Captive of My Desires Page 20

There wasn’t a shortage of cabins. He could be moved to the one she was vacating. It might be tricky, though, as big as Drew was. If he decided to take out his current rage on them as soon as he was on his feet, someone would get hurt, and not necessarily him. But she didn’t want anyone else getting hurt.

The best way to avoid any more injuries would be to simply leave the captain in his own room. She could easily have her bags put back in that other cabin. Then again, why should she have to go to him to enact her revenge? It would be much easier if she kept him close at hand.

So she told Ohr, “I think we’ll just leave the captain where he is for now.” He didn’t appear surprised, but then, she didn’t think she’d ever seen him reveal surprise. “Are you sure?” was all he asked.

“Yes. I know you were only teasing, but you were more right than you know. I am going to get even with that man for what he did to me, and that includes keeping him a prisoner where he’d least like to be right now: in my room, where he won’t doubt he’s at my mercy.” Richard would have pried for more details, but Ohr wasn’t like that. He merely nodded and headed to the helm while she went back in the captain’s cabin.

She had to school her features before she approached the giant to stand in front of him. She wanted him to want her. That was her revenge. But it wasn’t going to happen if he realized how much she despised him now. She’d have to make him think it didn’t matter that much to her that he’d ruined her reputation.

So a little truth wouldn’t hurt, to throw him off guard and keep him there, so he’d know that she had more than one reason to take his ship. She supposed she also ought to assure him thatThe Triton was only being borrowed, that they would return it to him in good time, well, hopefully in good time. But his was a three-masted merchantman. It should make very good time in the crossing.

He didn’t have to look up very far to meet her eyes. Even sitting, his extreme height was exceptional.

And he was still looking daggers at her, which was very unnerving from such black eyes.

“If I remove that thing from your mouth, will you be civil?” she asked.

He made no sound, no movement, just continued to glare at her balefully. She decided to be helpful and pointed out, “A nod would suffice.”

No nod. He was still too angry to cooperate, she supposed. And the look he was giving her was actually causing her some nervousness she hadn’t expected, so she turned her back to him.

Taking a deep breath, she told him, “We aren’t keeping your ship. I received word that my father is being held for ransom on an isle two days’ sail east of St. Kitts. That he’s being kept in a dungeon is

quite upsetting to me. I want him out of there. I knew your ship was ready to sail. I decided it would do nicely to get us back to the Caribbean in the quickest time possible. We won’t even be taking you too far off your course, nothing you can’t easily correct with a good wind.” She turned back around to ask again, “Will you be civil now?”

Still no nod from him and his expression hadn’t changed one bit. Blasted man was making her jumpy with those unnerving eyes of his. Well, good grief. What more assurances did she need to give him? But then she put herself in his shoes for a moment and realized there was nothing she could say to make this right inhis mind. They’d taken his ship from him, removed him from control of it. That it was temporary made no difference to him, if he even believed it was only temporary. Maybe he didn’t believe her. She should find out, and the only way to do that was to remove his gag.

Having made the decision, she stepped around behind him to untie the knot at the base of his neck. She saw immediately that some of his hair was caught in the knot and pulled tight. That had to have hurt and she wasn’t sure she could untie it without pulling his hair even more. As she tried, one of his curls fell over her fingers. It was silky smooth like a child’s—quite startling, since there was nothing childlike about him.

The gag fell away, retained in her hand. She held her breath, waiting for him to blast her. Silence. And still he did not turn around to look at her. She stuffed the gag in the pocket of her skirt and moved to stand in front of him.

“Something to drink to get the taste of cotton out of my mouth,” he said.

How reasonable! He was going to be civil.

She looked around the cabin but saw no water, or anything else for that matter.

“In my desk drawer,” he said. The drawer revealed a decanter set in a wooden pocket designed to fit it, so the bottle would stay upright in the worst of storms. It was filled with some type of spirits, no doubt, but if that would suit him, it was fine with her.

She didn’t miss seeing the pistol in that drawer as well, nor did she hesitate to pocket it before she returned to him with the decanter. She was surprised he’d directed her to the place where he kept his pistol. Perhaps he’d just forgotten it was there.

She removed the glass cork and tilted the decanter to his lips. He had such a sensual mouth, full, supple, quite mesmerizing. The last time she’d stared at it, he’d been about to kiss her, the bastard, and he had, thoroughly. God, she wished she didn’t know what he tasted like…She gave him only two sips, then took her eyes off his lips.

“Appreciate it,” he said when she set the decanter down. “But I would appreciate it even more if you’d give me my ship back.”

Just like that, and so calmly, too. She laughed and told him, “Would you indeed? I wonder if it would surprise you if I told you that I would have appreciated if you hadn’t tried to embarrass me at the last ball I attended in London, by letting it be known who my father is, but, well, I didn’t get my wish…and you won’t be getting yours.”

“Embarrass you? The man you were with that night was courting you! If he didn’t know about your father, he damn well should have, or were you trying to get him to marry you without telling him the truth about who you really are?”

“You bastard! It was deliberate, wasn’t it?”

He didn’t answer, demanded instead, “Is that what this is about? You suffer a little embarrassment and you arrange for someone to steal my ship?”

“A little!?”

She had such a powerful urge to hit him that she actually took a step back before she gave in to it. This wasn’t going well. She never should have mentioned what he’d done to her. He obviously didn’t care.

But he would. By the time she was done with him, by God, he would!

She took a deep breath and cleared her throat to produce a calm tone. “It doesn’t matter. And you don’t need to worry about your ship. I’ve assured you that you will get it back.”

“Not soon enough, or don’t you care that this will brand you a pirate?” She smiled at him. “Are you joking? You were already certain I am a pirate. Aren’t you glad to be proven right?”

“Then which one of these ruffians do you belong to?” He said that so sneeringly, she knew exactly which role he was placing her in and it wasn’t very nice. So much for her sounding commanding.

“You’re off the mark, Drew,” she told him. “These men answer to me. I’m their captain.” He actually laughed as he said, “Sure you are. But they’ll now be answering to me—if they want you back.”

Suddenly he grabbed her. She had no warning other than those words, and they were spoken much too fast for her to react. And finding herself sitting in his lap with his arms tight around her was so unexpected, she was rendered speechless. He wasn’t, and his laugh was utterly triumphant.

“How does it feel with the shoe on the other foot, wench?” he asked.

“It’s a rather tight fit,” she said, and then she began to struggle for all she was worth.

Chapter 23

WHY HADN’T SHE SEEN IT COMING?Because he was so damned handsome? Because she’d been unable to take her eyes off of his face long enough to notice that he was straining loose from his bonds? And now he had the upper hand, was going to gain his release, get his ship back, too, and turn the lot of them over to the authorities, she didn’t doubt. She’d be seeing a dungeon firsthand just like her father, instead of getting him out of his. She’d failed utterly in her task and all because this blasted American was so handsome she’d been mesmerized by his face, just like before.

She was furious with herself, but she took it out on him. “This won’t work, you fool!” she snarled at him as she strained to get out of his lap.

“Want to bet?”

The amusement was still in his tone. It didn’t even sound like he was exerting any effort to hold her, and that just infuriated her even more. She tried to take him by surprise and topple them over.

He laughed at her again. “Nice try, but the chair is bolted to the floor.” She should have realized that it would be, like everything else in the cabin, but she merely hissed, “Which is where you’re going to be if you don’t let me up!”

“I hate to mention it, wench, but I have the upper hand here. Actually, let me rephrase that. I don’t mind mentioning it at all!”

“It’s temporary and you know it! One yell and you’ll have a dozen pistols trained on you!”

“No, they’ll be trained on you,” he disagreed. “You make a very nice shield. But if you don’t stop squirming, you’ll have something else to think about.” That was a warning tone. She heard it, she just didn’t grasp his meaning. She’d managed to squirm around to the side. It didn’t help, he was still holding her fast, and she’d exhausted herself trying. But suddenly he was kissing her. She had no idea how it happened or why. One moment he was staring at her mouth and then…

The hold he had across her chest, that had locked her arms at her sides, changed. He gathered her closer for the kiss, but he wasn’t holding her as tightly as he had been. She actually got one arm loose.

She had to fight the urge to put it around him. Good grief, she had to fight more than that. His kiss was too sensual and every bit as nice as she remembered it being. She found herself enjoying it far too much and she didn’t want to end it. Just a few minutes, God, the taste of him, the heat that shot up between them, how he could make her feel so wanton so damn quickly! Just like before, not just once, but twice before—and now…despising him made no difference, the passion he stirred in her was overwhelming.

She almost gave in to it completely, that’s how powerful the sensations were, coursing through her. If it wasn’t a matter of her father’s life and death, she would have. Still, she was loath to do what was necessary now that she could. But she had to.

She found his pistol in her pocket and wrapped her hand around it tightly. And she had enough semblance of thought left to realize that she probably wouldn’t gain her release if she just pointed it at him. She couldn’t take the chance that it might not be loaded and he’d know it. That would just amuse him, and she’d done enough of that. Though if it was loaded, he might not believe that she’d shoot him.

Of course she wouldn’t. She was pretending to be a pirate, not a murderer.

But she felt some real regret when she eased the weapon out of her pocket and slammed it against the side of his head. His arms slid off of her, dropped to his sides. His head fell back. She jumped off his lap immediately, her heart pounding. She hadn’t meant to hit him so hard that he’d be rendered unconscious or worse, and the “worse” terrified her. If she killed him when she had only meant to startle him into releasing her…

But he was just stunned. Before he shook it off and got his feet loose to turn the tables on her yet again, she ran out of the cabin and grabbed the first sailor she saw and dragged him back with her. She shoved the pistol into the man’s hands.

“I’m going to tie him again. If he makes any move to stop me, shoot him.” The man nodded. She’d given him the gun because she was still sure that Drew wouldn’t believe thatshe would shoot him, or he’d be too angry to care. A few seconds more and they would have found out, though, because he was already reaching for the ropes at his feet when she returned and gave the order.

She saw only that he sat back in the chair slowly. She avoided his eyes completely, her nerves too frazzled to see what was there, so she didn’t know if he was watching the man with the weapon or her.

“You actually hit me?”

There was more surprise than anything else in Drew’s tone, but Gabrielle didn’t answer him. Getting him secured again was the only thing on her mind and she’d probably never moved so fast as she did in dragging his hands back behind the chair to rebind them. She also found another rope and wrapped that around him, too. She even thought briefly about getting a sack to put over his head, but since that had nothing to do with restraining him, would only have been for her sake, to keep her from getting mesmerized again, she managed to resist the urge.

Satisfied that his bonds would hold this time, she finally checked his head, hoping she hadn’t broken the skin. No such luck. Blood had dribbled down through his hair and behind his ear. She dismissed the sailor, put the pistol back in her pocket, and left to find some water and a cloth.

She almost sent someone else to tend him. She knew Drew was furious. She’d almost been able to feel his rage. And he’d flexed his fingers repeatedly when she was wrapping the ropes around his wrists, as if he were thinking about squeezing the life out of her.

“Are you going to answer me now that your lackey is gone?” he asked.

She still didn’t. She carefully got rid of the blood, then left a cold cloth over the swelling. He made a sound, not quite a moan, as she pressed the cloth to the side of his head. But as soon as she let go, he shook it off. She tsked and came back around to stand in front of him, finally ready to deal with his anger over his failed escape.

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