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Authors: Emmy Curtis

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary Women, #Erotica, #Contemporary, #Fiction

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BOOK: Pushing the Limit
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She hesitated for the smallest second before he felt her hair tumbling down over his hand. She must have been really ready to lose those pins. Her cool heavy hair caressed his hand and arm, and the scent of vanilla invaded the space between them.

He could think of nothing else but tasting her lips. He opened his legs wider and roughly brought her closer. She took a shaky breath when he was a mere inch from her mouth. As she exhaled he pulled her head to his. His tongue swiped at her lower lip before he pressed his mouth to hers. Her tongue touched his lips, and he nearly exploded. He stroked her tongue with his as he held her head at the perfect angle between his two hands.

Her fingers gripped his knees as if she was scared to fall. Then they inched up his thigh. Jesus. He was so hot for her. The air turned oppressively heavy as their breathing became more labored. She found his erection through his pants and pressed against it.

He groaned against her mouth. Somewhere in his head the words “Game On” flashed like a neon bar sign. He dragged his hands down her back to her zipper and pulled it to her ass. His hands slipped inside the dress and felt the skin on her back.

She moaned and arched her back pulling her mouth from his. He slipped the dress down from her shoulders so it pooled at her waist. As if God had intended, the moon peeked out from the clouds and illuminated her perfectly. His heart nearly stopped. She was beautiful. Her lacy bra barely covered her pert breasts, and she gave off an incredibly hot wanton air, sitting in front of him half-naked. Her eyes fluttered open, and she held his gaze, unembarrassed.

His hands moved by their own volition to cover her from prying eyes, but there weren’t any; they were completely secluded. Her light eyes took him to a different place—one free of distractions or anxiety.

Thunder rumbled overhead, but neither looked away. She reached up and loosened his tie enough that she could slip it over his head. Then she unbuttoned his shirt. He let her. He knew he shouldn’t. He knew someone could come out at any moment. And then a drop of rain fell on her, sliding down her collarbone over the swell of her breast and into her bra. Followed by another and another.

Maybe no one would be coming out at all.

Neither of them moved, she didn’t even flinch as the rain came down steadier. “Take off your shirt,” she said. “I want to see you.”

His hands went automatically to the sides of his shirt. He hesitated. “Take off your bra. I want to see
you
.”

Henrietta took it off in one move. Hell, he’d never met a woman like her before. Fearless. He shucked off his shirt and they looked at each other for a moment. Rain fell steadily. The cool water made her nipples erect. He wanted to get his mouth on them so bad his mouth watered.

She drew patterns on his chest with her fingernails, playing with the raindrops on him.

He grabbed her hips and yanked her onto his lap. Her legs wrapped around his waist as her lips descended on his. He never wanted to leave this spot. It felt like a dream. Almost an out-of-body sensation, with the rain, the lightning in the distance, and the incredible half-naked woman in front of him.
She must be a dream
.

His lips tracked kisses down her neck to her breasts and as the tip of his tongue touched her already hard nipple, she gasped and arched into him. His dick stiffened even more, pressing against the heat behind her panties. His control was attached to him by the finest thread as he sucked on her, delighting in the gasps and moans threading their way around the garden.

It would take the merest hesitation to be balls-deep in her. Just the unzipping of his fly, the rip of a foil packet, and he could be sliding inside her velvet. As he gently twisted the nipple his mouth wasn’t around, she ground her pussy against his pants.

Fuck, what was stopping him? This wasn’t right. Maybe his brain wanted to lay her on silk sheets, take her to dinner, discover more about this incredible woman. Maybe that was it?

Really? He wanted to save her for the best, like a damn suit for church? Hell to that. He wanted to hear the noise she made when she came for him. He inched his way back from her a little, just enough that he could slide a hand between them. She bucked when he touched her panties, her heels digging into his butt. He traced the edges of the thin scrap of material that lay between him and heaven. She tensed and went completely still. As his fingers passed under the silk, she sighed and melted around him. His fingers gently stroked her folds, she seemed completely bare down there, and that excited him more than he would have ever imagined. He wanted to see her so bad. Naked.

As if in time with nature, thunder crashed as he stroked her from clit to ass, reveling in the heavy wetness that his fingers slipped through. He pressed at her ass gently, then slid back. He shifted to one side and eased two fingers into her. She moaned and found his mouth with hers. As he pulsed his fingers inside her, his thumb found her clit, pressed and used the wetness there to slip over it again and again until she tensed, gripped his fingers, and spasmed as her soft throaty sounds enveloped them both.

“Amazing,” Henrietta whispered. “You made me feel amazing. My skin is vibrating.”

“To be fair, that could be the rain.” He laughed as she stretched her arms over her head and lengthened her spine like a cat. He could watch her forever. His.

No!

Not his. Hell, he didn’t even know whose she was. She got up and pulled one leg around and sat next to him, back straight like a schoolteacher oblivious to the fact that she was still naked. “And now I want to make you vibrate for me,” she breathed as she reached for his fly.

He wanted to stop her, wanted to be the better man here, but he was consumed by the moment. Rational thought was definitely still alive and well in his head, but so was his utter need to ignore it.

She unzipped him and took his dick in her rain-wet hand. Her firm grip almost undid him right there. Normally he wouldn’t care so much how long he lasted. The women who got in his pants rarely saw him again. It was always just sex at its very basest level—a release. An escape. Nothing more.

He ground his teeth together to hold on to his control. But having her in his sight was almost his undoing. Still stripped from the waist up, she leaned over him, touching his dick to her breasts, teasing her own nipples with it. He swallowed hard.

He closed his eyes and instantly felt the sharp touch of her teeth and the softness of her tongue on him. She swirled her tongue over its tip and then slid down so he was totally in her mouth. He groaned with a primal need for her. A need he doubted would be sated anytime now.

As she pulled up, she sucked slowly and squeezed his balls. A stream of fire filled his entire body. She sucked down his shaft again, pausing and then sliding him in right to the back of her throat. Every instinct made him want to hold her head and fuck her mouth. Control. He had control.

A door slammed, and a spark of a lighter came from the restaurant patio. She paused in response. Two men started a conversation under the awning. Sitting up and looking in the direction of the restaurant, she put her hand on his dick, stroking gently.

And then Henrietta started twisting her hand around his shaft, and his whole body sat in suspense. His muscles tightened. They were so close to being discovered. It made him hot as hell. Then she stood up properly, and her dress dropped to the ground, leaving her bare to him. She paused a moment, giving him the chance to burn her incredible image into his memory forever. Henrietta, in a thong, high heels, and nothing else.

She pushed him back so he was lying along the length of the stone seat. She bent over him and took him straight in her mouth again. With one hand, she held the base of his cock steady, with the other she caressed his balls. As she sucked up and down his length her small breasts bobbed in front of his eyes. Stars peeked out from the clouds, the rain stopped suddenly. It was like heaven was showing itself to him. He croaked, “I’m going to come.”

She gently increased the pressure on his balls and took him in the tight vacuum of her mouth. She sucked up his length once, twice, and then he exploded as fireworks popped in his head. A tiny rational thought wondered if he was having an aneurysm, but he was in so much ecstasy that he embraced it.

He wanted nothing but to hold her in his arms, feel her naked body along the length of his, touch her all over. She’d been almost nude, but he still felt deprived of something much better. He sighed as she kissed her way up his stomach. Henrietta had turned him into a chick.

“Harry! Are you out here?” A woman’s voice came from the patio.

“I’ll be right there!” She yelled back in a surprisingly loud voice for such a tiny thing.

He leaned up on his elbows and watched her zip her dress back up. Man. He saw the faintest smudge of ink on her back. He wished it wasn’t so dark.

“Harry?” he asked.

“My friends call me Harry.”

“What can I call you?”

She grinned over her shoulder as she retreated down the path. “Henrietta.”

Chapter Two

Iraq, present day

Harry lightly fingered the artifact in her pocket as she watched her grad students at work. Okay, she was pretty sure it wasn’t an important artifact, historically anyway. But it was still an unusual find.

About three inches square, it was a piece of metal with embossed numbers. When she’d taken a photo and sent it to her lab, they had discovered the numbers were a code for an aircraft part. A military aircraft part.

She wondered if the piece had fallen from the sky, or if there was a plane crash, or if it was just incidental detritus. As an archaeologist, she was very aware that the discovery of one artifact didn’t necessarily mean the rest of it was close by. Someone could have dropped it. Or sold it to someone who dropped it.

But to be safe, she’d e-mailed her friend at the Department of Defense, Sadie, and passed on word of her discovery. It was out of her hands now. But she couldn’t help but touch the piece of metal. It had become a touchstone. A talisman of sorts.

She held down a button on her walkie-talkie. “That’s the furthest north side of our site, so mark that please.” Molly and Jason pulled small red flags from a backpack and placed them at intervals along the line of sight.

Harry checked the laptop and stopped them. “That’s the western border, there.” She did the same when they reached the other two sides of their site and then called them back. They hopped on their little ATV, and Harry smiled when she saw Molly wrap her arms firmly around Jason’s waist. Molly had driven the ATV a hundred times before and definitely did not need to hold on to anyone. Maybe recruiting Jason was more than just a good thing for Harry’s business.

She handed them bottles of water from the cooler when they got back to their small trailer-turned-lab pop-up to the south of their site. Then she threw one at Mueen, who sat on top of the trailer. He was their armed security guard. Quiet, unassuming, with a slight American accent borne of studying at UPenn, he was ever vigilant for problems, looters, or anyone that he deemed a threat to the team.

Harry had worked with him before on her first visit to Iraq. He and his wife had been pillars of strength for her, coming for the first time to the country where her husband had died. And thanks to them, she’d felt almost at home there. She’d been delighted and excited when she’d heard she’d been chosen for this job, mostly so that she could see her friends again.

“The site doesn’t seem very big,” Jason said.

Harry smiled at the newbie. “It’s plenty big for the three of us, trust me.”

“But we’re not excavating or anything, are we?” he asked, sitting on the blue-and-white cooler and taking a hefty slug of water.

Harry pulled up an image on the laptop and swiveled the screen so it faced them. “We will be working the site in a grid. In each square, we will take samples, survey for anomalies, and do a cursory check for surface artifacts. In places I’ve marked, here and here, we will auger boreholes to test the composition of the earth. At the end of the two weeks, we will use geo-phys across the whole site. That’s all we’re here for this time. If we find something interesting, chances are we’ll be invited back to investigate further before the team of university archaeologists take over. And if we don’t. Then we still will have earned our money.”

Her Blackberry pinged and she elected to check her e-mails in the cool of the trailer. Harry left the students chatting outside about how to attack the grid in the most efficient way and escaped inside. She was actually itching to get back to their hotel this evening. She hadn’t slept well since she found the piece of aircraft part right where they had set up the trailer. Above all things, she wanted a long sleep.

The inbound e-mail was from Sadie telling her that the Pentagon was sending someone to look at the site. An advance man from the JPAC team in Hawaii. Sadie explained that the people at JPAC were in charge of finding the remains of U.S. military service members and bringing them back to their families.

Harry closed the e-mail and shivered. This was the last thing she needed. But as someone who had lost a husband to war, she couldn’t begrudge him access to the site. She hoped the artifact was just an anomaly. That a downed aircraft wasn’t hiding in the dunes somewhere. Immediately her body flushed with shame. But her priority was to her client, a foundation that funded important archaeological digs for universities around the world. The U.S. government definitely didn’t have any authority over her work here, and she didn’t want to be put in a position where she’d have to choose between her work and a grieving family.

She knew how slowly the military worked, so she hoped the advance man wouldn’t be here until they had finished. She closed her e-mail when her eyes started blurring. Sleep. She really needed sleep. Time to wrap today up.

There was a knock at the door. Mueen. Jason and Molly would have just burst in. She grabbed her backpack and the padlock for the door and opened it. Indeed, it was Mueen, and as always, he’d anticipated her every need.

“Are you ready to leave, madam?” he asked.

“We are.” She turned to the others. “Let’s load the truck and go back to the hotel. I, for one, need an early night.”

They visibly brightened, and she wondered if they were planning on spending their personal time together. Her mind skipped back three months to Sadie’s wedding. And Matt. The man she’d very nearly had sex with in a city restaurant’s garden. He’d been outstanding. Really outstanding. Handsome, charming, a real player, too, yet strangely he hadn’t tried to have sex with her. But that night still lived on in her daydreams. She sighed. Maybe she’d dream about him tonight. Kill two birds with one stone: the need for sleep and the need for sex.

But by the time they’d gotten back, eaten, and gone to their rooms, sleep was evasive yet again. If she believed in curses, she would have thought the metal on her bedside table was hexing her sleep abilities. The only other time sleep had evaded her for weeks was just after Danny had died. For weeks, every time she closed her eyes, all she saw was his smiling face and then an explosion as he evaporated into thin air.
The pretty pink mist as he evaporated.

Gah.
She sat up in the dark and pulled on a long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans and quickly braided her hair. Maybe a brandy in the hotel bar would help.

* * *

Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Matt Stanning stretched as he got off the army transport he’d hitched a ride on. As the humidity of the night settled heavily on his body, and the familiar smell of Iraq’s dusty air assaulted his memory he tensed. He hadn’t been back since his last tour as part of an Explosive Ordinance Disposal team. His tour in the Iraq theater had ended the week after they’d gathered the pieces of his best friend Danny McCantry and transported the parts of him they could find back to the U.S.

He’d been on his way back from a conference when they’d asked him to stop by here and check out something an archaeologist had found that suggested that there may have been a downed military aircraft in the vicinity. He doubted it strongly, since none of the records he’d looked at on the plane reported any unrecovered American plane crashes. Fucking checking the box. That’s all he was here for. And he couldn’t think of a worse place to come for a pointless exercise. He heaved his pack onto his back and tried to ignore the crush of people in the arrivals area, the constant clamor of noise that sent unease creeping up his spine like a desert viper.

“Boomer! Boomer!” A voice penetrated the fog that was settling around his brain. He was slow to react to the old call sign, but not slow to react to the hand on his arm. In a second he dropped his bag, grabbed the hand with his, and spun out so the person attached to the hand was now facing away from him with his arm twisted halfway up his back.

“Damn it, Boomer. Let me go,” the man hissed, trying to look behind him.

In a flash Matt recognized David Church and let him go. “Sweet hell, Nitro. You don’t grab someone like that.”

David rubbed his shoulder. “Yeah, sorry. I’ve been out of uniform too long, apparently.”

“Jesus.” Matt dragged his hand over his face, unwilling to admit his fight instinct was still front and center. “What are you doing here?” Matt asked, grabbing his pack and then steering them through the throng of passengers and greeters who were now very definitely interested in the two men.

When they reached the relative calm of the taxi stand, Church filled him in. “I went private, man. I’m in MGL Security. We’re contracted to look after you guys in country.”

“Well, it’s good to see you brother, but I don’t need a security detail. I’m my own security detail.”

“You don’t say,” Nitro said, rubbing his shoulder again. “I’m going to fuck you up if you damaged a nerve.”

There was a pause, and then the two men laughed and briefly hugged, thumping fists on each other’s back. “It’s good to see you, too,” Church said. “It’s been too long. What was it? 2005?” He shook his head. “That was some fucked-up shit. Danny, man. What the fuck.” He sighed.

This was absolutely, 100 percent not the conversation he wanted to have here and now. “Hey. Everything was fucked up. It was a long time ago. Things change.”

Church pointed to a black Suburban. “This is my ride. It’s bulletproof,” he reassured as he got in the driver’s seat.

Shit on a stick. Talk about standing out like a frigging sore thumb. He’d planned on getting an average, beat-up, barely running cab to the hotel. And this? This was not subtle.

“Too fucking right it’s bulletproof. You’re like a moving target. Nothing says ‘invading American’ quite like a big American car. Jesus, Nitro. What happened to you?”

Church put on a pair of aviators, pulled a toothpick from behind his ear, and stuck it in his mouth, all the while grinning at Matt’s discomfort. “I’ll tell you what happened. I sold out for the big bucks. You’ll never get rich riding it out as an enlisted troop.”

Matt watched the street scene as they left the airport complex. As soon as they got outside, arid desert stretched as far as he could see. His fists clenched. It was along roads like these that insurgents set their bombs in cars, old deflated soccer balls, children’s toys… or just barely buried by the blowing sand. It was the ball that had got Danny.

“I have some gear for you in the back.” Church said.

Matt turned in his seat and looked at the duffel bag. “Any booze?”

“Two Glocks, fifteen clips, a rifle and mags, a Canadian ID, just in case you get taken, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s best, and a satellite phone. Hold down the pound key to get a direct line to me.”

“You’re not going to babysit me?”

“Nah. I was told to hold back, come when needed. I guess they figured you could take care of yourself.”

“God bless you, Nitro.”

“For the phone?”

“For the JD.”

Church grinned back at him and offered a fist to bump. Matt hesitated and then complied. They both laughed again. Man, he wished his whole team could be back together, but they’d never had so much as a reunion after Danny had died. Would have been weird.

“I already checked you into your room at the hotel, and we swept the room. Everything looked fine.”

“Thanks, but my mission here isn’t covert, or even important. Just liaising on a rumor. You know I’m with JPAC now, right?”

“They briefed me. When did you leave EOD?”

“A few years back. You know how it goes. A man my age can’t live on adrenaline alone.”

“I definitely get that, brother. So what do you live on now?” he asked as he pulled into the hotel’s dusty driveway.

“Women. JD. A satisfying job.” It sounded weak even to him. But as he thought briefly about women, Henrietta came to mind, in the rain, sitting on top of him and leaning back to feel the rain on her body. Wait, she was an archaeologist. Maybe he could use that as an excuse to call her. Get her number from Simon and Sadie, say he needed her professional advice.

Food for thought.

Church handed him his room key. “Number thirteen. Figured fewer people would have been in it.”

Matt took the key with a low laugh. No one was more superstitious than an EOD technician. He stood in the doorway of the Suburban and hesitated before he closed it. “Let’s get together for a drink before I head off again.”

“Hit the pound key, baby!” Nitro said as he revved the engine.

He slammed the door and watched him roar off, sunglasses still on despite the onset of dusk.

A gust of wind followed in his wake. Strong enough to make Matt wince and turn away from the splatter of sand against his face. When it abated, he looked at the sky and saw the telltale fast-moving clouds across the moon.

A storm was brewing.

BOOK: Pushing the Limit
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