Authors: Cate Ellink
The Virginity Mission
An erotic new adult romance about old insecurities, new beginnings, and the things you can get up to in a tentâ¦
It's lust at first sight when Mac sees Jason shirtless and sweating on the back of a truck. Jason is the army sergeant assigned to support the six-week scientific expedition that Mac is participating in, and might just be the perfect candidate for
journey of discovery that Mac is desperate to undertake â sex.
Fraternisation between students and staff might be strictly prohibited, but everybody knows fruit always tastes better when it's forbidden.
Cate Ellink became intrigued by the erotic when her grandfather used to pass books to her father saying, “Don't let the girls read page X.” Although her mother and sisters never bothered to chase those pages, Cate always did. Invariably, her imagination was better than what she read.
While pursuing a career in science, Cate amused herself by writing about ordinary events and giving them an erotic twist. It's taken more than a few years to bravely expose her mind to the public. While the events in her stories may have occurred, it's highly likely that her imagination is far more exciting than the reality.
Cate lives near the beach in NSW with her long-suffering husband. This is Cate's first novella. She has two short stories published.
Find Cate at
A book is never a solo journey â well, mine certainly aren't.
Special thanks to:
Kate and the Escape team for giving this story a go.
Mum and Dad who taught me to love reading and encouraged my imagination.
Stephan, who believed I could write long before I did.
GK for his assistance with this story.
The Romance Writers of Australia. Without this group of generous, supportive, amazing women, and men, I'd still be thinking
I'd like to write a book one day
Anne Gracie, Bronwyn Jameson and the Romance Intensive workshop that taught me I needed to learn a hell of a lot.
RWA's 5 Day Intensive Workshop and Sophia James, who taught me to believe in my stories.
My critique partners, Mervet, Judy and Sandra, who've been on the journey from the start.
Ainslie Paton, Anita Joy, Anna Simons, Judy O'Connor, Kaliana Cole, Lisa Ireland, Mervet McClintock, Peter McAra, Rhyll Biest, Sandra Linklater and Sheridan Kent for reading various drafts, offering great suggestions and never losing faith in this story.
My friends, Marg, Joy and Helen.
My sisters, their families and my extended family.
My best mates, E and T, who dragged me from the computer begging for their walks.
Last but never least, my husband, the writing-widower, who supports my insane dreams and proofreads at the last minute.
Anne Gracie and Bronwyn Jameson,
with thanks for Romance Intensive!
My eyes are drawn to movement. Someone jumps onto the back of the truck and I blink. Once. Twice. My stomach and pelvic floor collide.
Shoulders loom from a snug khaki singlet that ripples across his stomach as he moves. Camouflage trousers do nothing to disguise his tightly rounded butt as he bends over to grab the first backpack to stow. This military man is all lithe, controlled power. He climbs over the back of the truck holding someone's gear as if it weighs nothing. Those shoulders are massive bunches of corded strength. His arms aren't hugely bulging but deliciously defined. A sudden desire to have those arms wrapped tightly around my naked flesh burns my brain.
Dear God, I've lost my mind.
I'm on a scientific expedition. Learning is the key to the next six weeks in the north Queensland rainforestâit's not a sex tour. I've never been to the tropics before and I'm eager to find out everything I can. I'm here to contribute, not drool, although if someone catches my eye I won't say no. But the army men are here to work and they're not allowed to fraternise with us. It was mentioned more than a few times in last night's briefing.
Standing in line while waiting for my gear to get packed into the truck, nothing can stop my eyes returning to the army guy. People around me are talking but it's only background noise. My attention is otherwise occupied.
His dark, close-cropped hair shines with exertion but he doesn't break stride. He keeps lugging another piece of gear, piling it into the truck as if it weighs nothing. Each piece packed neatly and effortlessly.
Each movement is fluid. Every muscle bending and flexing in perfect accord. He's like a sleek black pantherâall coiled muscle ready to pounce. It's so damn sexy I can't look away. My mouth is drying as I watch and every drop of moisture is heading south.
I'm seriously attracted but my mind is overriding my body's reaction.
Hey, dimwit, do you think he's interested in you? Heck, he must be thirty and you're a kid. He'll be married. Far too experienced. He'll never notice you. He's a pantherâstunning but unattainable. Hands off.
My self-doubting mind keeps up a constant barrage of disparaging remarks while my body gives in to lust. Moisture is slick along my thighs as I wriggle from one foot to the other, hoping to mop up the excess before my lust becomes obvious to all. I keep looking away, trying to regain my sanity but my gaze flicks back to that truck. At times my breathing is normal but then it jams in my throat, usually when a muscle flexes, or his butt is in profile or his shoulder muscles bunch. The closer I get to handing him my backpack, the more riotous my mind and body become.
My mind is telling me I'm an idiot at the same time my imagination is running riot. What would it be like naked against his body when there's so much sweat on his skin? Would we slip against each other easily? Tangled together as one. Would his sweat taste of strong musky male?
My knees almost buckle beneath me. My mouth is dry and I can't even wet my lips. I make myself stop imagining.
The line moves closer.
I stare into the distance, pretending to be riveted to the changing colours of the mountains as the sun rises but I can see him from the corner of my eye. I want to feel those muscles for myself. Would they be as hard as they look? Would they ripple like silk, or feel like corrugated iron? Would his skin be salty as I lick my tongue over those shoulders and dip into the hollow of his collarbones?
I'm damn near hyperventilating.
The truck is so close now I'm watching each bead of sweat run down his face and drip from the tip of his nose or the point of his chin. Could I catch those salty droplets on my tongue? Taste the essence of him?
Stop imagining. Stop looking.
Staring at those mountains is not a patch on the Panther Man. They may be tall, rugged and craggy but they're so inanimate, inflexible.
I take ten deep, slow breaths as I move closer. By the time it's my turn to load my gear I'm breathing normally but sweating terribly. My eyes are level with the heavy black leather of his boots and the tucked-in ends of his camouflage trousers. My heart's in my throat, swelling painfully. I don't think I can look up. He might be too beautiful up close.
I decide to hand my pack differently to everyone else, to make his job easier. I heft my pack, straps towards him so he can grab them quickly. It's not so easy to hold, but I grab the front straps and keep it balanced on my knee. It's going to keep my body and mind occupied so I don't do something stupid.
I'm at the back of the truck next. I balance my pack but I didn't think this through. I have to look up so I know when to let go. I realise I'll see him up close. His whole faceânot just his boots. Those shoulders, that stomach, that neck. Hyperventilation is happening again.
Stop. He'll probably be disappointing.
But what if he's not?
I gulp, too loudly, too deeply.
I look up.
He's stunning. Rounded face, smooth tanned skin, strong jaw, dark eyes.
He grabs the straps and I let go. Then he does the damndest thing. He looks right at me. He breaks his rhythm, stops and looks straight into my eyes.
My heart jams. Every drop of blood freezes and then my stomach plummets and starts break dancing. My mouth drops open. I must look like a goggle-eyed goldfish.
“Thanks.” That's all he says as he turns away, yet warm fuzzy feelings fill me. He strides to the gear stack and adds my pack. I walk away in a daze.
He spoke to me. He stopped moving and spoke to me.
That's all he said and my body overreacts, hovering near cloud nine hundred and ninety nine. My traitorous mind starts beating up on my body's reaction.
Get real. He probably said thanks to everyone. He'll never have noticed you.
But I'm sure he didn't stop those fluid movements for anyone else. I'm sure something happened. Something momentous. I replay the brief seconds, remembering the deepest chocolate depths of his eyes, the crinkling at the corners of his lips when he spoke, the dark hint of stubble against his strong jaw, the closely cropped hair dripping sweat down his face, the deep melody of his solitary word.
I have to do something to mark this moment. For once my mind doesn't berate. It comes up with an idea.
There's a drink machine in the caravan park, so I duck off quickly and grab two bottles of water. I'm thirsty and I imagine he is too. It's practical, not romantic, but water is all I can think to offer him. I head for the bus via the truck and leave the second water bottle at the edge of the back tray. Surely he'll notice. I want to hang around to make sure he gets it but my mind makes me leave. I've stretched the boundaries too far already. I've been told to load gear and get on the bus, so I do what I've been told with just that tiny detour for water. I get on the bus not knowing if Panther Man received my token of lust.
Base camp is a surpriseâthere's no rainforest. Only a dry farm paddock surrounded by a thick stand of thin gum trees. There's a lovely creek, but before I can do more than wade in and admire the crystal clear water, I have to meet my groupâthe six people I'll be attached to for the next six weeks.
The whole expedition gathers in the dusty clearing at the centre of the camp. Names are called out and places assigned for the fifteen groups to meet. I eye off the straggly tree we're to meet under.
I'm hoping to meet a guy, preferably in my group, become friends, have sex at least once and walk away from this trip a normal person. It sounds easy and I am hopeful, yet my life always goes in the impossible direction, so it's unlikely to happen.
The talk finishes and people mill every which way to get to their meeting point. I aim for the straggly tree and wait for the rest of my group. A tall, gangly young guy arrives next, grinning happily. It's Harry. I stood next to him on the caravan park equipment line. He's not yet eighteen and must be one of the youngest people on the trip. I'm pleased to see him under the tree as part of my group. He had us all laughing yesterday. He's the class clown, goofy and idealistic. Since he's only just finished school he's a little brother, not a potential sex partner.
A bunch of people wander up, keeping their distance, standing away from where Harry and I are chatting. There are two girls, a shorter girl with shoulder length blonde hair, and a taller girl with short curly brown hair. My hair's sort of washed outâtoo dark for blonde but not dark enough for brown. I'd like to have rich dark brown hair, or even blonde hair, anything with proper colour. The three other people are a blond guy who's probably a couple of years older than the rest of us, a nuggetty, dark-haired guy with a scowl, and a tall brown haired guy with a very serious expression.