Appears in the print edition of I Saw Her Standing There.
There’s a budding romance on Butler Mountain, but in the hornets nest known as the Abbott family, keeping a secret is no easy feat…
Colton Abbott and Lucy Mulvaney have a secret. Colton’s nosy siblings have begun to put the pieces together, but it’s not like Lucy to keep things from those closest to her—especially her best friend, Cameron, who recently moved to Vermont to live with her true love, Will. But Lucy isn’t about to tell Cam she’s having a fling…with Will’s brother. Flitting between New York and Vermont is exhausting, so Lucy is looking forward to a long weekend with Colton at the Abbott family lake house in Burlington. Too bad Will and Cameron have the same idea, and once Colton and Lucy are caught red-handed (and red-faced), will their clandestine romance lose its appeal or will their secret beginnings be the start of something lasting?
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
A Green Mountain Series Novella
By Marie Force
“You want to do what?” Lucy asked, certain—absolutely certain—she’d heard him wrong.
“Come on, Luce,” Colton said in that charming, cajoling tone that usually worked wonders on her, especially when he was trying to separate her from her clothes. “It’ll be a blast. And you’ll get two whole days with Cameron, your second favorite person in Vermont. Come on… Pretty please?”
“Don’t do that.”
“What am I doing?”
“That whole ‘I’m-too-cute-for-words’ thing you do whenever you’re trying to talk me into something you know I don’t want to do.”
“I’m too cute for words? Awww, thanks, honey. You say the sweetest things. I’m so glad I was smart enough to ask you to marry me.”
“There! You’re doing it again! Stop trying to distract me, and the answer is still no. An emphatic no-way-in-hell-are-you-talking-me-into-going-camping no. Any questions?”
“And that is…”
“Do you love me, Luce?”
“Oh don’t do that, either! What kind of question is that? You know I love you. I tell I love you every day—at least ten times a day.”
He came to her then, his eyes warm and amused as he looked at her, and put his arms around her. “Then let me share something I love with you. Trust me enough to ensure you’ll have a great time and be perfectly comfortable. Please?”
“My idea of camping is an all-inclusive resort with a spa and room service.”
“We’ll do that sometime, too. Any time you want.”
“And Cameron actually agreed to this plan of yours and Will’s?”
“I won’t believe that until I hear it from her.”
“You aren’t calling me a liar now, are you?”
“Liar is a strong word. Occasionally truth challenged might be a better way to put it.”
He threw his head back and laughed. “You do crack me up, Lucy Mullvaney.” Sliding his arms around her, he drew her in close to him and kissed her neck until her knees went weak.
“Don’t do that, either,” she said with far less conviction than she’d shown a few minutes ago.
“What?” he whispered, setting off goose bumps down her arm. “What am I doing?”
“Seducing me into going along with this hair-brained plan of yours.”
He pulled back to look down at her, his brow raised rakishly. “Hair-brained? Really?”
“Yes! Do you have any idea what a pain in the ass I’ll be on a camping trip? Do you have the first clue how much bitching, moaning, pissing and groaning there’ll be?”
“I have a fairly good idea.”
“And you still want to take me?”
She shook her head with dismay. “You’re a glutton for punishment.”
“Your kind of punishment is my favorite kind.”
“Colton! I’m being serious. I’ll hate every minute of it, and you’ll hate me for ruining something you love.”
“I could never, ever, ever hate you, Lucy. Ever.”
“Even if I complain for two straight days without taking a breath?”
Lucy wished she was still eight like her niece Simone and could get away with a full-blown temper tantrum followed by a good old-fashioned pout. But that wasn’t going to happen, and it was beginning to look like the camping trip was. So she had two options—flat out refuse to go and run the risk of disappointing him or suck it up and compromise. This relationship thing was not for the faint of heart.
While she had her own internal argument with herself, he waited patiently, his gaze never straying from her face as she weighed her extremely unappealing options.
“Fine,” she said sullenly. “I’ll do it. But, you’re taking me to a fabulous spa in the next month.”
“Deal.” He kissed her then, sucking the oxygen from her lungs and all thoughts from her head that didn’t involve the exquisite pleasure of being kissed—devoured, in fact—by Colton Abbott, love of her life. “Wait till you see how hot tent sex is.”
Damn if he didn’t always make her laugh, especially when she was on the verge of starting a great big fight with him. “It better be the hottest sex of my life, or this will be the last time you ever get me into a sleeping bag, you got me?”
“Oh, baby… I got you, and I do love when you throw down the gauntlet.”
The look he gave her was full of sexy determination. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.
It sucked. It absolutely, positively sucked. Suck, suck, suck was the only word bouncing around Lucy’s mind as she pretended to participate in the paddling of a canoe against a strong current in a river located smack in the middle of nowhere. She was hot, sweaty, smelly and apparently the daily special on the mosquito buffet despite multiple doses of bug spray.
Despite lathering on the sunscreen and reapplying frequently, she could feel her fair skin burning as the sun beamed down on them. And her arms ached from the effort required to help propel the canoe forward.
She glanced over at Cameron, sitting in the front of Will’s canoe, laughing and splashing with her boyfriend and appearing to have a jolly good time. Lucy wished she’d brought a slingshot and some acorns she could shoot at Cameron, who was ruining everything. How was she supposed to bitch and moan when perky Cameron had embraced this whole fiasco as a great big adventure?
Naturally, Colton had failed to mention the whole canoe part of the program when he talked her into this ridiculous outing. She kept telling herself—two days and one night and then they’d be back to his place on the mountain, which was positively plush compared to this. It was funny to think that she’d once found his cabin to be rustic. This was rustic—trees and water and birds and a cloudless blue sky above them.
On most days, Lucy appreciated a cloudless blue sky. Today she’d kill for a cloud or two between her and the hot sunshine. If there was one perk to this nightmare, it was the opportunity to occasionally glance back at Colton in all his shirtless glory as he paddled and steered the canoe from the back.
The play of his finely honed muscles was a sight she usually enjoyed. When they were in Vermont, one of her favorite pastimes was sitting on the porch of his cabin and watching him swing the ax as he split the wood he’d need for the next sugaring season.
Today, however, even the sight of his sexy body failed to cheer her the way it usually did.
“How’re you doing up there?” he asked after a long period of silence.
“Great. Never been better.”
“Do you think I can’t hear the sarcasm in your voice after all this time together?”
“I’m getting eaten alive. Are you sure that was actual bug spray you gave me and not something that actually appeals to them?”
He stopped paddling and stood, coming toward her and making the canoe tip precariously.
Lucy dropped her paddle into the boat and grasped the sides, preparing to be dumped into the freezing water at any second. No matter how warm the summer sun got, Colton had told her, the river never really warmed up. “What’re you doing?” she asked over her shoulder as he came toward her.
“Turn around,” he said.
Lucy moved carefully to accommodate his request without pitching them both into the river.
“Time to reapply.” He pulled the can of bug spray from one of the pockets of his cargo shorts and squatted before her, spraying her legs and arms. “Do your neck.”
Lucy took the can from him and did as directed.
From the pocket on his other leg, Colton retrieved the sunscreen. “How can you still be getting burnt under that big hat when I put eighty-five on you earlier?”
“Irish skin. You knew this about me.”
“Still…” His brows furrowed with concern. “I don’t want you getting burnt.”
“Might be too late for that.”
Working with intense concentration, Colton reapplied the sunscreen to her arms, legs and the tops of her feet. Though she wished she could click her heels together and be anywhere but floating on a freezing river in the mountains of Vermont, she had to admit the slide of his hands over her skin had her thinking about the amazing tent sex she’d been promised.
Then he handed her the sunscreen stick she preferred to use on her face.
“Don’t forget your lips,” he said. “I’ve got big plans for them later. We can’t have them sore or burnt.”
“Everything okay over there?” Will called as he and Cameron circled back to check on them.
“Yep,” Colton said. “Just reapplying bug spray and sunscreen.”
“Are you getting bitten, Luce?” Cameron asked.
“You must be sweeter than me. They don’t like me.”
“Good thing I do,” Will said suggestively, making Cameron laugh.
Everyone was in such a great mood, excited for the getaway and the chance for the guys to share one of their passions with the city girls they’d fallen in love with. Lucy felt a little guilty for being so grumpy about the whole thing. Perhaps if she tried to embrace it as an adventure and time away from the rat race of life with the man she loved she might actually enjoy it.
She snorted inelegantly. As if. Okay, so you might not enjoy it, but maybe you can let him think you are, she reasoned with herself. If she did that, though, he might want to do this again, and that was not happening. Several hours in, Lucy already knew this was going to be a one-time thing.
She’s miserable and trying to hide it, Colton thought as he propelled the canoe forward along the lazy river that wound through the Green Mountains. He’d been coming here all his life and had wanted to share it with Lucy, but that might’ve been a mistake. He could feel her agitation despite the three feet that separated her seat from his. He could see it in the usual slump of her shoulders.
Since her happiness and comfort were always foremost on his mind, he decided to try to “cajole” her out of her bad mood by showing her how much fun the outdoors could be when you were with the one you loved.
“We’re going to take a little detour,” Colton called to Will as they reached a fork in the river. “Meet you at the campsite?”
Cameron waved as they took left side and Colton directed their canoe to the right.
“Where are we going?” Lucy asked.
“Just down here a little ways. I’ve got something I want to show you.” He paddled along for another half mile or so before he steered the canoe around a bend and into a small cove that had been carved out of the earth by water rushing by over thousands of years.
“This is pretty,” Lucy said as Colton beached the canoe, jumped out and dragged it up onto the small stretch of sand.
“It’s one of my favorite spots along this river.” He held out a hand to help her out of the canoe, which again tipped when she moved. Luckily she pitched right into his arms, and he lifted her onto the beach.
“I suck at this,” she said glumly.
“No, you don’t. It’s just new to you. That’s all.”
“You don’t have to pretend to be glad you brought me here.”
“I’m never pretending to be glad when I’m with you, Lucy. I don’t care what we’re doing or where we are. If you’re there, I’m happy.”
“I don’t deserve you.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Because I’ve been thinking really mean thoughts about you all morning.”
Colton tossed his head back and laughed hard.
“You think it’s funny that your fiancée is thinking mean things about you?”
“What kind of mean things?” he asked when he’d stopped laughing.
“Mostly all the reasons I hate you for making me go camping—bugs, sun and bathrooms were tops on the list.”
“Bathrooms? I hate to tell you…”
“You don’t have to tell me there’s no indoor plumbing out here, Colton. I have eyes. So what’s a girl supposed to do when she needs to pee? Urgently?”
“She tells her big studly fiancé that she has to pee—urgently—and he sets her up.”
“Sets her up how?” she asked, eyeing him skeptically.
“Leave it to me.” He went back to the canoe, rooted around in the huge pile of stuff that he’d tied into the back of the boat and returned with a roll of toilet paper and a plastic bag. “Let’s go.”
“You’re not coming with me to pee.”
“Hmm, well, I thought you’d want me to check for bears and bobcats and snakes, but if you’ve got this…” He held out the toilet paper and bag.
“You can come with me.”
“Thought you might say that.”
“Are there really bobcats in these woods?” she asked as she followed him into the trees, looking everywhere for glowing eyes ready to pounce.
“I’ve never seen one, but they’re native to this area. I’d hate to have one find you when you’ve got your cute little butt out on display. That would be a tragedy.”
“It would be just my luck,” Lucy said.
Colton led her to into an area so dense with trees, the sun’s rays only faintly penetrated, sending weak beams to the ground. He took a deep breath of fresh air and pine. “Smell that?”
Lucy breathed deeply. “Uh huh.”
“One of my favorite scents. Second only to the scent of Lucy, which is my all-time favorite.”
She rolled her eyes at him, but a smile tugged at her lips. He considered that a small victory.
“This one will do,” he said, sizing up a huge pine tree that was bare on the bottom with branches beginning about ten feet above them.
Lucy looked at it with apprehension. “How will it do?”
“My sisters swear by the tree trunk strategy of outdoor peeing. You drop your shorts, lean your back against the tree, keeping your feet and clothes in front of you and out of harm’s way, and let her rip.”
“Your other choice is to squat, but I’d recommend against actually sitting anywhere. You never know what’s on the ground and that cute butt wouldn’t be so cute with poison ivy or sumac all over it.” He scratched his own rear to make the point.
She took the paper and bag from him and turned her hand in a circle, telling him to look away.
“I’ll be right over here taking care of my own business if you happen to see any bobcats or bears.”
“It’s not fair that you can just whip that thing out and go, and I have to lean against a freaking tree. I’m coming back in my next life as a man.”
Laughing at her way with words, he said, “Don’t do that. You’d ruin my next life if you come back as a man.” He kissed her cute, sunburned nose and left her to do her business while he did his, all the while listening closely for any signs of trouble.
“How ya doing?” he called to her when he was finished.
“Fine.” She came out from behind the tree a minute later carrying the roll of paper and the bag. “Now what do I do with this?”
“I’ve got a garbage bag in the canoe.”
“This whole thing is kinda gross.”
“The first time or two, but after a while you get used to it and it’s just routine. We can’t leave the paper out here. That would be littering.”
Back at the beach, Colton produced the garbage bag and then opened the cooler. “Hungry?”
“How does turkey on rye with lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayo and pickles sound?”
“You made my favorite turkey sandwich from the deli in the city?”
“Oh my God, I think I might love you again.”
“So wait,” he said, withholding the sandwich, “you actually didn’t love me?”
“It was only for a minute. Maybe two. Right around the time the mosquito stung me on the butt. There was a little bit of non-love at that moment. But it passed and now I’m all the way back in love again.”
“You wound me, Luce.” He rested his free hand on his heart. “Right where I live.”
She went to him and kissed him, wincing when her lips connected with the stubble he’d let go without shaving.
“My lips are sunburned, too.”
“I’ll shave later so you can kiss me without pain.”
She kissed him again. “It doesn’t hurt that bad, and your kisses are worth the sacrifice.”
He hooked his arm around her waist and drew her in close to him. “I know this isn’t your thing, but I love having you out here with me. All I ask is that you roll with it and let me show you how fun it can be, okay?”
“I’m sorry if I’ve been a poor sport. I’m trying.”
“You’re not a poor sport. You’re adorable, and I love you.”
“I love you, too, but I’ll love you even more when you hand over that sandwich.”
Smiling, Colton kissed her again and then gave her the sandwich along with a canister of lemon-scented wet wipes. He pulled a blanket from the canoe, spread it out on the sand and then went back for his own sandwich and a couple of sodas for them.
Lucy shook her head when he offered the drink to her. “I’ll just have to pee again.”
“I’ll find you another tree. You have to stay hydrated out here.”
“Fine.” She took the soda, popped it open and took a delicate sip. “Are you happy?”
“Never been happier.”
Surrounded as they were by majestic trees, birds of all kinds, wildflowers of every imaginable color, blue sky and bluer water, there was plenty to look at. But Colton’s gaze was drawn again and again to her as she ate her sandwich and took in her surroundings. He’d give just about anything to know what she was thinking.
“It sure is pretty here,” she finally said.
Her appreciation of the scenery went a long way toward relieving some of the stress he felt about dragging her along on a trip he knew she didn’t want to take.
“Wait until you see it at night. The stars are unlike anything you’ve ever seen.”
“I’m kind of scared to be out here at night.”
“Why would you be scared, honey? Do you think I’d ever, ever, ever let anything happen to you?”
“No, but still… I’ve never slept outside before.”
“You won’t be outside. You’ll be in a tent with me. I promise you’ll be perfectly safe and very comfortable.” He leaned over to kiss her, resting his forehead against hers. “Have a little faith in me?”
“I have all the faith in the world in you. Why do you think I’m here?”
Lucy curled her hand around his neck to keep him close enough to kiss again. He was so adorable and sweet and wanted so badly to show her a good time that Lucy decided to let go of all her worries and fears as well as her irrational need for all the creature comforts of home. She was alone with Colton, one of her favorite places to be. What did it matter where they were?
While she was perfectly content to kiss him, apparently he had other needs that became apparent to her when he lifted her T-shirt to gain access to her belly. “What’re you doing?”
“This,” he said, placing kisses on her belly that made her squirm under him. Pushing her shirt up as he went, he kissed the slopes of her breast and then tongued her nipples through her bra. “And this.”
“Yes, here. Right here.” He released the front clasp on her bra and was devouring her right nipple before she caught up and realized his intentions.
Lucy began to squirm more intently, determined to end this before it got any further out of control. However, since she was no match for his formidable strength, she decided to fight like a girl and pulled his hair.
“Ow,” he said while continuing to stroke her nipple with his tongue.
“We need to stop! I can’t do this here.”
“Yes, you can.”
“No, I can’t!”
He looked up at her, slaying her with those eyes that never looked at her with anything other than love. “Yes,” he said softly, “you can. We’re completely alone here. No one around for miles.”
“Will and Cam are around.”
“They went the other way, and he knows I wanted to be alone with you. They won’t be back.”
“How can you know that for sure?”
“Because I know my brother, and he knows me. Relax, Luce. Let me love you.”
“We can do this later. When it’s dark.”
“We’ll do it then, too.” He drew her nipple into his mouth, sucking hard enough to ensure there wasn’t room for any other thoughts in her head than the divine pleasure she always found in his arms. Then he was tugging at the button to her shorts, unzipping them and pushing them down her legs. His hand slid inside her panties where he discovered at least one part of her was fully onboard with his plan for outdoor, middle-of-the-day, broad-daylight sex on a riverbank.
“Ahh, God,” he whispered as he kissed his way down the front of her. “That’s so hot.”
“Come back up here.” Her heart beat frantically at the thought of what he obviously planned to do.
“In a minute.”
“I love the sound of my name coming from you.”
“Please come up here.”
“I will as soon as I make you come. So the faster you come, the faster I’ll be back to protect you from the prying eyes of the wildlife.” This was said between kisses to her belly and nibbles to her hipbones that made her squirm with interest on her mind rather than retreat.
Her panties slid down her legs and were discarded over his shoulder.
“Don’t lose them!”
“I’ll find them for you. Don’t worry.”
“Don’t worry. Right.”
“Relax, honey,” he said as he kissed his way from her knee up her inner thigh and then back down the other side, skipping over all the places that mattered most. Clearly, he was in no particular hurry as he propped her legs on his broad shoulders.
She really ought to seriously call a halt to this. That was her last cognizant thought before he used his thumbs to open her to his tongue. Staring up at the bright blue, cloudless sky, Lucy gave into the overwhelming desire he aroused in her so easily. All he had to do was look at her in that certain way, and she was a goner. But when he did this, when he made love to her with his mouth and fingers, she became a blathering idiot, incapable of anything other than holding on to his thick hair for dear life as he took her on the wildest of rides.
Outside, in the bright light of day, the effect seemed to be intensified by the fear of getting caught. Her skin felt like it was on fire, and not from the sun. Her legs trembled violently and her sex clenched around his tongue, but the orgasm she needed to move things along was elusive and out of reach.
Moaning, she buried her fingers in his hair.
He sucked hard on her clitoris, making her see stars as he sent his fingers plunging into her. With his free hand, he squeezed her ass, which tripped her over the edge, screaming from the incredible pleasure that ripped through her body.
Moving quickly, he managed to push his shorts down over his hips and align his cock with her still-clenching channel, surging into her and triggering another release.
“God,” he whispered in her ear, his hot breath giving her goose bumps. “You are so hot, Luce. You make me crazy with wanting you.”
“Obviously, you make me crazy, too, if I’m actually having sex outside in the middle of the day.”
“Isn’t it fun?”
“It’s scary, so hurry up.” She raised her hips, trying to move things along so they could get their clothes back on as soon as possible. Of course, her desire for haste only had him slowing down, his pace languid and unhurried as he moved above her.
“I could do this all day,” he said before his captured her lips in a deep, erotic kiss.
Lucy turned away from the kiss. “We can’t do this all day. We have to hurry up.”
“Do you want me to stop?”
“You ask me that when you’re overpowering me in every possible way,” she said with a nervous laugh.
Poised on top of her, he smoothed her hair back from her face and compelled her to meet his gaze while he continued to throb inside her. “I love you,” he said, kissing her softly.
“I love you, too.”
“Then trust me to take care of you and to keep you safe.”
“I do trust you.”
“Let go of your worries and just feel the pleasure.” He grasped her hands and raised them over her head as he picked up the pace again. “Close your eyes and don’t think. Just feel.”
Since there wasn’t much else she could do while completely overtaken by him, she did as he directed and closed her eyes, relaxing into the now-familiar rhythm they always found together.
“That’s it,” he said, bending over her to suck on her nipple. “Ahhh, I love that full-body blush.”
Lucy hated that her skin gave away her every emotion, but she’d learned not to tell him that every time he said how much he loved it.
He released her hands so he could slide his under her. Gripping her ass, he went for broke. “Touch yourself, Luce,” he said in a harsh whisper that told her he was close.
Before him, she would’ve been mortified by such a demand from one of the few lovers she’d had in the past. Now she slid her hand down to where they were joined without hesitation, anticipating the sublime pleasure they found together.
“Yes,” he said in the same gravely tone. “Just like that. So hot. So incredible.”
His words were every bit as powerful as the deep thrusts of his cock.
She opened her eyes to find his closed, his jaw throbbing from the effort to hold back and wait for her.
He surged into her, and the combination of that and the press of her fingers against her clit had her forgetting everything that didn’t involve him and the way he made her feel every time they made love. With a protracted groan, he came with her and then rested on top of her, his head nestled between her neck and shoulder.
Lucy ran her hand over his back, which was damp with sweat. “There’s definitely something to be said for outside, middle-of-the-day sex.”
“Told ya.” His lips curved against her neck as he kissed his way to her lips. “There’s something to be said for sex with you no matter where we have it.”
“This isn’t going to be a regular thing.”
“You said yourself it was amazing, and—” He stopped himself mid-sentence, cocked his head, listening to something.
“Is that… singing?”
“Did I make you hear music?”
Grunting out a laugh, he pushed himself up on his arms to peer above the row of low-cut bushes that hid them from the river. “Oh, shit.” Colton moved quickly, grabbing the blanket and rolling them without withdrawing from her.
“What the hell?”
“What is it?”
“If I’m not mistaken, it’s a Boy Scout troop.”
“Are you freaking kidding me?” she whispered in an angry hiss.
“Shhh, be quiet. Maybe they won’t notice us.”
She was going to punch him the second she could do it without fear of being caught—naked and having sex—by a bunch of kids! And was he… getting hard again? Lucy began to struggle against his tight hold. “Don’t even think about it,” she said through gritted teeth.
He shook with silent laughter that only made her madder.
“I’m going to kill you for this.”
Nuzzling her ear, he bit down gently on her earlobe. “No, you won’t.”
“Yes, I will!”
“Shhh. Maybe they won’t see us.”
“What are they doing, Mr. Carson?” a young voice asked.
“Ummm, camping,” the adult replied in a terse, annoyed tone.
“They forgot their tent.”
“Apparently so. Let’s continue on down the river and find another place to stop for lunch.”
“Why are there underwear hanging from that bush?”
“Paddle boys. Right now.”
“Why would someone hang their underwear from a bush? A bear might take it.”
“You’re paddling. Not talking.”
By now, Colton was laughing so hard he had tears rolling down his face that fell against her neck and shoulder.
“You’re a dead man,” she said as the young voices faded in the distance.
“What a great story to tell our kids someday.”
“We can’t tell them that! You’re crazy!”
With his head resting on her shoulder he laughed and laughed and laughed.
Lucy couldn’t keep a small smile from occupying her lips as she listened to him. He had such a great, lusty laugh. Speaking of lusty… As he laughed, he continued to throb inside her. “Get that thing out of me and find my hanging underwear.”
“As long as he’s back for round two, it’d be such a shame to waste him.”
“Only you could get a hard-on over being caught having sex by a bunch of kids.”
“They didn’t see a thing, and it was all you, babe.”
“None of this is my fault.” She pushed on his shoulders and managed to finally dislodge him.
He sat back in a squat, his hard cock standing at attention between them. Colton glanced down, clucking with disapproval. “You’re really going to leave him in this condition for hours and hours? Is that what kind of wife you’re going to be?”
Lucy sat up, holding the blanket snug against her chest. “Find. My. Clothes. Now.”
“Fine. Be that way.”
He gathered her shorts, T-shirt and bra and handed them to her. “Oh look at that,” he said of her panties, which were, in fact, hanging from a bush. “I bet I couldn’t do that again if I tried.”
“You won’t get another chance.”
With his own clothes in hand, he sat next to her on the blanket, leaned in close to her and nibbled playfully on her shoulder. “Come on, Luce. You have to admit that was funny.”
“It was mortifying!”
“But funny. Come on… Admit it…”
“If I say it was even kind of funny that’ll encourage you, and I can’t do that. You’re already totally out of control.” She gestured to his still-erect penis. “And so is he.”
“On behalf of both us, I’m hurt.”
“Go take a dunk in the freezing river. That’ll take care of him.”
“Great idea.” He stood up, still bare-ass naked, and walked toward the water.
“Colton! Put a bathing suit on or something!”
“Why? There’s no one around.”
“Where have I heard that before?” She pulled on her clothes while he took a dip in the freezing water.
“Holy shit that’s cold!”
“Maybe it’ll chill you out for a few hours.”
“Won’t last that long.”
“Then I’ll dip you again.”
Even though she was truly mortified that a group of Boy Scouts had nearly caught them having sex, she couldn’t help but think about what she’d be doing on a summer Saturday in New York if she’d never met him. Probably hanging out at her apartment, doing laundry, perhaps seeing her sister and niece at some point. That life had been satisfying and filled with people who loved her. But this life… Her life with him was one adventure after another, and she loved every minute she got to spend with him—even when he was embarrassing the hell out of her.
Like now as he walked out of the water in all his glory, hands on his hips as he strolled toward her like a sexy panther on the prowl. And he was still hard!
Lucy scrambled to her feet, pulling her shirt over her head as she backpedaled away from him.
He rushed toward her and hooked an arm around her waist, stopping her from going any further. “Don’t move. There’s poison ivy right behind you.” Lifting her like she was a feather rather than a fully grown woman, he deposited her gently on the blanket.
She looked over her shoulder at the shiny green leaves on the bush behind her and shuddered when she realized how close she’d come to stepping right into it. “Thanks,” she said with a kiss for her rescuer. “My hero.”
“So I’m forgiven for the Boy Scouts?” he asked as he pulled on his clothes.
“Crap. I thought I just gotten myself a get-out-of-jail-free card with the poison ivy rescue.”
“No such luck.”
“You’ll forgive me before the day is out. I’ll make it my mission in life.”
“Have at it.”
She helped him to gather up their trash and to fold the blanket that she would never look at the same way again. Thank God there’d been a blanket.
He took it from her and headed back to the canoe. “Hang on for one sec.” Returning to where she stood on the beach, he withdrew a tube of sunscreen from his cargo shorts. “Time to reapply. We can’t have that beautiful skin burning.”
She held out a hand for the tube. “I can do it.”
“Oh please. Allow me.”
“You’re shameless, Abbott.”
“Call me what you will, but my hands on your skin is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world.”
“Is it better than outdoor, middle-of-the-day sex?”
“It’s a very close second to that.” He set about applying the sunscreen with intense concentration and attention to detail.
“How is it that you can make the application of sunscreen into a sensual massage?”
“Is that what I’m doing?”
She elbowed his ribs playfully. “Like you don’t know.”
“I’m completely innocent.”
Snorting with laughter, she tugged on his hair. “You weren’t completely innocent the day you were born.”
“Ahh, Luce, you know me so well. It’s not my fault I was born with a bit of the devil in me. But you love me, devil and all.”
“It seems I do.”
When he’d applied the sunscreen stick to her face and nose, he leaned in to kiss her. “Now do your lips. I need them nice and soft later.”
She hooked an arm around his neck to keep him from getting away.
He raised an eyebrow. “Yes?”
“I just want you to know…”
His arms encircled her waist. “What do you want me to know, babe?”
“That even when I’m dying of embarrassment, which is often when you’re around, I love every minute we spend together.”
His eyes went soft with love and his smile lit up his handsome face. “Does that mean I’m forgiven for the Boy Scouts?”
She stole a kiss since he was so close, and his lips were always so appealing. “Not even kinda.” Lucy released him and headed for the canoe, smiling at the deep groan that followed her.
Lucy would never admit it, out of fear of having to go camping again, perhaps frequently, but the rest of their day was extremely enjoyable. When she and Colton caught up with Will and Cameron, they’d already found a place to camp and had set up their tent.
While Will helped Colton unload the canoe and pitch their tent, Lucy and Cameron enjoyed glasses of wine and watched the men work.
“I feel sort of decadent letting them do all the work,” Cameron said.
“I don’t,” Lucy replied. “This was their big idea. We’re just the guests.”
“True.” Cameron glanced over to where the brothers were arguing about the best nozzle to use on the battery-powered air pump they’d brought to inflate the mattresses. “Boys, don’t fight. You’re ruining our cocktail hour.”
“Well, we can’t have that, now can we?” Will asked with a droll smile for his girlfriend.
“They’re like a couple of little kids sometimes,” Lucy said.
“All the time. So where did you guys disappear to earlier?”
“Speaking of little kids,” Lucy said, feeling her face heat with embarrassment all over again.
“Oh do tell! It must be good if your face lights up like that.”
“It’s good all right.” She relayed the story of their outdoor sexcapade and how they’d almost been caught by a Boy Scout troop.
Cameron nearly peed her pants laughing, especially at the part about Lucy’s underwear hanging from a bush. “Oh my God, stop it,” Cameron said, panting and wiping tears. “Panties on a bush. Isn’t that perfect?”
“It was positively magical.”
“Will, you’ve got to hear this!”
“Cameron! Don’t tell him!”
“I have to. We tell each other everything.”
“Oh yes, especially this.”
The guys joined them, and Cameron regaled Will with the tale of the riverbank and the Boy Scouts. By the time she was finished, Will was bent in half with laughter. “That’s so awesome. Why aren’t they camping in a tent?” He lost it laughing again.
“My favorite part is the panties in the bush,” Cameron said with a wink for Lucy.
“We’re glad to be able to entertain you two,” Colton said as he refilled Lucy’s wine glass. “Drink, honey.”
“He’s trying to butter me up so he can get lucky again later. He’s shameless that way.”
Cameron wiped the tears from her eyes. “Thanks for the best laugh I’ve had in ages.”
“Happy to be of service,” Colton said, filling her glass, too.
“Now isn’t this fun, ladies?” Will asked.
“It doesn’t totally suck,” Lucy said.
Will raised his beer bottle in a toast to Colton. “Victory!”
“It’s a little early to declare victory,” Lucy said. “Anything could still happen.”
“We’ll take the points where we can get them,” Colton said, squatting beside her chair for a kiss.
The brothers cooked burgers over the open fire and produced a salad one of them had made before they left home.
“They’re pulling out all the stops,” Cameron said to Lucy. “This might be the best burger I’ve ever had.”
“It is good,” Lucy said.
“And the salad,” Will said. “Nice touch, right?”
“Very nice, honey,” Cameron said with a pat on his head.
“We know what you girls like,” Colton said. “Wait till you see what’s for dessert.”
“Mmm,” Cameron said. “There’s dessert?”
“Duh,” Will said. “You can’t camp without s’mores.”
“S’mores.” Lucy moaned with pleasure. “My favorite.”
“Don’t moan like that,” Colton said. “It gives me ideas.”
She rolled her eyes at him. “Everything gives you ideas.”
Cameron laughed. “His brother suffers from the same ailment!”
Will puffed out his chest. “It’s in the genes, ladies.”
“He means j-e-a-n-s,” Cam said to laughter from the others.
By the time they began to toast the marshmallows for the s’mores, the sun had set and darkness had rapidly descended. By darkness, Lucy meant darkness like she’d never seen in her life, except perhaps on Colton’s mountain. But it was different knowing they’d be sleeping outside with only a thin canvas tent between them and anything that might want to get to them. The thought made her shiver.
“Are you cold, honey?” Colton asked, tuned into her as always.
“Then why the shiver?”
“What if there’s a bear or bobcat that wants to eat us while we’re sleeping?”
In the glow of the fire, she could see him trying to hold back a laugh. “They won’t bother us.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because, for the most part they’re more afraid of us than we are of them.”
“Right… A big grizzly is really afraid of us.”
“It’s pretty safe,” Will assured her, “or we never would’ve brought you here.”
“That’s right.” Colton put his arm around Lucy and kissed her temple. “You girls are far too precious to us to ever risk you to bears or bobcats. Don’t be scared, ok?”
Surrounded by his muscular body and warmed by his assurances, Lucy relaxed against him, still trying to be a good sport for his sake even if the thought of wildlife visiting in the night scared the hell out of her.
With the darkness came mosquitos in swarms. Colton produced the can of bug spray that they all took turns applying yet again.
On the other side of the fire, Cameron sat on Will’s lap, whispering and kissing.
“Let’s take a walk,” Colton said.
“A walk? Where?”
“Not far. I want to show you something.”
“Is that a pickup line?”
“I’d be suspicious, Lucy,” Will said.
“I am suspicious.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Colton said, chuckling. “But it’s not a line, and I really do want to show you something.”
She had no desire to leave the relative safety of the campsite, but she didn’t want him to think she didn’t trust him. So she took his outstretched hand and let him help her up.
“We’re going to hit the hay,” Will said. “We’ll see you guys in the morning.”
“Sleep tight,” Colton said to his brother.
“If we’re not back by morning, send help,” Lucy said.
Cam laughed at her distress. “We will.”
With a flashlight in hand, Colton led her to a well-worn path that led into a densely forested area.
“You’re sure this is safe?” Lucy asked.
“Positive.” He squeezed her hand in reassurance. “It’s not far. Just up a short hill.”
His idea of a “short” hill was her idea of a mini-mountain, and by the time they emerged from the trees at the top, she was winded and sweaty. Then he turned off the flashlight, and she gasped at the astonishing view of the stars that seemed close enough to touch. “Oh, wow,” she said with a sigh.
“I wanted you to see that, and it’s so much better up here.”
“It’s amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Colton stood behind her, his arms looped around her and his lips nuzzling her neck. Against her ear, he hummed the chorus to “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.”
Thrilled to be sharing such a moment with him, she smiled and took hold of his hands.
“Any time I hear that song from now on I’ll think of the first time I took you camping.”
“So will I. Thank you for bringing me here, for showing me new things aren’t always bad things.”
“Now I’m forgiven for earlier. All it took was a few million stars.”
“Not forgiven yet.”
His laughter made his body shake behind her. “Does this mean you might let me take you camping again?”
“Don’t press your luck. All I’ll say is maybe. I have to admit you and Will did a great job anticipating our every need, right down to the wine, the bug spray, the sunscreen and the salad.”
“Don’t forget the toilet paper.”
“Don’t you always bring that?”
“Nah, we’re men. That’s for sissies.”
“I’m not even going to ask…”
“It’s better if you don’t.” He rubbed his hard cock back and forth over her bottom.
She pushed back against him, making him groan. “Ahh, there he is. I was wondering where he’d gotten off to the last few hours.”
“He’s been there all along, sad and lonely, hoping you might notice him.”
“Poor baby. He’s so neglected.”
“I’m glad you feel for his plight.”
“What do you say we make it an early night? I heard that air mattress you brought is ultra deluxe.”
“Only the best for my girl.”
She took one more look at the incredible sight above, committing it to memory. “Lead the way.”
He helped her down the steep incline, keeping her from tumbling a couple of times as they worked their way back to the path that led to the campsite.
“How long do you think it’ll be before I can walk down a steep Vermont hill without your assistance?”
“A few more months. It takes a while to get acclimated to mountain life. You shouldn’t be expected to figure it all out overnight. You’re doing great so far.”
“Am I? Really? I sort of feel like I must be a drag because you’re so good at it.”
He stopped walking and turned to her. “You could never be a drag to me, Luce. I get us around in the mountains. You get us around in the city. It all comes out in the wash.”
“Yes, I suppose it does.”
“I love that you’ve never done any of this before. I love that I get to share these experiences with you and introduce you to things I enjoy doing. And I love you—no matter what we’re doing.”
“I love you, too.” She reached up to place both her hands on his face and tugged him close enough to kiss. “In fact, I might be prepared to show you just how much I love you.”
“Tent. Now.” He moved swiftly through the trees until they emerged into the campsite where Will and Cameron’s tent was aglow from the lantern they’d lit inside.
“Oh shit,” Colton whispered as their silhouettes came into focus, showing exactly what was going on inside the tent. “Someone please remove my corneas.”
Cameron was bent over Will, making all his camping fantasies come true.
“Turn off the light, Romeo,” Colton called to them. “Your tent is see-through.”
Cameron let out a scream. “Will! Oh my God! They can see us!”
“How’s this my fault? I didn’t know it was see-through. I’ve never had sex in this tent before.”
Lucy was crippled with laughter as Will begged Cameron to continue what she’d been doing before they were so rudely interrupted.
Colton nudged her toward their tent. “I believe certain promises were made,” Colton reminded her as he unzipped the mosquito screen.
“I need to pee and brush my teeth.”
“I can assist with both those things.”
After they’d attended to business, Colton was more than happy to help her out of her clothes and into the sleeping bags he’d zipped together earlier to make one big bed for them.
The soft flannel felt incredible against her bare skin but not as good as he felt when he joined her.
“Shut the light off. I’ve been on display enough today.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He flipped the switch on the lantern and plunged them into darkness.
“Wow, that’s dark.”
“Uh-huh.” He nuzzled her neck. “No one will see a thing.” With his lips and tongue and teeth, he set her on fire.
Something about the cocoon of the tent, the sleeping bag, the pervasive darkness and the nearness of the man she loved had all her inhibitions melting away as she gave herself to him with the kind of abandon she’d rarely experienced.
“Jesus, Lucy,” he whispered at one point. “I need to take you camping more often.”
She laughed and threw her arms over hear head, giving him free reign to take whatever he wanted. Her obvious capitulation seemed to make him a little crazy, and they went at it like they hadn’t had sex in a year… Until a loud pop followed by a hiss stopped them cold.
“What the hell was that?” she asked as he froze above her.
Colton lost it laughing as the air mattress below them rapidly deflated. “You broke the bed, babe.”
“I broke the bed?”
“Yep, it’s all your fault. You went all wilderness vixen on me. And besides, I was told I had to provide the hottest sex of your life to get you to go camping again. I was just doing as directed.”
Laughing at the term “wilderness vixen,” she said, “I thought this air mattress was super ultra deluxe?”
“It is, but it’s no match for Lucy when she lets loose.”
She smiled and reached for him, kissing him with abandon. “If you finish me off in spectacular style, I might forgive you for all of this.”
He pushed into her, apparently up for the challenge. “Ohhh, really? You’re on.”
“So, wilderness vixen?”
“You like that, huh?” he asked, sounding more breathless by the second.
“I love it.”
“I love you, my wilderness vixen.”
She put her arms around him and held on tight as he finished her off in very spectacular style. “I love you, too.”
“Told you tent sex was the hottest sex you’d ever have in your life.”
She squeezed his lips shut. “Stop talking before you ruin it.”
He nibbled his way free of her fingers. “Yes, dear.”
Lucy held him close, happy and in love with him no matter where they were, even in a tent in the middle of nowhere, Vermont.
With special thanks to Holly and Erica, last names omitted to protect the saucy, for sharing some of their favorite camping stories, and to all the readers who made me laugh so hard with their camping (mis)adventures. This is why I’m with Lucy—give me a resort and spa ANY day! And thanks to Julie, who came up with the PERFECT name for this story over a fun dinner in San Francisco.
Marie Force/HTJB, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
~ Calvin Coolidge
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