Paradise by Eileen Ann Brennan Read Free Book Online

Book: Paradise by Eileen Ann Brennan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eileen Ann Brennan
Port-O-Lets, are you? Ugh, I hate those things.”
    His chest shook and he laughed out loud. “No, it’s not a Port-O-Let.”
    “Good. Then, I’ll just follow you.”
    When he continued to laugh, she crossed her arms over her chest. “Okay, Tarzan, what is so funny?”
    “Unfortunately, darlin’, your Paradise package doesn’t include that particular package.”
    “Huh? What package? What are you saying?”
    He turned her around and gave her bottom a gentle push.
    “What I’m saying is…” He chuckled. “I guess I need to be more specific. I’m going this way.” He hitched his thumb over his shoulder toward some thick underbrush. “You’re going that way.” He pointed in the opposite direction. “Now, be a good little camper, find a nice big bush to hide behind and go tinkle. I’ll meet you at the canoe. Unless, of course, you want to help me?”
    She stood stock still, not daring to look at him. Oh. My. God. He expected her to…in a bush? She opened her mouth to protest when his comment about the Paradise package hit her. Her mouth snapped shut. Oh, crap. Now would be an excellent time for an alligator to scurry over here and bite off my head.
    * * * * *
    Eddie did most of the paddling, but she made a token show of dipping hers into the water every so often. She’d had a nice little chit-chat with Leah until her friend had to get back to work. Now Robbie was tuned to the “All Nature All the Time” channel -- Eddie.
    He kept up his official tour guide monologue, pointing out different species of small animals and, occasionally off in the distance, the stars of the show, alligators. As long as they stayed far away, those floating logs with eyeballs weren’t too terrifying.
    “You’ll notice the cypress trees near the shore. They thrive in these wet, marshy areas. Those small, pointy growths sticking up next to them are called cypress knees, they…”
    She glanced at the trees he indicated. Gee, the trees had knees. Did they have bees? Was she caught in a Dr. Seuss book?
    Although he didn’t allude to the incident, she hung her head. Even knowing she would be in a swamp, it never occurred that there were no bathrooms. It had taken some thought, but she finally figured out the process. What was more humiliating? Not knowing about the restrooms or chasing her tour guide into the bushes? Her cheeks heated -- again. What if she’d caught up to him after he’d whipped it out?
    His low voice drew her attention. “It’s too late in the season, so we probably won’t spot any…”
    Sitting in the front of the canoe, separated from him by the supplies, she hid behind her sunglasses, provided an occasional head nod, and ignored him. Either he didn’t notice or he didn’t mind her lack of enthusiasm because he continued to regale her with boring, tedious and infinitely dull swamp factoids.
    Eddie was a perfect host even if he talked more than a Southern preacher at a tent revival. He went out of his way to ensure she was comfortable -- tinkling incident aside -- helped her in and out of the canoe, but kept his distance. He even provided bug spray.
    That little finger of guilt tickled the back of her mind again. She should be nicer to him. After all, it wasn’t his fault she was stuck out here, and he evidently had no idea how boring he was. Since she’d already tagged him as her Rebound Man, it would probably help if they were on speaking terms before she had sex with him.
    “…leave the main waterway and take a side trail now. I think you’ll really enjoy these sights, Robbie.” The canoe gracefully veered into a smaller stream.
    Dense vegetation grew haphazardly on small clumps of earth that popped up in the water like tiny islands. A sense of unease crept around her as the islands became larger, the growth denser and the stream narrowed into little more than a creek. In all, it couldn’t be more than ten feet across. She wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans. The banks on either side loomed

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