The Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher and her amiable companion, Miss Dorothy Williams, stood on the Queenscliff beach, ice cream cones in hand. Phryne was outfitted in her smart, belted navy bathing suit with a brilliant carnelian drape which was fluttering in the ocean breezes. Her coordinated ensemble was topped off by her dark rounded lens sunglasses and her wide brimmed cream colored hat complete with garnet and sapphire embroidered accents. Dot was garbed in her peach and brown floral day dress, topped off with her favorite tan cloche with the colorful floral applique. They were a picture postcard vision, perfectly suited to their environs.
The ladies' eyes were transfixed on the scene before them; two figures diving and surfacing in the water just past the breaking waves rolling onto the beach's edge. Detective Inspector Jack Robinson and his stalwart constable, Hugh Collins, were cresting above and vanishing below the water's surface like a pair of dolphins at play.
Hugh finally broke the surface, hand raised above his head clutching the missing dagger. He vigorously shook his head, wet hair spraying drops willy-nilly, like a dog shaking water off its body. He slogged towards shore announcing, "Found it!" his voice barely audible over the sound of the crashing waves.
Miss Fisher's mouth gaped, her fingers gripping the side arm of her sunglasses. "What a feat, Hugh! Worthy of a bronze medallion!" she exclaimed, praising his diligent efforts. Dot looked on, face erupting in a huge smile as he approached, teeth raking her ice cream numbed lips.
Quickly closing the distance, Jack jogged the last few steps, joining in with a "Well done, Collins!" proud of the valiant efforts of his able colleague.
Hugh handed the weapon to Miss Fisher as a faithful knight would to his Queen, with a slight bow, proffering his blade forward to her. She grasped it in her free hand and inspected it.
"You were under for ages. I thought you'd drowned!" Dot exclaimed to Hugh. Pride and admiration for her beau radiated from her face. She reached over to drape the towel over her sweetheart's shoulders. He ducked his head, allowing her to just reach around his neck; his face coming in perilous proximity to her bosom.
Turning ever so slightly, he glanced furtively towards the bounty before him, a hidden smile gracing his face. My, but Dottie is beautiful, and… and she has such a lovely bosom. Instantly he bit his tongue, chastising himself for being so brazen and forward. Even if it was only in his own mind. A gentleman doesn't…! his thought trailed off as he felt the blood rise to paint his neck, ears and face.
As Jack neared Phryne, her head waggled, mouth gaping in bald appreciation of his lithe form. Long sinuous arms framed a winged torso which topped solid, well-muscled thighs. Very solid thighs, indeed! And he thought SHE was hiding weapons under HER skirt?! Mercy! Who knew his trousers had been hiding weapons this gloriously lethal? It immediately sent a jolt down her spine as she imagined all the things those thighs might be capable of. She was grateful as the sea breeze picked up just then, minutely tamping down the fire that had ignited somewhere slightly south of her midsection threatening to flood her entire system.
As Jack approached, his arms akimbo, he squinted. His usually tidy, pomaded hair sprouted a forelock, hanging limp and disheveled, down his forehead. "Toledo dagger," he stated, identifying the knife. His thumb and forefinger softly glided up the flat of the blade, long fingers delicately caressing it, sending Phryne's imagination wandering into dangerous territory... again.
"Looks like a collector's piece," Phryne added, squaring her jaw for emphasis.
Jack's head wobbled as his lips pressed together curving downward, creating a contemplative frown. "Hmmm."
"C'mon, Hugh," Dottie smiled at her strapping lad. "Let’s get you dried off and warmed up." She wrapped her arm in his, dragging him farther away from the shore.
"Miss… Inspector…" Hugh nodded towards the couple behind them, looking back at his commanding officer, his eyes and voice asking if he was needed, "Sir?"
The Inspector shook his head and waved him off. "Go on, Collins. I'll catch up with you at the house. We’ll check in at the station… go from there," his hand shielding his eyes from the beating sun as he addressed his rapidly disappearing constable.
Hugh nodded, "Yes, sir." His arm was anxiously being tugged by Miss Williams, who was currently pulling him in the direction of the McNaster house. "Come along, Mr. Collins," Dot reiterated, beaming at her beau. A silly, happy expression, all teeth and bright eyes, broadcast over Hugh's face for all to see, as Dottie offered him her ice cream.
Miss Fisher and the Inspector turned, silently watching in unison as the young couple departed; walking arm in arm, chatting away, smiles firmly planted on their faces. Ahh… the innocence of young love.
The remaining pair stood to face each other. Miss Fisher feebly attempting to hide her eyes behind darkened lenses, all the while raking up and down the Inspector's fine masculine form, ogling it wantonly. Her heart had started to race from the moment he rose from the waves, water running down his body like a glistening Adonis, emerging fully formed from the sea. With their current state of close proximity, it showed no indication of slowing. In fact, it showed signs of racing out of control.
Jack's Adam's apple betrayed his own accelerated heart rate as he had approached the pale goddess standing before him on the beach; a veritable Venus sans shell. The rich red drape billowing in the breezes like Venus' own long titian tresses. The long creamy expanse of leg ended in delicately painted toes half buried in the loose dry sand which, he noticed, matched perfectly to her suit's drape, causing his breath to hitch and his mouth to water like a Pavlovian dog.
This surely gives new meaning to the phrase… how did Miss Fisher put it? That lean hungry look. Ah. He unconsciously licked his lips. Dog, indeed! He reprimanded himself, internally huffing in disgust. If he were to be completely honest with himself, which on occasion, he would permit, there were many responses to the intense stimuli that was Miss Fisher; a large percentage of which were purely primal reactions, completely out of the scope of his usually regimented demeanor. The trick was not to let those reactions escape his well-versed control. Control that Miss Fisher had been steadfastly eroding, little by little, ever since their fateful introduction in Lydia Andrews' lavatory.
"Would you mind if I borrowed this for a bit?" Phryne inquired, indicating the dagger in her hand. "In order to test a theory?" her voice climbed in pitch.
Uh, oh… ! Alarm bells rang in his head. She's up to something - either something bordering on the illegal, a partial truth, or something she doesn't want me to know about. Yes… I am well versed in this game, Miss Fisher. Shall we see where this goes?
"I don't see why not," he replied, the barest of smirks dusting the corner of his lips, assenting to her request. "At this point, any blood evidence or fingerprints we might have hoped to find has already been washed away." The Inspector frowned as he reached for the dagger, removing it from Miss Fisher's hand. Bending in half over her bag, he gently set the dagger into it.
Still (mostly) hidden behind her glasses, Phryne's pupils enlarged as she closely tracked his firm arse beneath the modesty panel of his suit, the interplay of flexing muscles sending shivers dancing down her spine.
Jack reached for his towel next to her bag before rising, his eyes skimming the landscape of her body as he slowly ascended, drinking in and memorizing every curve, angle and plane before him, as a starving man would view his first meal in a month. He dried his face, then tousled his unencumbered hair, errant curls waving wildly now that they were no longer disciplined and structured by pomade. He draped the towel round his neck and shoulders, then raised his hands to finger comb through his damp, disorderly locks. His attempt to corral and straighten them off his forehead failing utterly.
As she watched him perform the simple, yet mundane action, it startled her to realize just how erotic she found it. Perhaps because he always presented himself as buttoned up, all-together and uniformed in his 'Inspector's armor.' This loose, relaxed, and unbound version of him was all the more revealing, enticing. All the more... mysterious, yet intoxicating, dashing and delectable.
Inching closer, Phryne reached a delicate porcelain finger to brush his forelock to the side. Her velvet light touch brushed his forehead, sending a charge straight to his center releasing a coil of tension, freezing him in place. Her sunglasses slid down her nose of their own accord, to reveal mesmerizing blue-green eyes rapidly irising out to black, flooding with unbridled desire as they zeroed in on his. For a brief moment, time seemed to stand still. Their gazes locked, a light whisper of a smile simultaneously graced their lips.
A drop of vanilla ice cream slowly traveled, square by square, down the outside of the cone to melt over the tip of Miss Fisher’s finger. The sweet treat all but forgotten in light of the distraction that was Jack's unruly and unfettered waves. After all, how was a woman to stay upright after such a blatant frontal assault?
Without breaking eye contact, Phryne brought her finger up to her garnet lips. Her attention momentarily drawn back to her ice cream, she slowly and deliberately inserted the wet, sticky tip into her mouth, laving the end, slowly removing all traces of the frozen treat.
Eyes bobbed over the rim of her lenses, sweeping over the sun-kissed visage that was Jack Robinson, while her tongue traced suggestive circular patterns in her dessert, ending with a swath of sweet cream spreading across her lips, which she greedily consumed; tongue dragging over moistened lips obliterating all evidence of the delectable dessert.
A look of raw desire blossomed on her face threatening to topple the balance over the knife's edge into full-fledged lust. In her attempt to ignite a fire in her oft dour detective, she managed to set herself alight. Hmmm… an added bonus, indeed. She licked her lips in breathless anticipation, heart pounding in her throat.
Despite the blazing sun, Jack was as frozen as the delicious treat receiving intensely dedicated attention from the magnificent mouth of the currently (not so) Honorable Miss Fisher. His thoughts immediately flashed to other more intimate scenarios that might engage her outstanding oral aptitudes. He imagined her talented tongue flicking over his enflamed and engorged flesh. His golden lashes fluttered down, brushing his cheeks. They paused, then slowly ascended. His 'tell' had been wrested from him by her suggestive actions. He could usually school his features, but apparently, they'd left for 'recess.' Good GOD woman, what you do to me! His body promptly dispatched its usual stalwart control. Carefully erected walls, an apt word choice, he mused, crumbled against his growing rigidity (aaand… the irony is complete).
Large, dexterous hands gripped the edges of his towel and languidly dragged it from his shoulders, wringing it in front of his suit's front modesty panel, as he pretended to dry his already arid hands and arms. He was overly aware that in scant moments, said panel's effectiveness would be obliterated by his rapidly rising IM-modesty. Jack opened and closed his mouth in an attempt to re-engage his brain and grasp for a diversionary tactic.
"You look a bit overheated Detective Inspector." Phryne's voice sliced through the haze. "Would you like some of my ice cream to help you cool off? I’m more than happy to share.” Miss Fisher moved her cone to hover at the juncture his of lips and chin.
Emboldened and without disengaging from her ocean blue gaze, he accepted her challenge, taking up the offer. Jack leaned his head down and hovered slightly above her ice cream cone, hunger radiating from his cerulean eyes. His tongue darted out, scooping out a tantalizing taste of the creamy confection as he mirrored her actions of mere moments ago, a sultry smirk edging its way along his mouth.
Two can play at this game, Miss Fisher. You have not engaged an unarmed opponent. I, too, have an arsenal at hand.
Buzzing with the brisk sting of cold, his lips began to numb in the radiating sunshine. Unable to resist, Jack moved in closer and took a bite out of the cone, removing an ample chunk of the chilled offering. He devoured the crisp, crunchy cone, chewing enthusiastically as it combined with the sweet, silky, liquefying texture of the ice cream. A surfeit of sensation flooded his mouth. His lids drifted close in delight and a faintly audible moan of pleasure escaped from his throat emanating from somewhere deep in his chest. As his lids finally returned to their upright position, his view filled with the lovely and lascivious Miss Fisher. An inferno erupted within him, sending a livewire straight to his nether region.
Phryne slid her sunglasses off her nose and hooked them onto the front of her suit. Her gaze flared and fixed on the corner of his mouth. "You… have a bit of… just there," her voice trailed off as she reached a hand forward to swipe at the edge of his mouth with the soft pad of her thumb, sensuously stroking from corner to center of his surprisingly soft lips. Before she could pull her thumb away, Jack captured it in his mouth. Laving the pad of her thumb with sensual strokes of his tongue, his cheeks hollowed as he sucked the remaining cream from it, causing a flood of a similar kind to escape somewhere decidedly lower on her body.
Phryne's fingers snaked up to cup his cheek, his eyes fluttering closed once more, his head canted into the caress. She stutteringly inhaled, reveling in the dichotomy of textures on the planes of his face, velvet soft lips surrounded by slightly rougher cheeks dusted with the barest hint of stubble.
"So, Jaaack…" her sensual voice fondled and elongated his name (that wasn't the only thing, God help him.) "If I were to tell you you had a great body, would you hold it against me?" The remaining part of her question ended in a low purr as she suggestively ran her tongue over her teeth. Her brows briefly jumped; long onyx lashes blinked twice, attempting, but failing, at a look of innocent deportment. Her cheeks pinked, the cause definitely not the warm sun or ocean breezes.
Knowing that she had gotten under his skin, she dangled the bait in front of him in hopes of inveigling an uncharacteristic, and hopefully salacious, response from him. Her trademark flirtatious demeanor wholly failing to mask the increasing desire raging through her own body. Phryne inched closer to him in challenge, the ocean breeze snaking between them leaving a swath of goose flesh in its wake.
Jack's face was deceptively close to hers when he finally surrendered to the pull of her siren song. Their lips met in a tentative touch. Initial hesitancy made way to gentle exploration. Tongues twined, sampling and tasting. Deliciously decadent flavors mingled and merged as their mouths hungrily demanded more, frantically lost in sensation, blissfully unaware of their surroundings.
Jack abruptly broke off the impassioned kiss, feeling like he was drowning in the undertow and getting pulled into the swirling eddy that was the force of nature known as Phryne Fisher. He paused, leaning his forehead on hers, dragging desperately needed air into his lungs. "I think I can do better than that, Miss Fisher," he replied. His brain wended its way back to semi-coherent thought as he unceremoniously grabbed her by her mid-section and hoisted her onto his shoulder in a fireman's carry.
His abrupt action caught her completely off guard, as did his throaty laugh. Her ice cream cone, a victim of the jolting motion, plummeted to the ground; sand, like golden grains of sugar, coated the melting surface of the sweet treat. Her hat and sunglasses quickly followed suit, littering the sand in a line from her bag towards the cresting waves. They were nearly to the water by the time Phryne's initial shock wore off and she reacted.
"Jack! Robinson! Put. Me. Down!" She blurted, her hand punctuating each word with a smack on his firm derrière. Gales of laughter escaped her lips, her body shaking in time to each intake of breath, her feet scissor kicking all the way.
Knowing better than to stop, Jack tightened his grip on her thighs and hurried towards the rolling waves. "I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request, Miss Fisher." A deep, rich belly laugh rumbled up through his chest, seeping into her skin, firing every nerve ending in her thighs, furthering the explosive shuddering emanating from her core.
Their progress stuttered upon entering the water's edge, wet sand slogging each step. Undaunted, Jack pushed on, dragging them both deeper into the rolling waves. When he reached hip deep water, he began to lift Phryne from his shoulder in order to toss her into the water. As her upper body cleared his shoulder, she snaked her feet around his torso, hooking them together behind his back. The action halted her forward motion, arcing them abruptly and landing them in a tangled heap into the water. Within moments they emerged, breaking the surface of the water, choking, sputtering and laughing. Her mellifluous laugh harmonized with his low, full-bodied one.
Phryne drew her arms around Jack's neck to steady herself as he reached around her waist to do the same, pulling her upright. Laughter and light graced their countenances as they stood gazing at one another, lost in each other's eyes. A companionable silence prevailed for several timeless moments. "Well, Miss Fisher..." Jack started, breaking their silence as the water lapped against their bodies, pushing them together. It seemed even the elements were conspiring in their favor.
"Yes, Jack?" Her voice breathless as her eyes widened, twinkling in anticipation. Phryne's hands unclasped from his neck to trail down his collarbone and rest on the center of his chest, fingertips buzzing with the tattoo of his heart. His hands lowered to rest tentatively on her hips, each wave attempting to disengage them in one moment, and thrust them closer together in the next.
"Being as I'm not here on holiday, and we still have a case... it might be best to get back to the house." He continued their conversation as if it was the most natural thing to be in her arms. In the surf. Discussing a case. "I will need to head to the station and check in on Sgt. Baxter's progress. That is... if he's actually managed to make any at all." He canted his head, brows arching. A conspiratorial gleam lit his eyes as a slow and knowing grin attempted to gain purchase on his lips.
Phryne absent-mindedly played with the neckline of his bathing suit as she was wont to do with his suit lapels. Looking down at her hands, she threaded her bottom lip through her teeth, patted his chest, and brought her gaze up to his. "I doubt Sgt. Baxter could detect a clue if you handed it to him on a silver platter."
She ran a delicate finger along the top edge of his suit sending a jolt directly to his groin. Her eyes followed the path of her finger, noticing the line of gooseflesh in its wake. "As it was, he trampled all over the crime scene under the pier with no earthly idea he was doing so. The incompetent fool! He refused to listen to anything I had to say!" She huffed and stretched her head back and rolled her eyes emphasizing her frustration with the inept officer, exposing the long porcelain expanse of her neck.
"Ahhh," Jack began, one hand tracing lazy circles on her back, the other rising to her nape and sliding down her inviting neckline. "Apparently, he is unfamiliar with your reputation, and sharp detecting skills." His long finger continued to stroke a slow path down towards the neckline of her bathing suit. "I would imagine they don't have anywhere near the caseload or variety of cases we have at City South, what with Queenscliff now being more of a seasonal town."
He pulled his shoulders back, his hands now sliding up to rest on her shoulders. "No doubt he's not as well versed in procedure as we are." His fingertips brushed along the wet edge of her hair, separating and splitting the strands of ebony fringe, sending them flittering in the breeze, tickling her ears. A smirk touched the edges of his lips, his eyes igniting with hidden mischief. "But he has been bucking up under my keen guidance, and firm hand." A trail of gooseflesh scorched a path down her skin under his deft hands as he slid them down her sides to rest firmly on her derrière, cupping the globes of her arse just below the surface of the water completing his double entendre.
Jack pulled her closer, pressing his body flush with hers, his state of immodesty more than evident only to her. 'A firm hand,' indeed, he thought. A firm hand might be the only thing that would alleviate his growing problem. The water swelling over his midsection was doing nothing to lessen his own.
"Why Inspector, I do believe the tides are on the rise." Her fingers threaded through the hair at his nape, eyes locking on his as they irised wide. Her tongue dragging slowly across her lips in a sensuous sweep.
"Indeed, Miss Fisher." His rich voice vibrated through her skin, causing her body to flush. His eyes raked her face memorizing every detail. "We'd best be mindful of the swells, lest we get pulled under, and drown." The water was the least of his worries; it posed no threat. He was already drowning - in her eyes, her touch, her smell. He had been for a quite some time.
"Well, Jack, fortunately for you, I have had medical training and can perform mouth to mouth resuscitation." Her delicate hands slid up his neck, pulling his face incrementally towards hers.
"I fear I may be in the throes of drowning as we speak," his pulse throbbed visibly in his neck as his Adam's apple bobbed. His body thrummed, fire racing along his veins, heat radiating despite the surrounding water temperature.
"Then allow me save you," her words disappeared into the wisps of the breezes. Phryne closed the space between them, her mouth expertly covering his, dragging all breath from him as she gave him hers. His nimble hands threaded into her hair, tendons taught as he drew her in tighter, his lips caressing hers, drowning further into her.
When they finally separated, they were panting, gasping. The waves continued to roll and push against them, continually threatening to drag them under. A gull's screech brought them out of their reverie, making them aware of staring gazes aimed in their direction.
Jack's lashes fluttered, and cleared his throat, lowering his hands once more to her waist. His mind raced to find a way extricate himself from this predicament, and the water, with as little embarrassment as possible. If he wasn't careful, he'd have to arrest himself for indecent behavior.
Sensing a shift in mood, Phryne leaned back, dipping her hands in the water. She dragged them forward sending a wall of water directly at him, raucously giggling the whole way. Not wanting her to get the upper hand, Jack returned the favor, soaking her completely, his laugh reverberating on the wind.
Not one to be outdone, she inhaled deeply then plunged into the water. Once under, Phryne wrapped her arms around his calves and leveraged herself, pulling him down into the water. Moments later they resurfaced, sputtering and laughing. Jack, once more, reaching down to pull Phryne up and steady her in the buffeting waves.
"I believe, Miss Fisher, we are drawing undue attention," he said as he reached for her hand to draw her out of the water.
"Spoilsport!" She quipped, flouncing ahead, leading him towards the sand.
He paused at the water's edge. "Perhaps we should return to the house," he said with a twinkle in his eye. "There are a number of things that we need to follow up on."
"Then I guess we should get to it then," a mischievous smile crept up her face as she sidled up to him, bald suggestion hanging in the air.
The beginnings of the sly smile he reserved only for her slowly replaced his usual quiescent composure. Jack trailed behind Phryne, hand still clasped in hers as they reached the first of her fallen items. He leaned down to pick up her hat with his free hand as she reached for her glasses in hers.
They ambled over to where her other items had been deposited on the sand. He bent down and grabbed the towel, the back of his suit drawing taught across his well-muscled behind. Phryne's eyes raked over the bounty before her, the sight of his well-developed thighs inciting a number of delicious fantasies.
Jack rose and handed the towel to Phryne. When she was finished fluffing her hair, she draped it around her neck, suggestively dragging her fingers down the towel ends towards her neckline. He leaned in, reaching for the ends of the towel, and pulled her in close, his lips a hair's breadth from hers, daring her to bridge the gap.
“I do believe this new discovery warrants further investigation, wouldn't you agree, Miss Fisher?” His gaze swept from her eyes to lips, and back, caressing every inch of her face; desire flashing hot in his eyes despite the cool breezes.
“It certainly does, Inspector. One must be utterly thorough in exploring every avenue that presents itself.” She halted any further speech by closing the minute distance between them. He could feel her wicked smile curving against his lips as she, once more, sought to steal his breath away, as he'd done to her.
“We'd best be getting back, then… to our investigation? I should see if Sgt. Baxter has made any progress,” he said, while sensuously snaking the towel off her shoulders, the cloth stroking her on its decent. He took his turn with the towel, ruffling his errant curls, drying them somewhat, while she retrieved her parasol.
“If you would be so kind as to escort me back to the house, Jack?” She peered over the top of her sunglasses, her parasol jauntily perched on her shoulder.
“It would be my pleasure, Miss Fisher,” he replied, crooking his elbow towards her, “Shall we?”