part of the PURE SEX anthology
Release Date: July, 2006
Format: Trade Paperback
Is that a furious runaway bride marching down the beach? Caribbean charter captain Jared McKay to the rescue. She’s ready to pitch her wedding shoes overboard and sail away. Aye aye. Whatever the lady wants. Hey, was that a garter flying by? And wait a minute — a white lace thong just hit the deck. His wildest dreams are about to come true…
The excerpt contains adult content. By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age.
Jared MacKay crossed his bare feet on the top railing of the SandJack and slid his cap down to cover his face. He deserved this nap, worked hard for this nap. He wanted this nap more than anything else he could think of.
But the unmistakable thrum of wheeled luggage on the dock intruded. He told himself to ignore it, to focus instead on the icy bottle between his fingers as it drizzled cold droplets of condensation onto his belly. A chilly brew in his hand, the sun hot on his skin and the sound of the Caribbean lapping against the hull were all he needed to coax himself into sleep.
He let everything go and prepared to settle in but the staccato tap of high heels joined the low rumble from the dock. He gave in to his curiosity, tilted his cap back just enough to look. He kept his eyes slitted against the sun and watched the sure advance of a seductive piece of woman.
Minus the stilettos she’d be all of five foot two. Blond, good legs, athletic body.
Tightly wound, tightly focused, tightly built.
Her suitcase snagged on a rope Jean-Paul, his neighbor, had left strewn across the dock, and she turned to lift the wheels.
Her ass, encased in a short white skirt, was as prime as the rest of her. Taut, high and lush, her cheeks made a man think of molding her, opening her and sliding into tight, hot places.
Bad, bad timing MacKay. The luggage train told him she was most likely the bride half of his next charter clients. If this was his reaction now, heaven help him when he heard her cry out in passion.
Passion he had no hand in. Shit.
The SandJack was a solidly built thirty-five footer, but sometimes it was all he could do to ignore what happened below decks, especially with a screamer.
And this petite blonde hottie looked like a screamer. He slid the bottle to his lap to cover his rod which had come to life at first sight of her. She’d got past Jean-Paul’s rope now and was headed his way again.
So much for his nap. Even if he did manage to catch one, it would be all about dreams anyway. Hot dreams. Scorching dreams. Nails-down-his-back dreams. He shifted his focus back to her.
Her eyes were shielded by wraparound sunglasses, but nothing could hide the exquisite bounce of breasts under the silky tank top she wore.
To keep himself in check, he looked past her, needing to see the man she had in tow. The guy would reek of money and success and would never know how the sight of his bride had kick started a lust as big as the SandJack herself. But there was no man following her, no man at the top of the pier paying off a cab, no man anywhere.
He swung his gaze back to the grim set of her lips, the wilted curl in her hair, the definite lack of makeup. Flustered, hot and disheveled, she didn’t look the way the brides usually did. She looked…angry.
When they’d spoken on the phone, her voice had been harried and demanding. He’d put it down to standard wedding nerves but now, seeing her rigid stride, he wasn’t so sure. There were people who were always imperious and he didn’t do well with imperious. Not well at all.
He’d keep that in mind for the next few days while he did his best to ignore her. He sure as hell didn’t want this itch all week, not if she continued to look so sour. He slid his cap back down to cover his face and waited for her to park herself and her luggage alongside. It wouldn’t do to look too interested. There was no telling when her man would show up. He didn’t want to be caught leering at the bride with a woody the size of a bowsprit.
“Mr. MacKay?” Teri Branton asked, pleased at how clear her voice sounded. No one would know from her voice how vicious her day had been.
The man on the SandJack twitched as if she’d woken him. She probably had. He had the insolent look of a man used to doing a lot of nothing. His feet were propped against the railing, giving her a worm’s eye view up the back side of his khaki shorts. Strong lean legs, tanned beyond healthy, big bare feet with strong toes and callused soles.
He slid his ball cap to the back of his head, revealing a powerful face. Powerful because his lean nose and slashing thin lips were too cutting to be handsome. But they held her attention just the same. Then he opened his eyes and focused on her.
Cut by the laser blue that stared back at her, Teri’s heart fluttered at the intensity and she took a single step back. Tired of being intimidated, she caught herself before taking another.
“You are the captain of the SandJack?” she asked.
“Take off your shoes.” His voice had a deep timbre that stroked her insides from breastbone to toes, so she wasn’t sure what she’d heard.
“Those shoes,” he tilted his chin down to indicate her feet. “Take them off.”
A fierce light from his gaze burned into hers as he waited.
And then she knew. He wasn’t the captain of this vessel. He was a pirate, a rogue, a brigand. He was danger. And excitement.
A thrill chased down her belly.
She looked at her feet and saw incongruous white satin stilettos with a delicate spray of seed pearls trailing the outside edge.
Her wedding shoes.
She was still in them.
Odd that she’d forgotten to change. When she’d found them after a hunt through every store in Manhattan, a perfect fit, she’d paid a fortune for them. They’d meant a lot to her at the time. Now, they just looked…sad.
Stepping wide, she saw the pirate follow her movement, then track the shape of her legs up from her feet to her knees and higher.
He was checking her out! Awareness of her own power gripped her as she numbly regarded her shoes, and thought about the pirate’s interest.
The intensity she’d given to the hunt for these perfect shoes was gone as surely as smoke in the wind. With as much substance. Stupid how her wedding had taken over her life, her every waking moment. Her back felt tired from these shoes, her toes ached from every pair of stilettos she owned. The fatigue seeped from her pinched toes, up her calves and into her lower spine.
She wanted to sag with the weight of her day, but then in her peripheral vision, she saw the pirate move his beer to his lips. He took a sip from the bottle, waiting with obvious patience for her to do whatever it was she was planning to do with the shoes.
She looked at him again, saw the hot blue of his eyes, the long lean length of his legs, the strength in his hands. Then she considered the very private week ahead of her.
She’d decided to spend the time eating too much, drinking too much and mulling her life. But now, this pirate presented another opportunity. An exciting opportunity for overindulgence of a different kind.
Besides, she was sick of men giving her orders and making demands, from her ex-fiancÃ©, to a whole TV production crew. And this man looked arrogant as hell, supremely confident and in need of lessons in polite conversation.
Slanting him a glance, she realized she was in just the right mood to give this captain the lessons he needed.
Aware that he watched her, she bent down, slowly slid her right shoe off. With a surreptitious glance, she saw his gaze sharpen to intense focus. She set the shoe on the dock. Definitely had his attention now.
She bent over again, gave her ass an extra tilt and ran her hand down her left leg to her ankle, grasped the back of her left shoe and slid it off too. He still watched, his eyes hooded with the pretense of nonchalance, but she knew better.
She set her left shoe beside her right on the dock, in perfect alignment. The seed pearls glowed with the warm sheen nature had given them.
But somehow it wasn’t enough to remove the shoes. It wasn’t enough to have him look at her toes as she wiggled them, nails painted pink and pearly in the sunshine. No, this little display wasn’t nearly enough to satisfy her.
She lifted each shoe, balanced them on her open palms, and tilted first one then the other into the brine. They landed on their sides and began to fill with water.
A lightness filled her at their silent drowning. She smiled as they sank.
The pirate dropped his feet to the deck, stood and leaned over the rail to see them go.
One floated a couple seconds longer than the other, but in the end, they drifted to the bottom, lost. “You didn’t have to pitch them.”
“Yes I did.”
He looked at her with a question in his eyes. “Jared MacKay, Captain of the SandJack, at your service.”
“Teri Branton,” she responded.
He looked up the dock toward the street. “Where’s the groom?”
“Missing in action.”
He looked perplexed. “He’s not aboard. Did you lose him on the way from the airport?”
His eyebrow quirked with an unspoken question.
Teri ignored it because she hadn’t yet considered what to say when people asked. She held out her hand for help to climb over the railing to the deck.
He obliged. A snap of electricity arced between them at first touch. She dropped his hand immediately. The burn in her palm made her smooth her smarting hand across her skirt.
He stared at his hand as if he’d been stung. “Feel that?”
Down to her toes. “Yes. We’ll try again.”
“No! No way. I’m not touching you again.” The shocked vehemence in his tone appalled her.
“How am I supposed to get over the railing?”
“Here.” He leaned over the side and dropped a step stool onto the dock. “Use this.”
“Yes, sir,” she snapped, hiking her skirt so she could lift her leg over. She teetered mid-straddle and had to stretch out her arm for balance. He made a grab for her waist, then dropped her to the deck like a sack of potatoes and jumped back.
The tang of his touch reverberated through her ribcage and settled like fire around her heart. Must be the airline food. She patted her chest. “Heartburn.”
“Sure, yeah, that’s what it is.” But he was running his other hand up and down the arm he’d wrapped around her. He frowned like thunder and vaulted over the railing. Next, he hefted her suitcases to the boat in a smoothly athletic maneuver that belied his earlier lethargy.
Teri stood back and admired Jared MacKay’s superb body. He was well toned and muscular without bulk. His thick black hair curled around his ears and the wicked slash of his hard mouth sent a thrill from her chest to the soles of her feet.
She was going to sea with this man. For seven days and six nights.
One week. Adrift. Alone.
Six months of celibacy caught up to her and a long dead heaviness reawakened in her lowest belly.
A sensible woman would go to a hotel and lick her wounds in private. But sensible was not what she wanted, not after today.
Right now, she wanted this adventure. She wanted, probably needed, she realized in a clear moment of self-preservation, the delicious naughtiness of being alone with a stranger that got her hot at first sight. She wanted him, Jared MacKay. And she wanted him bad. Very bad.