Jul 27, 03:21 PM


Katherine had about two hours to get ready for her date. Her date, now there was an oxymoron. To appease the guilt, Katherine rephrased that thought to Having dinner with a friend. Yeah, right, just like she would be going tubing with a friend on Tuesday. Who was she kidding? They were both dates. After thanking her conscience for sharing, Katherine told it to take a hike.

By the time she'd bathed, dressed and finished her makeup, she only had half an hour before meeting Ben. While making sure she had everything she needed in her purse, Katherine thought she heard Ryan's truck. Sure enough, he'd just pulled into her driveway.

She went out on the porch. Surely he hadn't forgotten about her dinner with Ben. If he had, this could be awkward. Seeing her dressed for a night out should jog his memory.

Ryan got out of the truck. He had on a pair of cutoffs, a T-shirt and sunglasses. She glimpsed his ponytail when he closed the door. With this unexpected preview of Tuesday, Katherine had to remember her camera.

"Hello, Ryan. I'm surprised to see you tonight."

He joined her on the porch. "I just got off work and saw your car still here. Thought I'd stop and say hello before you hook up with Ben." He took off his sunglasses and gave her a once over. "Damn, you look good."

"Thank you." It seemed he did remember she had a dinner date. "I'm meeting Ben at six. I have to go in a few minutes."

"I figured as much." He folded his glasses and stuffed them into his shirt pocket. "You're probably wondering why I'm here."

"Well, actually, I am."

"Wish I could tell you. I tried to come up with some lame excuse to stop on my way home, but couldn't think of one. The truth is I wanted to see you in your new dress."

"Do you like it?"

"Probably too much."

"How can you like it too much?"

Ryan shifted and hooked his thumb in his jeans pocket, making an unsuccessful attempt to cover his groin. "I'll embarrass myself if I answer that." 


Katherine and Ben

"Drink your cognac. You're too sober for me to get you into the backseat."

Katherine drank some brandy and watched Ben watching her. "You're serious about this backseat thing, aren't you?"

"Hell, yes. I've been looking at you in that dress all damn night and . . ." Before he finished his thought, the waitress wheeled a cart beside the table. Two dishes of vanilla ice cream sat at one end and a hot plate with a frying pan sat in the middle. Bananas, brown sugar, cinnamon and a bottle of rum sat on the other side.

Ben tapped Katherine's hand. "You've got to see this. It's great."

Katherine had seen Bananas Foster prepared before, but never with such anticipation. Ben watched the waitress, utterly transfixed by her mixing the sauce and adding the bananas. When she poured the rum in, he held Katherine's hand. "Here it comes."

The waitress ignited the alcohol and orange flames filled the pan. Ben stared at it like a kid watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. After the flames died down, the waitress divided the bananas between the two bowls of ice cream. When she served them, she asked Ben, "Would you like some coffee, sir?"

He had finished his brandy and Katherine had almost finished hers. "No coffee. Bring us two more Remy Martins and the check, please."

"Certainly, sir." She wheeled the cart away.

"Ben, you have to drive. You're a cop, remember? DWI is not a good thing."

"We won't be going far. I know a spot by Friends Lake where we can park for a while."

Katherine swallowed a mouthful of ice cream, then asked, "You like to go parking?"

"I used to. Haven't done it for years, can't find a woman who'll get in the backseat with me."

Katherine kicked off her shoe and ran her stockinged foot along his calf. "You might have found one who will."

When the waitress brought the check, Ben took out his credit card and put it in the folder without looking at the bill. Katherine continued to touch him with her foot while she finished her dessert. "Young lady, you keep that up much longer, and we won't make it to the lake."

"Promises, promises." A brandy induced soft focus made Ben even more attractive. He effortlessly added in the tip and signed the bill. "I'm happy to see one of us is still sober." She polished off the last bit of brandy in her glass.

"I'll give you a sobriety test in the parking lot."

Katherine grinned. "Dare I ask what that will be?"

Ben tucked his wallet back into his breast pocket. "We can do the nine step walk and turn or the touching noses test."

"Isn't that the touch your nose test?"

"Not the way I do it."

"Officer, that's the one I want."

Ben chuckled. He held her chair as she got up. Katherine didn't wobble, nor did she feel dizzy. "Damn, Ben, I'm doing better than I thought I was."

"You had a good meal. It slows down the alcohol absorption."

Katherine looped her purse and camera over her shoulder, then slipped her arm through Ben's. "I still think I need that nose test."

"So do I." Ben escorted her to the door.

They were alone in the parking lot. Ben walked her to the passengers' side of the Explorer. "Young lady, it's time to see just how drunk you are."

Katherine felt sexy and flirty, and horny. "Officer Sutton, I swear, I'm not drunk."

"All right then, touch your nose to mine."

Katherine stared up at him. "Officer, I would be happy to, if I could reach it."

"I'll help you."

He wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her up. With him holding her, they were eye to eye, and nose to nose. She leaned forward and touched her nose to his.

"Do you remember the Eskimo kiss from Nanook of the North?" She rubbed her nose back and forth against his.

"I remember. But this kind of kissing is better." When his mouth covered hers, Ben's whiskers scratched her face. He kissed her slowly and deliberately. As his grip loosened, she slid down his body and the evidence of the fire in the furnace rubbed against her belly.

As Katherine's feet touched the ground, gravity separated their mouths. Ben's arms were still around her waist. He reached down and squeezed her backside.

"Maybe we should find that spot by the lake." She didn't want him to go any further in the parking lot.

"Maybe we should." Ben unlocked the door and held it open for her. This time, she pulled her dress higher than it needed to go and climbed in. Before he closed the door, Ben slid his hand up her leg and stopped at the hem of her dress. "Jesus Christ, you have good legs." Then he slammed the door shut.

When he started the engine. Katherine had enough sense to ask, "Are you sure you're okay driving?"

"Kat, my balls are about to bust, but I'm not drunk."

"Officer Sutton, I'm in your capable hands."

"Not soon enough to suit me." 


Katherine and Ryan

"You're telling me to take a cold shower, aren't you?"

 "I think we both need one." She put her sunglasses on and took his hand.

Ryan stopped her. "You should take off your skirt." He threw his wallet and phone in beside her camera.

Katherine had forgotten about her sarong. "I guess we are going in the water, aren't we?"

"That's the idea." Ryan watched as she took off the wrap.

"I feel like I'm doing a strip tease." She handed him the shawl to throw in the truck. "What about your shirt?"

Ryan grinned. "This is getting interesting." He peeled his shirt over his head and tossed it on top of her shawl. After locking the glove compartment, he stuffed the keys into his pocket. "Ready?"

"God, yes, I am so ready."

This time, Katherine didn't hide her reaction to his bare chest, she looked him over with unabashed admiration. Ryan picked up the beer and water. Like young lovers, they walked hand in hand to the river.

"Wait here while I launch the tube." He tossed his flip-flops into the seat, put the water and beer into the holders, then dragged the tube into the river.

Katherine put her hat on, took her flip-flops off and waded into the cold water. Slimy mud squeezed between her toes.

"This water is more than a little chilly, Ryan. It's really cold."

"Once your skin cools down, you'll adjust. Give me your shoes." Katherine waded in further. Not wanting to do a pratfall, she stepped carefully. Ryan took her sandals and threw them into the tube with his. "Hold my hand."

"Okay. Now what?"

"Now you're going to sit in the tube." Ryan pointed to the opening and Katherine looked inside. The mesh bottom of the seat floated in the water.

"Great. This will feel like sitting in a bucket of ice cubes."

"You said that's what we needed." Ryan steadied Katherine as she turned around. "I'll hold it so it doesn't flip. Just pretend it's a hole in an outhouse and sit down."

Ryan let her go and held the tube against the back of her legs. She had to trust that Ryan wouldn't let her fall in. "You're sure you've got it."

"I'm sure. Sit down already."

With now-or-never conviction, Katherine did a freefall backwards into the center of the bull's eye. Her landing lacked the grace she'd hoped for, but she'd done it. The cold water lapped at her bum, and actually felt rather good.

"How are you going to get in?"

"The same way, just out in the water a little more." He pulled the tube further into the river. The current noticeably got stronger as the water got deeper. Ryan stopped and handed her their sandals. "Here, tuck these beside you so we don't lose them."

Katherine wedged the flip-flops in her seat. Ryan turned around as she had. With nothing more than a small hop, he landed squarely in the hole beside her.

"We didn't capsize." Katherine couldn't hide her astonishment. She'd fully expected to go down like a clown in a carnival dunk tank.

"Of course we didn't, oh, ye of little faith." Ryan took his beer and popped the top. "Now we sit back and let the river do the work."

"And you can spill your guts."

"That, too." He raised his can. "Cheers."

* * *

They drifted slowly for a few minutes without saying anything, the silence and serenity of the mountains framing their journey. A cool breeze off the water balanced the rising heat of the sun. Tiny fish acted as mascots, escorting the bobbing raft that had invaded their space.

"You seem a million miles away. What are you thinking about?"

Katherine hadn't noticed Ryan watching her. "Nothing earth shaking. I was just wondering what kind of little fish those are. They're all around us."

"Those are baby rainbow trout. Doesn't look like they've been hatched very long."

"For heaven's sake, they're sucking on my toes."

"Can't say that I blame them."

Ryan's innuendo gave Katherine an opening. "You're into sucking toes?"

"Sometimes. Depends on the situation."

"What you said earlier, about girls throwing themselves at you, why is that a problem?"

"What was I thinking when I agreed to this?" Ryan unexpectedly splashed her. Katherine gasped when the cold water hit her chest.

Katherine splashed him back. "This was your idea. You invited me, remember?" Something on Ryan's chest caught her eye and startled her when it moved. Between laughs, she managed to say, "Oh, my God."


Katherine pointed to his chest. "You have an admirer."

A tiny striped fish wiggled in his chest hair, desperately trying to free itself. Ryan carefully untangled the little guy and threw him back into the river. "Next time you splash me, try not to pick up any hitchhikers."

"Sorry." Her grin belied her attempt at being contrite.

"I don't know why you want to hear about my love life, but I'll tell you if you want to know."

"I'm listening."

"I'm a guide. I meet lots of girls."

Katherine teased, "That's a problem?"

"It sure as hell is, they're worse than guys. Getting laid is all they want." Ryan swatted at a dragonfly buzzing around his head. "And, if they can afford to hire me, they usually have money."

"Why are you complaining about that?"

"They're like those kids I took out on Sunday, young and obnoxious."

"Sounds like Shelly."

"You said it, I didn't."

"Am I right?"

"Yeah. I'm not interested in snotty chicklets, no offense."

"None taken. I'm not speaking to my daughter right now."

"You told me on Sunday you were pissed at her, but didn't tell me why. What happened?"

"She called me Saturday night. I honestly can't repeat what she said, but I could have throttled her."

 "I'm ashamed of her. I told her so, then I hung up on her."

Ryan grinned. "You hung up on Shelly?"

"I didn't want to hear anything else." Katherine deliberately shifted the conversation away from her daughter. "So, you've never indulged with any of these young girls?"

"I didn't say that. Early on I did. But the older I got, the more immature they seemed. They turn me off so bad. Some of them even expect me to sleep with them because they've hired me." Ryan angrily smacked the water. "Not in this lifetime, bitches."

"Then who do you date?"

"No one at the moment. The lady I was seeing broke it off."


Ryan took a long pause before he quietly said, "She's married."

Katherine couldn't stifle her reaction. "For God's sake, Ryan. This doesn't make any sense. Why did you get involved with a married woman?"

"You're married."

"That's different."

"Why is it different? Married is married, isn't it?" Ryan made a good point. Katherine scrambled for a reasonable answer.

"I've known you for a long time, and we aren't really involved."

Still holding her hand, Ryan raised it up. "What's this then? I think we're becoming a little more than friends."

How could Katherine argue with that? She wanted to sleep with him so badly she could taste it. The possibility of "tasting it" made her smile. "I concede. You're right."

"Damn straight I am." Katherine continued to grin like a Cheshire cat. "What's so funny?"

Katherine couldn't very well tell him she wanted to give him a blow job. Or could she? "Just thinking about you, and what I'd like to do right now."

Read More of  Katherine's Journey