Read Alaskan Heat Online

Authors: Pam Champagne

Tags: #Romantic Suspense

Alaskan Heat (4 page)

“Well, actually, I had months of it—ouch,” he said when she poked his arm with a branch. “You’re right. People should experience raw nature at least once. That way they’ll appreciate their recliner and TV.”

“How did you survive?”

“With difficulty.”

“Come on, Hawk. Open up.”

He stared at her for a long while before turning his attention back to the flames. “I had the bare survival essentials. Knife, gun, compass, canteen, cigarette lighter and quite a few energy bars. More important was my need for revenge against the people who set me up. It kept me going.”

“What about food? What did you do when the bars were gone? You’ve lost lot of weight.”

“Berries, mushrooms and whatever small game I shot aren’t dripping in calories.” He decided not to tell her about the bugs and raw meat.

“Care to share what happened? How it all went down?”

“I’m sure Bob and Jack told you.”

“I’d like to hear your side.”

“Where’s the tape recorder?”

“Don’t have one. Want to search me?”

The question hung between them, along with the fire’s smoke. His cock pushed against the zipper on his jeans. By Sophie’s rapid breathing, he knew she rode the same wave of longing. He deliberately broke the eye contact. “The three of us met the Canadian officials right on schedule and waited together to make the bust. In retrospect, I should have paid more attention to Bob and Jack. They hung together like Siamese twins.”

“Don’t beat yourself up.”

“Anyway, when the supposed drug dealers showed, I played my role. Marched out there with the money. Plan was I buy their drugs and the others rush forward and arrest the bastards. Next thing I know, I’m the one being arrested for selling cocaine, which, by the way, was conveniently stashed in my backpack.”

“What did you do?”

“All hell broke loose. Heavy fire came from the woods. Have no idea who was doing the shooting, but the dealers started shooting too. Blair, Reed and the Canadians scrambled for cover. Never one to pass up a golden opportunity, I hightailed it out of there.”

Did Sophie believe him? Hell, what did it matter if she didn’t?

“Any idea why Bob and Jack were out to get you or why?”

“Nope. I just know they were in cahoots with the Canadians.”

“Do you remember Sal Alonzo?”

Hawk stiffened, coming to full alert. “How could I forget the drug pin I put behind bars five years ago?”

“He escaped from prison two days before this went down. Stan’s convinced he’s the mastermind behind the conspiracy.”

The news surprised Hawk, but it put everything into perspective. “He wanted revenge, I suppose. I know the feeling. It’s what kept me going for two months.”

“You should let go of your thirst for vengeance and let the Bureau handle Bob Reed and Jack Blair.”

“I don’t think so. Our justice system sucks.”

“The Bible says to turn the other cheek.”

“My philosophy’s always been aim for the head.”

“Thou shalt not kill.”

“Thou shalt not kill unless it’s a bad guy. Hey, are you a bible thumper?”

Her penetrating gaze made him antsy. “Revenge isn’t as sweet as you might think.” He barely heard the softly spoken words.

Hawk concentrated on the mesmerizing flames. “Speaking from experience?”

“Not my own. My brother’s.”

“Which one? Cal or Jeb?

She came to her feet. “You know them?”

He shrugged and wished he could snatch back the words. “I’ve met them once or twice.” Cal was a special agent for the CIA. Jeb, a state cop. Both were hell bent on protecting their baby sister.

“They talked to all the guys in the department.”

Since it wasn’t a question, he said nothing.

“Well?”

In the fire’s glow, he saw that Sophie was pissed. Too late now to back out. “Yep. Invited us all out for a beer one night, soon after you started work.”

“Let me guess. Either they warned you to stay away from me or they asked you all to watch out for me in the field.”

“Yep.”

“Which one?”

“Both.”

Hawk breathed a sigh of relief when she moved away and he was no longer within striking distance. She picked up a large maple branch and poked the fire hard enough to send sparks spiraling into the night air. “Be careful. You don’t want to start a forest fire.”

She heaved the stick into the hot coals. “I’m a bit sensitive about my brothers’ constant interference in my life.”

“They love you. Doesn’t that count for something?”

“Not any more. I’d rather not talk about them.”

“Up to you.”

Crickets sang in the short silence. “What’s important to you, Hawk?”

Man, this woman didn’t believe in small talk. Her out-of-the-blue question got him thinking. His entire existence had been a sham with no concrete ties. Find the bad guys, arrest the bad guys then wait for some more to pop up. He blurted out the first thing that popped into his mind. “Clearing my name.”

“That’s short term. How about five or ten years from now?”

“Fighting evil, same as I’ve been doing for the past ten.”

Disappointment clouded her expression. Her mouth curled down and her eyes looked sad. Why had his answer bummed her out? Since he’d enjoyed their conversation, disappointment hit him hard when she withdrew into herself and slipped away from him.

He concentrated on the fact that Sal Alonzo was on the prowl again. Evil personified best described the mobster. Putting him behind bars had been a feather in Hawk’s cap, or so he’d thought at the time. It never occurred to him that the thug would come back to haunt him.

Sophie rose. His hungry gaze enjoyed every sensuous move as she stretched her arms over her head. Her T-shirt hiked up giving him a glance at her flat abdomen. He licked his lips, wishing he could see her perfect navel.

“I’m going for a walk. You and Rueger can guard the homestead.”

“Huh?” He pushed his lust aside. “Not a good idea.”

“There’s a hot spring about mile into the woods. Every time I stop here I’ve wanted to try it out, but couldn’t because I had to be on the lookout for you. I’m stiff and achy. My body craves a soak in the spa.

“That’s all it wants?” Jesus, why was he baiting her? Maybe some alone time would be a good idea. He doubted the rogue agents were up for hiking through miles of wilderness in the dark. “Sure. Go ahead. If you’re not back in two hours, you’ll have company.”

Chapter Six
Walking under the canopy of copious spruce trees, Sophie doubted her decision to trek to the hot springs alone. The serene forest didn’t bring the peace she sought. Instead, fear of the unknown tickled her spine. Up ahead the branches of a monstrous spruce took on the shape of a grizzly standing on its hind legs coaxing her to walk into its clutches.

Stop it! You’re an FBI agent
. The reminder brought no comfort. Warning signs posted around the park cautioned campers about grizzly and black bears. One such warning told the story of a black bear that’d plunged out of the woods and dragged a child from the serene pool.

Now here she was wandering at night under the light of the moon. Alone. She’d lost her mind.

Except for the tap of her footsteps on the wooden walkway winding its way through the coniferous forest, all was quiet. Too quiet. Where were the nocturnal noises? The owls? Or the death screams of rabbits brought down by night predators? With a shudder, she zipped her hoodie, hoping to shut out her uneasiness.

The toe of her hiking boot caught in a crack and she pitched forward, landing on her knees. “Damn it!” She sat on the pressure-treated lumber, brought her stinging knees to her chest and hunched over, fighting the urge to bawl.

How had this venture with Hawk gone so wrong?

She’d wanted to help clear his name and enjoy some sex along the way. Losing her heart hadn’t been part of the equation. If he caught even the slightest hint she’d fallen in love with him, she’d lose him forever. Better to have him thinking her a prude. That would explain her backing away. Truth be known, she was a prude. A wimp, as well. She was a piss poor excuse for an FBI agent.

The planks vibrated against her rear. Lying down she rested her ear against the wood. The sound of someone walking put a quick end to her musings. In one lithe move, she rolled over the side, landing on her feet. Another camper wanting to soak in the hot spring before bed? Or something more sinister? If this was a threat, it was human…one she could handle. She hoped.

A balsam scent assaulted her nostrils as she waited. She breathed deeply, somehow finding it reassuring. Her heart picked up its pace, probably anticipating the adrenaline kick. Sophie no longer heard the footsteps. Had the person heard her or simply changed his mind and headed back to the campground? She squatted, prepared to wait.

After several minutes of silence, a squeak in the wood heightened her vigilance. Someone definitely crept along the narrow boardwalk. Soon, she’d see his shadow cast in the moon’s light. She pulled her Glock from the shoulder holster.
Come on. Let’s get it over with.
By now, she was ready for the encounter and would actually be disappointed if it turned out to be an innocent vacationer who’d heard her and became too frightened to continue.

A twig snapped from behind. The mere thought of a bear attack spurred her to action. She rose, whirled around and ended up flat on her back. The Glock went flying and Hawk straddled her chest.

“You!” Sophie wanted to slap the grin off his face. She curled her fingers, itching to scratch out his eyes.

“Calm down. I didn’t know it was you.”

Some of the stiffness left her body. “Liar.”

“Is it safe to let you go? Or are you still planning to cause me bodily harm?”

Trying to ignore her body’s response to his erection nuzzling her breasts, she pushed him until he rolled over and got to his feet. Even though she grabbed his hand, she avoided his eyes as he hauled her to her feet.

She brushed the spruce needles off her jeans and retrieved her weapon before climbing onto the boardwalk. “Why’d you follow me?”

“Your description of the spa tempted me. Will it piss you off if I tag along?”

“Nope. If you don’t mind leaving the campsite unattended.”

“I left Rueger in charge and asked our neighbors to keep an eye on the place. Let’s move it so we can get back and get a decent night’s sleep.”

Sophie stood at attention and saluted. “Yes, sir!”

Before he could make a comeback, she was marching a brisk pace toward their destination.

The winding boardwalk through the eerie boreal forest reminded her of a Stephen King story. The cool night air battled with the warmth emanating from the surrounding wet areas, creating fingerlike tendrils of fog. The hot water seeped through the entire marsh. A cloudless sky provided enough light that she didn’t need a flashlight. Sophie smelled the warm moisture minutes before they arrived at the beta pool. A walkway circled a good-sized area of water. Beautiful, yet so isolated.
Admit it. You’re glad Hawk’s here
. She picked up her pace, actually jogging the last few hundred feet. She shimmed out of her sweatpants and yanked off the sweatshirt. She’d looked forward to this every day she’d been waiting for Hawk to show up.

She started into the pool, wearing her bra and panties.
To hell with that
. She unsnapped her bra and let it fall to the walkway, hooked her thumbs under her bikini underwear and dragged them down her legs. Quickly, she climbed down the ladder rungs and sucked in air. The hot water stole her breath.

Her body soon adapted, and the penetrating heat soothed her tense muscles. She swam and imagined how great the pool would feel during the cold winter months. The water’s temperature ran between one hundred ten and one hundred twenty Fahrenheit degrees. Tonight sweat beaded on her forehead.

Flipping onto her back, she floated and let the water work its magic. Too bad her mental woes wouldn’t join the mist and rise into oblivion. Hawk refused to get out of her mind. No matter how hard she tried to convince herself he was bad news, her heart argued otherwise.

Restless, she rolled and swam laps. No doubt about it. Hawk was hot in the sack. No man had ever made her toes curl the way he did, and he’d more than delivered the satisfaction he’d owed her from last Christmas Eve’s debacle. After her initial shock at his hold-nothing-back lovemaking, she wanted to experience it again.

Damn Stan for putting her in this situation. No, she couldn’t blame him. She’d walked into this mess with her eyes wide open. Stan trusted Hawk to keep her alive. She didn’t trust him not to break her heart.

How could she convince him to quit his vigilante mode and let the feds do their job? Fat chance she’d succeed there. Hawk had erected a steel barrier around his heart and emotions, not letting anyone in. He had legitimate reasons for his trust issues.

Stan had briefed her on Hawk’s background. He’d been five when his parents decided they didn’t want children. God, how painful that must have been to a little boy. The moment his parents left him at a social services office must have begun shaping the man he was today. To make matters worse, no family ever adopted him. For thirteen years, the system had shuffled him from one foster home to another. At an early age, Hawk had learned to rely on himself. Knowing about his past made him all the more attractive to Sophie. The little voice that dwelt inside every woman told her she might be the one to bring love and happiness into Hawk’s life.
Sure thing, Sophie. Dream on.
At least she knew first hand why bad boys appealed to women.

This morning when she’d crawled out of bed, she could have sworn he’d whispered her name.
Right, Sophie. And pigs fly.

Totally into her musings, she swallowed a mouthful of water when something clamped onto her foot and pulled her under. Panicked, she clawed at the overpowering strength. Her attacker dragged her upwards. She surfaced spewing water.

“Are you crazy?” she sputtered.

“Me?” Hawk checked his bloody arm. “When a woman scratches me, I’d prefer it to be in the throes of passion.”

Sophie’s temper could have boiled the water. She wouldn’t have been surprised to see bubbles cover the surface. “I could have drowned. What’s the matter with you?” Then he smiled. The little boy grin that turned her insides to oatmeal.

“My point exactly. You were an easy target. Totally unaware of your surroundings.” Her breathing quickened in response to his sensuous gaze lingering on her breasts. “What if it hadn’t been me? You had no business swimming alone. Why didn’t you wait? And where the hell are the defensive moves you learned in the academy?”

She hitched her chin up a notch. Damned if she’d let him see how much his words hurt her. “I know how to defend myself.”

Hawk snorted in obvious derision. “Right. You did a super job when I dragged you under or when I tackled you from behind earlier.”

“I wasn’t expecting… I thought you were watching my back.” She tripped over her own words, attempting to defend herself when she knew damn well he had every right to criticize.

He swam closer and cupped both her breasts. His thumbs along with the water gently lapping the puckered nipples started a fever between her legs. “We shouldn’t…” she stammered even though she leaned back to give his lips better access to her neck.

“Why shouldn’t we enjoy each other?”

Hawk swallowed her reply with a kiss.

She wanted to protest. Meant to protest. Instead, she curled her hand around his cock and squeezed as she joined him in the wet, warm battle of tongues. A fight she’d never win. The thermal energy in the pool increased her eagerness to feel him slowly sliding in and out of her bunny. Oh God, the bunny thing again.

“Tell me what you want,” he whispered against her throat.

“Everything you have to give.”

The tip of his wet tongue licked her earlobe. “That’s probably more than you can handle. Will you ride the guilt wagon tomorrow?”

Sophie pulled back and searched his lust-filled eyes. What secrets lurked there? “I hope not.”

Hawk cupped her face. She wondered at the trembling in his fingers. “As long as we give each other pleasure, whatever happens between us is good. There is no sin in a man and woman loving each other’s bodies.”

“Mindless sex.”

His muscles tensed. “I didn’t say that.”

Damn it. If you want him, stop sabotaging the moment.

She forced a smile. “Perhaps it’s what I need.” She curled her legs around his waist. The water’s buoyancy made her feather-light. “Kiss me. Take me to that special place. The one where nothing exists but us.”

She sensed his hesitancy and held her breath. Let it out when he groaned, buried his fingers in her hair and ravaged her mouth. Open-mouthed kisses and quick flicks of his tongue at the corners of her lips drove her crazy. He grasped her butt cheeks, kneading, teasing. A finger trailed over her breasts and stomach to finger her wet slit. All the while, his cock pressed against her abdomen, nudging her bellybutton, making her need skyrocket.

“You drive me crazy,” he breathed between kisses. “No matter how I try, I can’t get enough of you.”

“I need you inside me. Now.” Sophie loosened her legs and reached between their bodies to guide his cock to her waiting entrance.

Hawk grabbed her hand. “Not yet.”

He boosted her to a rung on the ladder so his face was level with her pelvis. “Put your legs over my shoulders. That’s it.”

His thumbs opened her slick lips. She moaned with pent up desire. He splashed water against her clit, driving her closer to a climax. “So soft, so pink.”

She squirmed in pleasure, raised her hips to his mouth, urging his tongue to all those places that drove her insane.

On the brink of coming, she bit her lip to stop the scream welling in her throat. Her fingers touched him wherever they could reach.

Hawk slid her legs off his shoulders and cupped her butt. In one hard thrust, he was fully embedded. “Don’t worry. I’m wearing a condom.”

“I wasn’t worrying.”

His face was strained and tendons bulged in his neck as he pounded in and out, stomach slapping against stomach.

A high keening filled the night. It took Sophie a few minutes to realize that the scream was her own. She bit Hawk’s shoulder to stifle the noise.

He came and rocked her world. She gloried in the hard grip of his hands as her body absorbed the aftershocks shaking Hawk’s body.

“Sophie,” he whispered. Just her name and nothing more.

A flurry of emotions passed between them, all left unspoken.

In the aftermath of passion came a familiar awkwardness. He didn’t quite trust her, even though circumstances forced him to do just that if he wanted to accomplish his mission.

Hawk’s hoarse voice broke the awkward silence. “What are you thinking?”

“Tell me about your childhood.”

His hands tightened on her waist. “I’m sure Stan filled you in.”

“Yes, but I’d like to hear it from you.”

“Not much to say. My parents weren’t cut out for kids. Took them five years to figure it out, though.”

“Didn’t they have family who’d have taken you in? Grandparents? Aunts or uncles?”

Hawk released her and floated on his back. Sophie saw it for what it was, a way to end their closeness. “My mother had a sister. She had four kids of her own.”

She wanted to say “so what?” Wisely, she let it slide. “I can’t believe one of the foster families didn’t adopt you.”

“I went out of my way to make sure they didn’t.”

Sophie swam beside him. “Why?”

“Because I refused to take the chance I’d be rejected again.”

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