Something about Lana’s calculated chess moves through the game bothered me, but I kept quiet. When she drew Dean aside and told him her plan and he was equally enthusiastic, I kept my fears to myself. Maybe I was just being a chicken—but something about pulling in so many people bothered me. Perhaps because I was afraid that the more people in our alliance, the less valuable each member was. Still, you had to make big moves to get to the end, and Lana was definitely making some smart moves. I had to admire her for that.
Dusk fell and eventually Lana and Leon moved back to their own campsite, waving at us until the darkness swallowed them up.
No sooner did they leave than Dean grabbed me and pulled my body against his, his mouth hot on my own. “Thank Christ. I thought they’d never leave.” His hands slid to my ass, cupping it and pulling me against him.
Well, at least Dean and I were on the same page. My worries momentarily put aside, I wrapped my arms around his neck and drew him down to me, licking the edges of his mouth. He tasted slightly salty this time, tangy with the sea around us, and bits of sandy grit rubbed between our bodies as we pressed against each other.
And then I winced as I watched a fat mosquito land on my arm. I jerked away from him, slapping at the creature. “God, I wish we were back in our cabin.”
“Are you kidding? This gives me the perfect chance to oil you up,” Dean said with a grin. He took my hand in his and led me around the campfire into the bushes, where he’d hidden our prized bug repellent. As he leaned over, I caught a perfect view of his lean, tight ass and slapped it.
Dean jerked back up, surprised.
“Mosquito,” I said innocently.
“I’ll bet,” he said in a low, husky voice. He held up the jar and shook it. “Guess this means you’ll be doing me first, doesn’t it?”
Now that was an appealing offer. I took the jar and poured a little of the thick, creamy oil into my hand and set it back down on one of our makeshift benches. With a teasing look at Dean, I twirled my finger. “Turn around, sir.”
He did, and my mouth nearly went dry at the sight of his broad shoulders. We were both starving down to nothing so his shoulder-blades were a little more prominent, but his waist was lean and taut, and the heavy triangle of his shoulders was as healthy and gorgeous as ever. I wanted to run my tongue over his skin instead of the lotion, but I forced myself to behave. To warm the liquid, I rubbed both my hands together and then placed them against his back, sliding over the play of muscles.
Dean gave a groan of pleasure. “This going to turn into an impromptu shoulder rub?”
“If you’re lucky,” I teased back.
“I feel pretty lucky right now,” he said, and his light chuckle made my knees turn to jelly. I finished smoothing lotion down his spine and slid my hands up to his shoulders, my slick fingers gliding over the skin lightly. I kneaded his muscles for a few moments, then couldn’t resist trailing my fingers down his corded arms. Muscular and tight, but not bulging. Just the way I liked it. I made a small noise of approval low in my throat and continued to slide my fingers down his arm, circling his wrist and then toying with his fingers.
“My front is getting lonely,” he said in a hoarse voice, as affected by my light teasing as I was.
“Give it a minute,” I said, leaning over his arm to whisper in his ear. “The mosquitos will all congregate there now that your back is safe.”
He turned and grabbed my hand, then pulled me toward him. “Cruel woman.” His mouth nipped at mine in a teasing fashion. “Just means I’ll have to wear something over my front to cover it. I’m thinking a hot brunette with long legs and a smart mouth.”
“I happen to know just the one,” I responded, then bit his lower lip gently. My hands slid over his slick arms, trying to find purchase and just sliding over glossy, hard muscle. It only turned me on more. I took a step back from him and splayed my oily hands over his chest, pretending to glide more of the oil on his body, when all I really wanted to do was keep touching him. My palms slid over his collarbone as he stood stock still, before moving down the line of his belly and gliding over his n**ples.
He groaned at that and his hands tangled in my hair, pulling me in for a fast, passionate kiss. “Your turn. Give me your back.”
I turned obediently—eagerly—and my stomach began to do a wild flip-flop of anticipation. I heard Dean opening the jar and pulled my thick, curly hair up in one hand so it wouldn’t get into the oil when he put it on my back. And then I waited.
Seconds ticked by like hours, and I squirmed in place, turned on and anxious all at once. He wasn’t having second thoughts, was he—?
Warm, slick hands slid over my shoulders, and I nearly melted onto the sand.
It felt amazing. The few back massages I’d had before had never been particularly relaxing—most guys tended to dig in their fingers in a way that was painful instead of pleasant, but Dean knew just how to touch me. His fingers glided over my skin, brushing against the straps of my bikini and fluttering underneath. He pressed down ever so slightly, kneading the muscles as he stroked, and worked over my shoulders and the top of my spine and then slid further down to the small of my back and stroked over the skin on my h*ps and belly, his arms snaking around like a caress as he touched me. I shivered when he hit a ticklish spot, but I didn’t ask him to stop.
His oily hands brushed against the elastic of my bikini bottom, hinting at things to come, and I turned in his arms, my breath fluttering in my throat. “Got to do my front first,” I whispered.
Dean pulled me back against him and my body slid against his slick one. “Let’s go to the shelter,” he said. “Private there.” And he gave me a kiss to appease my sudden frown.
I wasn’t frowning at the thought of having to wait the short distance (like thirty feet) to get to the shelter—I was frowning at the thought of the camera crews possibly watching us grease each other up and how turned on we were getting. It was a private moment on an island where there weren’t any, and I peered suspiciously at the shadows. “Did you see a cameraman?” They were so unobtrusive and quiet that I’d stopped noticing them after the first few days. I kicked myself—how could I forget where we were?
“No, but I want to be sure that there’s no surprise cameras hidden in the trees,” Dean said, and relief spiraled through me. He linked his hand in mine and grabbed the jar with his other, leading me back to the shelter. “Guess what I stole from our cabin,” Dean said to me with a grin.
I couldn’t guess. “What?”
He pressed the jar against his pocket, and I heard foil crinkle. Condoms. Clever man.
I grinned at that and moved to the front of our shelter. “Glad we didn’t share those with the other team.” We kept a few extra palm fronds near the front of the shelter to wipe the sand off of our feet, and as we did so, I noticed something odd. “Our shelter—they expanded it while we were gone.”
Dean grunted at that. “Yeah, Lana was mentioning something about it. Said it was too cramped for two adults.”
For some reason, that made me sad. “I kind of liked cramped.” Now I didn’t have an excuse to snuggle up against Dean through the night, and I actually wanted to.
“Me too,” Dean said, and his voice sounded just as put out as my own, which made me grin. Then he slapped me on the behind. “Ladies first. Get in there so I can finish you off.”
The double entendre wasn’t lost on me. I made sure to wiggle my ass as I crept into the small shelter.
Lana had definitely been busy. The interior of our tiny shelter had been expanded—where before we’d barely managed to squeeze two bodies on four bamboo planks, we had ten now. She’d taken my original A-frame shelter and expanded it with a second A-frame and had a heavy bough of leaves crisscrossing the middle. It was a lot like an M without the dip in the middle.
“I need to thank her tomorrow,” I said, pulling my legs under me and reaching for our one lonely blanket that was folded in the corner.
“There’s one thing I like about this,” Dean said, crawling in behind me, and he pulled something over the front, blocking out the view of the sky. “She actually made a door, that crazy woman.”
I glanced at the other side of the frame behind me and sure enough, she’d created a flap to cover the entrance. “Definitely have to thank her tomorrow.”
Dean grabbed my ankle and tucked it over his shoulder, and I fell back onto my elbows. In the low light, I could just barely catch a glimpse of his devilish smile. “Lay back, my lady, and let your humble manservant oil up thine legs.”
“Humble manservant? Where has he been all this time?”
“Busy admiring the view,” Dean said in the worst cockney accent I’d ever heard.
I was about to tease him about it when instead of oiling up my leg, he twisted his body around so that he was on his knees, my foot still over his shoulder, and he knelt between my legs. He grabbed my other calf and pulled it up until I was spread out on the floor, Dean looming over me and biting at my lower belly with his teeth.
“Dean!” I gasped as he began to tug my bikini bottom down with his fingers, momentarily jerking my legs together. He left the piece of fabric dangling from one foot, which he had thrown over his shoulder before moving in and nuzzling at my thigh. I squirmed, trying to keep my moans muffled as he moved ever closer toward the spot I needed him the most. “We shouldn’t,” I began to protest and then moaned loudly when his breath fanned across my slit, my h*ps bucking slightly.
“Hush, woman. I’m busy renewing my alliance with my teammate. I need to win her over if I want her to vote for me,” he said in a husky voice, and his tongue slid lightly along the seam of my skin, already damp. His fingers slid my folds apart and then his mouth moved over my flesh, and I lost the tart reply I’d come up with as his tongue grazed my clit.
And after a few seconds, I didn’t care if the cameras in the forest caught my cries of pleasure after all.
I stared down the endless, sandy beach and had to force myself not to touch Dean. The others lined up on the sand next to us, and as usual, curious glances were being directed our way. I knew they were waiting to see if we’d explode on each other, but the ruse was getting harder and harder to keep up, and I felt their scrutiny intensely.
Next to me, tall and tense, Dean had his arms crossed over his chest, watching our host tensely. If he felt the same awkwardness that I did, he hid it amazingly well.
Down the row, Lana seemed to sense my nervousness, and she gave me a long, meaningful look and a slight tip of her chin as if saying straighten out. Head in the game.
I nodded at her and turned my focus back to Chip. Focus.
“This is your final team challenge,” Chip said in a boisterous voice, as if he were more excited about that than we were. He held up a colorful length of rope. “This will join you to your teammate, and together, tied at the waist, you will both make your way through the most grueling obstacle course imaginable.”