Hope felt the deck
sway beneath her feet. The Conquest was eighty-feet long and
looked to be very well equipped. She glanced around and spotted a
fiftyish, silver-haired man walking toward her while a taller,
dark-haired man followed a few feet behind.
She smiled at the
first man. "Hello, I'm Hope Sinclair. It's very nice to meet you. You
must be Conner Reese."
He gave her a
warm, inviting smile. "Actually, I'm Bob Gibson, captain of the
Conquest." He turned to the man behind him. "This is Conner
She tried not to
stare. If she'd had more time, she would have known everything there
was to know about the partners of Treasure Limited. As it was, she knew
Brad Talbot, the money man, and she had met Eddie Markham, the owner of
Pleasure Island. This man, the head of the search operation, Conner
Reese, was nothing at all what she had expected.
She extended a
hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Reese. I'm Hope Sinclair. I
assume you've been expecting me."
"Expecting you to
She didn't like
his tone, or the unfriendly look in his eyes. But she had to admit they
were gorgeous, the same incredible blue as the sea. And he was
handsome. Remarkably so. He was wearing red swim trunks and canvas
deck shoes, his chest bare and nicely sculpted with muscle. He had a
set of very impressive biceps, a lean, flat, six-pack stomach, and a
pair of shoulders that would stretch the limits of a size seventeen
shirt. And he was tall, at least six-foot-two, with a very dark tan.
Still, it was
obvious he wasn't pleased to see her and that jabbed her temper. She
didn't want to be there in the first place. The least he could do was
She pasted on a
smile. "Since you weren't told I was coming, I suppose I had better
explain. I'm a writer for Adventure magazine. I'm here to do an
article on your search for the Spanish galleon, Nuestra Senora de
Rosa. I assumed someone from the magazine would have called you."
"Yeah, well they
didn't. Adventure might like to do a story, but unfortunately
we're not interested. It's a shame you came all this way for nothing
but that's the way it is. The last thing we need is a bunch of people
finding out we're down here looking for sunken treasure."
She worked to keep
her friendly smile in place, all the while cursing Conner Reese. "I'm
afraid you don't understand. I've been assigned to do this story and
that's what I intend to do." She glanced around at the ultra-modern
equipment on the deck, most of it new. "You probably have a satellite
phone out here. Why don't you call Brad Talbot? He can explain what's
"Talbot? This was
A noise behind
them interrupted her answer. She turned to see one of the crewman
coming down from the wheelhouse holding a cell phone, a huge black man
in baggy knee-length shorts and a blue-flowered shirt. He had a chest
the size of a wine cask and arms that would rival Mike Tyson's.
"It's for you,
Reese took the
phone, flicked a glance at Hope, then turned and walked a couple of feet
away. He was angry and getting madder by the minute, speaking louder
and louder until she could hear every word.
"Are you insane?
We let her write a bunch of articles about this operation and we're
going to have every amateur treasure hunter within two thousand miles
breathing down our necks. This isn't the States, Talbot, it's a private
island. The only laws here are the ones they make up. We won't have a
damn bit of protection--legal or otherwise--if we start to have
something lengthy on the other end of the line.
"This is crazy,"
Reese said. Then, "Fine--have it your way. But don't say I didn't warn
you." Reese ended the call and took a deep breath. He handed the phone
back to the big black man. "Thanks, King."
Reese turned to
face her, a scowl on his handsome face. "I guess you're staying, since
Talbot holds the purse strings." He gave her a perusal that went from
her breasts to her toes and sent her hackles up another notch. "But
then you probably knew that already."
Hope clamped down
on a nasty retort and the captain stepped into the fray.
"Why don't I take
the lady down to her cabin?" he suggested, trying to prevent what was
fast becoming a mutual dislike.
Reese gave Hope a
cold, hard smile. "I'll take care of it. I want to make sure our
guest gets properly settled in."
Ignoring his grim
expression, Hope reached for her carry-on. Surprisingly, Reese picked
it up before she had the chance. At least he knew how to behave like a
gentleman, though she figured he usually chose not to.
She sighed as she
followed his broad, muscular back along the deck to the ladder. It was
going to be a helluva long three weeks.