Updated: Sep 15
He saw accusation in eyes as stormy and unpredictable as the deep blue-green of the Caribbean.
"I'm not going to hurt you.” Although he wasn't in any hurry to break physical contact either. What was it about her that made him want to strangle her and kiss her at the same time?
Brushing his index finger along the delicate curve of her jaw, he imagined the feel of her skin beneath the tread of his glove. The pulse beat at her throat quickened. Lowering his gaze to her heaving chest, he denied the desire to drop his hand to feel the rapid beat of her heart.
He walked a fine line of self-control.
It would be so easy to cross that line while adrenaline-charged senses screamed to be satisfied.
He raised his eyes to look into hers. "You don't believe me?"'
"Why should I?" She tilted her chin.
Daring him? To what?
Take control of more than just her vessel?
Delicate features lightly kissed by the sun taunted him. A loose strand of long sun-streaked blonde hair, playing at the corner of her mouth, teased him. Even when held in a determined line, pouty pink lips begged him. Kiss me.
She wet her lips.
His stomach clenched. Lower still his body stirred. "You shouldn't."
The distance between them measured the length of his bent arm. It took every ounce of willpower he had not to grab her by the hair and taste the sweet promise of her lips. Sliding his hand down the slender column of her throat, he hooked his finger through the gold chain around her neck and tugged the malformed charm free of its nesting place between her breasts.
Similar to the one he wore.
His promise. And purpose for being here.
She snatched it back. "My father gave that to me."
"Engine room, all secure." The jarring reminder came through loud and clear as the disembodied voice of his second officer infiltrated his earpiece.
Duty called and duty always came first.
He set aside all thoughts of kissing the captain and brought his hand to his ear.
She cleared her throat. "I want answers, now.”
"Don't hold your breath." He dropped his hand to the controls at his side and adjusted the volume so he could hear his men above her squawks of protest. He caught her quick glance toward the hatch and raised a cautionary hand.
They both knew she had nowhere to run. Though he didn't think that would stop her from trying.
Dividing his attention between the captain and his men, he listened to his team's reports.
From across the pilothouse, his quarter master stood ready at the helm. He offered a curt nod. "Bridge, all secure," Skully reported through his mike for the benefit of the team.
The captain paled. "How many of you are there?”
He ignored her question to concentrate on the commentary coming from Pappy down in the engine room. Despite the assessment that the main engine appeared to be held together by duck tape, he gave the order, "All engines, DEAD SLOW."
He checked his dive watch and marked the time. "Twelve minutes to daylight, gentlemen. Garbageman, meet me below deck in two."
"Below deck in two, aye," his second officer responded.
"All clear," he signed off. Removing his gloves, he slapped them to the belt at his waist. His flippers had been tucked away when they boarded. Everything he could possibly need he carried on his person.
He returned his attention to her. “To answer your question, I’m one of a kind. And very interested in knowing who it is you think sent me.”
“If you don’t know, you’re an even bigger goon than I thought. I’m not letting you hijack my ship."
He cocked his brow at her. But addressed his helmsman. "Skully?"
"Clear for running, sir."
"Care to give the order, Captain?" He made the grand gesture.
She sputtered as the belly of the ship rumbled to life. Cold diesel engines for a ship the size of the Lily Pad took awhile to start up, but the captain had kept her engines humming.
Clearly she was expecting trouble.
Well, she'd found it.
"Ease away, SLOW," he commanded.
© Rogenna Brewer
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