Grace stood rooted to the
deck of the Sea Devil, fear a living thing inside her. She could hear
the thunder of her heart, feel the tightness in her chest that made it
hard to breathe. The captain stood in front of her, long legs braced
against the roll of the sea, a cold, triumphant smile on his face. It
took sheer force of will to keep her shoulders squared and her held
high, monumental strength not to let him know how terrified she truly
Dear God, she should have
fought him! She should have refused to go with him, should have shouted
for help, begged the passengers and crew of the Lady Anne to come to her
aid. But there was Captain Chambers to consider and she didn't want the
man harmed, perhaps even killed because of her.
She was guilty of a
terrible crime, and in that brief, terrifying instant when the
black-haired captain had walked into the salon it was obvious he knew
what she had done.
What kind of man was he?
The devil, he had said, and
Grace believed him. She had never seen eyes such an icy shade of blue,
never seen a jaw so hard it appeared carved in stone.
He was tall, his legs long
and sinewy, the shoulder pressing into her stomach as he had carried her
down the rope ladder wide and solid. There was no extra fat over the
lean muscles in his back, she knew, her face growing warm at the memory
of the intimate contact.
His skin was dark, has face
tanned, little crinkles at the corners of his eyes. Sun lines, not
laugh lines, she was sure. She couldn't image the devil captain ever
laughing at anything, except, perhaps, someone else's pain. Instead,
his features were hard and unforgiving, brutal, even cruel.
And yet he was handsome.
With his wavy black hair, winged black brows, and well-formed lips,
Ethan Sharpe was one of the handsomest men she had ever seen.
"Follow me." Captain
Sharpe's words sliced right through her. Sweet God, why had she ever
let him force her off the Lady Anne?
She mustered another shot
of courage. "Where are you taking me?"
"You'll need a place to
sleep. You'll be staying in my cabin."
She stopped dead still, the
deck rolling just then, causing her to stumble. "And where, exactly, do
you intend to sleep?"
His mouth barely curved.
"This ship isn't all that big. I'm afraid you'll have to share the
cabin with me."
Grace shook her head,
unconsciously took a step backward. "Oh, no. There is no way you are
sleeping in the same room with me."
One of his black eyebrows
went up. "Then perhaps you would rather sleep on deck. I can arrange
it, if that is your wish. Or perhaps you would rather bunk in with the
crew. I'm sure there isn't a one of them who would mind sharing his bed
with you. What will it be, Miss Chastain?"
She stared at those hard,
cruel features and a wave of nausea hit her. She was completely at this
man's mercy. What in God's name should she do?
She glanced frantically
around the deck. There was nowhere to go, no place to run. Half a
dozen crewmen stood in a semi-circle around them. One man smiled and
she noticed the black stumps of his teeth. One of them had a wooden
leg, another man was big and dark and covered with tattoos.
Surely the captain was the
lesser evil, though she wasn't completely sure. At the nod she managed
to give him, he turned and started walking. Grace forced her feet to
move, her legs shaking as she followed him down the ladder that led to
his quarters in the stern of the ship. At the bottom of the stairs, he
turned and reached for her hand, helping her down with a chivalry that
was more mocking than gallant.
She swallowed, collected
herself, forced up her chin. "I demand to know why you brought me
here. What do you want with me? What are you planning to do?"
He slowly turned to face
her, his expression cold and completely unforgiving. "That is the
question, is it not?"
Instead of fear, anger rose
inside her, bringing a wash of color into her cheeks. "Who are you?"
Ethan looked into that
beautiful, treacherous face and a sweep of lust tore through him. "You
want to know who I am? Well, I am the devil incarnate and you, my love,
are about to pay the devil's due."