Wild Thing.............................1 Hold Me, Thrill Me.....................95 Light My Fire..........................163
Allowing him to come home with her again was a mistake on so many levels. She wedged both hands against his clammy, Aramis-scented skin and shoved.
He grunted and drooled on her neck.
"Eric," Maggie Hamilton said against his clavicle, resisting the temptation to close her teeth around the offending bone. "Get off!"
His chuckle rumbled his chest and set her teeth on edge. "Just did, babe."
Pig. "Eric, I can't breathe. Move!" What possessed her to let him come home with her? She shoved again, and he rolled off to lie, spread-eagle, next to her. She glanced at the poster of the cruise ship, docked at an exotic island port, tacked to her wall for inspiration, and then over at Eric's Mr. Happy, which looked decidedly droopy. "It's time for you to leave."
"Aw, babe, don't say that." He turned on his side, one heavy arm crushing her ribs in an effort to draw her closer.
Plop! Mr. Happy slapped against her thigh like a dead snake. She eased away from the offending member.
"Really, you should leave." She pointed the toes of one foot toward the floor, gripping the edge of the mattress for leverage.
Eric grumbled something and rolled off to stand on the other side of the bed. He scratched his butt and shuffled toward the bathroom.
"And shut the door this time, please." That was definitely something she did not want to view.
She swung to her feet and pulled on her floral silk robe, then frowned at her refection in the wardrobe mirror. Too sexy mussed.
With a quick look at the still-closed door, she rummaged in the dresser. She'd just pulled on her oversize University of Michigan sweatshirt, tugging it to her knees, when Eric walked out.
He wasn't all that bad looking, if you liked the dumb-jock persona. As he was tall and heavily muscled, his dark hair spiked and clothing rumpled, there were many woman who might find him attractive.
She looked at his heavy-lidded eyes and suppressed a shudder. Attractive only if you went for the Neanderthal look.
She didn't. Not anymore. Yet, after swearing she'd never again allow Eric into her home, let alone her bed, here he was. She had to start being more assertive.
"So, what time should I be here tomorrow to take you to the dock?" He scratched his belly through the gaping fly of his jeans. At least she hoped it was his belly. "Babe," he said, walking toward her, "I'm telling you, I think a singles cruise is a really bogus idea."
She took a step back and then sidestepped toward the open bedroom door. "Well, I don't. And you don't have to take me. I made other arrangements."
"But, babe, who's gonna kiss you good-bye?" He spread his arms, palms up in supplication.
Not you. Anyone but you. Of course, she couldn't say that. Her mother had taught her never to be rude. "Karyl said she'd take me." She ushered him toward the door.
In a flash, he turned and closed his arms around her. He smelled of aftershave, beer and sex. On him, not a winning combination.
Barreling her arms to break his embrace, she stepped back and reached to open the door. "I'll see you in a few weeks."
"Babe! How long is this damn cruise?"
Not nearly long enough. But she couldn't say that either. "I'm not really sure," she lied. "I'll call you when I get back." Yeah, why don't you hold your breath on that one.
His beard-stubbled face leaned close to her, intent clear in his bloodshot, mud-brown eyes.
A quick sidestep took her out of target range. She pushed him out the door and closed it.
He pounded on the solid imitation wood. "Babe!" Bang, bang. "Open the door!" Bang, bang, bang. Aren't you even gonna kiss me good-bye?"
"No!" she yelled, sliding the chain home.
"But, babe!" His voice carried through the door.
She strode to the bathroom and stripped and then stood under the tepid spray, waiting for the hot water.
"Babe," she growled in a mocking voice, grabbing the shampoo and squirting a liberal amount into her palm.
She lathered her short hair with a vengeance, determined to wash away every trace of Eric. Shampoo foam ran everywhere. It oozed down her face, slithered over her shoulders, slid over her hips and sluiced down both legs to tickle her toes. Way too much shampoo. "I'm never going to get this rinsed out." She rinsed until her arms ached. Her hair still felt slick to her questing fingers.
"Babe," she growled again, twisting off the controls and jerking a towel from the duct-taped towel bar.
Then reality hit her ... Eric didn't remember her name.
After stripping the sheets and starting the washer, she remade the bed and fell in. Exhausted, she should've been instantly in dreamland. But no. Instead she tossed and turned. Her back began aching. Did she remember to run the dishwasher?
With a sigh, she tossed back the covers and stomped into the tiny kitchen. Her dishwasher had two cycles-on and off. While it appeared to be off, steam oozing from the top told her she'd turned it on.
Back in bed, comfort and, therefore, sleep eluded her. Maybe she should invest in a new mattress when she came home. Did she remember to pack her red dress?
Feet again met carpet, neatly sidestepping the brick Eric had used months ago to "temporarily" fix the leg of her bed.
Grunting with effort, she dragged over her heavy suitcase and plopped it onto the bed. There it was. The red dress was right on top.
The sound of her suitcase zipper closing filled the silent apartment. She dragged it back to the closet.
"I wonder if I can fit in an extra bikini? It shouldn't take up too much space."
On tiptoe, she felt along the top shelf of her closet. No bikini, but she found a box she didn't remember having up there.
Pulling it down, she walked closer to the light.
She gasped, then glanced guiltily around.
"No one's here, dummy." She stroked a finger down the amazingly realistic plastic. Then she gave the bulbous tip a little squeeze. Wow. It even felt semireal.
Mystery Lover Model 4099. A present from Karyl-for Maggie's birthday last year-the vibrator had caused raucous laughter and comments from her friends when she'd opened it.
She'd never even tried it out.
She glanced around and then checked the locks on her door, just to make sure.
Walking slowly back to her bed, she untied her robe, her gaze never leaving the gleaming phallus where it lay nestled in purple velvet, surrounded by an impressive assortment of flavored body gels.
"Let's try raspberry." She opened the tiny pot and dipped in the tip of her little finger; then she sucked off the sweet concoction. Not bad.
Dipping her index finger this time, she slathered the gel all around the top of the vibrator and then swirled her tongue around it until every speck of gel disappeared.
Next she finger painted the entire length of the plastic shaft, squeezing her legs together to calm the sudden restlessness she felt.
Dropping her robe, she climbed on her bed to lie on her back, the vibrator held high above her.
"Open the hangar," she said on a giggle, remembering childhood games. "Vvroom." She guided her private missile in a gliding circle to her open mouth, taking as much in as she could without gagging.
After a while, the ache between her legs became harder to ignore.
The wet tip of the vibrator cooled her skin where she dragged it between her bare breasts and down her abdomen until she reached the point that wept her need.
A few circles around her clitoris had her moving on the sheets wadded against her back.
No point in letting the gel go to waste.
She held the vibrator between her thighs and reached for another little pot. Strawberry.
She coated the entire shaft, swirling her tongue and fingertip around the top, imagining herself on her singles cruise, a hot island breeze bathing her bare skin while she licked and sucked one of the many lovers who existed solely for her sexual gratification.
It wasn't enough. How did she turn the dumb thing on? It was allegedly the top-of-the-line of vibrators-Karyl spared no expense when it came to embarrassing her.
The phone rang. Maggie screamed, automatically squeezing the vibrator.
Slick with gel, it shot from her fist like it was coming out of a rocket launcher and scored a direct hit on her grandmother's china lamp, plunging the room into darkness.
The phone rang again.
With a last look at the remains of her lamp, Maggie reached for the cordless phone on the floor.
"What took so long?" Karyl's voice echoed from the speaker. "Oh, don't tell me you actually took pity on that throwback and let him spend the night!"
"No, of course not." Maggie glanced around the room as if her friend could actually see the contrary evidence-which was no doubt on her bathroom floor somewhere. Eric never could seem to hit the trash can.
Karyl let out an exaggerated, relieved sigh. "Thank you, Lord. So ... what are you doing? I know you're all packed. Mags? You sound like you're breathing hard. What's going on?"
"What makes you think anything's going on?" She gave a feeble laugh.
"Because I've known you since kindergarten, and I know when you're hiding something. Now ... what?"
"Vibrator," Maggie managed to mumble.
"What? Is there something wrong with your refrigerator? I can't hear you. Are you talking into the wrong end of the phone again?"
"I said," she almost shouted, "I was just fooling around with the vibrator you gave me."
"Don't sound so pleased. I can't even figure out how to turn the dumb thing on." She gave a bark of laughter. "Story of my life." She walked to pick up the "dumb thing" and returned to sit on the side of the mattress.
"Mags, it's state of the art. There isn't a switch."
"But how do you-"
"See the little fake testicles at the base?"
Maggie's eyes widened. "I wouldn't exactly call them little." She ran her palm over them in an idle caress, tracing the flowing script of the gold ML at the base with her fingertip.
Karyl laughed. "Whatever. When you're using it, you, um, sort of grip the balls and squeeze them together. The tighter you squeeze, the stronger the vibration."
Maggie gave an experimental squeeze. The vibrator emanated a low buzzing sound, vibrating the hand holding the shaft. "Oh!" She gave a shriek of laughter and dropped it to the floor.
"I'll let you experiment for a while," Karyl said, a smile in her voice. "I'll be there tomorrow morning by no later than eight. You already printed up your boarding pass and everything you need, didn't you?"
"Great! See you tomorrow." Karyl hung up.
Maggie pressed the OFF button and laid the phone on the nightstand, then picked up the vibrator.
It wouldn't hurt to try it. After all, it had been a gift. It would be rude never to use it.
The rounded tip teased her opening. She looked down and wondered how it would ever fit.
The gel was cool against her labia but quickly warmed as it came in contact with her internal heat. She stretched to accommodate the girth of the vibrator.
To her surprise, it slid in to the hilt quite smoothly. Maybe the gel helped. She tightened her internal muscles. ML-or Mel, as she nicknamed it-slid back out to her waiting hand. Bereft, she glided Mel back in. In. Out. In. Out.
Close. She was so close.
Panting, she reached down a shaking hand and squeezed the rubber testicles.
And screamed when the foreign object within seemed to take on a life of its own.
When she was able to relax a bit, the vibration worked its magic, setting off tingles deep within. Her muscles began to vibrate. Internal lubrication made Mel slippery. She squeezed the testicles in her fist, unable to gasp more than shallow pants of air. Her heart thundered, pounding as though it would rip from her chest.
Her next scream had nothing to do with surprise as wave after wave of pleasure washed over her, drowning her in sensation.
Make that stuck to her hand. Ick. She peeled her personal device from her palm and sat up. The covers must have been somewhere on the floor.
Next she noticed she was naked. And sticky. She ran her tongue over her furry, strawberry-flavored teeth and winced.
She glanced at Mel, lying innocuously on the messy sheet. Who knew?
At that moment, her alarm clock chose to blast the room with oldies, making Maggie realize she had a headache. What was in that strawberry body gel? she wondered as she dragged herself into the shower.
By the time Karyl knocked on the door at seven fifty-five, Maggie was dressed and ready to go, a cleaned and shined Mel tucked neatly into the inside pocket of her bulging suitcase. After last night, she realized she didn't need an extra bikini. Mel was a necessity.
"Well, I can see by the glow on your cheeks that you liked my gift," Karyl said with a grin, her green eyes sparkling through her always overlong bangs. Karyl was the only white woman Maggie knew with Tina Turner hair. On her, though, it looked good. "Did you get any sleep?"
Maggie sniffed and tried not to grin. "Of course. Let's go."
"Wait, I have a bon-voyage gift for you." Karyl presented a flat gold box tied with confetti-colored strings. "Quick! Open it, and say, 'Thank you, Karyl,' so we can go."
"I can't believe you did this! Thank you so much!"
"Mags? You haven't opened it yet." Karyl had a knowing grin.
"Oh." It took a moment for Maggie's shaky fingers to remove the million or so strings and shove the top off the box. "Oh! Karyl! I can't believe you bought this!"
"Why not?" Karyl grinned. "I got sick of watching you drool all over the window every time we went by the shop. Believe me, my motivation was strictly selfish. Do you know how embarrassing it is to watch you covet something for so long?"
Maggie held up the scarf, admiring the way the sunlight shone through the gossamer, off-white silk that sparkled from the tiny gold and silver threads. She wrapped it around her shoulders and struck a pose. "How do I look?"
"Fabulous, dahling!" Karyl accepted her grateful hug. She handed her a bulging purple bag. "I also brought a few items left over from my Boudoir Buddy party. You can check them out once you get out to sea. Now, get this stuff packed so we can vamoose!"
The BumbleBee was a disappointment, as cruise ships go. Docked between liners of monstrous proportions, it looked like the love child of the larger vessels.
Maggie glanced at the ticket information clutched in her hand. Yes, her ship was, indeed, the BumbleBee. She supposed she should have known a cruise line with a name like Cruises R Us wouldn't have the largest of cruise ships. She took heart in the fact that her ship was equipped with all the amenities-not that she would know the difference.
A couple walked up the gangplank, arm in arm. Maggie glared at them. Didn't they know it was a singles cruise? How stupid could they be, taking a singles cruise together?
She grimaced and shook her head, then followed them. A smallish man stood at the top, directing the passengers to check in.
She dismissed him with a casual once-over. It should be a requirement, on a singles cruise, to employ only attractive people. It only made sense, businesswise. Maybe, after the cruise, she would contact the corporate office and offer her services. Heaven knew the fledgling cruise line needed better PR.
The toothy clerk at the check-in desk seemed excited about Maggie being assigned to the Tarzan and Jane's Lair stateroom.
Maggie frowned, negotiating the stairs while trying not to knock a fellow passenger to his or her death with her suitcase. According to the clerk, unlike most cruise ships, all the BumbleBee's rooms were on the upper floors.
Maggie thought of the name of her room and said a little prayer for it not to mean her singles cruise was a blind-dating type of cruise. She inserted her card key and pushed open the scuffed, once-white door.
"Oh, my." She looked at what appeared to be a tiny jungle, composed entirely of dust-encrusted, plastic foliage. A flip of what she thought was the light switch activated the pi