Today’s Wicked Wednesday is a little treat from my NY Times and USA Today Bestseller MOON FEVER, an anthology with the amazing Maggie Shayne, Susan Sizemore and Lori Handeland. I loved creating a mythology based on shapeshifters and setting it in the Amazon. My hope was that you’d not only enjoy seeing a different kind of creature, but that you’d take away some of the concerns about human encroachment and destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
Today’s tidbit comes after the heroine, Jessica, is attacked outside her hut and the hero, Javier, comes to her rescue — not that she needs rescuing!
Jessica took hold of his hand and led him into the hut.
She flipped on a battery-powered lantern she had brought with her and quickly pulled a small first aid kit from her supplies. Placing the kit on the desk to one side of the hut, she removed what she would need to dress the wound.
As she turned, she realized Javier had come to stand close and her elbow brushed across the hard muscles of his midsection, reminding her of all his blatant masculinity.
“Sorry,” she mumbled, but then laid a hand against the taut muscles at his waist to urge him to toward the light so she could examine the nature of the wound.
The knife had caught him across a rib, preventing the blade from biting too deeply, but the long cut would need to be closed somehow. “This may hurt,” she said as she wet a piece of gauze with some antiseptic.
“I think I can handle it,” he replied, but he flinched and his muscles jumped as she applied the gauze to his side. He muttered a curse beneath his breath even though her touch was gentle as she cleansed the area.
She told herself not to appreciate his amazing body as she worked, but it was nearly impossible with so much lean muscle and creamy skin so enticingly close. She hurried as much as she could, using the various butterfly bandages in her kit to close the gaping edges of the wound before taping a piece of gauze over the injury.
Lightly she smoothed the tape around the edges of the gauze, trying to ignore his physical presence. Trying not to see how the reddish rosette patterns played across his skin and the palm bands hugged an impossibly lean waist and thick-muscled chest.
As she shot a glance up at him, she realized that he was as affected as she, no matter their earlier enmity. His breath was ragged, but not with pain.
He bent from his greater height until the edge of his jaw brushed the side of her forehead. His breath was warm against the sweat-damp skin there.
She stroked her hand over the gauze covering the wound, but he laid his hand there and stilled the motion.
His hand was hot. His palm deliciously rough and the pull came between her legs again as she imagined him touching her. Her nipples tightened in anticipation and to battle that feeling she asked, “Who was that man who attacked us?”
Javier stroked her hand lightly. Slowly shifted his hand upward to caress her forearm. “One of Armando’s goons.”
Needing to touch him as he caressed her, she picked up her other hand and mimicked his action, laying her hand on the sculpted biceps of his arm. As she stroked the hard moist flesh there, she asked, “Is the timber valuable enough — ”
“To kill for? No. Armando has other reasons for hurting the tribe,” he said, moving his hand upward to cup the top of her arm, where he lightly caressed her skin with the pad of his thumb.
Her gaze locked with his, searching the strange gold-green gaze which revealed nothing but desire.
“What kinds of reasons?” she asked as she shifted her hand to his chest and traced the edge of the palm band encircling it. As she did, she fingered the hard nub of his nipple, dragging a ragged breath from him.
“Isn’t it enough for you to know you need to watch yourself?” Even as he said it, he cradled her breast and tweaked her nipple between his thumb and forefinger, causing a shudder to rip through her body.
“Well?” he challenged as he snaked his hand upward, slipped it beneath the edge of her tank top and drew down both the shirt and her bra to reveal her breast.
“Do you think you’re owed this little look because you came to my rescue?” she asked, but didn’t stop him as he lowered his head to taste the nipple he had exposed. If anything, she held him close, cradling the back of his head with her hand as she said, “Or do you think this is how to say thanks for my tending to you?”
He chuckled against her breast and gave an enticing lick with a cat-rough tongue before pulling away.
“You’re quite different from what I expected,” he said, stepping back to break contact with her as she rearranged her clothing, suddenly embarrassed by the unexpected interlude. It had to be the alcohol and guarana she told herself, denying her attraction to him was based on anything else.
“Why’s that?” she said, crossing her arms before her as if to provide some defense against his still hungry gaze.
“Because you’ve got more balls than most men I’ve met. Regardless, remember to be careful in the jungle tomorrow.”
With that he turned and walked out of the hut, leaving her to ponder just what had gone so wrong that she already had someone after her ass.
As she recalled Javier’s gifted mouth, she amended that thought with a smile.
Make that two people after her ass because she had no doubt that she and Javier would eventually finish what they had started tonight, although part of her was annoyed that he had managed to deflect her questions by arousing her passions.
She had come here in part for answers. To find out about the plant with the healing powers. To learn more about where Victor had died and possibly the why of it.
After today’s run-ins with Armando and his goons, she was wondering if they had anything to do with her friend’s death and vowed to find out.