kill him to stay up a few extra hours after his shift to wait for her.
"You're leaving?" She looked at the beer bottle rising from his lap, condensation slipping and sliding down onto his hands. Kinda looked like his ...
"Yep. I'm on the air at midnight. It takes fifteen minutes to get to the station." He stood. "I take an hour to prep, so I'd better get moving. I can wait for you to wake up before I hit the sack for the day. But if you wait until much after seven I'll be pretty useless. So, I'll see you bright and early?" The question was all about her name, not about when he'd see her.
"Frankie. I'm Frankie Volpe. And I hate early mornings. So, if I don't find it, I'll still be searching the park when you get home. Look for me there."
"You sure that's a good idea? That park's not the healthiest place to be after eleven or so. It's used by all the normals until then. A lot of people take their dogs for the last walk of the night along the path."
"I'll be fine. I've been in tougher neighborhoods and survived." Her eyes glittered and her chin came up, stubborn and cute as hell.
"What's this thing look like anyway?"
"It's sparkly. Very sparkly. Black velvet. With rhinestones all over it."
"Sounds like it would hurt."
She rolled her eyes. "Looks even worse," she said, and gave Barkley a scowl before she turned and headed back down the float.
"You must love this sister a lot if you're willing to search all night," he called after her.
She waved a hand without turning back.
"Barkley, man, I owe you big time. Frankie Volpe is definitely the catch of the day." Then he remembered she hadn't cared to ask his name.
"Hey!" he called again, aware that everyone on this side of the marina could hear him. "I'm Daniel and I'm on CHOK radio, the blues show from midnight to four. Give me a listen tonight. Maybe I can figure out where Barkley hid it."
She gave him a salute and took her fine ass up the ramp.
Chapter TwoCHOK radio. The blues show. When Frankie got to the top of the ramp, it hit her. His voice was different off the air, but still sexy and deep. His on-air voice was intimate and coaxing.
Daniel Martin. DM, the blues DJ. The man whose voice filled her master cabin with earthy sexuality.
She heated from her chest to the roots of her hair. It was one thing to let the man into her head, to use his sexy drawling voice to lead her into release. It was quite another to meet him under such mundane circumstances.
Kind of took the pop out of her whole fantasy life.
An hour and a half later, Frankie pawed the ground around the roots of yet another tree and came up empty. The pine needle scent had long since lost its freshness. She'd been under these damn trees so long she felt like a mushroom. Sticky pine pitch clung to her palm, filled with needles that stung like thorns. Her knees were a mess.
Excerpted from Thigh High by Bonnie Edwards Copyright © 2008 by Bonnie Edwards. Excerpted by permission.
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