His Wicked Kiss

His Wicked Kiss by Gaelen Foley Read Free Book Online

Book: His Wicked Kiss by Gaelen Foley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gaelen Foley
could not be described as unpleasant. There was contentment in such days. In spite of everything, the peace that she always felt high in the canopy soon settled over her.
    Within an hour, she had not only made a discovery that was going to astound Papa, she had also made a friend in the form of a curious little capuchin monkey that had taken an interest in her. It watched her every move, nestled in the crook of the branch just above her.
    The capuchin’s markings gave the animal its name, after the order of brown-robed monks who had come to the New World as missionaries with the conquistadors. The little imp had a white face with big, round eyes, a brown body with a black beanie cap, and black sleeves.
    “Look at this,” she murmured to it. “Isn’t that… remarkable?” Adjusting her thick leather gardening gloves, Eden gripped her small knife harder and cut carefully into the carpet of moss that had made its home on the broad branch of the tree, examining the air-feeding tendrils that helped it attach there.
    Meanwhile, seeds from the upper canopy pin-wheeled past her, falling earthward like nature’s confetti.
    Continuing her examination of the little world living on the branch, she noted scratches in the tree bark left by birds pecking for insects, then discovered a bulgy-eyed baby tree frog floating in the rain-filled cup of a bromeliad.
    Though it was tiny, she dared not touch the creature, for most jungle frogs were extremely poisonous. The secretions from their skins supplied the natives with a key ingredient in the lethal curare with which they tipped their blow-darts.
    She returned her attention to the latest species of orchids she had found, a gorgeous cluster of purple-and-white blooms growing quite comfortably on the thinning bough, nearly over the center of the river. Inching ahead and balancing with intense concentration, she managed to take a few clippings for further study, and then indulged in the glorious fragrance. She inhaled the flower’s delicious vanilla scent, so luxuriously enhanced by the nourishing daily shower that now misted the jungle.
    The rain had been soaking her to the skin for some time, but Eden quite enjoyed it. Having captured her orchids, Eden made a note of where she had found them, doing her best to shield her paper from the rain, when her monkey friend swiveled his head and went motionless, peering up-river for a second.
    Suddenly, the capuchin let out a warning screech and fled up into his leafy towers. Eden froze, scanning the branches around her and praying she did not see an early-waking jaguar.
    Her heart pounding, she listened in fright for any sound above the soft, steady patter of the rain on the leaves and searched the surrounding canopy, knowing full well the animal’s spotted coat made it almost impossible to see until it was too late.
    She was trying to decide if it was better to be eaten there on the branch or to tumble into the river below, when suddenly she heard voices.
    Male voices—many in number.
    And they were speaking English!
    Turning to stare in the direction the capuchin had first looked, she now beheld a most astonishing sight.
    A squat, tubby riverboat pulling a barge piled with timber was emerging slowly from around the river bend.
    Whatever are they doing here
? she wondered as she stared with excitement bubbling up in her veins.
Never mind that
! This could be just the opportunity she had been praying for.
    As the boat drifted closer, she studied the rough-looking men at the rails and lounging under the canvas shade on deck.
    Admittedly, they did not look like a promising lot, resembling so many pirates. Many were shirtless in the heat, their swarthy hides tattooed and sinewy. Hope rose, however, when she noticed a young blond man striding toward the prow.
    Unlike the others, he was quite fully dressed, though perhaps slightly wilted in the damp jungle heat. He seemed unwilling to be daunted by it. With his gentlemanly cravat in good

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