At Fred’s subtle touch, my breath caught in my throat.
A small moan of delight escaped me, and I clutched at his sleeve. “Do it again,” I whispered.
He moved his fingers over the spot once more, his breath coming hard with excitement. I had to bite my lip to keep from crying out with sheer pleasure.
“What do you think?” he murmured huskily in my ear.
Oh God, I was in danger of losing control if he didn’t stop.
“Classic Puuc,” I said with a gasp.
“Do you think so?” He touched the monitor again and zoomed in on the area in question.
Good archaeology was better than the best orgasm. My fingers spasmed against his sleeve in excitement. “Oh my God! Stop! Stop right there! Look!”
Fred froze the cursor and turned the monitor to me.
I stared at the blocky red shape on the screen of the radar equipment with utter delight. “Definite classic Puuc! Look,” I said, pointing at the edge of the red blob with my fingernail. “Thick, heavy veneer stone with a clean edge. These lighter spots around the side suggest doorways cut into the rock. I bet if we dug it up, we’d find a stone relief to rival that of Chichén Itza.” I leaned over the monitor, my heart slamming in my chest. “Can we pan out to the rest of the jungle?”
Fred leaned over me, plastering his groin against my backside. My co-archaeologist was the possessor of one raging boner. Bad idea to lean over the table.
“Jackie,” he murmured in my ear. “Forget about the dig for a moment. I need to talk to you.”
I clamped my thighs together tightly, trying to rid myself of the unwanted feelings of pleasure. Despite the fact that I didn’t want Fred in the slightest, my cursed succubus body reacted to his touch. I shoved my elbow backward, hard, trying to gut him. “Get off of me,” I said, squirming away.
“We’re finally alone,” Fred said. “I wanted to tell you how I feel.” His young face was alight with desire, his dirty brown ponytail damp with sweat. “No one’s around.”
That had an alarming ring to it. I turned and glanced around and, sure enough, the local workers that we hired to help out around the dig were nowhere to be seen. None of the university team was around, either. That was odd. All the guys at the site were normally so taken with my looks that I couldn’t shake them, no matter what I did. I had an adoring admirer or two following me at all times, even to the port-a-potty.
It really sucked to be supernaturally beautiful.
Fred moved toward me again and caught my hands. “I’ve been holding back for months now, waiting for the right moment.” His hands were sweaty, and a droplet of sweat rolled down his nose and splashed onto my arm. Gross.
“And you think now is a good time? It’s ninety-five degrees in the shade, Fred, and we’re in the jungle. I haven’t showered in four days—and it smells like you haven’t showered for longer.” I wrinkled my nose and tried to jerk my hand away again. Where did everyone go? The deserted grounds should have been crawling with archaeologists.
It gave me the willies.
Fred pressed a fervent kiss to my hand. “You’re so beautiful, Jackie.”Sigh.
Of course I was beautiful. I was a succubus. We were cursed to have our faces and bodies remolded into that of a man’s ideal fantasy. To think I’d once complained about how mousy my old looks were. I never realized how damned inconvenient it would be to be gorgeous.
“I’ve never met anyone like you.” He continued to kiss my knuckles, pressing moist lips against them.
I doubted this dork met a lot of women, period, much less a succubus. Fred was the type of guy who probably got picked last in gym class and owned a vast library of Dungeons and Dragons books. Not exactly a ladies’ man.
“Fred,” I began. “You do realize that Noah’s going to kick your ass if he sees this.” It was a bluff, of course. Noah—my beautiful Serim lover—might glare sternly at Fred or throw some money around to have Fred removed from camp, but I doubted he’d actually get physical with the guy.
Noah was too elegant for that sort of thing.
But my suitor was shaking his head with passion. “He’s busy right now. And this might be my only chance to show you how I feel.”
I frowned at that. “What do you mean, ‘only chance’?” We were all going to be on this dig for at least another two months.
More of his sweat dripped onto my arms, and I struggled again to break his grip. Why oh why weren’t succubi gifted with super-strength? No one needed it more than a hot immortal girl. Men were compelled to fall in love with my new face, and I’d have happily traded beauty for the ability to punch the hell out of Fred at the moment.
So I used the only other weapon I had available—I pretended to faint, going limp in his arms.
As expected, Fred released my hands to catch me as I went down, and I slapped my open palm against his forehead.
It worked. He collapsed.
I didn’t hit him hard, of course. I doubted I could hit him hard enough to leave a bruise. But his mind shut off with the touch of my hand to his forehead, and he went down for the count.
There was one perk to being a succubus, at least. I could shut down his mind and put him into a deep, dreamless sleep, and then pick through his memories if I wanted to. Not the most handy skill, depending on the situation, and I tried not to use it much, since it tended to backfire in rather spectacular ways. But desperate times call for desperate moves.
I didn’t let him stay unconscious long. Kneeling beside his prostrate body, I touched his forehead to wake him up again, then patted his hand as if I were worried. “Fred? Fred? Are you all right?”
His eyes fluttered open slowly and focused on me. “What … what happened?”
I put on my best concerned expression and squeezed his hand, maybe a little too roughly. “You were leaning in to kiss me, and you passed out,” I lied.
Fred sat up, cradling his head in his free hand. “I did?”
“You did.” I helped him to his feet, then dusted off his shirt. “Fred, I’m not sure but … I think you should go see a doctor.” Step one: lay the trap.
He gave me a confused look. “Why?”
I made my eyes go wide. “Well, you do
know that if you pass out when you get an erection, that’s an early warning sign of extremely high blood pressure. And you’re far too young to have that sort of thing happen to you.”
Brushing the sweaty, long hair off his forehead, Fred stared ahead blankly. “I’ve never done that before.” His hand went to his wrist, as if checking his pulse.
“Of course not,” I said sweetly, taking him by the elbow and pointing him toward the Jeep. “I’m sure it’s nothing to be worried about.” Step two: play to the ego. “You’re a healthy, strong man. It’s probably nothing. But just to be safe, don’t you think you should head into Mérida and get yourself checked out?”
“But … the survey equipment … the dig …”
“There’s nothing that can’t wait until the crew returns later tonight.” I pulled my keys out of my pocket and placed them in his hand. “Why don’t you take my Jeep? Go to town, spend the night in air-conditioning, get checked out by the doctor, and come back in a few days. I’ll explain everything to Mr. Gideon.”
“Everything?” Fred swallowed hard.
I took pity on him. “Almost everything.” I shook my finger at him. “And as long as the rest never happens again, it’ll remain our secret.”
Sorta. I planned on complaining long and hard to Mr. Gideon.
In a daze, Fred climbed into the Jeep and started the engine. I tried not to smile too cheerfully as the Jeep disappeared down the dirt road into the jungle. My problem neatly disposed of, I raced back to the GPR equipment to get another glimpse of those red blobs. To think that we had found another set of outlying buildings! We could expand on the dig, perhaps get another grant from the university … my mind raced at the thought.
To my disappointment, Fred’s fall had jostled the computer, and the screen was dark. I tapped the monitor twice before glancing down and seeing the plug hanging out of the socket. A quick replugging showed that I needed a password to reboot the system, a password I didn’t have. I sighed in disgust. So much for that. And without someone to help me move the surface antenna, I couldn’t do any further radar scans until the others returned.
Disgruntled, I packed up the equipment I could and went in search of the rest of the crew. We’d decided to set up in the least thickly forested portion of the ancient grounds of Yuxmal, and workers had cleared even more area to set up the tent city that had been our home for the past few months. A very empty tent city. It was midday, so unless everyone had ran off for an impromptu siesta, the campsite was truly deserted.
What the heck was going on?
The tent I shared with Noah was at the edge of camp, near the base of a massive stone pyramid—the discovery that had started the dig itself. As I approached our tent, I could hear the generator humming and the sound of rotating fans buzzing. I paused outside. The door flap was down, which seemed like a bad idea given the heat and humidit...