Sylvie was busy in the kitchen, making Connor a special birthday dinner.  She’d found a recipe for Mediterranean-style fish eaten over couscous that she thought he’d enjoy.  The sauce was made of chopped onions, garlic, red and green peppers, and diced tomatoes mixed with capers, Kalamata olives, white wine, oregano, and lemons–both the juice and the zest.  Once the sauce was done, you laid the fish on top, covered the pan, and let it poach in the mixture.  Sounded simple enough.  Sylvie was almost done with the preliminaries.  All she had to do was grate the peel and squeeze the lemons, add them to the other ingredients, and let it simmer a while.  She’d been super-efficient today.  She’d made him a German chocolate, Black Forest birthday cake with cherry filling and a brandied, almond flavored, whipped cream frosting topped with sliced almonds this morning.  The salad was something different too.  Romaine hearts and chopped avocado in ranch dressing with Pepitas–roasted, shelled pumpkin seeds–sprinkled on top.  That was chilling in the refrigerator.  Estelle had offered to make the dinner for her, but Sylvie had insisted that she wanted to do the cooking.

She’d agonized over what to get him for a birthday present.  What can you possibly get a billionaire that he doesn’t already have?  Hard to believe, but she actually found something he both needed and wanted.  A new pair of cold weather chest waders with a matching fishing vest and gloves to wear on April 1st, the opening day of trout season.  She thought Connor was a lunatic for wanting to spend an entire day standing in freezing cold water, just to hook some poor, unsuspecting fish.  But evidently this was a yearly event for him and his friends.  Some kind of macho endurance test for rich boys who played at being outdoorsmen.  She was definitely not looking forward to it.  The temperature was going to be in the 20s on Wednesday, with a high in the late afternoon of maybe 32° if they were lucky.  They were going to be freezing their collective asses off out there.  Hopefully Connor would be warm enough though.  She’d spent nearly $800 on his gifts.  But he was worth it.  She couldn’t wait to see his face when he opened them.

Sylvie was rubbing the lemon up and down the grater when a shiver ran through her.  She sniffed the air and recognized the smell.

Shaking, Sylvie grabbed the lemon and started running down the hall toward their bedroom.

‘Sylvie what is it?’ Estelle called after her.  ‘What’s wrong?’

‘Is there a problem?’ Connor asked as he and Brady came out of the security office.

‘I’m not sure.  Something spooked Sylvie.  One minute she was fine, cooking away like a regular little gourmet, and the next she looked like she’d seen a ghost.  She picked up the lemon she was grating and went running off down the hall,’ Estelle told him.

‘I’ll take care of it.’  For the most part Sylvie’s mood and emotional state had improved since they’d returned home nearly a month ago.  She seemed less fearful and had recently started sleeping through the night again.  But every once in a while something she’d see or hear would remind her and she’d get a flashback.  Then she’d lose it.  Their first week home had been terrible.  All Sylvie talked about was the pictures Dover had alluded to.  She badgered him until Connor finally admitted the killer had taken pictures of her with his phone.  Pictures of how he’d violated her.  Sylvie demanded to see them, but Connor had put his foot down.  That was never going to happen!  He wanted them destroyed, but was told they were evidence.  His lawyers made sure they were kept under lock and key and that nobody but nobody would be able to see them.  She was already struggling with what that fucker had done to her, he didn’t want her shamed and humiliated further.  She cried for days when he’d told her.  But the unintended consequence of her knowing was to stiffen her resolve to find the killer.

That was another bone of contention between them.  He’d told her she had to stop this.  She had to let the police and his investigators handle things.  She wasn’t doing herself or anyone any good with her meddling, her obsessive need to bring the monster to justice.

She’d actually argued with Morretti when he called to tell her they were sure that Zahara Posner had been killed by a mugger.  Most likely a drug addict named Dewayne Jamal Johnson.  The investigating officers on her case ‘liked him’ for it.  He’d killed another woman under similar circumstances a month earlier.  They would have arrested him, except he was killed during another attempted mugging.  He was attacking a woman in a parking garage on the Upper West Side when a good Samaritan came along and slammed into him with his car as he tried to run away.  The impact sent him flying over a wall and dropping three stories to his death.  Morretti also told her that, yes, some of Connor’s schoolmates had been at the party.  But they weren’t the only ones in attendance.  Nor the only ones brought down to the station for questioning after the party.  Boys from every major prep school in the northeast were represented there.  And yes, Zahara had been the girl who was brought to the hospital from the party.  All signs pointed to a sexual assault, a gang rape; but she refused to cooperate, wouldn’t name names, and wouldn’t press charges.  As for the fire at the Posner’s house…there was no evidence of foul play.  It originated in the kitchen.  A grease fire in the stove vent.  Sylvie didn’t believe a word of it.  She told him the police were wrong!

He’d had his own problems when they first returned to Saranac.  He was furious with her for staying in the cottage when she believed the killer might return to finish the job he’d started the night before.  What planet was she living on that she thought that scenario would work out any differently than it did?  He could understand why she didn’t want to go home to Wyoming.  She was genuinely afraid for her family.  Worried that the maniac might try to burn them out.  But why the hell hadn’t she returned to the penthouse or called him or the security team on duty there to help her?  He knew she’d been angry at him.  But angry enough to put her life in danger?  At the very least, she should have gotten in the car and taken off to parts unknown or checked into a big hotel with a security staff that could protect her.  Why hadn’t she?  The answer was simple.  Because she was as stubborn as a mule and just as thickheaded!  He’d held his temper regarding her lack of  judgement; her brash, ill-advised, harebrained scheme to capture a crazed serial killer on her own…using herself as bait.  But only for the first few days.  Then he’d finally had enough and paddled her ass.  Sylvie wasn’t a beefy, burly heavyweight.  Nor a female superhero.  She wasn’t big enough or tough enough to stop anyone, regardless of what she thought!  Sylvie was never, ever, ever going to put her life at risk again!  That was the message he’d conveyed to her contrary, exasperating ass.  He could only hope it had sunk in!  Sylvie winced every time she sat down for the next few days, so he’d done a thorough job.  And she certainly appeared contrite.  But one never knew with Sylvie.  The girl was incorrigible!

Connor could hear her sobbing in their bedroom and hurried his pace.  He rounded the doorway and stopped short.  Sylvie had one of his cologne bottles open, next to it was a bar of his soap and a lemon.  ‘What are you doing Sylvie? he asked in concern as he watched her eyes overflow with tears.

‘This is what he smelled like,’ she told him, holding the cologne in one trembling hand and the lemon in the other.  You use soap that smells of sandalwood.  His smells of citrus.  That’s what I smelled that day.  We’ve got to call the FBI, or Morretti, or somebody and tell them.  It’s a clue Connor!  An important clue!’

Connor gently took the items from her and placed them on the dresser, then led her to the bed.  He sat down and pulled her onto his lap.  He didn’t say word, just held her till the tears stopped.

Connor spoke to both Dover and Morretti about the citrus smell she’d remembered.  He hadn’t let her make the calls because he thought talking about it might bring her to tears again.  She was overwrought.  They thanked him and said they’d check it out, but weren’t sure how helpful it would be.  When he asked if there were any new developments on the case, they told him no.  What the fuck were they waiting for?  Connor was more than a little annoyed at their seeming lack of interest.  He could understand why Sylvie was so frustrated.  She was the only one who seemed to be actively working the case.  It didn’t matter that everything she’d come up with thus far was a dead end.  At least she was trying!  He spoke to his own investigators about the scent too.  They seemed more receptive when he told them about the citrus odor; but, as far as he was concerned, they were equally useless.  The only new information they had for him was that the body count had risen from 20 to 23.  Two of the newly identified victims were from California: Laguna Beach and Encinitas, and the last was from Augusta, Georgia.  Why hadn’t Dover or Morretti told him that?  He needed to call their superiors.  Rattle a few cages.  He would not have important evidence withheld from either him or his people.  And he didn’t care who he had to step on to get the word out.  He was sick of playing softball with these yahoos.  They better get their asses in gear and get to work solving this fucking case.  Connor shook his head morosely.  Was this nightmare ever going to end?

Dinner was wonderful.  Sylvie was quite the cook.  And Connor was thrilled with the gifts she’d bought him.  He’d casually mentioned to her that he’d damaged his waders last year.  He’d lost his footing on the rocks and fell into the water, landing on a half-submerged branch.  It tore a hole in the bib.  He hadn’t gotten around to getting a new pair yet.  He’d groused that his old ones weren’t warm and that he wasn’t looking forward to wearing them on opening day, since it would probably be cold out.  She’d picked up on that and must have scoured the internet looking for a warm replacement in his size.  How many women in his social circle would actually buy their lovers a pair of waders as a gift?  Precious few!  The gift wasn’t chic or in vogue; it was practical, needed, and much appreciated.  Sylvie was a treasure!  And he’d be color-coordinated with his matching vest and gloves.  His friends were going to be jealous!  Afterwards Sylvie invited the staff to join them for cake and coffee so everyone could sing happy birthday to him.  He was touched.

But he wasn’t so thrilled with her an hour later when he went looking for her and discovered she was ordering every high-end, citrus-scented soap known to man.  Sylvie was not dropping the case!

She had a special present waiting for Connor in the bedroom too.  It was a box containing several special oils that warmed the skin to relax muscles and increase arousal.  Not that they had any problem in that department.  Sylvie was going to give him a massage, a very intimate, very thorough massage.  She flitted around the room lighting candles and dropped some rose petals on the bed for good measure.  Did men like rose petals on their bed or was it too girly?  She certainly hoped they did.  She’d picked the roses apart herself.  Sylvie stood naked beside the bed, patiently waiting for Connor to emerge from the bathroom.

‘Well, well.  What have we here? he asked, looking at her quizzically as he scanned the room

‘You’re going to get a special birthday massage,’ she smiled sweetly.  The smile became a grin as she saw his cock begin to harden.

‘What does this special massage consist of?’ he asked, leering at her.

‘A bit of this.  A bit of that.  Leave it to me sir,’ she told him, grabbing his hand and pulling him toward the bed.  ‘You look tense sir.  This will help release all the tension that’s built up inside you, all that nervous energy that needs an outlet.  I’m sure it will be to your liking.  I’m very eager to please.  Now if you’ll just lie down on the bed on your tummy, we’ll get started.

Once he was lying on his stomach, Sylvie climbed on top of him and straddled his legs.  Grabbing a bottle off the nightstand, she put some oil on her hands and immediately began to massage his ass cheeks.

‘Hey!  That’s not my back,’ he laughingly objected.

‘You’ve been scheduled for a full…body…massage sir!’ she told him, emphasizing each word.  ‘This is a unique fishing lodge Mr. Hudson.  We are dedicated to seeing to the sportsman’s every need.  We are committed to providing our select clientele with superior service and a relaxing and highly pleasurable experience.

Her fingers dug into his flesh, finding every knot.  He moaned in pleasure.  After finishing up his glutes, she put one hand on his bottom rib and the other on his hip joint below it.  The hand on the rib pushed up and the other on the hip pushed down with all the strength she could muster.

‘Ahhh!  That feels good!’

‘We aim to please sir!’  Sylvie did the same to his other side, eliciting the same response.  She kneaded the area from the base of his spin to the small of his back.  Working her fingers into the tissue, pressing the knots until she felt his muscles relax.  Then she sat on him, lowering her warm, damp pussy onto the cool skin of his bottom.

‘Is this part of the massage?’ he chuckled, wiggling his ass to rub against her crotch.

‘Please sir!  Lie still!  You’re distracting the masseuse!’  She pressed her fingers into his back and slid them up and down from the small of his back to his neck and shoulders and then back again.  She repeatedly the process with her palms.  Splaying her fingers, she massaged his shoulders.  When she finished, she formed her hands into fists and, placing them on either side of his backbone, began to pound his flesh.  Up and down.  Back and forth.  From one side to the other.  Over and over until his skin pinked from her efforts.  When every inch of his back had been ministered to, she focused on his neck.  A little kneading there and he was so relaxed he appeared to be melting into the sheets.  At that point it was time to do his thighs and calves.  Another dollop of oil and his hairy legs glistened.  She pounded and massaged, occasionally slipping her hands between his thighs to gently stroke his balls.

Jesus, she was killing him!  His muscles were definitely enjoying her attention, but her touch was so sensual, so erotic that his cock was standing at attention.  Right now his cock was so hard he could probably pound nails with it.  It didn’t like being pinned against the mattress, unable to move.  It wanted her!  He wanted her!

She got up and moved to the end of the bed to rub his feet.  His heels, arches, and toes.

It felt marvelous!  He wondered if he could get her to do this every night.

‘The back portion of your massage has been completed sir.  Please role over onto your back and we’ll complete the treatment,’ she announced.  He turned over and her eyes immediately fixated on his erection.  She licked her lips in anticipation and applied a bit more oil to her hands.  Sylvie kneaded and rubbed from the top of his feet, up his shins, to his thighs.  She payed special attention to the area where his thighs met his pelvis, but she pointedly ignored his throbbing cock.  After a few minutes, satisfied that she’d done a good job on his legs, Sylvie climbed on top of him.  Her cleft pressing down lengthwise on the shaft of his cock.  Trapping it beneath the succulent pink lips of her sex.  She smiled at him sweetly as though she hadn’t a clue what she was doing to him, then began to rub her hands over his belly and chest, his forearms, biceps, and shoulders.

Connor watched her every move, eyes dark with desire.  He appeared ready to pounce and take her, whether she was done or not.

Sylvie refused to look at him.  Her party!  Her rules!  She kneaded and massaged until her fingers ached.  And then she stopped.  Grabbing another bottle, she put some of the pink tinged oil on her hands and began to rub them together.  She could feel the heat.  She wriggled backward, releasing her hold on his cock.  Resting her bottom on his thighs, she began to work her right hand up and down his manhood, while the other kneaded his sack.

His eyes widened as his cock began to tingle.  ‘What is that stuff?’

‘Warming gel.’

‘And is that one of my presents too?’

‘Not exactly,’ she said smiling at him.  She rose up on her knees, positioning herself so that her pussy was directly over his stiff pole.  ‘This is,’ she said as she impaled herself on his rigid shaft and began riding him hard.

‘Oh God Sylvie!  Oh God!  Not so fast, honey.  You’ll make me cum!’

‘That’s the whole point of the exercise,’ she informed him, bouncing up and down on his cock like he was a bucking bronco.

‘Not yet,’ he said, grabbing her and pulling her down on him; then quickly rolling over on top of her.  ‘I want to savor you,’ he told her as he slowed the rhythm.  Connor crushed her lips with his.  His tongue taking possession of her mouth, delving deeper and deeper, making love to it, conquering it completely.  Sylvie wriggled beneath him, a gurgling sound coming from her throat.  Connor pulled out until just the head of his cock remained inside her, then drove into that tight little pussy again and again.  Sylvie moaned.  She was sweltering, swooning.  She wasn’t sure if it was him, or the oil, or both.  She could feel the fever inside building.  Her core was blazing hot, flaring, sending molten heat racing through her veins.  She felt like she was melting, her flesh, her bones.  Pain and pleasure.  Pleasure and pain.  She erupted.  Trembling and quaking she felt herself shattering, spinning out of control.  Sylvie called out his name as wave after wave of pleasure washed over her.  She was drowning in sensation and it was ecstasy.

‘That’s it baby.  Come for me!  Come for me!’  Her pussy pulsed and squeezed, lovingly caressing his cock.  It felt so good, he couldn’t take any more.  A feral-sounding growl came from his throat as his body began to shudder and pulse.  ‘Sylvie!  Sylvie!’ he called out as he exploded.  He pumped in and out of her till she quieted and lay beneath him sated and purring in satisfaction.  He looked down at her, his chest tightening, overwhelmed with emotion.  She was so loving, so giving, so unselfish.  Nothing in his life had prepared him for someone like her.  She was everything to him.  He wasn’t going to fuck this up!

Sighing, Sylvie cuddled up next to him.  ‘Did you have a nice birthday?’ she asked.  ‘Did you like your presents.

‘Yes.  It was perfect thanks to you.  I loved my presents.  Particularly the last one.  Thank you for everything you did to make it special: the meal, the cake, everything.  I only wish I could have held out longer.  I love to watch you come Sylvie.  And you only came once tonight.  I promise I’ll make it up to you tomorrow morning.  I intend to fuck you senseless,’ he told her with a determined glint in his eye.

Sylvie giggled.  ‘Thank you,’ she whispered.

‘For what?  I didn’t do anything.’

‘Yes you did.  You make me feel safe.  I don’t know how to explain it; but when we’re together, when you’re inside me, I’m not afraid anymore.’

Connor cradled Sylvie in his arms.  ‘We best get some sleep.  We’ve only got three more days to get some work done before the wolves descend on us.  Are you OK with this?’ he asked.  ‘I know you don’t like them, but they’re my friends.  We’ve been getting together on the first day of trout season since we graduated college.  But if it makes you uncomfortable, I’ll cancel and let Drake handle it.  I know you still think they’re suspects, but the investigators have assured me they’re not involved.  Whoever the killer is…it’s not one of them.’

Sylvie stared at him, the last thing she wanted to do was hurt him.  ‘No, don’t cancel Connor.  I don’t want to come between you and your friends.  It might be a little awkward between Sean and me at first, but he’ll get over it.  Regardless of what I may think of them, the fact remains they’re your friends.  Bring ’em on,’ she said, resigned to her fate.  She didn’t give a damn what the police said.  The cops may have written them off, but as far as she was concerned…they were still prime suspects.

‘Thank you,’ he said kissing her forehead.  ‘You’ll see.  Once you get to know them they’ll grow on you.’

‘Yeah, like a fungus,’ Sylvie muttered under her breath.

‘Well I can see that Wednesday is shaping up to be a really interesting day.’

‘Don’t worry.  I’ll be on my best behavior.  Promise.’

‘Yeah right!


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