A Trick of the Moon
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by Melinda Barron
Category: Erotica/Menage Erotica/Romance
Description: BBW Maura Atwell has put away her attorney shoes to run her father's guest ranch while he recovers from a stroke. When what looks to be a Native American kiva is discovered on her father's land, she does what any good attorney would do: she has it investigated. Archeologist Declan Littlecreek and his best friend, policeman Dario Fuentes, travel to the Full Moon Ranch to see what they can learn. While the threesome explores the kiva, they also discover a passion that burns hot between the three of them, binding them together. Will it survive the end of the exploration or will it turn out to be just a trick of the moon? Publisher's Note: Contains menage situations (m/f/m).
eBook Publisher: Loose Id, LLC, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: November 2009
117 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [209 KB]
Reading time: 139-195 min.
"Yes, yes, get in here!" She prayed she didn't sound like a lovesick teenager. Heavens above, had he been this gorgeous just a few months ago? And then she remembered it wasn't a few months ago. It was more than a year ago. "How was your trip?"
"Not bad," Declan said. He put his arm around her and pulled her into a half hug, then wrapped his other arm around her and pulled her closer. The feel of his hard body against her made her body quicken even more. It went into total overdrive when she saw the man stepping in behind Declan.
Two gorgeous men in her house? What had she done to deserve this? Whatever it was, she wanted to record it in her mind so she could do it again.
Maura glanced at Declan. He looked just the same as he had the last time she'd seen him. His long, black hair ran to his waist. He usually kept it pulled back, but today it hung loose, framing his full face with its high cheekbones and prominent nose. His dark green eyes were the only facial feature he'd inherited from his Irish mother--well, that and his skin tone. It wasn't as dark as other Native Americans, and he told her that was the one thing that always told others he wasn't full-blooded Indian. The rest of his features came from his father, a Navajo she'd met more than once. Declan's parents were wonderful, and very open. The times she'd spent with them contained many happy memories of joking and laughter.
Today, Declan wore faded jeans and a dark blue T-shirt that worked well with his caramel-colored skin. He pulled her into another hug and whispered, "It's so good to see you again."
"You too." She wrapped her arms around his neck as he tightened his hold. Hopefully he hadn't noticed the way she'd been staring at him. She looked over her shoulder at the man who stood behind them. He was Hispanic and just as gorgeous as Declan. Like his friend, Dario wore jeans and a T-shirt. His black hair hung just below his shoulders and was wavy at the ends. He studied her carefully with his deep brown eyes and she wondered exactly what he was thinking. There was a slight glint to his gaze that could have been amusement, or just deep thought, as he seemed to be memorizing her face just like she was doing to his.
Both men were tall, but Dario was much beefier than Declan, who had always told her his frame resembled that of his mother's side of the family, tall and lean. They both had muscles, though, wonderful muscles that stretched out the arms of their T-shirts. She mentally willed herself to stop acting like they both belonged on stage at an all-male revue.
"Hi." She tried to hide a grimace as she realized how lame that sounded.
"Oh sorry." Declan released her and stepped aside. "Maura Atwell, meet Dario Fuentes. We went to junior high and high school together."
"And now you're a cop?"
"So they say," Dario replied, winking at her. "It makes it legal for me to carry handcuffs and a gun."
"Oh, well I'll remember to behave myself while you're around." She put her hands on her stomach, trying to soothe the butterflies without looking like that's what she was doing. He had handcuffs on him? That was interesting. "There are other loaded guns around, but they're all locked up."
"What a pity, locking up loaded guns." Dario winked again and it wasn't hard to get his meaning. She blushed, but he kept talking and she hoped neither of the two gorgeous men standing with her noticed her red cheeks. "Don't worry; I won't shoot you. I might spank you if you're bad; you might keep that in mind."
What was that he said? Spank her? She shot an inquisitive gaze at Declan, who was grinning.
"Dario, behave." Declan pulled her close again. "To get back on target, our trip was fine. Although the last hour of it seemed to be more like six hours."
"Yeah, the road's long and barren. You want to bring in your stuff, or have something to drink? Are you hungry?"
"Not yet," Declan said, stepping around her. "We filled up on junk food just a little while ago. How long a ride is it to the site?"
"About an hour and a half by horseback. Do you both ride?"
The affirmatives from both of them were good to hear. "We can take an SUV out there, but it's a little bumpy that way. The horses provide a better ride."
"Car tires might obliterate evidence of someone else being there," Dario said. "How many people have been there since you discovered it?"
"Just me, or so I think. I advised the hands to avoid that area."
"Good," Dario said. "The less traffic, the more chances of reconstructing what happened."
"Definitely." Declan turned toward the door. "You want to go now? We can bring our stuff in when we get back."
"I want to go today, yes, but let's sit and talk for a few minutes first." This part would be easy. She was good at tackling subjects like this, as long as she didn't piss Declan off in the long run. If she didn't word this just right, she would upset his sense of honor, and she didn't want to do that.
They exchanged a look of confusion and she knew she'd already put her foot in it. She should have mentioned this to Declan during her phone call.
"Let's sit down." She sat on the middle of the couch, surprised when they sat on either side of her instead of taking a seat in one of the chairs. She had knees pressing into her own on either side and it provided a spark of fire that felt absolutely wonderful.
"What's up?" Declan's voice was calm, and she hoped it stayed that way.
"My father's a little concerned about not being here. Not that he doesn't trust me, but this is his land."
"Of course." Declan's voice was cautious. "Your father's met me, though. He knows I'm not going to go loot the place, right? What is it he's worried about?"
"He wants me to hire you." Maura sat up straighter and went into lawyer mode. "It makes sense, if you think about it. If this does turn out to be something other than a modern model that someone built, then it will sound better to say, we had an archeologist come look at it rather than just my friend Declan."
"Hire me?" Declan focused his gaze on her. "I'm not here to make money. I'm here because you, my friend, wanted my help. If you think I came here wanting to get paid, then--"
"I don't think that's what she said, Deck." Maura was happy to hear Dario's voice interrupt Declan, who was none too happy about her suggestion. "And she's got a point. If this is something that has to be reported to the government, who better to write a report than an archeologist who's been hired to survey the site."
She shot Dario a grateful glance, then looked back at Declan, who seemed to be carefully considering what to say. That was Declan through and through, she knew. He never said anything without thinking about the consequences.
"I'm still an archeologist, whether or not I'm paid," Declan replied, anger riding the edge of his words. "To offer me money for a favor insults me."
"That's not what he meant," Maura said, putting her hand on Declan's thigh. This wasn't a professional thing to do, but she hoped it would soothe him just a little. "He's afraid someone could come back and say we didn't follow procedure, that we messed things up. If you're his employee, then it's obvious that he took it seriously and had it investigated."
"I would investigate as a friend too."
"Yes, but a report signed by you as an employee has more weight than a report signed by a friend," Dario said. "I see Mr. Atwell's point. As a cop I'd be more likely to believe a report from an employee rather than one of a friend. Sorry, buddy, but it's the way of the world."
Declan leaned back against the couch, pressing his leg harder into her own. "Employees lie, you know. It doesn't mean it's totally truthful."
"But it means it was more than just a handshake agreement." Maura leaned back so she didn't have to turn to look at him. "My father trusts you, as do I. Implicitly. It's not you we're worried about, it's the others who might come after, if we discover we have something big here."
There was a long, pregnant pause, and then Declan nodded. "Fine. I'm your employee. When do we go to work, boss?"
She smiled, happy as he returned it. "Thank you." She turned to Dario. "And you too. Both of you will be employees while you're here."
"I don't know"--Dario lifted his eyebrows and tilted his head just a little--"how much are you offering?"
Declan snorted out a laugh and Maura joined in. "My father suggested a hundred dollars a day, plus room and board."
"Oh no." Declan stood and moved around the coffee table. "That's way too much. I'll go for twenty-five."
"Twenty-five?" Maura studied him carefully. "Way too low. Seventy-five."
"Fifty," Dario put in. "That's in the middle."
"Done." Declan nodded. "Do you want me to sign a contract, Ms. Lawyer?"
"Yes." Maura stood. "I've already prepared one. It's very simple and just says that you've been hired to examine the site and verify exactly what we have. I just need to change the money amount, and print off two now, for you and Dario."
"Well snap to it, boss." Declan glanced around the room. "Where's the computer? We're burning daylight and I want to see the site today."
Maura headed toward the back end of the house. "You guys can bring in your gear while I'm printing. There are three bedrooms behind the kitchen. Mine is there, and you can choose between you from the other two."
She'd just entered the hallway when Dario's voice reached her ears. "Is there an archeological union we need to join? We want to be sure we're treated fairly, you know, make sure management doesn't take advantage of us."
Maura backed out of the hallway and glared at him. "I'm going to have difficulty with you, aren't I?"
"Count on it," Declan told her. "He's always been a troublemaker."
"It's part of my charm." Dario held out his hands and she could tell he was trying to look as innocent as possible. It only made him look sexier. "Honestly."
"Right." Maura glanced between the two of them. They were giving her sheepish grins that made her stomach flutter. "Maybe I need a boss's union, something to protect me from the both of you. No funny stuff."
She wagged her finger at them, then headed down the hallway. The deep male laughter that followed let her know Declan wasn't angry with her, which was good. It also let her know this time with them would be entertaining, even if she and Declan weren't alone to work toward a romantic relationship. At least they were together for a while, and that was a start.