After sharing the excitement of her new luxury car with her parents over dinner, Danika was keen to go for a drive with a friend, so she grabbed her phone, flopped on her bed, and rang Taylor.
‘Hey Danny. How’d your date go last night?’ Taylor’s voice chimed brightly.
Oh right, Grayson. ‘It was… nice. He took me to The Majestic and treated me to one of their degustation meals.’
‘So when you say nice…’
Danika sighed. ‘He acted like the perfect gentleman; far too respectable. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed his company, but when he dropped me home, he didn’t even try to kiss me, and I was so ready to strip him naked and climb all over his gorgeous body.’ Memories warmed her blood and tingles danced across her skin.
‘Ouch! Did he give any hints about wanting to take things further?’
‘Sort of. He said he wanted to take me out again soon, that he’d call me. That was all.’
‘I hope he’s not one of these religious sorts who don’t believe in sex before marriage,’ Taylor offered. ‘You should get a background briefing from Elise. If anyone can explain his behaviour, it’d be his cousin.’
‘Hm, maybe…’ Danika’s thoughts drifted back to the previous night as her spare hand glided down her chest. The mounting sexual tension with Grayson had left her desperately horny when she climbed into her cold, empty bed. So much so, she had even considered calling Brennan, her secret fuck buddy from way back when. During their teenage years, he had been the district’s star athlete and the only good thing the public school had going for it. She had seen him at Elise’s party, so she knew he was still in town. They had even exchanged a few heated gazes throughout the course of the night when they knew no one else was looking. Perhaps I should visit him tonight. It’s not like I’m in a committed relationship with Grayson yet, so—’
‘How’d the car shopping go?’ Taylor’s voice shattered her train of thought and brought her back to the moment.
Jerking her hand back from its southern trajectory, she huffed. ‘In one word? Weird. I think Alison has the hots for me. She was acting really strange.’
Taylor snorted. ‘Sounds about right. Did she use the Kath and Kim voice?’
‘Yes actually. What the hell is with that?’ Danika sat up against her headboard and traced her fingers along the gold embroidery of her navy-blue bedspread.
‘I think it’s all part of her act. Did you find some wheels?’
Curious. Was Alison messing with me? ‘Mission success,’ Danika announced with a little more gusto than intended. ‘I’m dying to take my new Lexus for a spin. Wanna head down to the lake with me tonight?’
‘Wish that I could hun, but… I’m busy.’
‘That’s sounds nice and vague, and only yesterday you accused me of withholding information. Spit it out girlll!’
‘I have… a date. Why don’t you ask Grayson to go with you? Nothing like a moonlit lake under a starry sky for setting the mood.’
‘Hold up! Stop deflecting and tell me about your date. Who are you seeing?’
‘I can’t tell you that. Not yet. Things are too new, and we agreed to keep it a secret for now.’
‘Well damn Tay,’ Danika chuckled. ‘It sounds like you’ve got something scandalous going on and I can’t wait to hear the details. Just be careful and make sure you use protection.’
‘Yes Mum!’ Taylor teased. ‘So will you ask him?’
Danika’s eyes drew together. ‘Ask who what?’
‘Grayson, duh. To go with you tonight.’
‘Oh. I don’t know. I’m not sure I can handle another night of sexual frustration.’ She clenched her fist at the thought. ‘Besides, he said he’d call me. I don’t want to come across as clingy.’
‘Fair point. Well I’m sure you’ll think of someone. I’ve gottta run. Speak to you soon, okay?’
‘Yeah, okay. See ya.’ Danika tossed her phone on the mattress and sank beside it, stretching out. When her hand nudged her mobile, she picked it up again and started scrolling through her contacts. Pausing when she reached Brennan. Is it a good idea to rekindle that old flame when I might be on the verge of something good with another man? Grayson could be everything she was looking for, unlike Brennan. Yet there was no denying how well the man used to rock her world. Fuck it! She hit the call button. Her heart thumped faster with every dial tone.
‘Hi this is Brennan—’
‘Hey it’s me—’
‘I can’t come to the phone right now—’
Damnit! She disconnected the call and chided her own stupidity. Ever since returning home, she had turned into a mushy fool; getting all worked up over guys and sex. What the hell is wrong with me? It’s not like I need company tonight. She sprang to her feet, slipped her cross-trainers on, and headed out.
The night air simmered beneath a stifling blanket of cloud and she cursed under her breath. There was little chance of getting in much star gazing in such conditions. With the sweltering heat she fancied a dip in the water, so she ducked back inside to change into her strawberry red bikini. Walking with an excited spring in her step, Danika collected her caving gear on the way outside. She would need it where she was going.
The large lake for which her home had been named was a good twenty minutes across town, giving Danika the opportunity to enjoy cruising in her new ride. The moment she had seen the dark blue beauty, she had wanted it, but there was no way she was giving Malik an easy sell. Christ! Speaking of unfathomable girly feelings. Just thinking of the way Malik had blatantly checked her out with his dark, steely eyes sent unwelcome signals straight to her core. Don’t go there Danny! He’s even less suitable than Brennan. She turned up the EDM playing through her speakers, attempting to drown out her inappropriate thoughts.
The last lights of civilisation faded from view as the road curved gently through the rolling hills and down into the valley. Bypassing the turnoff to the main swimming beach, she continued toward the caves that had once been a popular make-out destination for teenagers. For all she knew, the town’s kids still used it as such, but the possibility did not deter her. The limestone structures provided enough private swimming holes and caverns for the entire population of Moonlake to enjoy and few ventured into her favourite spot.
She parked outside the gates to the National Park and jumped the fence. There were no other cars in the area, so it looked as though she had the whole place to herself anyway. Hiking through the thick scrub along a gravel trail, she reached the Covert Cave in half an hour. She descended a few stone steps into the dim tunnel, switching on a torch to vanquish the darkness. Recognising the worn path she had travelled countless times during her adolescence, Danika strolled along the flat ground until the channel narrowed. After putting her torch in her waist wallet, she slipped into her caving overalls and shimmied through the keyhole passage. This part of the cave was the reason her spot remained secluded. Only experienced adventure cavers dared risk the treacherous terrain.
When the keyhole opened, she dropped down into The Sly Grotto. The air was slightly fresher thanks to several potholes in the ceiling and walls letting the breeze waft in from across the neighbouring body of water. The pond sitting in the middle of this space flowed in from the lake. In theory it was possible to dive in and swim outside but doing so would be deadly without the proper equipment.
Danika stripped out of her overalls, shorts, and singlet top, exposing her bikini clad body. She could have gone skinny dipping since no one was likely to see her. Hm, worth remembering in case I ever bring a date here. Testing the water with her toes, she was pleased to discover a tepid temperature. After easing herself in, she breathed deeply and closed her eyes, letting her thoughts stray to images of Grayson as she explored her own body. She had tried to seek relief by her own hand the night before, but she had felt too self-conscious under the same roof as her parents. In the privacy of her grotto, she could let go. No one would hear her moans, no one could open the door and walk in on her, and no one would judge her for being a dirty little girl.
Minutes after coming down from the high of several orgasms, Danika heard distant voices approaching. Shit! There goes that theory. She hoped her cries had not alerted any other cave users or—heaven forbid—park rangers. Climbing out of the water, she wished she had been able to bring a towel with her. There was no time to drip dry before getting back into her overalls. As she bent down to get her shorts, she halted at the sound of a familiar voice.
‘We can talk safely here,’ Malik insisted. ‘Tell me what you’ve got for me.’
Danika’s ears pricked up as realised what she was about to witness. This is my golden ticket! Pulling her phone out of her waist wallet, she opened the camera app and moved closer to the keyhole opening. The view was obscured, but she could clearly discern the voices.
‘A truckload of top-quality whack.’ The second man sounded unfamiliar, speaking gruffly as though he had smoked a pack-a-day for the last ten years.
Malik whistled as he exhaled. ‘That’s a shitload of rocket fuel, but I’m sure I can move it. When can you ship it to me?’
‘In a week if that suits.’
‘Yeah man, that’s sweet.’
Her phone chose that precise second to light up with an incoming call, broadcasting her ‘Boss Bitch’ ringtone throughout the cave.
‘What the fuck is that?’ Gruff Man asked. ‘You said we’d be alone here.’
Oh God! She rejected the call from Brennan to silence her phone. Her heart slammed rapidly against her ribs.
Malik growled. ‘I didn’t think anyone would be stupid enough to go adventure caving at this time of night. Get out of here. I’ll deal with our eavesdropper.’
Once Gruff Man’s heavy footsteps had retreated, Malik snarled through the keyhole. ‘You have five minutes to show yourself before I send my divers in from the other side, and I promise you won’t get out of that situation alive.’
‘Just give me a minute to get dressed,’ she pleaded. Not bothering with her top and shorts, she got straight into her overalls.
‘Holy shit! Is that you Shortcake?’
She huffed. ‘That’s not my fucking name, douchebag.’ Rolling her clothes into a ball, she tossed them through the opening, hoping they hit Malik in the face. She climbed into the tight space and shuffled back toward the main cave, finding the bundle of clothes halfway through. More’s the pity. Pushing them ahead of her, she managed to keep them intact, albeit dusty as hell.
Malik greeted her with a smug grin as she squeezed through the taper and landed in a crouch on the floor. Glimpsing the garments in her hand that should be on her body, his gaze darkened. ‘You’re in quite the predicament now Princess.’