Master of the Mountain by Cherise Sinclair

  Ignoring the shock of the coldness, she waded out until the concealing water came up to her shoulders.

  “Hey, Rebecca joined us!” The crowd swarmed her way with welcoming yells. With only her head and arms exposed, she relaxed enough to join in the play, splashing and dunking with the rest. After the first few times, she ignored the men's roving hands. Unfortunately, the touching didn't excite her in the least. Maybe because the men didn't even know her. To them, she was just another available female, another set of breasts and bottom.

  Logan, at least, had really looked at her. And the look he'd given her had aroused her more than being touched by the others. Unable to resist, she glanced over her shoulder. He still leaned against the rock, arms crossed over his broad chest. His gaze was cool. Impersonal.

  Good. That was good. No attraction there. Good. She turned back around and dodged Paul's hand.

  The icy water precluded swimming for long. While the others rummaged through their packs for lunch, Rebecca yanked on her clothes and then grabbed her own food. Everyone scattered, perching here and there on the warm rocks to eat. Matt joined Rebecca, slinging an arm around her as if nothing had happened. As they cheerfully argued the role of women in the gold rush, she remembered why she'd dated him in the first place. Smart, polite, charming, and darned good-looking, especially now with the sun gleaming on his blond hair and brightening his blue eyes. Her perfect man. Surely they could work things out. Yes, they'd be—

  “Hey, you two. I brought dessert.” Balancing a plate, Ashley crowded onto the slab of rock on Matt's other side. “Here, try this.” She fed Matt a bite of chocolate cake, giggling when he nipped her fingers.

  Rebecca's hand closed into a fist. One good punch, and the big-breasted blonde would go ass over teakettle. But Ashley only did what they'd come here for. Rebecca turned her head, pretending to concentrate on Paul and Amy's conversation, trying to ignore Matt's husky laughter. Her chest tightened, making swallowing impossible, so she rolled up the remains of her sandwich.

  Putting it into her pack gave her an excuse to move away from Ashley and Matt. She pulled out her sketch pad. There, she'd have an excuse to stay apart.

  It didn't take long for the magic of drawing to assert itself, and she lost herself in the subtleties of lines and curves and shadows. She did a small line drawing of Brandy's bare toes digging in the dirt, her hiking boots and socks nearby. Another quick one of Christopher reclining on a granite slab, reminding her of the models who posed nude during art classes.

  After a while, she glanced back at Matt and saw Ashley's hand creep between his legs. Okay, then. That's how it's going to be. She averted her gaze and saw Logan.

  Slightly apart from the group, he leaned on a rock, eating his lunch. He'd removed his shirt, and good Lord but working around a lodge made for some serious muscles. The brown hair on his chest was a shade darker than his skin, an inverted triangle going from nipple to nipple and down. She couldn't see any tan lines on his arms. Either he worked with his shirt off or lay out naked. And wasn't that a thought? She slid her gaze past his six-pack abdomen to the waist of his jeans. No flash of paler skin showed, so he… Oops. Startling blue eyes in a tanned face trapped her gaze, holding her frozen. The ground under her dropped an inch, a foot, sliding inexorably out from under her as he studied her.

  When his eyes released her, she almost fell backward.

  Chapter Three

  After supper, the club members took over the big lodge room, shoving chairs and couches into the center of the room. When Matt took a seat on one couch and tugged Rebecca down beside him, she frowned at him. Although he'd been attentive enough on the hike down the mountain and since then, resentment still burned inside her chest.

  Get over it, girl. He hasn't done anything wrong, after all. Swinging, remember? They'd come to screw other people, and she needed to get with the program. She gave him a sidelong look. Maybe she'd just screw everything and everyone in sight. Plastering a sweet smile on her face, she asked, “So what happens now?”

  He patted her hand. “This is a 'meet and greet,' where we play games to break the ice.”

  She settled back on the couch and sipped her wine. Fine. God knew she'd done enough of this sort of thing during team-building exercises. They'd probably start with a stand-up-and-tell—

  “Rebecca,” Mel said, interrupting her thoughts. His T-shirt curved over his round belly as he pointed at her. “Stand up and tell us something about you.”

  As everyone turned to look at her, she stood. Just like giving a presentation to a client. “My name is Rebecca, and I'm an artist in an advertising firm. This is the first time I've been out of the city, and the first time I've done…swinging stuff…so I'm feeling somewhat lost.”

  The expressions of sympathy and welcome comforted her. These were nice people. Really. So maybe she was just too uptight, like Matt said, and she should give them a chance. She'd come here for exactly that, right? To explore her sexuality and get in touch with her inner vamp. To keep her perfect relationship intact.

  After the formalities, the couples split apart, joining different groups to play games. Matt chose the group playing Twister, and Rebecca watched for a few minutes. Whoever fell over had to take off clothing, and one petite brunette deliberately lost her balance at least twice.

  “Rebecca, join us.” Brandon grabbed her hand and pulled her off the couch. On the other side of the room, Ginger sat beside Paul, the college professor, and Christopher by Serena. Rebecca took a seat beside Brandon.

  Motioning toward the coffee table set up with dice, a board game, and a pile of cards, Ginger said, “Okay, gang. Roll the dice and move your marker. Do whatever the space you land on says. If you win a card, you give it to someone, and that person has to do what it says. If you roll doubles, you have to remove an article of clothing.” She assumed a severe expression. “Jewelry doesn't count as clothing.”

  “Wahoo,” Brandon said, rubbing his hands together. “Let's get started.”

  Rebecca sucked in a breath. She could do this.

  As the game progressed, Ginger had to remove her shirt and bra. Christopher lost his shoes. Paul, his socks.

  Rebecca landed on a square and read the command. “Oh God.” Paul laughed and filled her wineglass. She drank it down and took her shirt off. For the second time today.

  On his turn, Brandon drew a card and then handed it to her. “Read it aloud.”

  “Stand up and give the person a French kiss. All body parts should touch.” Good grief.

  He rose to his feet and waggled his fingers in a come-here gesture.

  I can do this—her own personal mantra, at least in this place. Rebecca put her hands on his shoulders. Not very muscular. Nice cologne. His hands spread over her bare back as he pulled her closer, until her breasts squashed against his chest. She kissed him. His mouth was wet, his mustache tickled, and his tongue technique lacked finesse. She wrapped her arms around him tighter, trying to feel something erotic. Surely she shouldn't be critiquing during a hot kiss.

  But it just wasn't that hot. In the past, she'd occasionally stuck out as the only sober one in a drunken crowd; this time, she was the only frigid one in a horny crowd.

  She drank more wine.

  Faces became flushed. Voices louder and sillier. One couple moved to a couch farther away to make out. Michelle and Greg quit playing Twister and stripped down in front of the fire. Within a minute, Greg lay flat, Michelle straddling him and guiding his penis into her.

  Good grief. Rebecca turned her eyes away. The patterns of the room had changed. And she didn't see Matt anywhere.

  Her turn with the dice. She rolled a double. Ginger giggled, and the three men leaned forward expectantly, waiting for her to choose what she'd take off.

  “Take your bra off, honey.” Brandon put his hand on her breast as if she didn't understand.

  Was this passion she felt? Hardly. Rebecca's inner vamp has left the building. She set her wine down, picked up her shirt, and ro
se. “Sorry, folks, but I guess I'm just not a swinger. I'm heading to bed.” When Brandon stood up eagerly, she withered him with a cold stare. “Alone.”

  Others headed out in twos and threes, making their way to the cabins. As Rebecca went out the lodge door, she looked back. Three more had joined the two in front of the fire. Whoa, lots of naked body parts there. God, she so should not have come here. But how would she know unless she gave it a try, right? Obviously some people—including Matt—really enjoyed this…stuff.

  A splatter of rain hit her naked shoulders as she stepped off the porch. Wind whipping at her hair, she tugged on her shirt, hurrying down the trail to the cabin. With a sigh of relief, she unlocked the door and flicked on the light.

  “Hey!” Matt's voice. He reclined on the bed, naked; Ashley knelt between his legs, her mouth fastened to his cock.

  Rebecca gasped. A sick wail ballooned inside her head, ringing in her ears, although nothing escaped her throat.

  Ashley didn't release him, just looked over and smirked. Her head slowly bobbed up and down.

  “C'mere, babe,” Matt said, motioning with his free hand. The other massaged Ashley's breast. “You can join us. I like getting it on with two women.”

  Rebecca took a step back and found her voice from wherever it had gone. “I don't think I'd enjoy it. Sorry, Matt. And sorry for the interruption.” She backed up, telling herself not to be petty by slamming the door.

  She slammed the door so hard that pinecones pattered onto the ground from the closest trees.

  Petty is as petty does. But that was her perfect boyfriend in their cabin. With Ashley and her fat lips around his cock. The porch step blurred, and Rebecca tripped, landing on her hands and knees. Grit burned into her hands, and her eyes stung with tears. She blinked furiously. Damned if she'd cry.

  She staggered to her feet, her head spinning. She'd drank too much alcohol trying to fit in. Hadn't worked, had it? Standing in the rain, she wiped the tears from her eyes and water from her face. “Damn, damn, damn.” Where could she find a bed tonight? Feeling like she was stuck on a merry-go-round, she headed back to the lodge. Once there, she peeked inside. In front of the fire, people roiled together like a massive animal with way too many arms and legs. She backed out quickly.

  She sure couldn't sleep in there. Maybe the kitchen? No. The moron who built the oversize doorways for the dining room and kitchen had somehow neglected to include actual doors. With her luck, some male idiot looking for wine would trip over her instead. No way.

  Staring down the trails, she saw people coming and going from the cabins in a raunchy version of musical chairs. Musical cabins? But she was the loser, the one left without a chair. Or bed. Fine. Who needs a bed anyway?

  Scowling, she walked over to the porch swing. Pulling her wet shirt tighter, she curled up on the damp cushions. In the shadows, no one would see her, and she might be cold, but at least she'd be free of wandering hands and wet lips. She shuddered, cutting off that train of thought. Had she really wanted a relationship with Matt so badly?

  Her mother's psychiatrist husband would probably call it a life lesson. And how.

  * * * * *

  Logan opened the lodge door to go inside and paused when Thor whined behind him. Had a mouse or rat holed up under the porch? “What is it, boy?”

  When the dog nosed the porch swing, Logan walked over. “Well, hell.” Rebecca lay on the cushions, curled into a ball and shivering. Before making his rounds, he'd watched her down a fair amount of wine. Was she drunk?

  He touched her neck and winced. Too cold. Worry turned his mouth down. “You, woman, are a pain in the ass,” he muttered and scooped her up.

  As he carried her over to the door leading upstairs, he saw at a glance why she hadn't come inside. Busy people, these swingers. He noted with appreciation the brunette's legs-up position. And the blonde's bare pussy wasn't bad either.

  After he punched in the code on the keypad, he climbed the stairs to his quarters and opened the door without dropping the city girl. He deserved a prize, but the half-conscious woman wasn't going to be handing them out. Not tonight.

  He flipped on a light, made his way past his living room, his small kitchen, and into the bedroom. As he laid her on the bed, he grinned. Looked like he got to strip her after all.

  Her shirt pulled over her head easily enough. With reluctance, he left her lacy blue bra on. Nice underwear, but he ached to fill his hands with her full breasts. He didn't. How about that? Chivalry wasn't completely dead.

  Getting off her wet shirt revived her enough that she batted at his hands when he pulled her jeans off, but the alcohol and cold had left her only half-conscious. Not good. Her soggy jeans landed with a splat on the hardwood floor. Logan groaned as the dim light from the living room turned her pale thighs into an erotic dream against his dark red quilt. Dammit, he'd really like to wrap those legs around his waist and… Don't go there. He ran his fingers over the shadowy ridges of old scars on her calf, then pulled the quilt out from under her and tucked her in.

  He eyed her. Hot drink first.

  She roused to take some hot chocolate, although she wasn't especially polite. City girl had a mouth on her when riled. Setting the cup on the nightstand, Logan stripped and joined her. Rolling her onto her side, he pulled her back against his chest and molded her frozen little body against his. Skin to skin warmed a person quickly. God, she was soft.

  She gave a low, husky sigh.

  Christ help him, he bet she'd sound like that when a man entered her. Her soft ass nestled against his groin and against a cock so hard, even her chilled skin couldn't cool him off. Unable to resist, he pressed his lips against the curve of her shoulder. She smelled of only soap and woman. Considering her classy city clothing, he'd expected a fancy perfume.

  And what was Miss Modesty doing with this troupe of swingers? The little rebel just didn't add up, and he wanted a few answers. Later. For now, he buried his face in her silky hair and cupped his hand over her breast. A man was entitled to some small pleasures when saving a woman's life, especially since her presence in his bed meant he'd have to stay awake. God help them both if he should fall asleep.

  * * * * *

  In the middle of the night, Rebecca woke draped over Matt, toasty warm and thoroughly confused. When had she returned to the cabin? She distinctly remembered freezing her butt off on the porch swing. Had he come back for her and put her into bed? Surely she hadn't had that much to drink.

  She moved slightly and stiffened. Her cheek rested in the hollow of a man's shoulder, a very muscular shoulder. Her arm lay across a chest much broader than Matt's, and her fingers touched crisp hair. Matt's chest was bare as a teenage boy's.

  No expensive cologne either, just the clean scent of soap and pine and…definitely man. A hard arm curved around her back, and the hand gripping her shoulder had callused fingers.

  This isn't Matthew.

  Had she gotten so drunk she'd gone to bed with one of the swingers? No, she couldn't have. She hadn't been that brainless since her college days when she discovered sex.

  “You awake, sugar?”

  Her mouth dropped open. The deep, raspy voice could belong to only one man. “Mr. Hunt.”

  The laugh rumbled through his chest like a minor earthquake. “Considering your position, perhaps you'd better call me Logan.”

  Her leg was tucked between his thighs, her knee pressing against his groin, and her thigh touching… Oh my, his chest wasn't the only body part bigger than Matt's, and he was fully aroused. A wave of heat washed through her, surely caused by embarrassment and not excitement. “How did I…? We didn't…”

  Another rumbling laugh. “No, we didn't. I found you on the porch swing, and you were well on your way to hypothermia. I brought you up here and got in to warm you up.” His hand stroked her upper arm, the touch firm. “But if you'd like to warm up even more, I'm willing.”

  “No, thanks.” She tried to push away from him.

  The arm around
her back tightened, holding her in place. “Uh-uh. Your body temperature is still low, and I'm not going to have all my careful work ruined by you stomping back outside.”

  “I'll go back to my cabin and…” And what? God knew who might be in there now. The memory of Matt and Ashley curled inside her like a rotting worm. With a sigh, she gave up. “Never mind. I'll stay here.”

  “Good choice. Nothing's going to happen to you now; I prefer to bed women in full possession of their wits.” She felt his lips touch the top of her head. “But in the morning, you might be in trouble.”

  Memo to self: remember to get up and out before dawn. The tenseness eased out of her muscles when he didn't try anything. She still had on her underwear, so he really hadn't taken advantage. When his hand stroked up and down her arm, more comforting than carnal, she let herself drift.

  Logan waited until her breathing slowed, her muscles went lax, and she hovered on the edge of sleep. Time for interrogation, vanilla-style. Yeah, rope would be a hell of a lot more fun. “Why are you with the swingers?”

  Drowsily, she rubbed her cheek against his chest, hardening him to discomfort. “Matt wanted me to come. Thought it would make our sex life…” Her words trailed off into a yawn.

  The idea of her boyfriend being inadequate to her needs made Logan grin. “It doesn't bother you he's with other women?”

  The whimper she gave broke his heart. Yes, it bothered her. Her fingers toyed with the hair on his chest and then went still. Her brain had disengaged again.

  “He's a jerk?”

  “He's perfect. Just…I…no swinger.” Her hand languidly stroked the muscles on his shoulder. “…doesn't like my body.”

  “Mmmph.” Logan had to grit his teeth to keep from rolling over and driving into the body Matt didn't like. If anything could snap his control, it would be a soft, round woman pressed against him. “Not everybody likes skinny women, Becca.”

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