Contains all kind of sex novels in Hindi and English.
“Sweetie, will you chop these tomatoes for the salad?” Liz sat a cutting board and knife down for Lane.
“Sure.” Lane happily began the task. Liz was busy cooking dinner and her husbands were out in the backyard, hard at work on the fountain Liz requested they finish. Lane looked out the window to the small yard that was surrounded by tropical trees. Luther and Jed were arguing about something and pointing at the stones they had just placed.
The pair was comical to watch. When Lane first arrived, she had a hard time understanding why two brothers would want to marry the same woman. After being around Liz, she could see the attraction and guessed in her day, Liz would have been quite a head turner. Even in her sixties, Liz was a vibrant and intelligent woman, wise beyond her years. She was sweet and caring, taking her in and up under her wing without reservation. Liz was also quite a fireball, and Lane could see the need for two men where she was concerned.
Lane looked back outside to Luther and Jed. They had found a solution apparently and begun to set stones into place. The men resembled each other a lot, but were built differently. Luther was a little full around the middle where Jed was trim and lean. Beyond their relationship as husbands to one wife, they were brothers that cared for one another. A couple of weeks around them had shown her that in reality, there was nothing wrong with their unique and unconventional marriage.
“What are those two up to out there? I see you smile every once in a while.” Liz asked as she closed the oven door.
“Oh, they’re just fun to watch.” Lane scooped up the tomatoes and dropped them into the bowl of lettuce. “One minute they argue, then the next they’re back to work like it never happened.”
“They are one of a kind, and most definitely, two peas from the same pod.” Liz chuckled.
“What can I do now?” Lane cleaned up her mess, rinsing the cutting board and knife.
“You can have a seat.” Liz took off her oven mitts and sat down next to her at the bar. “Tell me, Reece, how is everything going? I know the last couple of weeks have been a complete change from what you’re accustomed to. With the move, being in a strange place with even stranger people.” She laughed. “I just hope that you’re adjusting well and I want you to know I’m here for you.”
“Thank you, Liz. I appreciate all that you have done for me.” Lane smiled. “As far as the time I’ve been here, I think I’m adjusting well.”
“And the nightmares?”
“Ah, well, those are finally down. I’ve only had one this week.”
Liz gave her a hug. “It’s hard to forget I’m sure. Likely, you’ll never forget, but it will get easier as time passes. I promise.”
“It is.” Lane sniffled and wiped a tear. Images of Ingrid made her cry and more than likely, always would.
“I don’t want to make you cry, honey. I just know how difficult the move alone must have been on you. I’m not sure how long you will be here, but I want you to know, forever is okay by me.”
Lane smiled. Liz made her heart feel good and the stress drifted away. “Thank you, Liz. I appreciate that. But—”
“Uh, oh. Did something happen last night when you were at the Kraken’s Cave?”
“Yeah, actually something I wasn’t expecting.” Lane paused, still in shock.
“Was everyone nice to you?” Liz asked, sounding so much like Lane’s mother.
Lane had to giggle. “Yes, everyone was great. I met a lot of very nice women. Trinity keeps me in stitches. Poor Quinn is so big awaiting her due date she can’t be comfortable, but she plays it off well.”
“Who else did you meet?”
“I met Trinity’s friend, Amber. She’s sweet and although I really don’t know her well, I feel like I can relate to her for some reason. She hasn’t been here long and looked as shocked as I must have when she noticed the type of relationships here.”
Liz nodded. “I’m sure it is quite wild to see for a new person on the island. To all of us, we’re normal or at least I think we are.” She grinned and tapped her chin with her finger. “We’re normal, right?”
Lane giggled. “You’re just good people with crazy ideas and one big ass bed.”
“Oh, no. Luther is rubbing off on you. Heaven help us all.”
“Maybe a little.” Lane grinned and sighed.
“So what happened?” Liz leveled her gaze on her with her expression turning serious.
Lane tapped her fingers on the bar. “Trinity recognized me and she said as much.” She looked directly at Liz. “She had seen me modeling in a fashion show a couple of years ago.”
“That girl has one heck of a memory.” Liz shook her head. “Do you think she would tell anyone?”
Lane shook her head. “No, but for me to realize that I’m not as hidden as I’d like to be bothers me. This month my picture will be on the cover of a popular women’s magazine. I tend to stand out. Maybe I should dye my hair.”
Liz gasped. “Don’t you dare!”
“If Trinity recognized me from a fashion show two years ago, people will most definitely recognize me when that magazine hits store shelves.”
“One day at a time, sweetie.” Liz hugged her. “We’re only worried about the wrong people recognizing you.”
Again, Lane thought about LA and all that she had been missing there, but it didn’t hurt as bad anymore. With Liz’s help, Lane had found ways to stay busy and keep her mind off of everything. The island had been a savior for her soul and she couldn’t imagine staying anywhere else while sequestered. By the time the investigation was complete, she knew she may not want to leave. Each day she finds she gets happier for some unknown reason. The happiness is different than how she felt in LA though. Here on the island, she was happy simply because there is no pressure, no stress. She also didn’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations but her own.
Two weeks ago, Lane believed her life and career were over. Now, she almost felt like her life was just beginning. It was odd for her to rationalize, and yes, she missed her family tremendously, but for once in her life, she felt she could breathe, really breathe. The aching in her gut was fading by the day. Each day, she started out with the sun waking her, an open vista of clear blue water greeting her as she stepped out onto the small deck from her room. Like she made herself believe, this was a welcome vacation, and she would continue to treat it as such until news came and rearranged her life again.
“You didn’t have to smash my thumb, Luther.” Jed complained as he stepped in the back sliding door.
“You’re supposed to be the one with the brains in this outfit. Why didn’t you move the damn thing?”
“I would have if I’d have known you wouldn’t wait any longer than a millisecond before you dropped it!”
Blood dripped from Jed’s thumb and Liz got up to inspect the damage. “Come on, let’s rinse it off and see how bad it really is.”
“I’ll tell you how bad it is. I’ll probably need stitches.” Jed followed behind Liz to the sink.
“Next time move the damn thing.” Luther opened the refrigerator and pulled out a beer. “If you need stitches, you can drive your own dumb ass to the hospital, I ain’t missing the poker game over your thumb.”
“Luther, hush,” Liz barked and pulled a paper towel off the roll and dried Jed’s finger.
“You may need stitches for your ass, Luther, when I’m done sticking my foot up it.” Jed blasted back. “Ouch, woman, that hurts.” He complained and looked at Liz. “Ouch, again. Why are you making it worse by hurting it more?”
Liz snorted. “I’m trying to stop the bleeding, you big baby.”
Jed’s eyes grew wide and he tried to defend his actions. “I’m not a baby. It just hurts really bad.”
“You are a big baby, Jed.” Luther snorted.
“Shut up, Luther.” Jed hissed and looked back at Liz. “Damn, woman.”
Liz released his thumb and peeled back the paper towel. “The cut won’t need stitches, but it looks like you may end up losing the nail sooner or later. Now go take your shower and go have fun at the poker game at Bannock and Dane’s.”
Luther left the kitchen with beer in hand. Jed turned and rummaged through the cabinet for a bottle of aspirin. “The good news is, Luther sucks at poker and I plan on cleaning his clumsy ass out before the night is over.”
“Get em’, honey.” Liz kissed him on the cheek and pushed him out of the kitchen.
Lane laughed and Liz shook her head. “Siblings!”
“Are they staying for dinner?”
“No, Dane puts out a spread of stuff so I won’t feed them here. They look forward to poker night to get their fix of junk food.”
Luther and Jed left after kissing Liz on the cheek. Both were back to their normal, loving selves, free of arguing. Lane watched them leave as Liz pulled the Moroccan chicken from the oven. She couldn’t wait to have a girl’s night with just Liz, no introductions to new people, and no bright ideas for potential dates. Lane had already noticed Liz had rented a couple of movies.
The front door closed and Liz smiled. “And they’re gone.”
They sat down and enjoyed a quiet meal with pleasant small talk. Liz told her about growing up on the island and the history. Lane is fascinated with Liz’s life, her story. They weren’t in some metropolis. They were on an island roughly the size of Rhode Island. On the island, businesses flourished and tourism boomed. Liz has made a life there with her husbands, became a successful small business owner and mayor to boot. She epitomized her saying, “Bloom where you are planted.”
As they are discussing the history of the island, a knock at the door interrupted them. “I wonder who is here?” Liz stood up and placed her napkin on the table.
Lane got up and followed her, worry churning in her gut all the way to the front door. She guessed when accustomed to hearing bad news, one expected more to follow. She stood back as Liz opened the front door. Her body shook with nervousness as Liz opened the door, even more so when she saw Dane’s smiling face.
“Good evening, Liz.” Dane greeted her.
Liz opened the door for him to enter and smiled. “Aren’t you supposed to be at a poker game feeding my husbands thousands of calories?”
“Don’t worry, Liz, they are well fed and getting ready to play poker as we speak.” He stepped in and looked toward Lane and winked.
Lane was overcome with intense desire. Dane’s smile lit her up like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Even though they talked daily at Naughty Sprinkles, every time she saw him was like the first time. She’d also grown anxious to see him during his lunch hour. Not usually one to be awkward, Lane is always a wound up, clumsy mess around him, this time more so.
“What brings you here then? They are misbehaving aren’t they?”
“Not yet.” Dane grinned and Lane heard that sweet southern accent of his and it made her wet immediately. “Actually, I’m here to see Reece.”
“Oh, well, be my guest.” Liz waved him past her and smiled with bright eyes when Dane’s back was to her.
“Me?” Lane felt awkward as he approached.
“Yes, you.” He stepped up and reached for her hand, brushing a kiss to the back of it.
“I’ll leave you two alone. Dane, if you would like a healthy meal, there’s plenty in the kitchen.”
“Thank you, Liz.” He smiled as she left the room. He turned his attention back to Lane. “I know this is last minute, but are you free tonight?”
Liz had brought home movies to watch and Lane would feel terrible if she skipped out on her and left her alone. “We were, well, we...”
“It’s okay, Reece.” Liz raised her voice from the kitchen. “Rebecca will be by soon to watch them with me.”
“I guess that means you’re free.” Dane’s smile widened. He tilted his head to the side. “Unless you don’t want to go out with me.”
Heaven help her. She’d follow the man across the Sahara, and she was pretty sure he knew why by looking at his confident smile. “I, where, what should I—” She looked down and noticed she was wearing blue jean shorts and a snug lime green top. She was also barefooted and wiggled her toes, wishing she’d have painted them.
“You are fine just the way you are.” Dane wet his lips and Lane nearly followed and wet her own.
“I’ll grab my sandals and purse.” She managed not to stutter and headed toward her room, confused and excited with each step. A giddy sensation made her stomach flip flop as she entered her room for her things. Liz walked in behind her and startled her. “Wow, you’re so quiet when you walk.” Lane gasped and held her chest.
“I just wanted to tell you to have a good time.” Liz hugged her. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
Lane hugged her back. “I’m confused, Liz. He and Bannock—”
Liz waggled her finger in front of her. “I know what you’re thinking and no, they’re not.”
“But, what if—”
“You’re worried about dating again, aren’t you?”
Lane nodded and felt her eyes burn. She felt such a wonderful rush when around Dane, unlike other men where she barely felt a flutter. It was obvious to her that she was blind when it came to men. Give her a nice looking man with charm and she was without rational thoughts, her jerk radar jamming or malfunctioning.
“All the more reason to get out there. If you let the fear hold you back now, you may never overcome it. It’s like riding a bike. Everyone crashes once or twice, sometimes more, but the point I’m trying to make is this: you can’t judge every ride with one crash, and you definitely can’t judge all men by one slimy asshole.”
Lane’s hands began to quiver. “He is a nice guy. Isn’t he?”
Liz smiled with confidence. “Better. Now get out there and go have a good time.” She pushed Lane toward the door.
“Okay, okay. Pushy aren’t we?” Lane pulled the purse strap over her shoulder.
Lane walked back into the living room where Dane was waiting with his thumbs poked into his pockets. He smiled and put his arm around her waist, leading her to the front door. Heat from his gentle touch radiated through her and pushed back the worry she had been feeling since he showed up. It also fanned the flame he lit from the very first day they met. Late night rendezvous with him have become the norm the last week inside her imagination. As if he must know, her face heated up with embarrassment.
As they walked down the stairs, Lane noticed not a vehicle, but a motorcycle instead. “Oh, um, I, uh—”
Dane chuckled. “You’re not scared to ride are you?”
“Yes, terrified.” Her knees begin to tremble. The bike wasn’t just a motorcycle, it was a Harley. I’m scared to death of motorcycles!
“I promise, I’m a great driver.”
“I uh, I’m not sure about this.” She stopped and planted her feet on a safe patch of soil beneath them.
“You’re not worried about your hair are you?” He smiled and brushed a stray tendril back behind her ear. “You don’t seem the type.”
She met his gaze and all the fear she had floated away, replaced by the desire to be near him. “Not my hair.” She shifted her weight from foot to foot. “I’ve never been on a motorcycle.”
“Mmm, well, you’ve been missing out.” He took her hand and pulled her close, but not close enough for their bodies to touch. His hand skimmed her cheek with the back of his knuckles. “After twenty years riding, I’m certain we’ll be just fine.”
He stepped away and her body screamed to be close to him again. He straddled the bike and wiggled his finger for her to get on. Hello, Sahara desert, here I come. She nervously lifted her leg and felt the other tremble. She found that, although scared, she was exhilarated as well. There was only one fact she was certain of, the elation from being so close to Dane had her pulse racing. The two-wheeled monster he straddled only furthered her desire for him.
She settled behind Dane, her legs wrapped snugly around his hips. He reached down and lifted her left leg and put her foot on a peg, following with the right. She took a deep breath as she felt the warmth of his legs against hers. Pulling them in, she held him as if riding a horse. He laughed and patted her leg before starting the beast up. It roared to life and rumbled underneath her. Her legs began to shake again when he revved it and her arms instinctively wrapped around his waist and squeezed tight.
Dane looked over his shoulder and grinned. “Lean with the bike, and we’ll be okay.”
With that said, she felt the gears shift and her body being pulled back as he roared away from the curb. And what was that? Lean with the bike and we’ll be okay? What if she didn’t? Would they crash? A quick prayer played over and over in her mind while hoping to survive the adventure. Lean with the bike, lean with the bike. What does that even mean? Then she learned as he took a long sweeping curve. She could feel his body slightly lean to the left and she followed in the same manner. Warm air blew through her long hair and she internally cursed herself for not tying it back. The problem was she didn’t realize their mode of transportation before they left the house.
With each curve, Dane’s body moved, muscles tightened with each turn. The bike rumbled beneath them. The vibration and noise so loud she could barely hear her own thoughts. Her grip around his waist was either ensuring that she stayed on or that he couldn’t breathe. She wasn’t sure which yet, but he had yet to complain.
After a few miles, she loosened up some and began to relax. Her eyes started to take in the tropical atmosphere around them. Lush trees and plants in deep shades of green were a delight to her eyes. The warm salty air was forced through her nose. She inhaled and exhaled deeply. Dusk started to settle in and the stars begin to make their nightly appearance, blinking, and winking at her.
In that brief moment, Lane realized she was just a speck on the earth. A vast world was out there with millions of other specks crisscrossing the globe, and she was just one. One tiny speck and she was located where the weather was mild, and the stars were bright. She was in a place with beauty unmatched by anything she’d ever seen. And there she was, this tiny speck, on a bike behind the most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes on.
The worry lifted as the wind blew through her hair. She looked up and smiled at the sky, grateful.
* * * *
The day had not turned out like Dane expected. Tonight was poker night, a tradition, a religion for a handful of guys, and here he was with an angel on his bike behind him. It was okay by him that she was squeezing so tight he could barely breathe. He figured he could do that later.
His plan when he set out was to take Reece for a drive around the island to places he thought she would enjoy. To him it didn’t matter where they went, as long as she was with him. To his surprise, Bannock suggested he do this. That was of course after their conversation last night when he admitted to investigating Reece’s background and sharing how he felt about her. Dane practically ignored it all, preferring to think of how wonderful it would be to spend the evening with her. Reece may have a past, but Dane could care less about it.
Dane couldn’t help but smile. A woman hadn’t been on his bike in nearly four years. His ex hated it and refused to ever get on with him. When the fiasco took place and Rachel demanded he move out of Bannock’s house, Dane didn’t bat a lash and sent her packing. Outside of his friendship with Bannock, his bike came second. Any woman who wanted a place in his heart must also embrace and accept him and his Harley.
Even through the island breeze, Dane could smell Reece’s light scent. She was a touch of floral with a hint of vanilla. They made their way along the coast, the moonlight highlighting the crest of the waves as high tide moved in. It made him think of sex on the beach, the cupcakes, that is. Bannock really missed out on those, he thought, because he had eaten both in his absence.
They pulled into a small lookout point that overlooked the horizon. He parked and killed the engine. Reece had yet to release the death grip around his waist. While patting her hand, he looked over his shoulder at her. “We’re stopped.”
“Oh.” She blushed and let go. Damn the woman was gorgeous with her heated cheeks.
Dane stepped off and offered his hand. Reece put both feet on the ground and wobbled when she stood up. There’s nothing like a Harley to make a woman weak in the knees, he thought. The vibration is such, most sex toys would be envious.
“Wow, I feel weird.” Reece giggled and fussed with her wild hair.
Dane took her soft hand in his and led her to a small grassy area. “Wait here.”
On the side compartment on his bike, he pulled out a bottle of wine, and two plastic flutes for fear glass would have broken. Still chilled. Perfect. He walked back and sat down on the soft patch of grass and patted the ground beside him.
Reece looked up at the stars as he poured them both a glass. She looked like an angel sitting there, her long brilliant locks cascading over her shoulders. Her eyes lit up as she caught sight of a shooting star. A bright smile crossed her face and she closed her eyes to make a wish. When she opened them, she looked at him. Moonlight highlighted the bright green in the depth of her eyes and he could have sworn at that very instant, he hadn’t seen anything more beautiful than he did at that very moment.
“Thank you.” She accepted the glass and took a sip. “Mmm, great choice.”
Dane personally knew nothing about wine, but the Garrisons seemed to. He had stopped by their store before going to the Wyatts’ house. He had become so intrigued by Reece, he could care less about the beverage. Not much of a wine connoisseur, beer suited him just fine. His tongue wiggled in his mouth, wanting to form a thousand questions at once. He fought the urge to blast her with them and worked at being cool and smooth.
“So, you’ve been here ten years,” she stated rather than asked. Reece had apparently done her homework.
“Yep, and they’ve been the best years of my life.”
“Interesting. What made you leave Texas and come here?”
Dane chuckled. There were many reasons. “Well for one, the right opportunity presented itself.”
“The Branding Iron?”
“Yes, and at the time, I could barely scrape a living from my work. Plus, my parents weren’t too thrilled with my occupation, or basically anything else I did. Coming here just made sense. I yearned to be free from their expectations. I also wanted to experience a different life. I have all of that right here.”
“Do you ever want to go back?”
Dane shook his head. “Never.”
“Never? Wow, you really love it here, don’t you?”
“With all my heart.”
They got quiet and listened to the waves crashing in with the tide. He’d never tire of hearing the soothing sound. “So, what’s your story?” He asked, wanting to get to know more about the woman who had held his fascination since she arrived.
Reece got quiet and looked away. “I, well, what’s to tell?” She shrugged her shoulders and glanced back at him. “I’m from Kansas. I think that explains it all.”
Dane nodded with understanding and decided not to press anymore. Her body language told him what he needed to do, and that was not ask any questions about her past just yet. “So, how do you like our little island?” That question earned him a smile and she relaxed again.
“I love it. At first I was a little confused about the type of, well, you know.” She became shy. “The mixed relationships. Now, it seems very normal. Everything here is amazing, the people, the sights, and the weather. Wow, the weather really is fantastic.”
“Do you think you may stay here?” He couldn’t help his tongue. He truly wanted to know if he was wasting his time on a pipe dream. His heart said no, but his head disagreed.
Her body tensed a little and she shook her head. “I don’t know.”
“I’m sorry. No more questions here. I just want to enjoy this evening.”
“Thank you.” She smiled and he noted a sense of relief in her voice.
The rush of the waves crashing in filled the silence between them. Dane wasn’t sure how to proceed from there. Seeing how she worked at avoiding his questions and sounded almost insincere when answering, Dane knew that Bannock was correct in one aspect. Reece was in fact hiding something. Now whether or not it was worth hiding, he couldn’t be sure, but he doubted she was a criminal or anything. Now he’d really like to know what brought her here. All he could come up with was serendipity.
They sipped their wine and together looked out to the ocean, mesmerized by the moonlight playing on the water. Reece’s glass was almost empty, so Dane refilled it and his own as well.
“When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?” she asked as she scanned the view before them.
Dane chuckled, amused at his dream from so long ago. “I wanted to be a rock star.”
Reece laughed with a cute, infectious tone that made him smile. “What about you?”
“Well, as young girl, I wasn’t much to look at. I hated my hair and my freckles. A geek, I was quite a case, all gangly, tall and thin, towering well above most all in my class, even the boys.” She smiled and shook her head. “I always dreamt of growing up, growing out of the goofy stage. I’ve had just one goal my entire life.”
“And what’s that?”
“I wanted to be that ugly duckling that became a swan. I wanted to see myself gracing the spread of a high fashion magazine as a model. I yearned to prove I was worthy, capable.” She seemed to be reminiscing.
“And what about now?”
“I find that I still seek that validation, but the importance is not as much now, since I’ve been here.”
Dane listened, knowing that concealed in her words was the story he wanted to know. If she was just there on vacation, she was taking quite an extended one. On the other hand, if she was there to sort out her life, she seemed well on her way to accomplishing the task. What happened back in Kansas? He wondered, but refused to ask. Under the cover of her long black lashes, he could see pain in her eyes, although she tried hard to cover it. “You’re gorgeous whether or not you’re in a magazine. Seeking approval from others is a tough business. I’ve been there.”
“Yes it is a tough business.” She looked down into her wine glass for a moment. “It’s okay to change my mind about what I want to be when I grow up, isn’t it?”
“Of course it is.” Dane scooted closer to her and lifted her chin with his finger so she was forced to look at him. “You can change your mind a thousand times if you’d like. Happiness is the key. As long as you’re happy, the world can go to hell.”
She smiled and it reached her eyes this time. He wanted nothing more than to kiss her right then. He also wanted to kiss away the pain he sensed inside her. He wanted to hold her and assure that no matter what was going on, she’d be okay and he’d be there if she needed him.
“I’ve never been this close to an angel.”
Reece’s smile faded and she blinked her eyes as if she didn’t believe him. A serious expression replaced it.
“Kiss me, please.”
Reece moved swiftly, throwing her arms around his neck, and pressed her lips to his. He could feel the urgency in her kiss and it matched his own. The kiss deepened, her mouth sweet with the flavor of the wine. Their tongues swept together, finding harmony and a sensual rhythm. Her innocent scent enveloped his senses, pulling him in. His hand ran through her thick, fire-red hair, so soft on his skin. He missed this, the feel of a woman, the scent of a woman. His hand grazed her bare shoulder with his other hand, loving the smooth, satiny feel of her skin. He wanted to caress her all over and get lost in the curves of her body, explore her soft flesh while finding all the little areas that drove her wild.
The kiss heightened Dane’s arousal. He wanted her, right there on the soft grass with the waves singing their sensual song, serenading them under the moonlight. By her response, she wanted it, too, but Dane couldn’t, and wouldn’t go any further. Pure emotion and sexual tension was pushing him and he decided he couldn’t allow his cock to lead, not yet anyway. He worked to slow it down. His hormones raged against him while he fought for control.
They regained coherent thoughts not affected by lust, placing their lips together one last time before awkwardly backing away.
Reece blushed and flipped her hair back. “Sorry, that probably wasn’t the kind of kiss you were expecting.”
Dane was astonished. “No, it was much better.”
* * * *
“Damn it! That’s three games in a row.” Luther tossed his cards down on the table. All the men playing erupted with laughter. Luther was somewhat of a sore loser and most all in attendance knew it. For Bannock, this was his payback time, along with the blackberry pies Liz sent.
“Ah, come on, Luther. Have a beer. It’s just money.” Jackson laughed and slid him over another beer.
“I only come here for the food and those fancy cigars Bannock buys. Speaking of which, where in the hell are they?”
Bannock got up and strolled to the bar where he picked up the box of the best Cuban cigars money could buy. Eager hands snatched them up. He had opened the house up to hopefully keep the smoke to a minimum, but with eight guys partaking, he knew he was fighting a losing battle.
“You’re awful damn quiet tonight, Bannock.” Diego Mendez talked while puffing on his cigar with the match at the tip. “What gives? Normally you enjoy taking Luther’s money.”
“Oh, don’t worry. I’m enjoying the hell out of it. I’m just trying not to rub it in as much.” Bannock puffed on his own finely wrapped cigar. Across the table, Jackson nodded, letting him know he did the right thing earlier by insisting Dane go see Reece.
Jackson made a lot of sense, as he always did. Sometimes Bannock couldn’t be sure if it pissed him off or he appreciated when the man was right. Lately, Bannock noticed he wasn’t the only one with a lot on his mind. Jackson seemed a little off since Trinity Cross stepped foot on the island. He had seen them together a time or two, but Jackson had offered no details and Bannock didn’t push.
Bannock shuffled the cards and hung on to his cigar with his teeth. The sweet flavor of the tobacco melded together with the brandy he dipped the end in. “Ante up, fuckers.” He put on his poker playing attitude and tried to push out his feelings and worries and just enjoy himself. These assholes pick up on everything, he spoke inside his head. He didn’t need to be razzed by them and he damn sure didn’t want Luther and Jed to suspect he was investigating their darling niece.
“Hey, where in the hell is Dane?” Beau Rivers asked as he picked up his cards.
“Out.” Bannock replied as he held up his cards and shuffled through them, deciding on how best to play it.
“Out? Dane never misses poker night. There’s only two reasons he would, he’s dead or there’s a woman involved, which is it?” Beau continued.
“Tonight, he is out, dipshit. Now play some cards.” Jackson intervened and Bannock was grateful.
“You suck at dealing cards, Bannock.” Luther was the first to complain.
“Ah, shit.” Half the guys replied in unison.
“Fuck all of you.” Luther puffed on his cigar while he studied his cards. “And Beau, you’re one to talk. You suck worse at poker than Jackson does at having sex and not getting caught with his pants down.”
Jed grumbled and shook his head. Bannock had noticed there was a considerable amount of tension between the two and that Jed had avoided talking to or looking at Jackson. Bannock decided to razz Jackson for the full story later. Currently, Jackson wasn’t amused by the statement.
The guys belted out obnoxious laughs, the alcohol finally kicking in. Thick smoke enveloped the room and rose toward the ceiling.
“Five bucks, pay to play.” Jackson tossed his bill to the center and looked around at everyone.
Jed tossed his money in and Bannock followed. Luther flipped his cards while the others put in.
“Are you playing or what, Luther?” Bannock eyed Luther studiously gazing at his cards.
“Hold your fucking horses, I’m thinking.” Luther’s eyes darted back and forth between his cards while the men laughed.
While Luther was thinking, Bannock snuck another peek at his watch. Two hours, he thought, Dane had been gone two fucking hours. He hated the thought of the two of them together and wondered what they were doing. He was protective of Dane like an older brother. The last woman he got involved with turned their world upside down. Before Dane finally came to his senses, the woman had put him in the middle and seemed to play a wicked game of tug a war with his heart. Dane had been torn with the decision, girlfriend or best friend, and Bannock didn’t want to see that happen again or with a woman he himself didn’t trust.
“Earth to Bannock.” Diego called and he snapped back to the game.
He looked at his cards again and flipped off Diego. His hand sucked, but he stayed in. “I’ll go another five.”
“Call.” Luther tossed his money out and Jed folded. Two others folded as well with the remaining throwing bills into the kitty.
“All right, Bannock. Show us what the hell you came up with this time.” Luther puffed his cigar and blew the smoke into his face.
Bannock threw out a pair and leaned back.
“A pair of fours, man?” Jackson shook his head.
Luther grinned and showed his hand, seemingly proud as hell of himself and his flush laid out on the table before Beau burst his bubble with a full house. “Well son of a bitch.”
Jackson had a three of kind and Diego sat with two pair.
“Maybe poker isn’t your game, Chief.” Bannock chimed in, finding immense humor in watching Luther lose.
“And maybe desk duty for the next month is yours.”
The room erupted with laughter. All the men gave Bannock a hard time for opening his mouth. Luther was a good man, shitty loser, but most of the time, Bannock thought he just played the part to entertain the hell out of them.
Beau raked in his cash with a cheesy grin on his face. “It’s about damn time.”
Dane entered the kitchen with a beaming smile. Bannock’s worst fear was happening. He could tell by Dane’s boyish expression, he had a good time.
“Where in the fuck have you been?” Luther yelled above the noise.
“Yeah, and where’s those little sandwiches you always make?” Jed questioned.
“Out and I made cheese dip instead.” Dane pulled a chair up between Bannock and Luther and sat down. “So, what’s the damage?” He nodded to Bannock’s small stash of cash.
“Not too damn bad so far,” Bannock replied and was secretly dying to know what happened tonight between the two of them.
After Dane dropped Lane off, she tiptoed through the house only to realize Liz was up and watching a movie with Rebecca Garrison. When Liz said she was coming over, she thought she was just saying that so she would go ahead and go out.
Liz paused the movie when she noticed Lane come in. “Did you have a good time?”
“Yes.” Lane smiled. “How is your movie?”
Liz grinned like she knew something. “Great.”
Lane didn’t know Rebecca very well yet and didn’t want to talk about her evening with Dane in front of her even though she was dying for some girl talk with Liz “I’m going to go to bed. You two enjoy the rest of your movie.”
“Good night.” Liz called as Lane walked away.
She showered quickly and went to bed. Her mind raced with thoughts of Dane and the kiss they shared. The night was wonderful. She couldn’t have asked for a more perfect evening with anyone, anywhere. When he drove her home, she held him a little looser around the middle and laid her head against his back. The guy smelled so sexy. She could still smell his scent and thought about how she allowed it to take her away while the vibration of the motor tickled between her legs, keeping her wet all the way home.
She had to admit, she was a little embarrassed by her actions, but she couldn’t help it. She was overcome with all the nervous energy she’d pent up lately where he was concerned. The kiss, wow, better than she could have dreamed. She replayed the kiss over and over in her head while she worked to get comfortable. Images of what could have occurred had they continued caused her to skim her hand over her stomach and touch herself. She masturbated as her mind created a new version of events that could have followed.
The next morning she awoke feeling refreshed and eager to start her day. Instead of nightmares, she had amazing dreams, sexy dreams, and downright dirty ones. Her mind even dreamt of one with Bannock in it as well. Hot didn’t cover what it entailed and she blushed as she got dressed while recalling it. Never before had she thought of allowing two men to share her, but seeing couples around her involved in such a relationship conjured a new desire she didn’t realize she had.
After getting dressed, Lane brushed her teeth and headed down stairs, hoping to catch Liz alone. When she entered, she smiled when she saw Liz sitting at the bar with a cup of coffee and a bagel.
“Good morning, Liz.” Lane pranced in and pulled a coffee cup from the cabinet.
Liz studied her with a grin while chewing her cream-cheese-coated bagel. She swallowed and took a sip of her coffee before speaking. “Good morning. May I ask why the overly chipper mood this morning?”
“Just life.” Lane poured a cup of coffee before grabbing the bag of bagels and pulling one out.
“Did you have sex with Dane?”
“What?” Lane shrieked and dropped her bagel to the floor. “No.” She pitched her voice low, unable to believe she would ask that or think it.
“Hmm. Interesting.” Liz bit into her bagel again.
Lane nervously laughed and picked up the bagel from the floor. She wiped it off, not sure why, because Liz’s floor was always so clean. She broke it apart and popped into the toaster. “Not that I didn’t want to.” She finally added because she really wanted to share the giddiness that bubbled in her stomach.
“I knew it.” Liz pointed at her “That guy is quite a specimen. Isn’t he?”
“Oh, yeah.” She leaned back against the counter and recalled his handsome face. Her smile fell and she began to frown because she felt terrible all of a sudden.
“What’s the frown for?”
“Well, I really like him.”
“What’s wrong with liking him?”
“Well, it’s only been a few weeks since my last relationship went to hell. I’m not sure if I should be dating right now. Hell, I’ve been relocated here because his band of thugs may or may not want to kill me. I’m apparently a key witness in the damn investigation. And one of these days, I’ll have to face all of that again from the stand inside a courtroom.”
“Sweetie, understand me when I tell you this. You can’t allow your life to be ruled by the actions of others. I know it hasn’t been easy being here and adjusting, but I see a young, beautiful woman that was a trainwreck of emotions a couple of weeks ago who is now smiling and happy about something. You don’t have to get serious about anyone. I just think it’s good for you to get out and see that not all men are monsters.”
“I just feel like I should be, I don’t know, mourning.”
“You mean for the woman who was killed?”
Lane wiped a tear that began to roll down her cheek. “I realize I didn’t know her, but my boyfriend killed her and I would have never believed he would be capable of murder or anything else he’s involved in.”
“How long did you date this man?”
Lane sighed. “I don’t know, a couple of months.”
“Do you really believe you could have known in that length of time?”
“Well I should have seen something!” Lane plopped her cup down on the bar, coffee spilling over the edges. “If I hadn’t been so self-centered and caring for nothing more than myself and career, maybe I would have seen clues that more than likely were there. I could have stopped that.”
“No!” Liz stood up and walked over to Lane. “No you couldn’t have. Criminals like them cover their tracks well and even if you knew something odd was going on, you couldn’t have saved her.”
“You blame yourself for her death. Don’t you?”
Lane nodded and reached for a tissue. “Yes.”
“Oh, honey.” Liz hugged her as she sobbed. “It wasn’t your fault.”
“Why couldn’t I see what kind of person he was?”
“He showed you what you wanted to see and nothing more. You were as sucked in by him as the women who worked for him.”
“Do you see now why I’m scared to get involved with someone else?” Lane leaned back and looked at Liz. “I really like Dane too much already, but—”
“I can assure you, Dane would never hurt you or betray your trust. I understand how you feel, but I can see a young, vibrant woman who is as much a victim as the women from that club. Don’t let fear rule your life.”
Lane nodded and swallowed hard. Dane seemed too good to be true. The night before he was such a gentleman when he could have taken her instead, right there under the stars. She would have willingly complied, but he didn’t and that spoke volumes about his character.
“Look, you’re scared, I get that. If you don’t want to get serious and just date, tell him so. But I can tell you, Dane looks at you with such an adoring gaze, I doubt you’ll be able to resist his charm. He’s playing for keeps.” Liz smiled sweetly and squeezed her shoulders.
A rush of warmth spread from Lane’s head to her toes when she recalled how Dane looked at her. Behind his mischievous glances lies a pure heart, she felt, and hoped her instincts were correct. When he was near her the world went away and she was so overcome with happiness she could barely stand it. Her heart raced and felt like it would explode at times. Joe never made her feel that way and she began to wonder whatever drew her to him in the first place.
“Now, stop crying and worrying about everything. You’ll get little wrinkles around your eyes like I have.” Liz pointed.
Lane giggled as she dabbed her eye.
“Oh, next Saturday is the charity auction. I thought you might like to attend with us.”
“What are they auctioning off?”
“Oh, wow.” Lane laughed. “This should be interesting.”
“It always is. How do you think my sons met Sami?”
“Yes.” Liz smiled as if looking back. “Sometimes mothers just know who is right for their sons. I will never admit to having a hand in it though. What can I say?” Liz rubbed her nails on her shirt like she was polishing them with conceit.
“Is everyone on the island free loving hippies from the sixties?”
Liz snickered. “What do you mean in the sixties? We’ve always been free loving hippies, minus the dreadful clothes and drugs and all.” She shook her head. “I don’t use drugs or wear platform shoes.”
“Liz, you are truly one of a kind.”
* * * *
It was early Sunday morning and Lane suspected the reason she hadn’t seen Jed and Luther yet was because they tied one on the night before playing poker at Bannock’s. How she would have loved to have been a fly on the wall. The two were still asleep and she found it heartwarming that Liz encouraged their night out and allowed them to sleep it off. She carried on as professionally as ever.
Noting the time, Lane decided to take her morning jog. She planned to stop in Naughty Sprinkles to check in and see if the weekend staff needed any help. Liz had told her countless times that Saturday and Sunday were her days off, but she couldn’t help it, she loved the shop. Of course she also liked to see Dane come in daily.
After tying her running shoes, she embarked down the front stairs leading to the roadway. With her ear buds poked in her ears, she started her daily jog. The music was upbeat, setting her pace as she moved along. Her heart rate began to pick up and she took a deep breath of the warm saturated air. Droplets of dew still hung from the fauna, shimmering in the sunlight like tiny diamonds. No matter the time of day, the island never failed to surprise her with its beauty. Others in the community were starting their day as well. She noticed Gladys Humphries already out tending to her flowers, and Mr. Johnson had set out on his morning jog as well.
The lifestyle on the island was relaxed and peaceful. Thoughts of LA with all the people, the daily rush of traffic, smog, and honking horns entered her mind for a brief moment. She found that she missed the place less every day. As for her career that had begun to soar, she was still a little bummed out about losing the modeling gigs that were on her schedule, but so much of her old life didn’t seem to matter anymore. Each day here was a blessing. The people were wonderful, the weather mild and warm, the lifestyle far different than she’d ever experienced, and it was growing on her.
Her only worry outside of her own shortcomings was of her family and the status of Joe Reicher. She often wondered if the police had caught up to him yet. She prayed nightly they were close to making him pay for his crimes and taking the beautiful Ingrid from the face of the earth.
The image of Ingrid’s frozen expression haunted her subconscious. The woman only wanted a better life when she fled her home county to the land of possibilities. Lane hated that she left one bad situation and wound up in a worse one, dead. She didn’t want that to happen to herself.
Lane glanced back over her shoulder from time to time. Not because she thought Joe’s men knew where she was, but more so out of fear of the unknown. Like it or not, Lane was a prisoner there until the investigation was complete and in reality wouldn’t be completely safe no matter where she resided until Joe and his network of criminals are behind bars.
“Good morning, Reece.” Sarah Owens waved from her front yard at her. Lane had met her at the Naughty Sprinkles. Sarah’s favorite was the Tropical Heat cupcakes.
“Morning, Sarah” Lane smiled back as she jogged by. Back in LA, she never jogged like this nor had neighbors that thought enough to greet her in the morning. The differences in lifestyles were as different as night and day. The way of life was quickly surpassing what she thought she wanted, what she had dreamt of since she was a little girl. One day, when she was free from all of the stress and worry and when it was safe to contact her family, she wanted to bring them to the island for a visit.
She poked those thoughts into the new bucket list she’d been creating. She was amazed at the transformation she’d undergone in such a short period of time. She had to admit, her dreams were a tad on the superficial side but found she wasn’t as overwhelmed with the stress and drive she once punished herself with. The slowdown had been like she thought before, a blessing.
As she jogged through the center of town, Lane watched as shop owners opened their businesses for the day. She waved at the ones she knew and continued on, thirst pushing her toward Garrison’s grocery. The sun had raised high in the sky and the temperature had warmed up considerably. Sweat trickled down her temples. A tendril of her hair had fallen from her ponytail and stuck to her face. She wiped the sweat and offending strand of hair back as she slowed and approached the grocery store. Energized by her run, a harmonious feeling of well-being took over. Her stomach growled when she caught the scent of food cooking at Mama Lupe’s. A simple bagel for breakfast apparently wasn’t enough.
Her interest wasn’t so much on breakfast as it was on the Garrison family. She’d met them a couple of times and spoke briefly with them when they’d come into Naughty Sprinkles, but other than that, not so much. The family dynamics on the island wowed her and she always found curiosity about other relationships besides Liz, Luther, and Jed’s. She pulled the buds from her ears and entered the grocery store. She almost couldn’t believe it was her first time there. Staying busy had kept her mind from feeling sorry for herself and also from doing more exploration of the island. At that point, she hadn’t even seen the resort.
“Good morning, Reece.” Rebecca Garrison smiled at her as she walked by. Her eyes brightened with enthusiasm and she leaned over to speak with one of husbands, no doubt about her. Lane guessed the news of her date with Dane traveled fast in small circles. Why they cared was anyone’s guess.
Lane pulled a bottle of water from the open vat of ice stuffed with various drinks. Her thirst so strong she immediately opened it and began chugging it down. She knew it wasn’t very ladylike, but who said she was a lady? When half the bottle was gone, Lane finally released her lips from the top and swallowed hard. Her heart rate had calmed and now that her thirst was quenched, she was ready to go again.
As she walked to the register with her half-drank bottle of water she realized she didn’t have a dime on her. Great. That figures. She walked over to register and set the bottle down. “Mrs. Garrison, I don’t have any money on me. If you’ll give me a few minutes, I’ll run to the shop and get some to pay you.”
“No need. I’ll take care of it.” Lane heard a deep, sultry voice behind her. His tone made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up and a quiver roll down her spine.
Lane turned, not surprised to see Bannock standing there. Up close, the man was more of a sight to behold than she remembered. From a distance, she hadn’t been able to see or realize his enormous size. The man was easily over six feet tall, trim and muscular, but not overly muscular, just perfect. “Thank you, Bannock.”
He didn’t return the smile. Instead, he studied her with interest marking his face. “My pleasure.” He nodded and left her standing there. Just as she suspected, the man hated her and she had no idea why.
“Well, it seems you need not worry this morning, sweetie.” Rebecca smiled at her before looking over her shoulder to Bannock. “You have a nice day, hun.”
Lane grabbed her bottle of water and exited. She wondered about the scene in the store between Bannock and his mother. In the few seconds Lane was eye to eye, well eye to chest with him, she could sense unrest in him. She shrugged it off. Most small town folks didn’t readily accept newcomers. She supposed he was one of them.
* * * *
“What was that all about?” Bannock’s mother followed him to the back of the store.
“What are you talking about?” Bannock stopped and turned to face her.
“You and Reece. I appreciate the sentiment of taking care of the water, but you didn’t smile at her. At all.”
“So, what am I am supposed to be, the town greeter?”
“No, but I find it odd that Dane took her out last night. I assumed you two were cooking up a plan.”
“I hate to disappoint you, but we aren’t cooking up anything.” Bannock turned and continued on. His head rocked with an excruciating headache. He supposed it served him right, drinking all that alcohol. Normally he stayed pretty well in check and knew when to quit. Last night, the stress of knowing Dane was with Reece kept him pulling drink after drink to his lips. He deserved the headache, he figured, and so much more. Dane was an adult and more than capable of making his own decision, right or wrong.
“Whoa, hold it.” His mother caught up.
Bannock stopped at the bank of coffee pots, pulled a cup out, and poured himself what he hoped would be the savior to what ailed him. His mother was chattering behind him, but he wasn’t listening as he walked past her and to the aisle with pain relievers and medicines. He snatched two packages of pain relievers from the hook.
“Are you listening to me?”
“Nope.” He replied and headed toward the back of the store toward the office.
Inside, his fathers Don and William were sitting across from each other at the desk, each with a pencil and calculator. He grew up seeing this very scene every week when they balanced the books. They were hardcore businessmen and accounted for every blasted cent.
“Ah, Bannock, have seat.” His father Don patted the chair and Bannock sat down.
Visiting on Sundays was the norm, but after a poker night, he usually didn’t feel this crummy. He was beginning to wish he’d have stayed home and in bed.
“We are considering expanding the deli. What do you think?”
Bannock sat in a stupor. The bright light made his eyeballs ache and the pounding in his head so severe, it made his stomach churn.
“Leave him alone. It looks like he tied one on last night.”
“That’s right, last night was poker night. The boxes of pain relievers and tall cup of coffee should have tipped me off. By the way, that shit doesn’t work. I don’t know how many times I need to tell you that, son.”
Bannock rolled his eyes as he sipped his coffee. Sometimes it was almost like being a kid again when around them. Out the corner of his eye, he could see his mother step in with her hands on her hips. Wowzers, I’ve really pissed in her tulips this morning.
“Talk some sense into him, would you?”
“About what? He’s old enough to know when to cut off the drinking when playing poker. Serves him right if you ask me.” Don leaned back in his chair with his hands behind his head.
“I’m not talking about that.” She proceeded to tell his fathers about the scene with Reece. Now he really wished he’d stayed in bed.
“Why are you so concerned about him smiling at the Wyatts’ niece anyway?” Don looked confused.
“You don’t get it, Don. Reece is her best friend’s niece. Our son is single and half the residents think he’s gay. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.”
“Well, news travels fast around here! I’m not gay!”
“Funny, I haven’t seen you with a woman since you broke up with Jenny.” William noted and studied him.
Oh, here we go. “I didn’t break up with Jenny. She dumped me while I sat in the fucking desert, remember?”
Don pointed an accusing finger at him. “Boy, you need to move on.”
“I didn’t come here for a lecture. I’m quite capable of deciding what I need to do.”
“Oh, yeah?” His mother crossed her arms. “You’ve been in self-destruct mode since Jenny. Now, a beautiful, single woman moves onto the island and you don’t give her the time of day. You don’t even smile.
“Seriously, mother? You’re harping on me because I didn’t smile at her?”
William interrupted. “No, son, it’s so much more than that. She just wants you to be happy.”
“I’m happy. Hell, I’m fucking deliriously happy being single and left the hell alone. I’m also thirty-five years old and don’t need this bullshit.”
“Yet he comes in here feeling like hell and it is apparent something is bothering him. We’re just his parents and shouldn’t care about his happiness.” His father William became sarcastic. A trait he was very good at using.
“I get it. Okay? You need to understand that I don’t need a woman in my life to be happy. I also don’t care if every resident on this island thinks I’m gay. I know I’m not and even if I were…is it anyone’s business?”
“Hell, honey, he’s happy. You’re really happy, aren’t you?” His father Don turned to look at Bannock.
“I’m happier than an arsonist with a new book of matches.” He groaned before popping the tablets into his mouth and chasing them down with the coffee that burned all the way down.
William pointed at him while looking at his mother. “See, the boy’s happy.”
His mother gave an irritated growl and walked away when the front door chimed.
“I’ll be sure to thank that customer later.” Bannock joked and his fathers offered a chuckle.
“So, what’s the story with this woman? I’ve seen her, son, and let me tell you—” Don started before Bannock quickly interrupted.
“Yeah, yeah. I know. If you were young and single again, you’d be chasing her all over the island.”
“Damn straight.” Don smirked.
“Why do I come down here?” Bannock sipped his coffee.
William twirled his pencil between his fingers. “Because you love and respect us.”
Bannock nodded, leaned back in the chair and rested his head against the wall.
“Well, tell us what’s going on?”
“I can’t discuss it right now.”
Don looked at him with a hint of sympathy. “Your mother just wants you to be happy.”
“Well, and she’d like grandchildren one day.” William added.
“Yeah, exactly. She doesn’t understand the bigger picture.” Bannock replied.
“Listen, son, I know you were hurt deeply by Jenny. Hell, if I would have been in your position, I’d have a hard time trusting a woman again as well. But the truth is, you really need to move on.”
“Goddamn it, I have moved on.” Bannock became edgy and irritated.
“You’re damn right I’m touchy. Just drop it.”
“I’m sorry, son, I can’t do that. We love you and worry about you,” Don said.
“Ever since your fiancée ran off with that business tycoon, you’ve hated women. You haven’t so much as dated one.”
Bannock raised his hands in defeat. “So, they’re trouble.”
“I didn’t come here to discuss my personal life. I just stopped by to have my usual cup of coffee and visit like I do every Sunday.”
“Wait, wait.” Don interrupted. “I think I know what’s going on.”
“Oh, yeah?” Bannock raised a brow.
“Didn’t Dane take her out last night?”
“What are you getting at?”
“You’re jealous.” Don grinned.
“Oh, my, god. What is it with all of you today?”
“You’re right, Will, the boy is jealous.”
Bannock stood up and felt the room spin. The pain in his head seemed to radiate to every nerve ending in his body. Why his parents wouldn’t leave well enough alone bothered him. They only wanted him to be happy, but they had a funny way of showing it.
“Son, I can feel your pain and you are not at all yourself, but let me give you a little advice, father to son.”
“Don’t fear the unknown. Sometimes you find yourself happier in the long run.”
“I don’t fear anything.”
“Well, Dane obviously doesn’t. That woman he dated a few months back really did a number on his heart and now he’s back in the game.”
“I swear, Dane must have a golden fucking penis. Everyone seems to think what he is doing is fanfuckingtabulous except me. Well, I have news for you. Reece comes with a lot of baggage, and I suspect he’ll end up hurt when the dust settles.”
“And how would you know?” Don asked.
“I just know. I’ve got to go.”
Before he could exit the store, his mother stopped him. Instead of speaking, she pulled him into a hug. Her head rested on his chest. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, mom.”
The last week had passed so quickly for Lane, she had almost forgotten the day when she awoke that morning. It was Saturday and the Charity Auction. “I have something for you.” Liz popped her head through Lane’s bedroom door with a bright smile.
Lane had a towel on her head as she sifted through her meager wardrobe. Back at her apartment in LA, she had plenty to choose from. “I hope it’s a dress. I doubt this sundress would be appropriate for the event tonight.”
“Ah, you guessed.” Liz held up a silver halter top dress. The light reflected off the material and dazzled her eyes. It was gorgeous, rivaling most anything she had ever modeled.
“Liz, I was kidding, but wow, where did you get this?” Lane snatched it up in her hands, the fabric soft and silky as it slid effortlessly through her fingertips.
“I have connections.” Liz teased and held out a bag.
“Really? What else?”
“Well, you can’t very well wear a dress like this without shoes to match.”
Lane became sentimental and a little teary eyed. “I don’t know what to say, Liz.”
“Say, thank you and then rock the hell out of this dress at the charity auction.” Liz hugged her. “I missed so much by not having a daughter.”
Lane sniffled. “You really do too much for me.”
“Nonsense. Now get ready and meet me downstairs.”
Lane nodded as she clutched her new dress to her chest. She began to think of her mother and how tight times always seemed to be when she was younger. When prom came around her senior year, they had little or no money for a dress. Instead of getting a new dress, Lane had shopped at second-hand stores for two weeks trying to find something that wasn’t out of style and could be altered if need be. Those were the times that pushed Lane and helped develop her fierce desire to achieve. It was almost at times a Scarlett O’Hara scene where she gripped a handful of dirt, dressed in her ratty dress, and vowed to never go hungry again. Lane hadn’t starved by any means, but did without so much growing up.
As Lane readied, she continued to reflect back. She missed her mother dearly, noting this had been the longest stretch of time since she’d spoken with her. The urge to call hit her again as a new round of tears threatened to fall. In her quest the last two years, she had ignored what was most important. It wasn’t the money, the posh apartment or the closet full of clothes she left behind, it was family.
Before she could rationalize any longer, Lane picked up the cordless phone from the base. She dialed the familiar numbers and waited.
“Hello?” The sound of her mother’s sweet voice answered.
“Mom?” Lane suppressed a sob. “Mom, it’s me, Lane.”
“Lane? Oh, my god, Lane. Is it really you, honey?”
Lane wiped a tear that rolled down her cheek. “Yes, mom. It’s me.”
“I’ve been so worried.” Her mother began to cry at the other end. “I didn’t know what happened to you. A man came by and claimed to be with the FBI. He said you were in danger and had been moved out of the area. He wouldn’t tell me where—”
“Mom”—Lane listened as her mother cried—“Mom, calm down. Deep breath. I’m okay.”
“Where are you? When can you come home?”
“I can’t tell you where I am and I don’t know when I can come home. I just wanted to let you know I’m fine.” Lane reached for a tissue and sat on the side of the bed. “I miss you so much and I’m so sorry.”
“Lane, are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, mom, but I can’t talk very much longer. I promise when this clears up, I will tell you everything.”
“Honey, please, please, be careful.”
“I will. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Lane hung up the phone and began to sob. Her mother had been worrying just like she suspected. She shouldn’t have called, but she needed to, at least for her mother’s peace of mind. She felt rather numb as she stared at the phone. So many times she had the opportunity to pick one up and call her mother and she didn’t. Now she may have jeopardized her own safety, but she almost didn’t care. Her mother was everything to her and she deserved to know that she was okay.
With a little prayer, Lane stood up, hoping for the best. The empty place in her heart that yearned to hear her mother’s voice wasn’t as void as it had been, but far from full.
Noting the time, Lane picked up her pace and continued to ready herself for the charity event. Actually, she had no desire to go, but with Liz being the mayor and all, it would be expected she attend. The Wyatts had done so much for her since she arrived. The least she could do was put on a happy face and continue her charade.
An hour later, Lane stood in front of a full-length mirror that stood opposite her bed. The dress seemed to have been tailored just for her. It accentuated her waistline and hugged her hips. The only problem with the dress was the plunging neckline, if it could be called that. The top barely covered her breasts and left most of her chest bare. The dress was short as well, only about mid-thigh in length. She felt sexy, uninhibited even. Images of Dane raced through her mind and she wondered if he’d be attending as well.
As she looked in the mirror at her appearance, she traced the edge of the fabric that left little to the imagination. Her fingertip grazed over the swell of her breast and a surge of energy pulsed through her. She thought of Dane and closed her eyes, imagining his fingers exploring her alert skin that buzzed. Crazy, god she was crazy, she thought. Not only did she want Dane, she needed him as well. She had tired of fantasizing, tired of masturbating to dreams of him. Tonight, a new, naughty girl screamed to be let out of the cage that imprisoned her. Maybe, she’d let her out to play.
A knock at her door startled her and her eyes snapped open as her hand jerked away from her breast. Underneath the sheer fabric, her nipples had become hard, the material brushing over them making them beg for more stimulation.
“Come, come in.” Lane stuttered and cursed herself for her new annoying habit. It started when she first arrived on the island.
“Oh. My. God.” Liz emphasized each word as she entered. “Women will be jealous and men will drool tonight!”
Lane blushed and looked back at herself in the mirror. Her long, brilliant red hair cascaded over her shoulders and framed her face. Thanks to her crying jag, her eyes were glossy and bright. “Are you sure this isn’t a little over the top for the event?” She turned to Liz, feeling a little more than self-conscious. Sure she had modeled nude, but this was different. This dress screamed available and fuck me.
“Oh, honey, you will more than fit in with that dress.”
Lane surveyed Liz’s outfit. Although a little more modest than her own, Liz looked stunning in her royal blue evening gown. Long, flowing silk fell to the floor. One side was open, revealing her toned leg, the slit nearly reaching her hip. Liz also had quite the set for men to ogle at. The woman never ceased to amaze her. Bright blue eyes smiled with her silver gray locks perfectly styled into a regal updo.
“And look at you.” Lane walked around Liz and whistled. “I bet your men will have a hard time keeping their hands off you.”
“I can only hope so.” Liz beamed. “Oh, how did the undergarment fit?”
Lane snorted. “I’d hardly call that lacy thong an undergarment.”
“Well, it really serves no other purpose than the knowledge that you’re at least wearing panties. Turn around, let me see something.”
Lane turned and Liz tsked. “Uh, oh, the back is so open and falls so low that I can see your panties. You’ll have to go without.”
“What?” Lane shrieked and turned to face Liz. “I’m already without a bra.”
“Well, that fabric also shows panty lines as well. Yep, they have to go.”
Lane surveyed the back of her dress in the mirror and sure enough, she could see the top of the lace and there were lines. She already felt wanton, but going commando would only increase the desire she had already fanned.
“I don’t know, Liz. I don’t want to look like a floozy or a desperate woman.”
“You will not resemble either. Now come on, off with them.”
Lane pulled the hem up and hooked her thumbs around the lace, pushing them down and stepping out of them.
Liz grinned. “Much better. Now put on those heels. We’re going to be late if we don’t get going.”
When they arrived at the resort, Lane stepped out of the car with the aid of Luther’s hand. “If any man gets a little frisky, if you know what I mean.” He tapped his side where his gun was concealed. “You let uncle Luther know.”
Lane laughed and gave him a hug. “Thank you, Uncle Luther. I’m sure I’ll be okay, though.”
“Better safe than sorry.” Luther looked around at other guests that were arriving.
Inside, Liz led Lane by her arm through the crowd. The main room was extravagant with large elegant crystal chandeliers that offered subtle soft light. Long velvet draperies hung from the ceiling to the floor. Elegance abounded from every direction. Tall marble columns stood stately, giving the room an old-world feel. At the end of the expansive room was a large dais, serving as the stage for the upcoming event. No expense seemed to be spared with the interior décor. Lane dared to guess a price tag. And just as Liz had said, she was not at all out of place in her barely there dress.
“Oh, look, Lane.” Liz pointed. “There’s Dane and Bannock.”
Lane said nothing but felt her body heat up. The two even from a distance were hot as hell. Liz led her to the table where they were seated with Jackson Stone, Trinity Cross, Maxwell King, and a few other couples.
As they neared, Bannock and Dane turned their attention to her. She felt like an ant under a microscope, burning from their searing glances.
“I was just telling Reece that it would be a shame for her to have to sit with us at our table with all the old folks,” Liz said and looked back at her before promptly leaving her standing there alone.
“Hi, Reece! I could use some backup with all this testosterone here,” Trinity said.
Dane stood and pulled out a chair for her, seating her in between himself and Bannock. She hesitated for a moment, feeling more awkward than anything. No longer had she sat down and waiters bustled out with the first course. She still couldn’t believe Liz just ditched her and put her on the spot like she had. When Lane felt she could predict the woman’s actions, Liz surpassed them and surprised her even more.
Light conversation and smiles all around from happy faces were abundant, but Lane couldn’t summon the energy to engage herself. Energy bounced, tickling her every extremity, even more so when Bannock’s arms brushed against her. She lifted her gaze to stare at his profile while he talked to Jackson on the opposite side of the table. His features were strong, noble even. He lifted his glass, bringing it slowly to his plump lips. From the corner of her eye, she caught his gaze move to her.
Lane froze as their eyes connected. He was still faced toward his intended audience, but with eyes honed in on her. The room seemed to heat up, as tropical and humid as the air outside. Sweat made the palms of her hands wet and she tried to wipe it away, courtesy of the linens that draped over the table.
“Madame.” A voice jolted her from the moment. Bannock’s searing blue eyes seemed to glisten with enjoyment.
“Oh, yes.” Lane leaned to the side so the waiter could place a drink in front of her. She became confused. She had only just gotten there and she was almost sure, almost, that she had not ordered a drink. By looking at all the different drinks around the table, there was no special drink served to all.
Dane smiled and lifted his glass. “Sex on the beach. I thought it seemed fitting. Don’t you?”
Lane cleared her throat. “Um, yes. Thank you.” Her fingers trembled as she reached for the glass. At least she didn’t stutter this time. The sweet drink hit her tongue, pull after pull from her straw. What was with her? Since she stepped foot on this wild island her hormones raged. She had become klutzy and sounded as if she had a speech impediment. Before coming here, Lane had been confident, a little arrogant even. She spoke her mind, never stuttering. Men didn’t make her a silly girl, all gushy and tingly. Mercy, who turned off the air conditioning in this place?
“Thirsty?” Dane whispered in her ear, the vibrations of his tone made her eyes close and her heart race.
“A little bit,” she confessed and felt a chill raise the hairs on her arms. Her fingers tingled, wanting nothing more than to touch him, touch Bannock. Realization rushed in. No wonder a woman would want to be between two men, the heightened arousal was magnificent.
Dane touched her bare arm with his fingertip and slowly dragged it downward, making alarms sound off simultaneously from every region in her body. Slick heat continued to develop so much between her legs she was sure she was leaving a wet spot on the chair she sat on. A light gasp escaped her lips and Bannock turned his attention to her. He didn’t smile, just studied her.
Across the table, Trinity sat between Jackson and Maxwell. She was positively radiant, no doubt from being between two amazing men. Lane’s thoughts returned to the night at Naughty Sprinkles when she caught Jackson and Trinity fucking in the alley. It wasn’t love making and it damn sure wasn’t sweet. It was hardcore raging hormones that pushed the couple out into the darkness to tame the beast that raged out of control. Lane had felt it from the moment they walked in, so much so, she masturbated to the memory that night.
While her mind recalled the erotic image, Lane didn’t realize that Trinity had got up and was currently being auctioned off on the stage. Dane chuckled beside her as if he was privy to her thoughts. What was this connection between them? How was he able to hone in and notice when her mind became filled with lust?
The noise of the audience and even the sound of Jackson and Maxwell bidding became background noise. Lane turned to Dane, her hand falling to his thigh. She stared into his eyes and wetted her lips. God, she wished he would just kiss her already. And then it happened. His hand cradled her neck and pulled her close. His moist lips connecting in the most sensual of ways, gently moving, tongue peeking out to skim her bottom lip. She offered a small whimper and fell further into their kiss, tongues dancing together with perfect cadence.
With his spare hand, Dane directed her hand that rested on his thigh higher. A moan escaped before she could stop it. He squeezed her hand around his thick and oh yes, very erect cock. “Oh, god,” she whispered against his lips. Whatever self-control she was maintaining was dwindling quickly. The room full of people didn’t seem to exist anymore, but she knew they were there. How she hoped all their eyes weren’t taking in their display. If it weren’t for their location, she’d take Dane right there. It had come to that and he knew it.
“Baby, I’ve never wanted anyone more than I do you at this very moment.”
Lane trembled. The buzz of the blood rushing created an effective sound barrier to the excitement that moved through the room. Shouts erupted. The auction was heating up, but not as much as her pussy that throbbed with wild abandonment. “Get me out of here. Now.”
They moved efficiently through the maze of tables. No one seemed interested or surprised as their attention remained honed in on the stage and the show before them. Dane apparently knew where he was going as he led her down a long corridor. A trickle of her desire began to ooze down her thighs, slick, wet, and so damn hot. She didn’t care where he took, as long as he did. The desire had become too much to bear, and now she needed him, seemingly as much as the air she breathed. She felt terrible for leaving Bannock sitting there, but he seemed so engaged in the auction, she wondered if he’d even miss them.
Dane opened a door and pulled her with eagerness inside. No words needed to be exchanged. They were past that now as they fell against the wall. Dane’s lips met hers with urgency. His hands parted the pieces of fabric that barely contained her breasts.
“Yessss,” she moaned when he pinched her hard nipples. Shocks of pleasure pulsed and raced, making her lightheaded and out of control. “Later, foreplay later. Fuck me, Dane.” She grabbed his belt and fumbled with it.
Dane helped. Even in the pitch-black room she finally decided was the janitor’s closet, his fingers were nimble and the sound of his zipper damn near made her come. Their hot erratic breaths heated up the space. Lane pulled his mouth to hers and thrust her tongue inside his. She felt like an addict who had been denied his chosen drug, a thirsty traveler in a desert who had been without water for days. Dane reciprocated, pouring his energy into the kiss, his hard shaft pushing against her belly.
“Once won’t be enough.” He rasped out and caressed her cheeks. “I’ve dreamt of this from the moment I met you.” He began to pull her dress up, his lips lightly feathering kisses to her mouth. “I have to admit, the only thing that could make this moment any hotter is if Bannock were here, sharing.”
Lane gasped as another round of precum worked to ready her throbbing pussy.
“That’s my plan, Reece. One day I want to make you ours.” He whispered and his fingers slid between her folds. “So fucking wet. Bannock has no idea what he’s missing.”
Dane’s finger impaled her, pulling a cry from her lungs. His thumb massaged her clit while he thrust gently in and out, unhurried.
She didn’t know how to respond. His plan so hot and delicious, she was already close to orgasm. She needed to feel his thick cock inside her, pulsing, pushing, and fucking her into dreamland. Bannock would be a bonus, a very amazing bonus that hopefully could keep up with her growing libido.
“Tell me now if the idea scares you. That is my intention and always has been. We would love you and adore you. We would take care of all your needs and satisfy like you’ve never been satisfied before.”
Dane’s enthusiasm grew, his fingers thrust in harder with more force. She pulled him closer, nipping his bottom lip with her teeth. He let out a growl and pumped his fingers inside her faster.
“Dane, Dane. Oh, god,” she wailed and thrust her hips, matching his rhythm.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he purred with satisfaction, his confidence pushing her over the edge.
Before she could scream out as her volatile release took her, Dane muffled her cries with his mouth pressed tightly against hers. She thrashed and rocked her hips, squealing when the pleasure became almost more than she could bear.
As she began to relax, she hummed and felt like an enormous weight had been lifted. Her mind buzzed, enveloped in a sense of extreme euphoria. She fought to catch her breath, panting, and yet wanting more.
“I only wish I could have seen your face.” Dane kissed her neck and moved down to her collarbone and further still to her nipples. He sucked her left breast, his tongue flicking over her hard nub.
Lane arched her back and pushed toward him. Her head fell back as he continued to give equal attention to both and rekindling the fire that had simmered. “I need you, Dane.”
“Mmm, I’m happy to oblige.” He teased and grazed his teeth over her breast. “But first,” he reached down and grabbed her wrists and pinned them against the wall. “No games.” He kissed her sweetly. “Make no mistake, I am playing for keeps, but only if Bannock is welcome.”
“Yes,” she expelled in a shuddered breath.
“Do you dream of him as you do me? Do you want to fuck him as much?”
Thoughts of Bannock staring at her with his engaging eyes more than piqued her curiosity. She had dreamt of him as well, dreamt of being between them. Tonight, as she sat with both of them on either side of her, she realized she craved both of them equally. She just hadn’t had the opportunity to know Bannock as much as she did Dane.
“I want both of you.” Lane whispered in the darkness.
Dane chuckled in his tone that melted her from the inside out. “You didn’t answer my questions, sweetheart.”
“I’ve dreamt of him. I dreamt of the three of us together. I’ve masturbated to the fantasy,” she confessed.
Dane’s breaths came out short as fast. He held her sternly, keeping her his prisoner and she loved it.
“Please, Dane.” She couldn’t help but beg. The moment, his words, and the racing of her heart compelled her to plead for him to deliver what she craved.
He released her arms and pulled her to his chest. Their lips locked together as he fumbled in the pocket of his pants. Lane stroked the length of him, amazed at his size, and burned out of control with desire to feel him impale her.
The distinct sound of a foil wrapper caused her to hum with delight. He sheathed himself as the urgency building made their kisses hot and sloppy. He pulled her left leg up, shoving her dress out of the way. The tip of his cock nudged her entrance and he chuckled. “Hang on, sweetheart. You’re in for one hell of a ride.”
Dane thrust in and Lane growled, her fingertips biting into his shoulders. He stretched her wide as inch after inch entered her.
“I hoped to be more of a gentleman, and I’ll apologize now for what I’m about to do, but I can’t help how I feel around you.”
He eased out and thrust back in harder, recoiling and shoving in harder with more eagerness each time. Lane gasped and rode the intense wave. His engorged cock fucked her hard, hard enough to make her bare and sweaty back squeak against the wall.
“Yes, oh hell yeah, yes.” Lane wailed with delight. Delicious strokes pumped his cock deep inside her. Her inner walls gripped him, the sweet friction building her up again.
Dane slowed and delivered measure strokes. The hand he held her leg with moved and rimmed around his cock. “This pussy is so fucking tight. Just like I dreamed it would be.” He pulsed in again, his fingers teasing her opening. “Just imagine how great it would feel to have Bannock inside you at the same time.”
“Of course,” Dane moved his now-slick fingers to her butt and pressed against her tight hole. “He’d fuck you here, too, while I fuck this tight pussy.”
Lane let out a long, soft moan. She had never experienced anal, nor had she ever had two men at the same time, but the thought excited her. When his finger breached her entrance, she gasped.
“Relax, move with me,” he coaxed, and gently wiggled his finger.
The new sensation was wild, uninhibited, and dirty. She felt a sting from the intrusion but it waned quickly and became a surprisingly intense pleasure.
“I can feel my cock.” Dane pressed his finger firmly to her inner wall. “God damn, that’s hot.”
“Dane, oh god, Dane.” Lane screeched before letting go.
Dane surged, picking up his pace, and delivered ruthless thrusts. His hips punished the inside of her thighs as they worked at a hurried pace. “Oh, fuck yeah!” He gripped her ass and let go, kissing her hard as he did.
They gasped and panted, each fighting to regain their breath. Dane nuzzled her neck, the heat of his breaths making her hotter if that was possible. Lane went limp in his arms, dizzy from the overwhelming encounter. She wasn’t sure how she would be able to endure both of them, but looked forward to trying.
* * * *
Dane stood in the men’s room and tried to calm his racing heart. It was happening. His dream was and would become a reality. He chuckled as he dried his hands. It wasn’t out of amusement, but rather out of extreme joy. Reece captivated him like no other woman. His desire for her so strong he morphed into a fucking frenzy of need and desire. He supposed their first time would have been this way. After dreaming of her and often times jacking his cock to all the possibilities, he shouldn’t have expected anything less.
So fucking hot. He walked out and waited for Reece by the entrance of the ladies room. His only worry was hurting her. Maybe he shouldn’t have pushed her limits, but he knew he had to. He needed to know how she would respond and if it excited her. Not many women would consent to anal sex, and especially not with two men, well, outside of Sunset Point anyway.
His nerves pulsed with exuberance. He wanted to tell Bannock, needed to tell him. Dane could see the desire Bannock held for Reece that he denied with words. Bannock wanted Reece as much as he did, but Dane knew fear was the only thing holding him back. The bitch that broke his best friend’s heart so callously and coldly deserved a special place in hell, Dane thought, and he certainly hoped karma would bitch slap her, lots.
Reece emerged with a bright smile. Her cheeks were now a pleasing rosy pink. She looked radiant with her glow and he wondered if he sported one as well.
“We better rejoin the group. I’m already sure they suspect what we’ve been doing.”
“Let them.” Dane pulled her to his chest and laid a lip-lock on her. Her arms wrapped around his neck and held him. He had forgotten how wonderful it felt to have a woman hold him and show affection. Occasional one-nighters lacked in intimacy and his ex couldn’t hold a candle to how it felt to hold Reece compared to her. He shouldn’t be thinking of his ex, but felt the need for a thank you card.
He broke their kiss and looked into her bright green eyes. Beautiful, that was the only word that could come to mind. Her blazing, long red hair was a little wet from perspiration. Wet tendrils hung as evidence of their hot escapade in the janitor’s closet. The location was not at all what he hoped for, but now couldn’t imagine a hotter place.
Reece traced his lips and smiled. “I’ll expect a do-over.”
“Honey, I’m yours. You just name the time and place.”
She laughed and her eyes lit up with amusement. “Down, boy. Come on, let’s go have a drink. I’m suddenly very thirsty.”
When they got back to the table, it was basically empty. Half drank drinks sat, waiting for their owners to finish them. The auction was still going. No one seeming alarmed by the disappearance of almost the entire table.
With the fierce bidding for Trinity, Dane suspected Jackson and Maxwell were already celebrating their purchase. What worried Dane was where in the hell had Bannock disappeared to?
“Wow, either everyone else had the same idea or something is going on.” Reece looked at him as she sat down. She looked as worried as he felt with Bannock gone.
They picked up their drinks and tried to focus on the entertainment, but Dane felt unsettled and nervous. Bannock wasn’t an easy man to deal with, at times, a fucking bear. Dane saw the desire behind his gaze and wished he knew how to make him let down the walls that guarded his heart.
Reece leaned over and laid her head on his shoulder. “I hope we didn’t make him angry.”
He wrapped his right arm around her waist and held her. “Me, too.”
* * * *
This was the last thing Bannock expected tonight. He holstered his gun after the gun battle erupted at the construction site adjacent to the Palace Resort where the Charity Auction was taking place. As it would seem, there had been quite a plan in motion. The outcome should have been the bombs exploding and destroying the site.
Trinity, from what Bannock understood, had been sent to investigate the delays in construction. An inside job was at work, something his local police force would have not known was going on. With the island growing and becoming a favorite vacation spot for the rich thanks to the Palace Resort, crime was rising in his own backyard. Thank goodness Trinity was sent in or this would have been a disaster the island would have suffered not only from economically, but emotionally.
Most residents were second, third, or fourth generations. They were close, everyone more like family than acquaintances. Small business owners relied heavily on tourism and without it, the island would face economic doom. He, however, wasn’t a fan of the Palace or the new addition being built. What would be next? Would the island eventually become so commercialized they would lose the heritage they fought for generations to preserve. He was one to talk, he shook his head. He had never agreed or wanted a ménage relationship and here he was worried about the demise of the lifestyle.
Bannock headed back inside once men were on the scene to clean the dirtbags up. He was beginning to feel like a lone wolf. Even his best friend Jackson, who was so much like him personality wise and in beliefs, had now engaged in just the type of relationship he vowed to never enter. Bannock had to admit that Jackson seemed especially happy with Trinity and Maxwell. He was also damn touchy about his woman and very protective. Poor Dane got a glimpse of Jackson’s jealously over a damn tattoo. What was going on around the island anymore? Crime was on the rise. People he never suspected would fall in love did.
When Bannock entered the auction, he noticed Reece snuggling with Dane. It didn’t take a damn rocket scientist to figure out the two had ran off for a quickie. It was obvious and not a person at the table failed to notice. Dane had made his play and just as he suspected, had fallen for Reece.
“Hey, where did you disappear to?” Dane turned his attention to Bannock as he sat down.
“Work.” Bannock reached for his drink and polished it off in one gulp.
“Is everything okay?” Reece touched his arm.
“Yeah, everything is fine.” Bannock replied and noticed that Reece seemed genuinely worried.
Bannock motioned for the waiter and ordered another drink. His meal sat on the table in front of him, untouched. The light scent of Reece’s perfume invaded his nose and his mind conjured images he didn’t want to see. Reece stood naked in front of him, beckoning him toward her. God, she was beautiful, a devil in disguise concealed beneath a hot body and a gorgeous face.
Dane held her close and kissed her forehead. Yep, the two had snuck away for sex. He could smell it and it was killing him. His dick began to rise as he wondered where they went. Dane looked at him and winked before a broad smile curved his lips upwards. Son of a bitch. The guy hadn’t listened to a word of warning he offered.
“I’ve got to go.” Bannock couldn’t stand to sit next to the two any longer. The scent of Reece’s arousal had his dick standing at attention and he wasn’t happy about it.
“What? Aren’t you going to stay for the rest of the auction?” Dane sat up straight and had a look of disbelief.
“No, I’m tired.” Bannock left his empty drink on the table and walked away.
Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. He had failed. Bannock had yet to find the information on Reece he sought and feared another heartbreak loomed in Dane’s future. Why wouldn’t Dane listen to him? Reece Wyatt was not who she claimed to be. Why couldn’t he prove it?
“Leaving so soon?” A soft feminine voice called as he exited the resort.
Bannock stopped and turned. “Yeah.”
“What’s the problem?” Liz slowly walked toward him.
“Nothing. I’m tired.”
Liz laughed as she approached. “You’re lying, Bannock. Remember, I’ve changed your diapers. Try again.”
What did he say now? Liz knew him almost as well as his own mother. He had sleepovers at her house with her sons. Their families were inseparable over the years. And yes, Liz had more than likely changed many of his diapers.
“I’d rather not say.” He chose a statement that wasn’t a lie at all, but far from the truth. Liz was harboring Reece, but he didn’t want to point an accusing finger.
“Out of all people you can trust to talk to and here you are, hiding from me. Why?”
“Liz, I know something I shouldn’t. I respect and love you—”
“If you respect and love me so much, why won’t you level with me? Do you think I’d lie to you?”
Bannock ruffled his hair. Liz was like a second mother. How could he blast her with the information? What if he was actually wrong?
Liz pulled her cell from her pocket. “Okay, I guess I’ll have to call Rebecca.”
Bannock snatched her phone away. “That won’t be necessary.”
“Fine. Here it is and I’ll remind you. You asked for it.”
Liz waved her hands, palms up, as if saying, bring it on.
“I know Reece isn’t your niece.” Bannock allowed the statement to explode off his tongue.
“Really?” Liz lifted a brow. “And what makes you believe that?”
“Liz, don’t play games with me. Either she is or she isn’t. So why don’t you be honest with me and tell me the truth.”
Liz exhaled loudly and crossed her arms over her chest. “I shouldn’t be surprised that you would figure it out sooner or later.”
“Why are you harboring her?”
“It isn’t for me to tell, Bannock.”
“Reece is in danger. Please keep this information to yourself.”
“She is under WITSEC protection. That is all I can tell you. If she wants you to know any more, she will have to tell you herself.”
“Oh, my god.” Bannock felt sick to his stomach.
“She has been through a lot, Bannock, and she feels secure here. Please don’t take that from her.”
Bannock pulled Liz to his chest and hugged her. “I’m so sorry, Liz. I thought—”
“You thought she was a criminal.” Liz wrapped her arms around his waist. “I should bend you over my knee and beat your ass for thinking I’d harbor a criminal.”
“That won’t be happening.” Bannock knew he deserved much more in reality. Being a cop was more than a job. His eyes and ears were open at all times. And sometimes, times like this, were when he hated that he couldn’t turn it all off. There were some things people just didn’t need to know.
“Go home and get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow is Officer Appreciation Day and I expect to see you bright eyed and bushy tailed when we get there.”