Nicholas was surprised how quickly he fell asleep, especially lying on the hard jungle floor. Not to mention the distraction of holding in his arms the most tempting and alluring woman his wildest dreams could conjure up. He didn’t stir until Becky stretched and yawned.
“Good morning, sleepyhead.” Her scratchy voice poked through his fog and Nicholas pulled her even closer.
“Stay,” he mumbled. “Few more minutes.” His eyes never opened but a soft smile pulled at the corners of his mouth.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” Becky said, pushing him gently away. “I’ve been waiting for the sun to rise so I wasn’t searching in the dark for that hole in the ground you dug.”
“M—kay.” Nicholas reluctantly allowed his arms to release her from his clutches and Becky scrambled to unzip the tent flaps. He lay there in their makeshift bed and chuckled when she physically moaned with relief from emptying her bladder.
In all his twenty-nine years living on earth he never thought he’d get a kick out of listening to someone else use the toilet, especially when that toilet was a hand-dug latrine in the middle of a Guatemalan jungle.
He also never dreamed of falling in love this hard this fast. His mind wandered back several years to the first time he saw Becky and realized their love story hadn’t happened quickly at all.
Eight years and six months ago he’d walked into the GIS computer lab expecting a kid almost as geeky as himself to act as graduate assistant. When this elegant blonde woman turned around and smiled at him, Nicholas felt his knees go week. He could barely introduce himself he was so tongue tied.
Not only was Becky off-limits as his TA, she was out of his league. Yet she always found a reason to peek over his shoulder and ask him about his work. He never had to fake ignorance on something to request her assistance because she frequently gave him her undivided attention, almost as if she craved his closeness just as he craved hers.
He still craved her closeness.
By the time he’d mulled over the slow burn of their relationship, she returned carrying the roll of toilet paper she kept in her backpack, which she stashed in its designated pocket and grabbed her little bottle of hand sanitizer. As she rubbed the alcohol gel into her palms, Nicholas reached for his own backpack and dug out a pack of gum.
“I refuse to allow my morning breath to deter you from returning to snuggle with me.” He held up the pack of gum with a grin.
“Ooh, I’ll take a piece.” Becky scrambled across the bedroll they’d shared and wiggled her way back inside the sleeping blanket.
The unspoken message for each other in the gray haze of morning was of desire. Although his doctorate was in archaeology, he knew enough anatomy and physiology to remember that men’s testosterone levels were comparatively higher first thing in the morning than at any other time of day.
He ignored the warning in the back of his mind that making out with Becky was a really bad idea. His mind and body were in complete disagreement about the subject.
She was making his commitment to waiting for marriage very difficult. Her hands gripped into his hair and then roamed down his shoulders and chest. When Becky rolled onto her back and pulled Nicholas on top of her, that woke him up. Completely.
“Whoa, babe, we can’t do this!” Nicholas pushed her away gently but firmly, his conscience finally overpowering his body. Barely.
Staring up at the ceiling of the tent, Becky pulled her hair and growled softly. “Please?”
“No, no, no, no, no.” Nicholas scrambled for his shoes, needing to put distance between them before he changed his mind.
“I’m sorry,” Becky whispered. “I didn’t mean to—”
“Babe, you have nothing to apologize about.” Nicholas leaned over and kissed her one more time. “I want you just as much as you want me—probably more—but we need to wait.”
“I know, I know.” She sighed. “I can be patient.”
“Soon, I promise.” He placed one last tiny peck on her lips and reached for the tent zipper.
Dawn had awakened most of the team and the guys were emerging from the cocoons of their tents, sleepy-eyed and yawning. Nicholas tried to sneak away from Becky’s tent without being noticed.
“Well, well, well, what have we here?” Jeremiah, the team’s finds manager clucked his tongue at Nicholas with a knowing smile. “Who wagered they’d cave by day nine? Or would this be day eight, since I’m assuming Nicholas has been in Rebecca’s tent since last night. So, who wagered day eight?”
“We did not do anything last night.” Nicholas held up his hands in surrender to their teasing. “I just didn’t want her to be alone in the jungle.”
“The wager didn’t require proof of a physical relationship, just that you slept in the same tent, which seeing as how you are currently climbing out of her bed as the sun rises, I’m pretty sure we can make a reasonable assumption that you did indeed sleep in Rebecca’s tent.”
“I’m a billionaire,” Nicholas said. “I’m pretty sure I can afford to lose a few dollars on a wager, especially if that means I get to sleep in the arms of the most incredible woman in the world.”
“Wait, you’re a… billionaire?” Jeremiah wasn’t the only member of the team standing dumbfounded with his jaw hanging open.
“Well, our estate is worth over a billion.” Nicholas waved a finger back and forth between himself and the tent where Levi still slept. “Just because we shared a couple of strands of DNA our parents say we have to split the inheritance. I’m older so I really should get more than half.”
“I’m smarter,” Levi called from inside the tent. There was a flurry of activity inside as Levi made his way to the door and unzipped the tent flap. “I’m sure by the time we retire I will have invested more wisely, and my net worth will be greater.”
“My net worth is already greater from the simple luxury of sleeping in the arms of the woman I love.”
“And the rest of us are going to puke up our breakfast from the gooey love fest vibe you got going on,” Jeremiah said.
“No puking up breakfast,” Timothy called out. “We need to hold onto all the energy we can if we’re going to finish this trek before sundown. Now let’s pack up these tents, clean up your campsites and get going.” As excavation director, he was in charge. His little speech spurred them all into action and within 45 minutes the team was on their way.