Some Write It Hot

January 5, 2011

Free Read – Gato Negro, Chapter 3

Cover Art copyright Stella Price 2010

Here’s Chapter 3 of my Contemporary Erotic Romance, Gato Negro, now available for Kindle at Amazon.com. and other readers, in .epub format, at Goodreads.

Tres

“We will cross here,” Carlos said.

Beth regarded the rope spanning a narrow part of the river with more than a little trepidation. Apparently, they were supposed to wade across using the stretched and worn line for leverage.

“Is this s-safe?” she stammered. She was the shortest and smallest of them. Picking up a twig, she tossed it into the middle of the deceptively calm stream and watched it sweep away in the current. “There has to be another way.”

“Nothing in the forest is without risk, colibrí,” he said. “The water is little more than waist deep. I’ve crossed here many times. There is a rope bridge six kilometers upstream. We’ll use it coming back, but Carter said you must take readings at noon. We will not reach the site in time if we try to walk that way.”

She hadn’t heard him string so many words together in the two days since he’d shown up at the compound. Soft and low, melodic, with the hint of a purr, his voice flowed over her, harmonizing with the murmuring of the water until it seemed as much a part of the forest as the bird and insect song.

He called me hummingbird. At the moment, Beth thought she might follow Carlos Elizandro anywhere.

“Well, I’m game,” Kate said and began unbuttoning her blouse where she stood.

Beth moved behind a tree for at least the illusion of privacy while removing her shirt. She folded it into her small daypack to keep dry. They all wore quick-dry shorts, but the bathing suit would be more comfortable than a wet T-shirt.

Carlos took the ford first, striding through the current with apparent ease. The muscles in his back rippled as he tugged and pulled to test the strength of the rope. Among the three men, they’d keep the lead taut for the others to cross.

Kate followed Carlos. Her confident stride took her into water midriff-deep until, about halfway across, the current redoubled. She moved more cautiously. Gripping tightly with both hands, she leaned against the force of the water for about three meters, then strode through the shallows and did a little victory dance in the mud on the opposite bank.

The crossing took longer than Beth had anticipated.

Sam grabbed her pack. She tossed him nervous thanks and waded in.

The water was surprisingly warm, but dragged at her legs so her muscles strained in unfamiliar ways with each step. By the time she moved into the midstream flow, the water reached her breasts. She froze.

With only one foot in the current, she already recognized the unsteady hold it had on the rocks. Kate’s extra height and fifteen kilos would come in handy right now.

She paused a moment, considered asking for help. Thought better of it–by the time one of the men reached her, she could be on the solid ground of the other bank with her pride intact.

One more step. Her legs flew out from beneath her, and she went under.

Beth clutched the lead, holding on for her life.

The rope stretched under her weight as the current dragged her legs downstream. She hung on. Forget trying to get her feet on the ground, she needed to breathe.

The surge of water tore at her hold on the rope and the breath in her lungs. Panic tried to swallow her. She thrust it aside and fought to raise her head above the surface.

One hand lost its grip. The current flipped her over.

She finally gulped a breath of air and water. The rope ripped from her fingers.

Two arms came from nowhere, grabbed her about the waist and lifted her to her feet. She gasped, choking, fighting for air and trying to get a grip on the rocks as Carlos dragged her to the bank. Still clutching his arm, she leaned forward and vomited an amazing amount of water into the mud.

Carlos supported her up the bank and held her as she fell against him, shaken, cold and weak-kneed.

“O, lo siento. I’m so sorry, mija. I didn’t think you are so much smaller,” he crooned, while she clung to him.

She became aware of his naked chest against her cheek at the same moment he did. He gasped, and his heart stuttered beneath her palm. Something deep inside her melted.

“She needs mouth-to-mouth,” Kate quipped.

Beth shot her a scathing glance and pulled away from Carlos as a violent coughing spell erupted to expel the rest of the water from her lungs. When she was finally able to stand on her own, she glanced up at him and found him frowning, his golden eyes full of concern.

“Okay?” He attempted a lopsided grin.

“Yeah, good.”

As the other two crossed, without incident, Beth sat on the ground, silently contemplating her mortality while pouring water out of her boots and squeezing her socks dry. Occasional bursts of laughter attempted to erupt from her chest like the monster in Alien, but she managed to control her hysteria.

An uneasy silence fell over the group. Once everyone was put back together, they continued along the path for another hour to the site Carlos had in mind for them. She waved off help from both Carlos and Kate and let the slow, steady pace clear the shock and adrenaline from her system.

By noon, she was fine. They entered an oak grove deep under the canopy where orchids and fungi of every imaginable color wound their way up the thirty-meter trunks and out of sight. Beth recognized half-dozen genera at first glance.

The men went off to find a mid-height tree to set their tackle in, hoping to get samples from higher up.

The equipment she’d packed was safe and dry in its waterproof case, thanks to Sam’s foresight in taking her pack before the crossing. Kate and Beth worked at ground level, metering the light available at this, the brightest part of the day under the canopy, photographing, taking inventory and notating each species’ population and growth pattern. They took samples only of the least familiar species, since keeping the delicate blooms intact on the way back would be a challenge.

At three, they stopped to allow time to get to the Jeep before dusk. The others prepared the samples for transport while Beth took a second set of meter readings for comparison.

As she finished the last reading, Carlos walked up to where she worked. Without a sound, he leaned against a tree, watching her.

I’ve wandered away from the group again. She winced. Carlos looked like he had something to say about her carelessness, but, thankfully, kept his peace.

She sat on a mossy deadfall, filling in her notes and feeling self-conscious. If he didn’t stop looking at her, she was going to come unglued. She glanced up to tell him and met his eyes. Her heart hiccupped. She closed the notebook, packed the meter away and got to her feet.

“You’d better either kiss me or quit staring at me like that,” she said.

His brow rose to his shaggy hairline.

She’d taken only a few steps to join the others when he came from behind. Grasping her arm, he pulled her into a gentle embrace. His mouth came down to connect with hers.

She’d been waiting for this and meant to enjoy every second. But she was not prepared for the heat.

Carlos gently brushed his lips over her face, mouth first, then chin, cheeks, brow, feather-light kisses on her eyelids, down her nose, back to her lips. His tongue reached for her, tasting, coaxing.

Her whole body tingled. Heat rose between her legs and he hadn’t even really kissed her yet.

Instead, he breathed her in.

The kiss became something new. He latched onto her mouth, sucking. His tongue pressed insistently for entry. She opened to give him access and melted into him.

No ravenous, rude rape of her mouth, but a steady invasion. He kissed as he ate, savoring every nibble, pausing to taste, smell, lick. The gentle devouring awakened every nerve cell, visited every pore. His essence became part of her.

His chest beneath her hand quivered and he moaned. Slowly, his arms surrounded her about the back and hips, pulling her tight, and her legs lost the ability to hold her up. He grew hard against her belly as she softened.

Skin to skin, she clung to him, willing the kiss to continue. This was the stuff of life, inevitable, like breathing, like her heart beating. How do you end a kiss like this?

But it had to end. Carlos set her on her feet and pulled back to peer into her eyes.

“This is not a good idea,” he growled. The sound sent shivers through her.

“Oh, yes,” she whispered. “This is a great idea. Like a dream, like something I’ve waited for a long, long time.”

* * * *
If he didn’t sleep, he couldn’t dream, so the cat ran. All seemed well. Whatever had brought him back to his old territory was gone, or too insidious to discern with a cursory examination. TE’e-le, the forest, kept her secrets tonight.

He’d fished earlier. Without hunger to drive him, the running was mere restlessness, an attempt to escape. The woman’s scent carried to him on the night air, relentlessly drawing him toward the compound where she slept until, after the third time turning away, he shifted. In human form, her pull was stronger, but the instinct to surrender was easier to fight.

The man, however, needed rest.

Back at the creek where he’d eaten earlier, he gathered his clothes, donning the jeans, and bundled the rest into the T-shirt. Moving a little away from the bank, he built himself a nest of fallen leaves among the roots of a strangler fig. He rested his back against the trunk and let the night’s lullaby wash over him.

When he was a god, women were served to him. They knew what he was, and whether they thought they wanted him or not, after a week or a month or a year, each returned to her village a goddess and happy for his attentions. He’d loved a few and lost them all.

He’d failed as a god–his people were no more.

Still, TE’e-le held him in her grip. Why she kept him was a mystery–he’d failed her as well, a thousand times, ten thousand times. He was beyond redemption. But she kept him. He must stay until he understood what was needed of him, and neither cat nor man could resist the woman.

He must approach this as a man.

Beth wanted him. She would ask for all he had to give, and what he had wasn’t enough. Eventually, now or ten years from now when he hadn’t aged, she would discover his secret and run. He should tell her, but he didn’t want her to run.

Maybe she would tire of him before Antonio returned. Then only he need know the pain.

He dozed and dreamed.

Look for Chapter 4 of Gato Negro in a couple weeks.  Of course, if you just can’t wait for the next installment, you can always download the book, and the beautiful cover art by Stella Price.

For Kindle @ Amazon.com

For other readers (.epub) @ Goodreads

Sorry, they wouldn’t let me price it any lower than ninety-nine cents.

Thanks for reading.
ali
http://www.a-katz.com

and, oh, if you’ve already read, a couple stars at Amazon would be appreciated. Better yet, stars and a review 🙂

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