Ch. 11 Prize Poodle

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Massages-Russell's whole body ignited when he heard the word. No, he didn't charge to give massages. The problem was that if he started, he wouldn't stop at her shoulders.

His rule for not dating anyone from the office was established for a good reason. Hypothetical situation: after a one night stand, it's horribly awkward to be stuck in the copier line with a woman he gave four orgasms to. Especially if another woman he had been with tries to push him in a closet in front of the first. Things can get ugly.

But it wasn't simply avoiding tricky situations. It was also strict separation of different parts of his life. He didn't want more than one night with women. Every now and then he needed sex, but he was not up for a relationship. Unfortunately, he had to go to work every day, and sharing his workspace with a woman after having sex was dangerously close to a relationship.

Beth fanned herself for a minute, using her hat. Her heated skin glowed pink and glistened with droplets of sweat. He wanted to skim his tongue over her collar bone. He wanted....

What he needed was air-conditioning. Lots and lots of cold air-conditioning. He switched the AC on high and hoped it would cool off more than the car's interior.

"Russell," Best said, interrupting a silence that was growing uncomfortable, "as far as I can remember, you never told me why you took so many vacations here in the islands." Beth stuffed a map in the glove box after trying several times to fold it correctly and failing.

He smiled, grateful she was lightening the mood with a new subject. "Key words being 'as far as you can remember.'" When she didn't smile in return, he acted as if it wasn't awkward. "Actually, my aunt moved here with her husband and they invested in some property; individual apartments and two bungalows. They didn't have any kids so they invited my brother and me to spend summer with them every other year from during my teenage years."

"Wow, the whole summer? You guys were spoiled rotten. It was piano lessons and indoor tennis practice for me until my sister was born, then it was babysitting."

"Tough to be you. For us, it was surf's up and sunburns. I'll probably get skin cancer as soon as I hit forty. My aunt thought we looked like plucked chickens when we arrived and she wanted us to tan as fast as possible so we would fit in with the rest of the keiki, the other kids."

"Really? I was hardly allowed outside, my mom was so afraid I'd burn. Like we're vampire family or something. So, are can we visit your aunt and uncle?" Beth asked.

"No, they've both passed away. The properties were split up between my dad and my uncle's brother's four kids if I remember correctly. They sold their part, but my dad still has a bungalow on Kauai and two two-bedroom apartments in apartment complexes in Honolulu."

"How does he manage them, isn't he in Denver?"

"There's a small company he uses for Honolulu and the bungalow is a week-by-week rental that a neighbor takes care of. He gets a commission for keeping the place going."

"No one in the family has been tempted to move here?"

"Not really. My dad keeps asking my brother and me if one of us would like to come in order to manage the properties, but it hasn't been the right time for either of us."

"Seriously? I would jump on the next plane in a second if it was me!"

"Well, it's not right for my brother and his wife. And me, well, I think about it sometimes. Some days I think, yeah, I should drop everything in Denver, but then other days...I know I can't. I would have to sell my house that I've put a lot of work and memories into and then, I'd have to find a full time job here, which might or might not happen. You know, living in Hawaii isn't the same as vacationing in Hawaii. It's expensive, it's hot and noisy, the cities are crowded."

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