A beautiful bride, a handsome groom, and a private cruise. What could possibly go wrong? How about a hurricane, one stranded yacht, a few useless, scantily clad bridesmaids and an equal number of horny groomsmen?
In the midst of it all, maid of honor Gillian Marlboro wonders if Jamie Foster could be not only the groom’s best man, but also the man for her. Would the universe be so cruel as to hand her the perfect man and then let them both perish on an island that provides no fresh water and only Mother Nature’s aphrodisiacs for sustenance?
THE SEX, LIES & WEDDING CAKE COLLECTION
(All independent stories that do NOT need to be read in any order)
“It’s so ugly.” She pressed her lips tightly together, as if to block the entry of anything unpleasant between them.
Jamie couldn’t hide his smile at Gillian’s expression. “Then close your eyes.”
It would be too easy to get lost in those eyes, so he wrestled his attention back to the task at hand, getting Gillian to eat.
Nearby, the dance of the natives stranded with them continued as the others consumed more steak and, of course, alcohol, which only made for more idiotic behavior. Jamie had purposely positioned their little picnic meal away from them so they could have privacy. Julie was upset, afraid they wouldn’t get rescued in time for the wedding, which meant Rob was upset too. He was with her inside her stateroom, so Jamie and Gillian were on their own with the feast he’d harvested for them.
The furrow between her brows deepened. “Are you sure it’s edible?”
“Yes. Not only is it edible, sea urchins are prized in certain parts of the world.” Figuring he needed to distract her, he launched into all he knew about sea urchins. “The best time to gather them is at night under a full moon.”
Her gaze darted to the luminescent orb above them. “Like tonight.”
He smiled. “Like tonight. Some islanders drizzle them with olive oil and a dash of vinegar.”
Luckily for him, the galley was very well stocked. As he spoke, he did what he described, preparing the raw sea urchin he’d opened for her with the oil and vinegar. With a kitchen towel wrapped around his left hand to protect him from the spines, he used the tines of the fork in his right to lift out the colorful little sections of flesh. He didn’t dare elaborate and tell Gillian the edible part was actually the hermaphroditic creature’s gonads. Some things were better left unsaid.
“What do you do for a living?”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “You’re stalling.”
“No. Well, yes, but I really am curious. You know more about everything than anyone else I know.”
“I know a little bit about a lot of things. That doesn’t mean I know everything about everything. I’m a professor in the anthropology department at the University of Chicago. Since we’re playing question and answer, what do you do?”
“I’m a boring old accountant.”
“You’re not boring or old.”
“I’m so boring I had three years worth of vacation days stored up because I never do anything or go anywhere. That turned out to be lucky, though, since I’ve used them so I could help my sister with the wedding.”
“Lucky indeed. Now enough stalling. Are you ready?” He held the fork up.
She wrinkled her nose. “You first.”
Jamie sighed dramatically while rolling his eyes and was rewarded with a smile from Gillian. He slurped down the custard-like fish then licked his lips. “Mmm. Good. Your turn now.”
Gillian watched him closely, as if waiting for him to keel over or blow up like a balloon.
“I think you’re lying to me about how it tastes.” She squinted at the small pile of spiny creatures he’d caught.
“Only one way to find out.” He picked up another urchin, prepared it the same way he had the first and lifted the loaded fork.
She hesitated a beat and then her lips parted and she waited for him to feed her. His breath caught in his throat as he watched the golden food enter her mouth. His eyes never left her while she swallowed. Then her pink tongue appeared and licked those luscious lips and he had trouble swallowing himself. “Good?”
“Not as bad as I thought.” She shrugged.
“Glad to hear it.” He finally remembered to pull his hand with the fork back from her. “Ready for some kelp salad?”
Gillian laughed. “Sure. Why not.”
Earlier, he’d made a dressing for the sea kelp with ingredients he’d found in the galley, and then put the salad into bowls. She took it now, poking at it with another fork. “It looks kind of normal, I guess.”
“It is. Just like lettuce, but it grows in the sea.”
Those gorgeous lips twisted. “You mean like sea weed?”
She sighed. “Okay.”
He watched as she chewed. Yeah, it would be a little rubbery but that didn’t mean it didn’t taste good. Meanwhile, he was imagining what that mouth could do to him. To distract himself, he started talking. “Sea kelp is very high in protein, fiber, vitamins B and E, and manganese.”
Looking less than impressed, she swallowed. “Oh, good, because I’ve often thought how I don’t get enough manganese in my diet.”
Now his lips twisted. “Admit it. It’s not that bad.”
Rolling her eyes, she finally smiled. “It’s not that bad.”
He returned her smile. “I told you so. Ready for some abalone?”
A short laugh burst from Gillian. “I don’t know. Am I?”
“Yes.” If she wasn’t, he would have to get her ready because the meat was nearly gone and would be too warm to eat soon anyway. Unless they tried making jerky out of the limited leftover steak, this was what they would have to survive on until they were rescued.
He began a detailed lecture about abalone, making it sound as attractive as possible. “Some people say the flavor is richer than scallops. The texture is supposed to be firmer than calamari. It’s a delicacy, prized by the Chinese.”
“I don’t usually eat my scallops or my calamari raw. In fact, deep fried and greasy and smothered in red sauce is how I prefer my calamari.”
“We don’t have to have the abalone raw. I mean, it can be served raw in sushi or ceviche, but it can be grilled too, or even fried.” Abandoning his bowl, he got up and pulled two aluminum foil packets from the coals at the edge of the fire. “I wrapped it with a little white wine, lemon, salt and pepper.”
Her eyebrows shot up. Had he actually impressed her? “You are quite the survival chef, aren’t you? Perhaps you should get your own cable cooking show. Half Survivor, half Rachel Ray.”
“Not a bad idea. You can be my sidekick. We’ll roam the world, stopping in all the most exotic places and I’ll cook for you.” Jamie looked up and found her watching him as he plated the fish and handed it to her. She had a strange expression on her face. “What?”
Her throat worked as she swallowed. “That sounds nice actually, traveling the world, eating. Together.”
Out of the blue, the memory of her going down over his cock the day they met hit him like a physical blow. His body immediately woke up. “Um. Here.”
Taking the plate he thrust in her direction, she broke the gaze and concentrated on the food. “Thanks.”
With the second dish he’d prepared for himself in hand, he sat again as Gillian began systematically to devour the fish. “I guess you like it.”
“Yes. It’s good.” Her eyes shot nervously to him, then away again. Was she suddenly shy around him? Or was it something else?
The tension between them was almost palpable. His gut twisted and his erection got even harder. To distract himself from thinking about throwing her over his shoulder and tossing her onto his bed, he shoved a forkful of abalone into his mouth. When he glanced up, she was watching him again.
She placed the now empty plate on the blanket next to her and, if his mind wasn’t playing tricks on him, she leaned toward him. Or perhaps he leaned closer to her.
Their faces were a breath apart now. His gaze dropped to watch her lips part as her breath quickened.
“Reilly!” The squeal had him pulling back guiltily just as Reilly sped past, laughing and swinging a bikini top over his head as a topless bridesmaid pursued him covering bouncing bare breasts with her hands.
Brandon’s laughter came from somewhere in the dark followed by a female voice saying, “You two are a couple of immature idiots.”
His response to that was, “Yeah, whatever. You know you love it.”
That was followed by another scream and the sound of a slap as Jamie guessed Brandon had most likely imitated Reilly and grabbed the other girl’s top.
Jamie feared the romantic moment had been lost. He glanced back to Gillian. The dark look of desire still in her eyes made him think again.
What the hell. What’s the worst thing she could do? Slap him? Say no? Jamie gathered his courage and went for it. “I think I could use some privacy. How about you?”
Heart pounding, he glanced at the plates surrounding them. As anxious as he was to get her alone, he supposed he should take them below.
Gillian wrapped her fingers around his bicep. “Leave it. We’ll clean up later.”
She pulled him to his feet and toward the yacht, and he didn’t think about the dishes again.
The door to the stateroom was barely closed before her lips crashed into his. It was not the tentative kiss of a woman who’d only just met a man two days before, but instead, the frantic, clothes-tearing kind. The kind of kissing that could only lead to something else.