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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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Chapter Three

Harry sat in the corner of the bar sipping a glass of red wine, face to the wall. The hotel really only catered to foreign workers, and she had no wish to attract anyone’s attention. She flipped over her black Megellin Foundation folder and reexamined the briefing on the project requirements for her and her team. Now they’d staked their area, she rethought the plan she’d given Jason and Molly. Their first whole day there tomorrow would now be geo-phys, instead of leaving it until last. She hoped that the results from the ground-penetrating radar that scanned three feet under the surface would head the military off at the pass and they could get on with their work.

She turned her attention back to the briefing pack. It was a slightly unusual remit. They weren’t asking her to age any artifacts, just to scan the area and report back. It was a little strange, but their money was good, so less work for more money… well, it didn’t happen often. Only once before, if memory served.

Recrossing her legs under the table, she drained the last of the wine. It was nearly midnight. God only knew why she couldn’t sleep. She was too used to traveling to be bothered by jetlag. She was so sleepy, yet unable to sleep.

“Can I buy you a cocktail… Henrietta?”

She jumped and turned around. She blinked in disbelief. “Matt?”

“You are a sight for sore eyes, darlin’, and I mean that literally.” He slid in the booth next to her, making her shift around to face him. His eyes looked like they’d been sandblasted, they were so red.

“What are you doing here?” Briefly she wondered if she was hallucinating, or dreaming. But no. He leaned in and kissed her cheek and she could smell his skin, all soapy musk. Definitely not an apparition. Her heart rate made a definite uptick.

“I could say the same of you. I was literally thinking about you as I arrived here, and an hour later, here you are. It’s like I picked up a genie on my travels.”

“I don’t understand…” Harry shook her head, almost in a daze.

He took a swallow of his beer. “I want to make a comment about all the gin joints in all the world, but I guess I stumbled into yours, not the other way around.”

Harry bit back a smile. “You know you didn’t have to come here. If you’d wanted to take me out for a drink you could have just asked.”

“But this is so much more fun than just asking Simon for your number, isn’t it.” Crazy. Surely this was too much of a coincidence.

“Seriously, what do you do that would bring you here?” she asked, still wondering about being asleep and dreaming, or maybe even hallucinating due to lack of sleep.

He looked serious for a second. “I can’t really tell you.” He looked at her as if he were trying to gauge her reaction to his nonresponse.

“Do you work for the government?” She frowned, trying to make sense of the whole situation. “Wait. You must do something like that. Didn’t you help with the attack at Sadie and Simon’s aborted wedding? I was stuck in the bathroom most of the time, but I think I heard… that
was
you, wasn’t it?” Sadie and Simon’s wedding, the day after the rehearsal dinner where they’d met, didn’t exactly go off smoothly. It didn’t happen at all. Armed gunmen stormed the house and kind of put an end to any thoughts of a romantic wedding. Not to mention the bride’s brother being shot.

“Funny.” He nodded slowly, taking a deliberate pause. “I was there, all right. Just in time to see you running off with the brother of the bride.”

Urgh. She cringed. “Yes. That wasn’t my finest moment. It really wasn’t what it looked like.”

“So you weren’t completely devastated at the thought that you might lose him?”

She paused. “I wasn’t devastated. James being shot… shocked me. But I realize now that it was just that: shock. I thought it was something else, but it wasn’t.” Hell. She looked at her glass. In vino veritas. She wanted to admit that she hadn’t really felt anything after the initial shock dissipated. But, she didn’t want him to think of her as that… cold. She changed the subject. “So
are
you with the government?”

“I am. Do you trust me now?” He gave that player smile that had so intrigued her at the rehearsal dinner.

She relaxed into the corner between the vinyl cushion of her booth seat and the wall. “Not even slightly,” she said. “And you can get me another red wine, if you’re up.” She looked at him, still seated.

A split second later he figured out what she meant, and he jumped up. “I’m up. I’m up.”

Harry felt a frisson of pleasure rush through her as she watched him at the bar. Of all the gin joints, indeed. Maybe this would mean they could actually seal the deal this time. And she was only in Iraq for two weeks, so she wouldn’t have to declare everlasting love or anything unsavory like that. No awkward conversations explaining that she’d already met, and lost, the love of her life, that she wasn’t looking for love or commitment, white picket fences, or happy families. For a second she remembered the feel of his hands and eyes on her, being practically naked for him in the garden, in the rain.

He returned with her wine and this time sat opposite her. He jumped straight in. “You told me you’re an archaeologist, right? What are you excavating here?”

“Nothing. We’re just doing some forward prep work for a foundation that finances student archaeological digs. Obviously the students have a finite time in which they can work and get credits outside the classroom, so occasionally my company takes the job of surveying and prepping a site for them.” Slowly, she swirled her wine about the glass, thinking about the shard of metal that they’d found just setting up the trailer on the site.

He cleared his throat. “Have you found anything interesting? Anything to report?” The question was breezy, casual even, but she immediately knew who he was and why he was there.

Aha. “What kind of thing do you mean?” she asked, probing.

He leaned back in his chair and smiled.

“You’re my liaison?”

* * *

Bingo. And boy was he up for a bit of liaising. “I guess I am. You haven’t told anyone about your discovery, have you?” Instinctively his eyes flickered from one barfly to the next, checking their level of interest in either Henrietta or him.

“God, no. My assistants and our security guard know, but they know better than to tell anyone. Anything we find, be it ancient or modern, is kept secret until it can be secured from looters or other… interested people. It’s an absolutely normal protocol in my line of work.” She frowned.

“That’s good. That’s the same SOP as we have. No one talks about anything until we can secure it.” He drank some beer.

“I thought maybe I’d have a couple of weeks before someone came,” she said.

“Normally it would take that long, maybe longer. Usually there is a whole process to go through before we set boots on the ground. But I have an Iraqi visa, and I was in Kuala Lumpur at a conference, so they just diverted me here on the way back.”

“You’ve been to Iraq before?” Her fingers slid around the glass, barely touching it, and he felt it as if she were tracing those designs on his skin. His dick twitched in his pants.
Really?
Shit, he hadn’t slept for thirty hours and he was still interested?

“Of course. We had a war here not so long ago. You?”

“Once before. I was part of a dig close to Ur, southeast of here.”

“I know Ur. The ziggurat, right?” He remembered the huge stepped pyramid-like building outside the town of Nasiriyah.

She grinned. “Wow, a soldier who knows the ziggurat. Beautiful isn’t it?”

“I’m an airman,” he said, “And yes, it was. Agatha Christie wrote some of her books there, right? While her husband excavated?” He swore her face fell a little when he said he was an airman. Strange. Most women heard that and thought “fighter pilot.” He’d gotten a lot of ass because of
Top Gun
.

“Yes, she did,” she replied absently.

He steadied her hand that was now tapping on the table by placing his on top of it. “Are you okay?” Her skin was velvet under his fingers. He wanted to relive that night in the garden, her wet body driving him crazy. He thanked God he’d been given this second chance to possess her, to close the deal once and for all. The opportunity to get her out of his system, because hell, had she been in his system since he’d met her.

“I’m fine. Just tired.” She looked up and smiled. “I am happy to see you, though. How long are you planning on staying?”

“Depends. Maybe just tonight. I need to send details of the”—he looked around—“apple, back to HQ.”

“Apple?”

“First thing that came to mind. Maybe something to do with how tempting you look to me.” Did he just say that? Well, she was tempting, all looking like she just got out of bed, messily braided blond hair and sweatshirt with a neck just baggy enough to allow him sight of a pristine-white bra strap.
So she did wear a bra sometimes
. She looked innocent, and he knew she was anything but. Still, he wanted to corrupt her in the worst way. Her angelic looks just made him want her more.

Her eyelids lowered a fraction as she held his gaze. He loved that she didn’t demure, or deny, his attraction. Try to negate the compliment the way women sometimes did.

“Do you want to… come up and see my apple?” she asked with a barely perceptible wink. Her mouth twitched as if she was hiding a smile.

“Yes. Yes, I really would.”

“I’m in room twenty-three. Give me a few minutes, okay?”

“Yes, ma’am.” He checked the time as he watched her leave the bar. As soon as she was out of sight, he pushed away his beer and stretched his arms above his head. He stood and went over to read a bulletin board by the doors. These remote hotels that mainly catered to foreign travelers were almost like hostels: people putting up notices for travel companions, recommendations for restaurant excursions, notes for guests. It was nice to have a sense of community when you were so far from home. It actually amazed him that visitors were traveling here so soon after the war.

He realized his foot was tapping impatiently, and he checked the time again. Three minutes. He decided to leave it another two minutes so the people in the bar would not notice they’d left together. No one needed gossip in a hotel like this.

As soon as those minutes had passed, he strode to the stairwell. The hotel was situated on just two levels: the main reception floor, where the bar and restaurant was, and the upstairs, where all the rooms were. He passed his own room, checking the handle to make sure it was still locked without breaking stride.

The door to her room was around a corner from his. It was slightly open, yellow light from inside peeking out into the darkened corridor. He tapped his fingertip on the door, half as a knock, and half to push it open. He took a breath to slow his pumping heart as he opened the door.

“Hi,” she said from the desk chair. Glasses were perched on her nose as she held the piece of metal up. “Try as I might, I can’t find anything special about it.”

His eyes were on her tiny frame, dwarfed by the large leather swivel chair that seemed out of place in the otherwise spartan room. Her legs were pulled up beneath her, and her sweatshirt had slipped further, so now her whole shoulder was exposed. It shouldn’t have been sexy in and of itself. But he’d never wanted to kiss anything as bad as he wanted his lips on her bare shoulder.
Play it cool, Stanning.

He moved toward her, and she threw the piece at him. He snatched it out of the air and dragged his eyes from her. As soon as he saw the piece, his attention was arrested, completely, as if Henrietta weren’t in the room. It was two pieces of metal, actually, fused together by heat. He’d seen it hundreds of times. An explosion had caused this. He already knew that the part number stamped on one side of one of the pieces identified it as being a part of a C-130 aircraft.

Now the question was, was the explosion an accident, an act of war, or something else? He sat on the bed as he rubbed his thumb over it, trying to think.

“What do you see?” Henrietta asked.

He’d missed her closing the door behind him and pulling the swivel chair toward the bed so she could lean back and prop her feet next to him.

“Nothing good. I’ll need to come out to the site with you tomorrow. Something happened to this aircraft, and I need to find out what.”

“I thought JPAC was responsible for the location and repatriation of troops’ bodies,” she said slowly.

“We are. I am.” He shook his head, distracted. “That’s what I’m here for. You’re right. Someone else can find out what happened.” He needed to stop trying to solve every problem that came across his path. His commander had drummed that into him when he joined the JPAC team. EOD guys were problem solvers. It was his nature. But it wasn’t his job anymore.

A dinging sound came from her desk, and she got up to look at her phone. The light shone around her golden hair like a halo. As she sat to check her e-mails or texts or whatever she was looking at, he closed his eyes briefly to give himself time and space to think of a plan. A plan that wouldn’t piss off his commander, or make him feel guilty at not taking action.

Chapter Four

When Harry awoke, she had to take a moment to remember what had happened the night before. An unfamiliar lump weighed down the feeble mattress on one side. Matt. He’d fallen fast asleep in the three minutes she’d been checking her e-mail from the Foundation, so she’d poked him until he slid down to sleep horizontally on the bed. He hadn’t woken up, and she’d wondered just how long he’d been awake to cause that kind of deep sleep.

For her part, she’d taken off her sweatshirt and left on a tank, donned sleep shorts, and curled up on the other side of the bed.

She opened her eyes and turned toward him, blinking away the blurriness. He looked so different. At peace. No hint of the player he liked to show. Dark hair cut short around the ears and left slightly longer on top, not short enough to be obviously military, not long enough to look unkempt. A strong chin and cheekbones brought to mind a statue of Apollo she’d helped bring to the surface in the Aegean Sea in Greece a few years back. She wanted to reach out and touch him like she’d wanted to touch the statue. Okay, maybe not exactly in the same way. Scruff darkened his jaw.

His eyes fluttered open, and she saw his muscles tense in his neck. His stare was alert in less than a second. “Henrietta?” he croaked.

“Since we slept together, you should probably call me Harry,” she deadpanned.

“We wha—” he began, and then checked his still-clothed body and smiled. “Hell, I thought for a moment we’d had sex and I had no memory of it. What a crime that would be.”

“A crime, indeed.” Harry smiled back at him. For a second there was silence. Was it awkward that they were in bed, and obviously in the cold hard light of day, he didn’t actually want to jump her? She made to get up, but he grabbed on to her arm. She stilled.

“Just where are you going, darlin’?”

Um. “You don’t want to get up?”

“Not especially. It’s still pretty dark outside, and I have you right where I want you.” He winked at her, and she settled back on her side, facing him. “I thought about you a lot since the wedding,” he said, turning on his back and stretching before turning back to her. “Did you think about me?”

Every day. “A little, maybe.” Her breathing slowed, everything slowed. Ever since she’d met him, she’d fantasized about having sex with him in that garden, what it would have felt like to feel him fill her right there in the rain. This was her time. She was going to have sex with him come hell or high water. She’d been given a second chance. He would be gone soon. She wasn’t going to let this opportunity slide.

He held her gaze for a few seconds. “I want you. I want to see you naked. It’s all I’ve thought about. But you need to know that there is no happy ever after for us. I’m leaving in a day or so, and we will probably never see each other again. I just don’t want to do anything that will cause you pain, now or later.”

Cocky bastard. “Wow, Matt. You’re awfully full of yourself aren’t you? You think one night”—she looked at the dim light around the edges of the curtains—“
morning
, will rock my world so much that I’ll want to spend the rest of my life with you?” She laughed out loud. “I’m sure you’re well practiced and all, but still…” She winked at him.

His eyes narrowed. “I
am
going to rock your world, baby.” With that he wrapped his arm around her waist and dragged her against him. Instantly her thigh came in contact with something already very hard.

“Are you?” she whispered, a mere inch from his mouth.

His response was a blistering kiss that sent tingles down to her toes. As his tongue forced its way into her mouth, she moaned, and her need for him washed over her like soft wet silt running through her fingers.

“Matt,” she whispered as his mouth left hers for her neck, wetly kissing her pulse points that she knew would be jumping against his lips.

He pulled away from her with a frown. “Yes?”

“Take off your clothes.” He was still dressed in the clothes he’d come to the bar in the night before.

He jumped up, and eyes still on her, pulled his shirt over his head and unfastened his jeans. Pausing, he said, “And you. I want to see you.” He dropped his pants and stood there, all muscles, tattoos, and hard dick. A pool of wetness settled between her legs just at the sight of him. She was going to have him. And he was magnificent.

She stood on the low bed and slowly wriggled her sleep shorts down her legs. She actually saw his dick jump when she revealed that she was wearing no panties. She kicked them off, and without ceremony swiped her tank over her head.

“You are fucking incredible,” he breathed as he moved closer to the bed. Her nipples pebbled under his intense gaze. She felt weak suddenly, as if her bones were dissolving. She needed him. Needed his strength.

Matt reached out and touched her collarbone and slowly stroked his hand downward, between her breasts to her stomach where he leaned in to kiss her navel.

She wound her fingers through his short hair and pulled him to her. But he pulled away and scooped her off the bed and into his arms. She was tiny next to him. Delicate, easy to break. And she wanted to feel physically exhausted. Sated. She craved more. She didn’t want to be treated like a china doll.

As if he read her mind, he pitched her onto the bed and yanked her legs apart. He licked and kissed his way from her ankles to her thighs, alighting a stream of fire in her. She whimpered for more.

“What do you want, Henrietta? Tell me.”

“Make me feel.”
Shit. Where had that come from?

He bit down on her inner thigh, spiking pain and pleasure through her core, making her clitoris tighten and pulse. She’d never felt a need like this before. She gasped. “Oh God, yes.”

His fingers bit sharply into her ass cheeks as he lifted her to his mouth. Without ceremony, his tongue was on her clit. Stroking hard and unforgiving. She was so close to coming, she tried to hold on, to prolong the feeling of slipping over the edge. But he plunged a finger deep into her wetness, then two, filling her, stretching her, causing a sliver of pain as his tongue still played on her clitoris. She couldn’t hold on any longer. Didn’t want to. She came, fracturing light flickering behind her eyelids as she reveled in the wave that crested in her.

* * *

The sweet, sweet sound of her orgasm echoed in the sparse room. Her tight pussy was still pulsing around his fingers as he slowly withdrew them. He couldn’t remember being this hard for anyone before. He needed to be balls-deep in her. Soon.

“Do you have a condom?” she asked.

“I do.”

“Thank God,” she breathed. “How do you want me?”

“Fast.” And hard. He wasn’t sure he’d survive anything else. She watched him as he slid on a condom he took from his wallet.

She rolled over and, eyes on him, slowly pulled herself onto all fours.
Fuck me.
She was perfect.

He wasted no time positioning himself behind her. Her blond hair cascaded along her back. He grabbed a hold of his twitching dick and placed it at the entrance to her pussy. Immediately she pushed back, trying to get him inside her. He wrapped one arm around her tiny waist and slowly pushed into her heat. Heat pumped through him as she clenched him inside her. She moaned his name, and right there he almost lost his mind in desire for her.

He pulled out of her slowly, but she didn’t allow it. She raised herself slightly, placing her hands on the headboard, and he wished he could see her. See her face, her breasts. He suddenly realized why some people filmed themselves having sex. He’d never seen the attraction before. But now he was totally in favor. If he was only going to fuck her once, he needed a mirror.

He pulled out of her, eliciting a protest from Harry. “Come,” he said holding out his hand for hers. “I want to see you so bad.” He led her to the old-fashioned dresser in the bedroom. It had a mirror attached to it.

“You are a bad, bad boy.” She grinned as she bent from her waist, bracing her arms on the top of the piece of furniture. He now had a perfect view of her face, and breasts. He slid his hand between her legs, closing his eyes as he felt her heavy, hot wetness. She widened her legs in response and moaned as he gently stroked her clit again. His eyes popped open and he watched her facial expression as his fingertips slid around her. Clit, pussy, ass. Just watching her was enough to get him off.

He took his dick in his hand again and guided it into her. It was lighter here than in the bed, and he swallowed hard as he watched himself disappear into her. She was so hot, so tight. Her hair swung down her back with each thrust.

“Harder, fuck me harder,” she said, drilling him with her eyes in the mirror.

He held her hips in his hands and drove into her. She met him thrust for thrust. She leaned forward, reached between their legs and touched his balls. She squeezed, and his head just about exploded. Molten lava shot up his spine and back down to his dick as he came.

As he did, she arched her back and her hair fell over one shoulder, showing a tattoo on her upper back. The EOD crest. His old unit.

What the fuck?

BOOK: Pushing the Limit
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