Friday, December 13, 2013
'Tis the Season for Seduction
When we left Lucas and Caitlyn, they were exploring a little more than just the ancient tomes in the secluded alcoves of the Trinity College Library. With less than twelve hours to go before Lucas ventures to Newgrange to catch a thief, will he let the delectable Ms. Burns distract him from his quarry?
'Tis the Season for Seduction
Sparks ignited at flash points throughout Caitlyn’s body. Heat speared into her belly, and pooled a little further below.
In all her years in Dublin, she’d only indulged in one pallid affair. Now, after less than three hours with Lucas Conner, one taste of him made her want more. Much more. She dared herself to delve a little further. With a little grunt, he shifted in his chair, propped the back of her head in his palm, probing and sparring with her tongue.
Suddenly, he drew back, his breath coming in hard, fast pants. Running his thumb along her bottom lip Lucas’ amber eyes searched hers.
"Tell me you feel what I feel.”
Caitlyn’s heart skipped a beat. She nodded and leaned into the hand now cupping her cheek. He leaned his forehead against hers.
“Good. You know, I’ve been wondering what you taste like all afternoon.”
This time it was he that initiated the kiss, sliding the hand on her cheek under her hair to the nape of her neck and drawing her to him. With a groan, he wrapped his free arm around her waist and pulled her into his lap.
Caitlyn shifted to straddle him, astonished by her shameless response to his kiss. Dragging her fingers through his hair, she pulled him closer, deepening the kiss, nipping at the tongue that was so thoroughly exploring her mouth.
They moaned in unison as she rocked against his rigid cock. His lips left hers and seared a trail of kisses along her jaw as his hands grabbed her hips and held her fast.
His thumbs travelled up beneath her sweater, drawing lazy circles on her belly. She shivered at his touch, silently willing him to venture further. Never in her life had she wanted to have a man’s hands explore every part her so completely. Most certainly never in public. Bloody hell.
Caitlyn stilled and dropped her hands to Lucas’ shoulders, pushing away gently. They had to stop. If they didn’t there was a very good chance she’d let him take her in this very public, albeit secluded, part of the library.
Lucas noticed the shift in Caitlyn’s mood and drew his head back, releasing the vice grip his hands had on her hips. He silently uttered every adjective he could think of as he willed his rebellious body into submission.
He let his forehead rest on her shoulder as his shallow breathing came back into check. God…Every part of him wanted to sweep her out of the alcove and take her back to his hotel room, stretch her out in front of the fire and make love to her until she gasped and writhed in pleasure.
"I’m sorry," he whispered raggedly.
“Are ye now? Because truth be told, I’m not. ’Tis been a while since I’ve been kissed like that."
Her voice was tinged with amusement and her adopted brogue had reappeared. When Lucas lifted his head and stared into her bright green eyes, he knew he had to end this. Right here, right now. She was too tempting, too seductive and he had too much at stake. Looking down once again, he raked a hand through his hair.
Caitlyn’s arms snaked under his jacket and around his waist as she moved in to nuzzle his neck. They both froze as her hand brushed over the holster strapped into his belt.
She gasped, and Lucas cursed as he pulled her arms out from beneath his jacket.
"It’s legal," he said quickly.
She scrambled up, fear and uncertainty flooding her eyes.
"Who are you? Why are ye carryin’ a gun?"
As he stood, she backed away from him, eyeing the exit. Lucas held up his hands and slowly reached into the inside pocket of his jacket, producing his credentials.
“It’s ok, Caitlyn. I’m with the FBI."
She studied the identification and badge for several moments, her eyes bobbing between the leather wallet and his face before the tension in her shoulders visibly eased. Her eyes, still doubt-filled, assessed him warily.
"What’s the FBI doing in Ireland?”
Lucas let out a heavy sigh and gestured for her to take a seat, pulling his chair close to hers. Thankful for their secluded surroundings.
"I’m part of a narcotics task force that’s been tracking Enrique Saldana, a Miami-based drug lord with an affinity for prehistoric artifacts.”
"And you think he’s going to be at Newgrange tomorrow?"
"No, not him. The art thief he’s hired. We’re hoping to nab him and turn up the heat enough that he’ll work with us to get Saldana.”
Lucas probed her shocked expression, giving her time to absorb everything he’d just revealed. And, once again, Caitlyn’s reaction surprised him.
"Well, good luck with that," she snorted softly. “You’re going to have a hell of a time taggin’ anyone in that crowd."
"What crowd? I thought access was limited to a few dozen people."
"Sure. Only fifty people can go inside the tomb, but hundreds gather outside. Besides the news crews and scientists, Druids and Wiccans from around the world gather to celebrate the Winter Solstice. It’s quite a spectacle."
Dammit! He hadn’t counted on a huge crowd. That definitely added an extra layer of difficulty to the scenario he’d worked out. Not only did he not know who the thief was or what he looked like, but now he was going to have to pick them out of hundreds, maybe thousands of spectators.
“Maybe, I could go with you tomorrow. If you think I could help."
Lucas’ eyes shot up to meet Caitlyn’s hesitant gaze as he considered her proposal. Despite her being a civilian, she was an expert on the tomb. He’d be foolish to turn down her offer.
"I guess it wouldn’t hurt to have another set of eyes and ears. You could mingle with the crowd outside while I’m in the tomb.”
She smiled and nodded, but her smile quickly faded. “Wait. What if this person you’re looking for is armed, like you?”
"He won’t get far. Everyone has to pass through a metal detector before entering the site.”
She nodded and once again her shoulders dropped in relief. "That’s right. They do. Alright, count me in. That is, if you want me.”
The mischievous glint in her eye told him she was well aware of the thinly veiled double entendre she’d just thrown out. He laughed and pulled her close, catching her by the chin to draw her in for a long, sumptuous kiss. God, her lips were amazing. When he finally drew away from her, he planted kisses on the tip of her nose and forehead.
“Oh, I definitely want you, baby. I’d also like your help tomorrow morning,” he said slipping back into professional mode. “We’ve got an early start. What do you say, we call it a night?”
Caitlyn looked up from the pile of books she was stacking. Her eyes, brimming with subdued passion, silently questioned whether they’d be calling it a night together. Dammit, as much as he wanted to take her back to his hotel, he knew it wouldn’t be wise. They both needed to have their wits about them in the morning and only a good night’s rest would make that possible.
Lucas reached up and stroked Caitlyn’s cheek, before sliding a note pad towards her.
"Give me your address, I’ll pick you up in the morning."
She sighed softly and nodded, giving him a rueful smile as she quickly jotted down her address. He could tell she was disappointed. Hell, so was he. But, if things went well tomorrow, he’d be free to focus on Caitlyn with the same single-mindedness with which he’d tracked Saldana. And enjoy it a hell of a lot more.
It was snowing as they walked out of the library, and Lucas turned to flag down a cab.
“Let me give you a lift to your flat, Caitlyn. It’s starting to snow.”
“Och, ‘tis nothin’ but a wee dustin’,” she chimed, falling back into the brogue he was growing to love. “You go on. I’ll be fine.”
Lucas nodded and pulled her in for one last lingering kiss before stepping into the cab. Directing the cabby to his hotel, he turned and watched as Caitlyn trudged through falling snow in the opposite direction, thinking about all the wicked things he planned to do to the delicious Ms. Caitlyn Burns once he got her into bed.
Caitlyn and Lucas were greeted by Inspector James O’Malley of the Arts and Antiquities Division when they arrived at the Brú na Bóinne visitor center in the pre-dawn hours of the morning. Although the sun wouldn’t top the ridge to the east for another three hours, huge crowds were already waiting in line for transport out to the tombs.
Bundled in the thick pea jacket she’d purchased at a secondhand store and a wool muffler wrapped around her throat, Caitlyn followed closely along as Inspector O’Malley whisked them around the security checkpoint and onto a minibus.
Her body hummed with excitement as the bus started moving towards the tombs. Although there were hundreds of passage tombs scattered across Ireland, including one on the magnificent Hill of Tara, most scholars, Caitlyn included, considered Newgrange the oldest and most impressive of them all, sitting high on a hill overlooking the River Boyne.
As they stepped off the bus, Caitlyn’s breath caught at the sight of the massive cairn illuminated by floodlights. Two hundred thousand tons of grass-covered earth formed the rounded roof. Beneath the roof was an upper ring of white quartz "pebbles," polished to a lustrous sheen by centuries of river water before being gathered by the ancient tomb builders. Beneath the glistening quartz ring stood the base, consisting of ninety-seven monstrous curbstones weighing five or more tons apiece, silent sentinels to man’s determination.
"Just think," she murmured to Lucas as he tucked her under his arm to shield her from the icy wind, "the people who built this tomb had no clocks and no calendars. Yet every winter solstice for more than five thousand years, the rising sun shines through that box, illuminating the inner burial chamber for fifteen or twenty minutes.” Lucas leaned his face in closer to hers as she pointed to a square opening directly above the tomb’s entrance. “Those brief, few minutes herald the end of winter and the coming of spring. In a more spiritual sense, it celebrates the rebirth of Mother Earth and the new Sun king.
"Like the birth of Christ," Lucas murmured.
She turned and smiled at him, pleased he’d paid attention last evening when she had explained how many pagan rituals and beliefs had been incorporated into modern religions. She chuckled to herself as a wicked thought flitted through her mind. She would have to reward him for being such a good student.
As they moved through the crowd, Caitlyn could sense Lucas’ tension as he scanned the sea of faces muffled by wool scarves and hats pulled low on foreheads.
"Do you have any idea what this person looks like?" she murmured.
"Not a clue."
“Jaysus, talk about a needle in a haystack.”
“Yeah, I know,” he shrugged. “But it’s the best lead I’ve got. I have to run it down.”
As they wove their way through the crowd, Caitlyn took in every aspect of the megalith with reverence and awe. Each giant curbstone was decorated with prehistoric art—spirals, zigzags, concentric circles, triangles—images that represented the sun, moon and stars. There was no way a thief could steal one of these five-ton slabs without a crane. And, with all the uniformed police officers in the crowd she thought it unlikely that someone would try to chisel out one of the designs. Still, her apprehension intensified with every passing moment.
The snow glistened on the surrounding hills and mist swirled up from the River Boyne as the predawn darkness gave way to thin, gray light. And, despite the underlying reason for her being there, Caitlyn couldn’t help but be enchanted by her surroundings which only seemed more magical when Lucas paused and turned to face her, wrapping his arms around her waist.
"I’m sorry I couldn’t get a ticket for you.”
"Auch, weel." She gave him a wry smile and slipped into a heavier than normal brogue. "’Tis enough t’watch the sun come oop from here. Now, go on with ye. Do what you must. I’ll be waitn’."
"Go sit on the bus if you get too cold."
"What? And miss the sunrise? Are y’daft, man?"
He laughed softly and pulled her closer.
"Oh, Caitlyn. I know we’re an hour early, but…happy Solstice, beautiful girl.”
Caitlyn’s heart fluttered as he dipped his head and claimed her mouth, searing her lips with a kiss so hot it left her melting inside despite the freezing temperatures. She must be crazy, she thought, watching him stride toward the tomb entrance. She’d only just met the man and yet the view of his broad back and long, sure stride stirred a hot, sweet lust she had no business feeling. Not to mention the sparks he ignited with just a simple touch.
Only after she watched him duck under the stone lintel at the entrance and disappear inside the tomb did her internal heat yield to the frost outside. The pre-dawn chill slowly crept through her limbs as the sky lightened across the river at an agonizing pace. Still, Caitlyn waited with eager anticipation along with the rest of the crowd.
As a thin red rim appeared above the trees lining the river, Caitlyn moved away from the crowd. Finding a spot all to herself at the foot of a giant curbstone, she settled in to absorb the timeless moment in solitude. She smiled softly to herself as the sun continued its ascent, slowly gathering in size and intensity.
She felt at one with the ancient peoples who had once stood where she stood, marking the passing of one season and celebrating the birth of another. She stilled, focusing on the awesome spectacle before her until a faint, almost inaudible rattle penetrated her quiet contemplation. Another louder rattle followed. Her curiosity piqued, Caitlyn abandoned the protection of the curbstone to follow the sounds.
Rounding the corner, she gasped when her eyes fell upon a form, bundled from head to foot in a bulky overcoat and floppy-brimmed wool hat in a distinctive herringbone pattern, using the tip of a cane to pry a glistening quartz rock from the upper ring. She started to back away, but suddenly, the figure whipped around, slamming the cane into Caitlyn’s temple. Pain exploded in her head and as the rising sun faded to black, Caitlyn heard a disembodied voice that sounded curiously like her own call out for Lucas.