Muriel's Passion - Suzie McLean - ebook
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Work on the battered old carwash the BetaZed sorority girls leased is going well—and for Muriel, the pleasure of working alongside her lifelong mentor is an extra thrill. But the rugged day laborer who’s joined their small crew seems disturbingly familiar. Even though she aches to feel his clever hands gliding all over her body, something about him is making her keen senses hum with alarm. Who is he…and why is he lurking around their sorority house every night?~~~~~ Excerpt ~~~~~Ben was fiddling with a well-worn pair of tinsnips, trying to find a comfortable grip through the heavy gloves he was wearing. Muriel watched in silence as he began to trim sharp edges off the heavy wire mesh. She could have done it in half the time; why hadn’t Reid told him to stir the wet stucco, and let her do the more intricate work?He was definitely an odd sort for a day laborer. Most of them were a sorry lot—scrawny, underfed, and usually looking like they were a half-step away from being homeless. Many of them probably were, she suspected, since jobs were so hard to find nowadays.In contrast, Ben was strong, solidly built, and—under that coating of hard-earned grime—clean-cut enough to pass for a Boy Scout. It made her wonder why he hadn’t bothered to shave that morning.And why did he look so eerily familiar? She was sure that she’d seen his distinctive face somewhere before!His low rumbling voice was drowned out by the distinctive crunch of tires on gravel. Muriel glanced over just as a familiar pickup truck turned into the carwash lot, and an eager grin curved her lips. “Morning, Ashe!” she yelled, waving one hand in greeting.Her older brother tossed her a cheery salute before parking the truck a few yards away, and energetically vaulting out. “Hey, MacGyver!” he boomed, clapping Reid on the shoulder. “Gimme a hand? Santa Claus just made a special delivery on the other side of town, and asked me to bring over the first load in person.”Ben helped Reid peel back a dusty weatherstained tarp, and then they all gaped over the stacks and stacks of faded red bricks piled neatly beneath it. “There are three more loads just like this one,” Ashe boasted, “plus a whole bunch of old wiring and pipes that they salvaged. We just gotta go over and get it all hauled it away before sundown.”Pandemonium reigned as everyone tried to scramble into the pickup at once.“Hang on, hang on!” Reid had to shout to be heard above the excited chatter. “There’s too many of us all at once, and someone’s gonna get hurt.“Muriel, you finish patching that section of wall. Phoebe, you stir the mix until Muriel needs it, so that it doesn’t harden. And the rest of you, get back to cleaning the third bay. If you hustle, you can be done by noon.“Ben, you and I will set up an assembly line. Ashe can hand us the bricks, and we’ll pile them neatly back there.” He pointed toward the far end of the first bay, where they’d been working all morning.“Ben?” Ashe’s surprised voice made Muriel stop and glance curiously over her shoulder. “It really is you under all that dirt!”Were her eyes playing tricks on her, or did Ben rapidly shake his head, as if he didn’t want to be recognized?Then he stepped forward with an easy laugh, and reached up to clap Ashe on the shoulder—and she wondered if she’d imagined it.No, she must have been wrong. There was absolutely nothing furtive about his cheerful greeting as he began energetically reaching for bricks. The sun must have gotten in her eyes at exactly the wrong moment.So why did she feel so uneasy as she slowly turned back to her own work?

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Bikini Babes’ Carwash

“Muriel’s Passion”

By Suzie McLean

Artwork by Moira Nelligar

Copyright 2016 Suzie McLean

All characters in this book are 18 or older.

Chapter 1

Subterfuge

Riley Thompson was a very unhappy man.

He shouldn’t be. The past few weeks had been unexpectedly profitable.

First off, he’d finally managed to lease out the battered old carwash that had hung around his neck like an albatross for the last five years. Secondly, the perky college girls who’d taken it over were doing a fine job of fixing it up again…and it wasn’t costing him one thin dime.

Then, to really cap things off, he’d gotten an incredible bonus windfall. No one had been more surprised than him when, in the course of cleaning up all the accumulated trash inside the bays, the Alpha Beta Xi sorority sisters had unearthed a black trash bag filled with nearly $467,000 worth of cash.

He had a pretty good idea where the money had come from. Four years ago, nearly two dozen local businesses—including his—had been expertly robbed, and the clever thief had never been caught. It didn’t take a genius to connect the dots.

Once burned, twice shy…so after the insurance company had reluctantly coughed up an extremely minimal settlement, he’d fortified his aging trailer office until it was a helluva lot sturdier than it looked. The violated safe had been replaced with a much stronger one. And life had gone back to normal—until three days ago.

Very briefly, he’d considered turning over the bag and its obviously-stolen contents to the police because, despite all the jaded clichés about unethical politicians and scumbag landlords, he was an honest man. But he also hadn’t forgotten going several rounds with the current police chief…‘incompetent boob’ was the kindest thing he could say about that ham-handed idiot…and that had convinced Riley not to entrust him with anything valuable. All else being equal, he figured he was better off avoiding the local police force entirely.

Not all the money belonged to him so, being an honest man, he didn’t intend to keep more than his fair share. The balance would be split evenly between the other businesses who’d been hit. He’d already contacted several of them, and hoped to distribute the rest of the cash over the next few days. The sooner it was out of his hands, and back where it belonged, the happier everyone would be.

He was damned well certain more hidden caches existed. Nearly two million dollars had been stolen, and not a single penny had been recovered before now. More inconspicuous hoards would be stashed nearby, he thought, within easy reach for the person who knew where to find them. The big question, of course, was where.

Well, it didn’t really matter, at least not to him personally. No matter how many other bags were eventually found, he wouldn’t claim another penny of the recovered funds. Fair, after all, was fair.

By all rights, he should have been dancing a jig down the sidewalk. But as he stared gloomily across his desk at the big lead-lined safe that doubled as an ugly end table, icy worry chewed into his guts.

What if he’d been wrong? What if the thief hadn’t been killed and burned to a crisp in a high-speed chase four years ago? What if he’d stashed his heavy sack in Riley’s obviously-derelict carwash, then sat back to bide his time until the statute of limitations expired? Thigh-high piles of rotting garbage had hidden it safely all this time…but now the trash was being cleared away at a phenomenal rate as the BetaZed sorority sisters doggedly plowed their way through one disgusting heap after another.

What if the thief was still lurking nearby, fuming at their untimely interference, and just waiting for the chance to reclaim his stolen booty?

Or worse yet, what if the robberies had been the work of a coordinated gang? Just because one member was dead didn’t mean the others weren’t still in the area…

No, he firmly reminded himself, because the robberies had stopped cold when that unknown speeder had wrapped himself around an unforgiving telephone pole. A gang would have regrouped, even if the victim had been their leader, and continued their unchecked burglary spree until one or more had finally gotten caught in the act.

A single partner? That seemed a lot more likely. But wouldn’t the partner have known where to find each buried cache?

And that circled back around to someone hiding in plain sight, patiently waiting until he could walk away scot-free with a fortune in stolen money and valuable jewelry.

Scowling, Riley popped a chalky antacid tab from the half-eaten roll on his desk, and hoped this one would do some good.

He liked the BetaZed sorority sisters individually and as a group. They were smart, energetic, gorgeous, and utterly devoted to each other. And he’d do damned near anything to make sure no one hurt them.

But it was Phoebe, their sexy de facto ringleader, who held the most special place in his mind and his heart.

He’d thought himself too old to fall in love again. Who could have imagined he’d tumble head-over-heels for a lively auburn-haired cheerleader with sapphire-blue eyes and—passionate heat swept through his lean frame at the arousing memory—the most amazing body he’d ever seen!

He’d only meant to test her resolve, and see how serious she really was about starting her own business in the worst economy since the infamous Great Depression. Nothing was worse, after all, than leasing a place to someone who wasn’t truly prepared for all the extra costs and frustrations that went into building a new company.

But when he’d pushed a little too far, and actually dared to kiss her, she’d responded…

Oh God, how she’d responded! A harsh groan tore from his throat as he recalled the lush softness of her sensitive breasts, the searing wildfire of her passionate little body bucking enthusiastically beneath his. She’d rocked his world right out into orbit! And then, while his dazed mind had still been reeling, she’d eagerly done it again, until he’d been breathless and trembling beneath her clever hands and seductive mouth…

Hot surges began to swell his rigid cock, and he moaned in helpless agony. It didn’t matter that she’d regretted it afterwards, and had been carefully avoiding him ever since. His lusty body burned to the core with fierce half-forgotten needs that she’d rekindled into a fiery blaze!

Panting, he fumbled with his belt, then tugged his zipper down. He wasn’t built like a porn super-stud, but he knew how to use what he’d been given…and oh God, he ached to use it on her again! Just once more…just once more!

His eyes nearly crossed as he clutched himself with feverish strength, then shoved his briefs down and began to stroke with desperate speed. “Phoebe!” Her name erupted from his throat just as the first exquisite wet gush erupted from his spasming cock. “Phoebe!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Benjamin Corey was a punctual sort of man, and had a seasoned cop’s respect for higher authority. So when Riley Thompson asked him to swing by his office at two o’clock sharp, he made sure not to arrive a single minute too early or late. The old church clock up the street was just starting to clang when he parked his car, walked crisply across Riley’s parking lot, and knocked on the sturdy trailer door.

“Come on in, Ben.” His best friend, Jason Prescott, opened it, and cheerfully ushered him inside. “What’ll you have to drink?”

So it was to be a casual meeting. Ben felt his tensed nerves relax a little. “Nothing, thanks. Mr. Thompson,” he added, politely reaching across Riley’s big desk to clasp his hand in greeting. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. What can I do for you today?”

Riley winced. “Don’t call me sir,” he implored, gesturing for the younger man to relax on the couch beside Jason. “It makes me feel a hundred years old.”

Jason chuckled, and pushed a glistening bottle into Ben’s hand. “It’s blazing hot out. Drink. And don’t mind Riley; he’s feeling his age today.”

Ben thought he heard the older man mutter, “I certainly am!” as he obediently twisted the cap off his beer, and took a cautious sip. It slid smoothly down his throat, so he sipped again. Not too darned bad…for beer.

They exchanged small talk—weather, local events, the Mayor’s new parking laws—for about fifteen minutes. Then Riley braced both elbows on his desk, and Ben’s attention sharpened. Social hour was over; now they’d get down to business.

“Jason tells me you can be trusted,” Riley said bluntly. “I know a little about your history with the police force, but not the full story. Will you tell me why you retired so young, and opened your own private investigating business?”

Job interview. He’d expected it, so he was able to list the bare facts impassively.

Yes, his father and grandfather had both been cops, so he’d naturally followed in their distinguished footsteps. His two-year criminal justice degree at the local college had prepared him nicely for attending the Florida police academy. Both times, he’d graduated in the top five percent of his class.

Four years ago, a hyped-up junkie needing a fix had attacked some young girls in the park across town. They’d killed the perp before he’d managed to slice the youngest child to pieces, but his partner had taken three rounds in the shoulder and chest, and had later died of his injuries. Ben had gotten off lighter, with a shattered tibia that still gave him trouble when the weather turned damp.

He’d received several glowing commendations for his valor under fire, and personal thank you letters from each of the children whose lives he’d helped to save. But when it had become clear that his leg would never heal well enough to remain on active duty, he’d opted for early retirement. The benefit award he’d received had helped to see him through until his own one-man business had been firmly established.