Excerpt From Rescuing Lacey

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

 

Lacey knelt down, adjusting her telephoto lens to achieve the sharpest image. They’d finally stumbled across a red-eyed tree frog, one of the must-haves on her list of shots. Satisfied with the composition, she pressed the shutter.

 

Before she could snap another photo, she shot to her feet, like toast from a toaster, camera dangling from the strap around her neck, hands fisted at her sides.

 

“What?” Luke asked.

 

“Get him off me,” she ground out, her teeth gritted in revulsion. She pointed toward her leg and watched as Luke glanced down in time to see the frog climb up her inner thigh and duck beneath her shorts.

 

Lacey sucked in a breath. The cold, wet suction-cup feet clung to her. She couldn’t even breathe, afraid any movement would prompt the slimy thing to crawl further up under her shorts. If it got to her crotch, she would die on the spot.

 

Luke didn’t think it was possible, but Lacey’s eyes grew wider as the frog apparently made his way farther north.

Enjoying her dilemma, he explained, “You know, because water and air flows so easily in to and out of amphibian skin, amphibians are much more vulnerable to possible pollutants on our hands—”

 

“Just. Get. Him. Off. Me. I didn’t invite his invasion of my person. He should have thought about that before he assaulted me,” she hissed through gritted teeth.

 

Luke couldn’t hold back the chuckle that escaped, or suppress his wicked thoughts as he knelt down and peered up her shorts to see where the frog was hiding. The sight of her muscular thigh and pink panties nearly made him forget his mission. He slowly slid his hand beneath her shorts and up her inner thigh.

 

“How do you know it’s a he?” he asked, taking pity on her and hoping to distract her from her obviously uncomfortable predicament.

 

“Like that even deserves a response,” came her sarcastic reply. His soft laugh only inflamed her ire.

 

"Don’t you think it’s rather ironic that you’re afraid of the very thing you’ve been sent here to photograph?”

 

“I’m not—” Her angry denial was cut off when his warm, rough-hewn hand closed over the sensitive skin of her inner thigh, cupping over the frog and making her flinch at the heat rocketing up her spine.

 

“Hold still,” he instructed, “otherwise I can’t promise he won’t head for . . . warmer regions.”

 

She shivered in response to his touch. She had a frog on her thigh, and astonishingly she now had sex on the brain.

Luke’s hand rested on her thigh longer than she thought necessary. “You’re enjoying this way too much,” she said through tight lips.

 

Damn right I am, Luke admitted to himself. Her thigh was as hot and smooth as sun-warmed silk. His fingers itched to glide further up her leg, to hear her gasp in pleasure, rather than in disgust. Between the monkey and the frog, Costa Rica’s fauna was making better time with her than he was. “No, I’m simply trying not to startle him.”

 

“Then lose the shit-eating grin.”

 

He struggled to assume a disinterested face, while she eyed him furiously.

 

His hand gently closed over the offending amphibian, grazing the apex of her thighs with his fingertips, triggering yet another wave of heat up her spine. He slowly inched his hand out from under her shorts, extending the exquisite torture. She didn’t know which caused the stronger adrenalin rush: her revulsion of the wet frog, or her arousal from Luke’s warm hand.

 

As soon as his hand cleared her shorts, she began pacing and cursing.

 

Good thing the forest was devoid of tourists, Luke thought, otherwise their ears would have been scorched. Her vocabulary could make a hardened criminal blush. Luke released the frog, watching it hop away without a backward glance.

 

“Good riddance,” Lacey muttered.

 

“Hey, frog’s no fool. Saw a warm, inviting spot and went for it.”

 

“Spoken just like a man.”

 

Ignoring that comment, he asked, “Want any more photos?”

 

“No, I don’t. I’m done with that”—she shivered—“frog.” Picking up her pack and turning away, she continued to walk in the direction they were previously headed.

 

He hefted up his bag and followed after her, wiping his hands on his shorts. “Let me get this straight, you’ve covered two wars, but you’re scared of a little frog?” He shook his head at the vagaries of women.

 

“I wasn’t scared. It just—it startled me.” She refused to admit to him she was ranidaphobic. “How would you like it if something wet unexpectedly landed on your thigh? Wait! Don’t answer that!”

 

His only response was a low rumbling laugh that carried deep into the rain forest.

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