A Touch of Death Ch. 09byWine_Maker©
I was warm, content. I seemed to be floating on my stomach in a cloud made of sweet smelling flowers. No, not flowers. Something better. More sensual. Cologne?
I smiled to myself. I loved waking up like this. Languidly, I stretched and felt an answering motion from below me. My eyes popped open.
Ty was sprawled beneath me. My face was nestled on his bare chest and my leg was arched across his thighs. He was the wonderful scent.
Jesus, I was plastered all over him.
His arm curled around my waist and his hand rested on the curve of my butt. Extracting myself without waking him was going to be a challenge. I listened to his regular breathing and tried to decide if he was awake.
"Good morning," he said sleepily into my ear.
I raised my head and looked into his smiling eyes. "I don't usually climb all over men I barely know," I assured him.
"Extenuating circumstances," he agreed. "But that might not save you if you move like that again. I'm a gentleman, not a saint." He trailed his fingers down the back of my leg, sending electric sparks up my spine, making my breath catch in my throat.
"That's not playing fair," I complained, shifting my leg. My inner thigh promptly ran into aroused male and I froze. "Oh, boy. Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!"
His smile widened. "We're about ten seconds from having sex. If that doesn't suit you, I suggest you might want to get moving."
Part of me wanted to run for the bathroom right then, but I forced myself to consider his statement. Did I want to have sex with him? The heat low in my belly was quick to assure me I did. Add to the equation the fact that he'd also taken a bullet for me. If any man deserved a good screwing, it was him, and it had been so long.
I took a deep breath and slid fully on top of him, seating his sex against mine with only a few layers of cloth between us. His erection felt impossibly hot as it nestled against me. The need inside me bloomed into full-blown lust.
He groaned as I rubbed myself against him. His hands settled on my hips, grinding us together. "Candy, I--"
My mouth crushed his, cutting off whatever he had been about to say. At this point, it didn't matter what he said and the last thing I wanted to hear was some self-sacrificing offer to stop if I wanted to. As if.
I'd been fighting this attraction since we'd met back in high school. When we were done having sex, I might go back to fighting it, but in this moment, he was mine and I wasn't willing to hear any more.
Now that I'd made my intent clear, neither was he, apparently. His arms flattened me against his chest and he kissed me back with all the passion I could hope for. He tried to roll me over on my back, but I stopped him with a hand.
Reluctantly, I broke our kiss. "No. I don't want you to pull your stitches. Lay back and let me do the driving."
He relaxed under me and reached behind me, unsnapping my bra with one hand. It was a clever trick, worthy of a Master prestidigitator. His other hand whisked it off my shoulders and tossed it to the floor. His eyes greedily drank in this sight of my bare breasts.
I felt a twinge of worry because, while they were full-sized for my frame, I was a small woman. I'm sure he was used to women with more to show up there.
He put my concerns to rest by pulling me forward and wrapping his lips around my left nipple. God! His lips shot a bolt of pure heat right down to my sex. Deft nips with his teeth laced that heat with lightning.
Screw the foreplay. I was ready to go right now.
Since he was supporting my weight, I was free to use both hands to slide my now-damp panties off and send them after my bra. Once free of them, I reluctantly pulled back from his attentions. I reached down and fished his cock out of his boxers and fitted it to my sex.
With little sighs and groans, I lowered myself until he was all the way inside me. I took my lower lip between my teeth as I started rocking back and forth. He might not be too long, but he was thicker than any of the men I'd had. I felt like it only barely fit.
He closed his eyes for a moment as I started riding him. "God, Candy! You're so tight. Go slow! I want this to last."
I laughed, low and throaty. "I think the odds are stacked against you holding out for long. Don't come inside me. I'm not on anything."
He winced. "I'm sorry. I didn't expect us to do anything or I'd have picked up something. If you want to stop..."
"I don't want to stop. Just be a good neighbor and warn me before you come. I promise to clean you up good and give you another round to make up for how quick this will be."
With that, I started riding him in earnest. The sharp thrust of his cock into me every time I came down quickly brought me a small orgasm, making me impale myself on him in a frenzy of need.
"Jesus. I thought you were going to rip my dick off."
I laughed exultantly and enjoyed the slow drop off the other side, slowing my movements to make him last longer. And to torture him.
His hands urged me to go faster while his bright eyes begged for release. I decided to give it to him. Quickening my pace, I started squeezing my internal muscles tight on every down stroke. He groaned and writhed under me.
"Get off! I'm going to come!"
I quickly jumped off him and took the head of his cock into my mouth. I didn't really like the taste, but he was getting the Full Monty this morning. I hope he didn't want me to try and take more of him into my mouth. I wasn't sure it would fit.
Two strokes of my fist and the first shot of his come landed on my tongue. I used my hands to control his penetration and slowly milked him dry, swallowing as I went. His groans of pleasure sent fresh waves of need through me as I cleaned him up. It was salty, but not as bad as my last boyfriend.
I didn't resist as he pulled my torso over his face and started pleasuring me. If he wanted to draw out the moment and make me come again, I wasn't going to complain.
My experience with oral sex--both giving and receiving--was limited, but I was sure he knew his way around pussy within just a few seconds. His tongue felt like it was six inches long and I ramped up to a sharp orgasm much faster than I expected. He was eating me alive!
I used my mouth and tongue on him, but I felt uncoordinated and clumsy. I couldn't focus on what I wanted to do to him while he was eating me. One orgasm quickly became two, then three. I ground myself on his face like a shameless animal.
When I finally couldn't take it anymore, I flipped around and started kissing him with all the passion he'd generated in me. Without using my hands, I slid my body until he slid back into me. I didn't move my hips; I just let him throb inside me, until I calmed down.
With long, slow strokes, I pushed him into myself while I kissed him and whispered naughty, dirty things in his ear. Every time I thought he was getting too excited, I stopped moving. I was going to draw this out as long as I possibly could.
He, of course, had different ideas. While I was focused on how wonderful he felt inside me, he rolled me over and onto my back, capturing my wrists in his hands. He looked crazed with lust.
"Your stitches!" I protested.
"Fuck the stitches! I may go insane if I let you keep up this pace. Besides, I think you'll like this better." With that he started powering into me with long, hard strokes.
He was right. This was much better.
My legs wrapped around his torso of their own volition and I let him fuck me fast and deep. I thought I would pass out from the pleasure.
It was a good thing he had good control, because I completely forgot I cared about him coming inside me. I was lost in the heat, coming in waves until I thought I was stuck on "come." The first inkling I had that he was even close was when he pulled out of me and spent himself all over my stomach.
I idly rubbed it into my skin as he lay down next to me and we kissed. Every muscle in my body was warm and loose. I felt better than I had in a long time. I reveled in the feel of his hard body pressed up against mine until my fingers were just sticky.
"That was terrific," I murmured.
"Not me," he laughed softly. "It was all you. You were wonderful."
With one last kiss, I climbed off the bed. "I don't know if I want this to go any further, Ty. I've never been good with relationships. Let's not rush this. And...thank you."
I used the bathroom and climbed into the shower while he stayed on the bed. A wash of hot water steamed the frosted glass and cooled the burning need in me to an almost acceptable level. My breathing was almost back under control when he opened the bathroom door and I heard him sit on the toilet.
"What are you doing?" I squeaked, watching his indistinct form through the steamed glass.
"Using the bathroom. Just shower and ignore me," he said, amused. "I promise I'm not watching every move of your soap-slicked body through that glass and thinking of joining you."
"The doctor said to keep your stitches dry!"
"I'll notice that you didn't exactly tell me no," he said dryly.
He finished up his business and I watched his indistinct form saunter out of the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
I smiled in the solitude of the shower. Things were indeed looking up.
* * * * *
There was no sign of movement from my mother's room by the time we were dressed so I slipped a note under her door. Ty watched the parking lot for a while and declared it unlikely that anyone was watching our cars.
By mutual agreement, we decided to do breakfast at the Lodge. We also decided that a stop to change into something fresh before meeting in public would be prudent so I slipped up to my room and changed into some jeans and a pale blue tee shirt. I also acceded to my furry minion's demands and fed Screamer.
I slapped my phone into its charger and had it bulk upload my pictures to my email. I grabbed my laptop to take down to breakfast. Perhaps something would be more obvious to Ty in Wallace's office.
Breakfast was just about done by the time Ty joined me in the dining room. Remembering dinner at the Inn last night, I looked at the decor with a jaundiced eye. Karen, unaware of my impending decision to upset her world, smiled at us knowingly and took our second breakfast order in two days.
"Now that you're awake enough to think, who was shooting at us last night?" I asked over the rim of my coffee cup.
"Not we. You. I haven't offended anyone to the point of murder in the last two days. Still, if nothing else, you've made it clear to me that Armstrong didn't die in an accident. As for who, which of the people you've been harassing have freaked out the most?"
"Jake Wallace," I said without hesitation. "He vanished right after I talked to him that one time. Oh, except for when I spotted him watching me at the Inn. I tried catching up with him but his car disappeared before I could get out of the lot."
Ty nodded thoughtfully. "So, he had the big freaking hunk o' gold, ran like a little girl when you confronted him, and turned up just a few hours before you got shot at? You mentioned him to the police last night, right?"
"Then hopefully they'll get the Sheriff's department looking for him, too. You need to go talk to them today. That whack job needs to be picked up before he decides to take another try at you. I'll see if I can come up with a place to stash you until this settles down."
"I'm not letting someone scare me into letting this go."
"You're not scared? You should be. Someone tried to kill you last night. They killed Armstrong and you've scared them enough to kill you. Either you go into hiding or you get an armed guard to keep you safe."
"It was my armed guard that lured me to the beach," I said tartly. I smiled to take any sting out of my comment.
"I have to go see Damien this morning. I don't want you going outside this building until I get back," he said sternly.
The sentiment warmed my soul but I couldn't let him run all over me. "If I do leave, I promise to call and to stay someplace public."
"The beach was public."
"It was also dark," I countered. "Wallace, if it was Wallace, won't be stalking me in public. He wants this to all go away, not spin out of control."
"It's already out of control," he muttered darkly. "I'd handcuff you down but you'd probably like that."
I smiled at him. "No comment."
"Fine," he said. "I'll make this as fast as I can and then come back for you. Did you at least tell the police about the gold?"
I shuddered. "No. That would be a bit... awkward to explain. But, speaking of gold, I uploaded the pictures I took in his office." I gestured to the laptop.
Ty moved to my side of the booth and crowded up against me while I booted the laptop. His proximity, the heat and scent of him, threatened to rob me of my ability to operate the computer.
Somehow, I managed to get the pictures on the screen. One by one we looked them over. Ty examined them in detail and magnified some for closer examination. That made them too grainy to see fine details, in my honest opinion.
"What does this say?" he asked. The picture he was looking at was one of the Lake Tahoe model.
He pointed to a scrap of paper beside the model. I hadn't noticed it when I was busy snapping pictures. Thank goodness it was on the same side as me and my camera. The printed words were almost clear enough to read. I enlarged that section of the picture and was able to read it. Mostly.
"The first word," I said at last, "looks like 'Rattlesnake.' The second might be John, or Jim, or Don. Hell, it could be anything."
"Is that thing connected to the web?" he asked, pointing at the laptop.
I nodded. "The whole Lodge is a wireless hotspot."
"All those flags look like places to make out a search. If it's for gold then that slip of paper might mean something. Do a search for gold and rattlesnake."
I frowned. "Sure, but what will that do?"
"If I was looking around for a bunch of gold, it would be gold someone might've hid. That might mean some mention on the web."
"And if it's written down on the Internet, it must be true."
"Cynic. Just do the search and let's see if anything pops up."
I typed in the two words in my search engine and started scrolling down the page, dismissing the first half-a-page before Ty pointed.
"That one. Rattlesnake Dick. It mentions a gold robbery."
I clicked the link. "Dear God, someone was really named Rattlesnake Dick? Please!"
"Read," Ty said sternly. "I think we're onto something.
The page was the biography of a thief from the California gold rush. Rattlesnake Dick, originally Dick Barter, AKA Dick Wood. He hit a mule train of gold mined from Yreka in Redding, CA in 1857. It was the monthly allotment of gold mined from Shasta and Trinity counties. A princely $80,000 haul.
That didn't sound like much until I realized the article was using mid-1800 dollars. That might be quite a lot of gold in today's dollars.
Dick and one of his cohorts went to steal some mules because they didn't want to use Wells Fargo mules and didn't return. The remaining gang members buried half the gold and split the rest four ways. One was killed fairly quickly by a Wells Fargo detective. One other was wounded and the remaining two captured.
Those Wells Fargo people didn't sound like they screwed around. The buried half of the gold was never recovered.
It turned out Dick and his remaining cohort had been arrested for attempting to steal some mules and, though they escaped before being tried, that was why they never returned to where the gold was stashed. Dick's cohort was quickly recaptured.
Dick was supposedly shot to death by the Placer County Sheriff in 1859. The uncertainty came in because he also supposedly hijacked a shipment of gold coin and bullion being moved from the San Francisco mint two months later. Good work for a dead guy.
The stolen gold was listed as a big honking load of 1857-S Liberty $20 gold coins and gold bars from five different assayers. All told, about three thousand pounds of gold were taken in Rattlesnake Dick's second big heist, if it really was him that last time.
"How much would something like that be worth now?" I asked in a hushed voice.
"Millions of dollars," Ty said. "Probably tens of millions of dollars. More if the coins could be sold through collectors, I'm sure." He pointed at the screen. "Now that is motive for murder."
I searched for the type of gold coin that had been heisted and pulled up a picture and the relevant details. 1857-S Liberty Double Eagle: 34mm diameter (1 1/3"), 33.4 grams (1.2 regular oz). One side of the pretty coin had a woman's head wearing a pearl-bordered diadem with the word "LIBERTY". She looked vaguely Greek. The back had an eagle with a shield on its breast. Above it, 13 stars set in an oval with rays above them.
"I wonder how many coins they took?"
"A lot, I'm sure. See if you can find any info on gold nuggets. I'd like to know how much you boosted from Wallace and how pissed he probably is without it."
Karen had delivered breakfast and smirked at Ty and me all wedged together by the time I located a site that sold gold nuggets. Before noon, word would be out that I had a boyfriend.
When I brought up a nugget that looked about the same size as the one I'd boosted it took my breath away. "Twelve thousand dollars!" Heads turned to stare at me so I lowered my voice. "That's more than my car is worth," I hissed.
"That might prompt a shooting all on its own," Ty agreed. "Let's eat and then we go straight to the cops."
I stared at him, aghast. "I can't tell them I stole a hunk of gold like that. That's grand theft! I'll go to jail till I'm old and gray."
"I'll come visit you every Wednesday."
I smacked him before I remembered his stitches--and the workout we'd given them earlier--but he only winced.
"I deserved that. Okay, you can't tell them about the gold but you can tell them all about Wallace stalking you. They should've received word from up north about the shooting by now. This is your chance to get Armstrong's murder the attention it deserves."
"But how does this even link up with Armstrong? Sure, it's more than enough to get someone killed, but as far as we know Armstrong isn't linked to the gold thing at all."
Ty shrugged. "I haven't the slightest idea. It's the only thing I've seen so far that might get someone killed. Have you heard anything else that might do as a motive in a pinch?"
"Only his philandering ways and the ship recovery project," I said. "More than one person has said he played the field, including the married ladies. A jealous husband? That sounds more likely than anything to do with the S.S. Tahoe."
Ty sat up straighter. "Unless the gold and the S.S. Tahoe are linked. What if someone stashed the gold on the ship before it was sunk?"
"It was sunk almost seventy years ago and to a depth that modern divers have difficulty getting down to. That doesn't make much sense."
He held up his hand. "Hold on a second. This might work. She was originally supposed to end up at a much shallower depth. She was supposed to be sitting pretty in about eighty feet of water before she slalomed down to four hundred feet. World War II divers could get there."
"That's like eighty years after Rattlesnake Dick stole the gold. He certainly didn't hide it there. How did it get there, if it is there, and how did Jake Wallace end up with some of it?"
Ty smiled. "Answer that and you might just be able to solve this mystery."
My focus on the gold sounded more and more like it had probably gotten me shot at so that was a dangerous course to steer. I needed to use some of the other possible motives as a red herring to get the killer to back off a bit. I wanted to find the killer, not get killed.