Captive of My Desires Page 21

Crossing her arms over her chest, she said, “Yes, you dense man, I actually hit you. It was either that or shoot you. Consider yourself lucky.”

“Son of a bitch,” he growled low. “What’d you hit me with?”

“Your pistol. Found it in the drawer.”

“Great, just great,” he snarled. “That will teach me to kiss a viper.” A blush arose. She suspected that remark was merely rancor, but it still hurt. He was testing his new bonds—no, he was actually trying to work them loose again. The man was impossible.

“Stop that,” she told him sharply.

He gave her a nasty look that was self-explanatory. She gritted her teeth, added, “Do I need to find more rope?”

“Do what you have to do, sweetheart.”

“Maybe a conk on the head again? It certainly improved your disposition—not having one.”

“Very amusing. But I think if you got near enough to me to try it, these bonds would miraculously open.

That’s how much I want to get my hands on you.”

To put around her neck, she was sure. And even though sheknew he was still nicely tied, she was just superstitious enough not to put it to the test.

“It’s too bad you’re being such an uncooperative captive,” she complained.

“There’s any other kind?”

She glared before continuing, “I had considered leaving you to your cabin, but since we’ll be using it, it would be better to get you behind a locked door elsewhere. Or maybe you have some chains aboard?

Yes, chains would do nicely, don’t you think?”

“You don’t really want to know what I think just now,” he shot back.

But he did stop straining at his bonds. She noticed that immediately. So there were probably chains somewhere on his ship that could be made use of. And a short metal leash, one he couldn’t possibly get out of, would be ideal, now that she thought of it.

With his options dwindling, he was looking daggers at her again. Vastly disconcerting, that look, but much better than him being smugly certain that he could make her the captive again.

“Answer me this,” he demanded. “Why in hell didn’t you even try to convince me that you were acting in an official capacity to claim my ship?”

“For what reason?”

“To pursue criminals, a matter of life or death, whatever. I’m sure you could have come up with some convincing lies.”

“When you know I’m not an official?”

“You didn’t have to reveal yourself. One of your men could have made the claim.” She smiled, couldn’t help it, but humored him anyway. “I see, and you would have believed them?”

“Damned right I would have. I’m an American. Why wouldn’t I believe it, when you English provoked us to war using similar tactics?”

“Right you are, this is an official seizure.”

“Very funny.”

“Just trying to be accommodating.”

“Why? To keep me off balance, right up till you toss me over the side? Do I at least get ravished first?” She drew in her breath sharply. The thought of taking advantage of him, while he was tied…Good grief,

she needed to sit down, and fast, her legs felt so wobbly. She moved behind the desk to the chair there and dropped into it. She took several deep breaths deliberately and pushed the image of ravishing him from her mind. And she stared down at the desk. Looking at him was downright dangerous.

She had to get the feelings he incited in her under control. She was supposed to be making him want her, not the other way around!

“I was beginning to think you were serious,” she said, “until your last remark. No one is going to toss you over the side, Drew.”

“Even to save your own necks?”

She glanced at him again to ask, “Because you know who we are?”


She shook her head. “Sorry, but there is nothing that could justify killing you. And it sounds like you’ve formed the wrong opinion of us. We aren’t the sort of pirates you’re thinking of.”

“What other kind are there?” he sneered.

She grinned. “We’re a new breed, of course. Actually, we’re more treasure hunters than pirates.”

“Your reasons mean nothing to me. What you’ve done here is committed a criminal act and let me give you an assurance of my own. I’ll have the lot of you hunted down for it, or I’ll do it myself.Now do you see why it would be a good idea to let me go immediately?”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” she said, and sighed just to reinforce her words. “I had preferred to think that you would be reasonable once you see that I am telling the truth, that you’ll have your ship back. With no real harm being done, you could have just been happy to be about your way when this is over.”

“No real harm?” he said incredulously. “What do you call cracking my head open?” She tsked. “I did no such thing.”

“It feels like it,” he disagreed. “Come have a look.” She chuckled over that obvious ploy. “Not a chance,” she told him. “Besides, it’s just a little cut and bump. It barely bled at all, and I’ve removed the evidence.” He raised a brow. “You touched me?”

“Very impersonally. Didn’t you feel it?”

“No, you’re lying. What else did you do while I was stunned?”

“You mean while you were testing your new bonds? I did nothing! Really, I—”

“But you wanted to, didn’t you?” he cut in, with what could only be described as a knowing smirk.

“Come on, sweetheart, admit it. You know you want to ravish me, and you’ve made sure I can’t stop you, not that I’d really want to. So what’s stopping you?”

“You will cease such—”

“Just sit on my lap, and I’ll give you the ride of your life.” She shot to her feet, but it was too late. The words might have been crude, but the image had already got into her mind. She could touch him, she really could. He’d even given her permission. And the taste of him had been sweet, so very intoxicating. She could even do what he was suggesting…

“Stop it!” she burst out, but she wasn’t sure if she was saying it to him or to herself. So she added with a scowl, “Or I will use this pistol on you again.”

He gave her a feigned wounded look. “Is that any way to treat a wounded man?” She headed to the door without answering him. She had to stay away from him until she got that image of herself straddling his lap out of her mind.

Chapter 24


She was trying to show him that she wasn’t that upset, but she wasn’t having much luck, not after he’d seen her stricken expression as Drew’s crewman related the tale. The man had managed to slip over the side ofThe Triton while it was still in the channel, without being seen, and came straightaway to Berkeley Square to tell them that Drew had lost his ship to pirates, and he’d overheard them say they were heading to a small island east of St. Kitts.

“Does it matter? Pirates, thieves, whatever they are, they’re still in possession of your brother’s ship.” And then James mumbled, “Bloody well wouldn’t have happened onThe Maiden Anne. ” Georgina pretended she didn’t hear that.The Maiden Anne had been James’s ship and he’d been a gentleman pirate himself for many a year, even capturing a few of her family’s ships, as well as capturing her heart when she’d sailed with him as his cabin boy.

His tone implied he was angry. She wasn’t surprised. He couldn’t stand to see her upset about anything and usually wanted to kill whoever caused it. In this case there was nothing he could do, and that would just make him even more angry. Not that anyone who didn’t know him well could tell. It wasn’t his way to shout or rant or get emotional. Oh, no, James Malory was unique in that regard. If he was going to demolish someone, that person would have no prior warning.

“At least Boyd is here,” she said. “I’m sure he’ll want to go afterThe Triton. ”

“Of course he will, but is that going to relieve your mind?” he asked pointedly.

He knew her too well. Of course it wouldn’t. Boyd didn’t captain his own ship, nor was his ship equipped to deal with pirates. But then neither wasThe Triton heavily armed.

“I’ve bought a ship,” James continued. “It was to be a surprise for the next time you get it into your pretty head to cross the ocean.”

She grinned at him. It hadreally stuck in his craw that he’d almost had to sail without being in command of the vessel. She wasn’t at all surprised that he’d make sure it never happened again.

“Then you’re going after them?” she said.

“Of course.”

“That’s an excellent plan,” she agreed, already feeling much better.

“Thought you might think so.”

“And I’ll go with you.”

“Now, George—”

“Don’t even think of leaving me at home to worry myself sick.” He just stared at her, waiting for her to come up with a few other reasons he could more easily disagree with. She wisely changed the subject by pulling a note out of her pocket and handing it to him. She’d found it when she’d stopped by Gabrielle’s room this morning to see if she was feeling better. Quite a shock to find her gone instead, though Drew’s crewman showing up soon after with the news that his ship had been captured by pirates had made her temporarily forget about it.

He frowned at her when he finished reading it. “You think Gabrielle has taken Drew’s ship?” Georgina blinked. “Heavens no, that never occurred to me. I was merely surprised that she didn’ttell us her father was in trouble, that she just packed up and left, merely leaving that note. You’d think she would have at least asked for your help, since you and her father had been friends.”

“She probably felt she’d imposed on us enough. But the timing is rather…on the mark, don’t you think?

When did she leave?”

“This morning, no, wait, it could have been last night while we were at Tony’s for dinner. She wasn’t feeling well, which was why she didn’t join us, as I’d told you—”

“But she was well enough to sneak off, so I’d say that was just an excuse.”

“Oh, come now, you can’treally think she’d commandeer Drew’s ship. He’s my brother. I befriended her. If anything, she might have asked him for help since she knew he was sailing. For all we know, he might have agreed and she’s a passenger, or rather a hostage right now, just like he is. She’d have no reason to do him a wrong…turn…”

He sighed and finished the thought for her. “I see you’ve remembered what you told me he said at that ball the other night. Just the sort of thing to ruin the chit’s chances for a good match here.”

“Nonsense,” she disagreed. “It didn’t make the gossip rounds. And it’s been two days since that ball.

We would’ve heard—”

“You’re always the last to know if you’re personally involved, m’dear,” he cut in, “and since you were her sponsor, you’re most definitely involved. Besides, we didn’t leave the house yesterday other than to go straight to Tony’s for dinner and back.”

“I know.” She sighed. “Actually, when I first read Gabrielle’s note, I thought it might be a ruse, that she’s merely gone into hiding to weather the storm. I was going to ask you to find her so we could blast this scandal out of the water.”

He raised a golden brow. “And how would you have done thatif it is making the rounds already? It’s not a lie, but the truth.”

“A lover scorned, wanting revenge,” she replied. “Very easy.”

“You mean she scorned Drew and he wanted to blacken her reputation by making that remark?”

“Well, my brother did start the rumor. Which is why I’d feel so guilty if this has ruined her.”

“Stop it,” he demanded. “For all you know he may have been provoked.” She stared at him incredulously. “You’re taking Drew’s side?”

“Bite your tongue, George. I’d never. But did you never notice the sparks that would fly between those two?”

“Of course I did. They seemed not to like each other a’tall to begin with, but that changed rather quickly. It even worried me enough that I tried to warn Gabrielle away from Drew.”

“But did you warn him away from her?”

She blinked. “Of course not. You know how he is. He’s worse than you were, about being determined to never marry. So he knew very well she was off-limits to him.”

“And that, m’dear, might have been the problem. She’s a very pretty chit. If she set her cap for him, he may have indeed been provoked, or tempted beyond good sense, as it were.” She frowned. “Well, in any case, I’ll send a note off to Reggie to find out for sure if there is a rumor circulating. She keeps abreast of all the current gossip, so she’d know. But still, Gabrielle only went out for a little while yesterday with one of those men she came to London with, according to Artie. And he said she only had one other visitor, a young man he guessed was one of her suitors. But if, as you say, the subject is the last to know about their own scandal, then she wouldn’t know either, would she?”

“I wouldn’t count on it. It’s too bloody coincidental and would explain why she didn’t ask Drew for his help.”

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