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Toni has more worries on her plate than she cares to count. Their battered old carwash is in even worse shape than they thought. And now the county’s new building inspector has showed up unexpectedly, and brought trouble with him.Why does he keep coming back to pester her? If only he wasn’t so incredibly sexy, with a taste for homemade Italian cooking…and gorgeous Italian sorority girls!~~~~~~~“Toni!” Muriel rounded the corner at top speed…then rocked back on her heels and stared up at Jason in surprise. “Well, hello there, dark and handsome!”“Hello, yourself!” Thompson had warned him that the BetaZeds were all lookers, but even so, Muriel’s exotic beauty was stunning. Those long slender legs, lush breasts, coppery skin that gleamed with healthy sweat, and enchanting elfin features packed an unexpected punch that he felt all the way into his gut.“Muriel.” Toni’s crisp reply held a low note of warning that surprised even herself. “What’s wrong?”“Not wrong…right! I think.” The Jamaican girl’s rich contralto voice suddenly faltered with doubt. “We found a plastic bag buried under the rubble, and there’s a whole bunch of money inside!”“What?” Toni and Jason spoke at once, then nearly ran each other over in their scramble to follow Muriel.“Don’t touch anything!” Jason yelled as she vanished around the far corner. “The police will want to dust everything for prints!”“We know!” Another woman’s voice answered him. “Who the hell are you?”He skidded to a stop, and found himself facing Muriel and five other women in a tight cluster. The tallest one’s raking glance was distinctly chilly.“Jason Prescott,” he said, thrusting a hand in her direction. “County building inspector.”She shook his hand reluctantly. “Nina Marshall,” she replied. “And these are my sorority sisters.”He pumped each of their hands, and had a moment to appreciate the absurdity of behaving so formally when there was a black plastic sack filled with probably-stolen money lying at their feet. “Where did you find the bag?”“Why?” The busty redhead—Phoebe, he thought—glared at him with definite hostility. “You’re not a cop.”“Phoebe.” The petite Oriental girl laid a soothing hand on her arm. “He hasn’t done anything wrong.”Jason wondered if he’d correctly heard just the slightest emphasis on the word ‘he.’Phoebe flushed with embarrassment. “Sorry,” she muttered, scuffing one dirty sneaker on the oil-stained concrete. Then she slanted a rebellious glance at him. “We’re all hot and tired,” she added with a sugary-sweet smile that only emphasized her resentment. “We’ve been working hard here.”Her sly implication, that he’d been sitting on his butt in a comfortable air-conditioned office while they’d been slaving away in the sultry heat, came through loud and clear. Briefly Jason wondered whether he should respond in kind. Then he decided that he liked Phoebe MacIntyre, despite her surly attitude. Or maybe, he thought with a quick ironic grin, because of it.“Where did you find the bag, Nina?” Toni asked in a subdued voice.“It was under here.” Bending, the taller girl pointed to a shallow depression in the solidly packed mound of garbage. “The ends were knotted tightly around an empty wine bottle, and it looked strange, so I tugged on it, and the entire bag came free.”“I suggested opening it.” Selena spoke up, and hunkered protectively over the lumpy bag. “It never even occurred to us that anything valuable could be inside. But we’re trying to salvage recyclable cans and stuff while we clean it all up, so I figured it was worth checking.”He could imagine the shocked looks on their faces when they’d untied the knot, expecting to find more disintegrating McDonalds wrappers…only to discover a hefty pile of cash!
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Bikini Babes’ Carwash
By Suzie McLean
Artwork by Moira Nelligar
Copyright 2016 Suzie McLean
All characters in this book are 18 or older.
“Riley Thompson is a jerk!”
Andrea MacIntyre blinked in surprise at her irate sorority sister, and pushed damp brunette bangs away from her flushed face. “Are you kidding? He’s sexy as hell!”
“He’s a jerk,” Antonia repeated, and angrily slammed a rusted beer can into the oversized trash bag propped against the derelict carwash’s battered wall. “And a slob. Look at all this mess he’s left for us to deal with.”
“Now, Toni.” Tamika soothingly shook her head from the other end of the bay, where she was delicately picking through a similar mound of decomposing trash and sodden windblown leaves. “He’s a busy man. There’s been no need for him to do regular housekeeping since the place has been sitting vacant for nearly five years.”
“So he left it for us to do.” Muriel’s white teeth sparkled against her coppery skin as she flashed the other girls a quick grin. “That was part of the lease terms. We all agreed to it when we approved the contract…no point in bitching now.”
Toni sighed, and reached for another crumpled can. Muriel was right, of course. And they’d all been so excited when they’d reviewed and signed Riley Thompson’s concise agreement. Their own business! They were sure they could make it work!
But that had been two long weeks ago.
Much of the intervening time had been swallowed by frenzied preparations for their year-end finals. They’d come over, singly and in groups, every moment they could spare, and gloated over the dilapidated old carwash bays—their dilapidated old carwash bays—with eager enthusiasm. A little elbow grease, a whole lot of trash bags, and they could make it shine like new again!
But that was before they’d actually dug in, and found creepy scuttling bugs and God only knew what else living in the refuse left by dozens…hundreds?…of boisterous frat parties and grubby homeless indigents.
A finger-length striped brown anole scurried up the wall, hesitated long enough to eye the girls curiously, then darted around the corner and vanished. Antonia stared after it for several moments, and then bent to tug another rusty can from the pile at her feet. She didn’t mind the colorful little lizards that clung to every fence and building throughout mid-state Florida; they ate the annoying little ants and bugs.
But this mess! She’d seen it, even studied it with an appraising eye when they’d walked through and exclaimed over all the lot’s grand possibilities. But she hadn’t realized, then, just how much work it would take, or how nasty the job would be.
Worse yet, the stucco walls behind the trash piles were cracked and crumbling where moisture had seeped in to cause damage. They wouldn’t know the full extent until all the garbage was hauled away, and the walls were scrubbed to remove accumulated grit. She dreaded the thought of having to abandon the entire project, and all the money they’d already sunk into it, because the building itself was unusable.
Well, they’d find a way to roll with the punches. The BetaZeds were ingenious and resourceful.
Fortunately they wouldn’t really need the bays for another several months, not until winter—or what passed for it in sunny Florida—whipped through. If the damage was repairable, they could do it in their spare time throughout the long golden summer. And if the bays absolutely had to be demolished, they could erect several of those sturdy tarp-covered carports that were popular in the senior citizens’ vinyl-village housing developments.
Whatever it took, they’d made a commitment, so they’d find a way.
But first, they had to clear away all this disgusting trash. And it was so damned hot! Normally the coastal tradewinds provided a nice refreshing breeze…but not today.
“He’s a jerk,” she said a third time, but she was so tired and disheartened that it was mostly reflexive.
Then fierce anger rekindled in her blood, and she clenched her teeth to keep from hissing an expletive that would have shocked Andi and her fraternal twin, Selena. “And what the hell did he do to Phoebe? She hasn’t been the same since the day she met with him.”
They all exchanged worried glances over that. Normally Phoebe, the sorority’s de-facto ringleader, was as bright and effervescent as a rambunctious child, eager to leap forward and grasp every new experience with both hands. But she’d been disturbingly subdued and withdrawn ever since the morning she’d met with Riley Thompson to inspect their new property, and haggle over lease terms.
She’d come home successful…he’d offered them unbelievably reasonable conditions, and not even the stipulation of making him a full partner had dimmed their excitement. She should have been triumphant, bubbling over with delight. Instead, she’d walked in, grimly laid his contract on the big kitchen table that had become their traditional gathering place, and then shut herself in her room for the remainder of the day. Ever since then, she’d been pale and alarmingly remote, as if she spent every night tossing and turning.
Oh, she’d laugh at the right place if you told her a joke or funny story. But her heart wasn’t in it anymore. Her vigorous appetite had dwindled to what wouldn’t feed an anemic canary, and even her lush auburn hair looked limp and dull. It was like something had sucked all the life out of her, and left behind a pallid shadow of the vibrant girl they all knew and loved so well.
“He hurt her.” Andrea had always been closer to Phoebe than anyone else. “I don’t know how—she won’t talk about it, even to me. But I know he did. She cries at night when she thinks Sele and I are both asleep.”
Selena soberly nodded her head. “I’ve heard her, too. And sometimes she says his name when she’s dreaming.”
Elle and Astra exchanged startled looks from their side of the sweltering little bay. “You don’t think she’s falling in love with him, do you?”
That made Nina snort with laughter, but Muriel looked thoughtful. “He is pretty sexy,” she admitted, nodding her agreement to Andi’s earlier comment, “even if he is so old. But I can’t see Phoebe falling really hard for anyone…and if she did, she’d be over the moon about it, with stars in her eyes. Not moping about like someone had just stolen her lunch money.”
“She’d never fall for a guy who’s old enough to be her father,” Nina interjected with another amused smirk. “Especially not when she has most of the football jocks panting after her like brainless morons.”
“They are brainless morons,” Muriel retorted with a quick roll of her dark eyes.
Tamika chewed on her bottom lip for a moment, then ventured, “What if she is falling for him, and doesn’t want to? Wouldn’t that explain why she’s been so moody lately, and talking in her sleep?”
“Yeah, but Tami…”
Nina’s quick reply was interrupted by the unmistakable crunch of tires on gravel. “She’s back with lunch. We’ll talk about it again later.”
“Bet she didn’t get a thing for herself,” Toni fretted as they turned to watch Phoebe park her rumbling old van along the far side of the building with easy expertise. “I can’t stand the way she’s losing weight.”
Toni was the acknowledged beauty among them, with her sweet Madonna’s face and rich mahogany curls that fell in rippling waves halfway down her back. She’d been pleasantly plump when she’d joined the Alpha Beta Xi sorority, and only vigorous exercise kept her from settling back into rounded curves in all the wrong places. But thanks to Nina’s energetic workout regimens, she’d managed to chisel away the excess pounds and replace them with long slender legs, a narrow waist, and lush breasts that made men’s mouths water.
Her willpower was sorely tested by chocolate and her mother’s delicious homemade Italian pastries. She’d learned to cook so she wouldn’t be tempted to visit home too often just for a decent meal, and over the past four years she’d honed that skill to fine expertise. The other girls thought she could easily boost the ratings of any cordon bleu restaurant, and it was a crying shame that she’d settled for being a boring business major.
Seeing Phoebe wither away to nothing offended her sensibilities. “She’ll eat some of mine if I have to sit on her and force it down her throat,” she decided before stepping out into the broiling midday sun to help her best friend carry McDonalds bags over to the one bay they’d managed to completely clean out.
She’d been right…Phoebe had bought herself a small orange soda, but nothing else. By unspoken agreement, the other girls spread out a big blanket they’d brought from the sorority house, then dumped all their French fries into a huge, ungainly pile in the middle. If that couldn’t tempt Phoebe into nibbling on at least a few, she was overdue for a hospital visit.
While they lounged around the edges of the blanket and munched their way through burgers, chicken nuggets, salads, and fruit pies, they eagerly discussed what else it would take to restore the battered old carwash to its former glory.
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