In the last few days, over 300 people have added To Tempt an Heiress to their virtual TBR pile on Goodreads. As a thank you, here’s a special excerpt to tide you over until the book comes out December 6…
Read the first book in the
Runaway Desires series:
Andrew came around to the front of the table and took her hand in his, turning the palm upward to his gaze. To his surprise, she did not resist.
Blisters. What looked like rope burns. And dirt.
He dropped her hand and leaned back against the table’s edge, crossing his legs at the ankle and surveying her from head to toe. Good Lord, but she was filthy, her face and dress streaked with grime and sweat, her hair a tangled mess, and no bonnet to be seen.
“Mr. Ford,” he called before the man was out of earshot.
“Ask Mr. Beals to come up when he’s finished.”
“Very good, Cap’n.”
“I am not at liberty to wait for this Mr. Beals,” she said primly when the door closed behind Ford.
“Oh?” Andrew folded his arms across his chest, fighting a smile. Did she never back down? “Just where were you planning to go, Miss Holderin?”
“Home, of course,” she answered with a defiant tilt of her chin. “After I get what I came for.”
“And what would that be?”
“A boy called Caesar.”
Her answer ought not to have surprised him, but it did.
“I saw two men carry him away from the King’s Arms,” she explained. “They forced him on board this ship, no doubt for some less-than-savory purpose. And I intend to put a stop to it.”
Uncrossing his legs, he levered away from the table and took one step closer to her. “Don’t assume his life was more savory at Mr. Gillingham’s establishment than it will be aboard my ship,” he said, more irritated by her insinuation than he should have been.
Her mouth popped open to retort, but before she could speak the cabin floor shivered and seemed to shift beneath their feet.
“Are we . . . moving?” she asked, stretching onto her toes to scan the view from the windows behind him.
As if the answer to her question were not already obvious, the ship gave a great lurch and threw her off balance. She stumbled forward, landing with her head on his shoulder, her breasts against his ribs, and her skirts tangled about his legs. Reflexively, his arms came around her, steadying her, drawing her to him.
For the merest fraction of a moment, she did not protest. Shock, he supposed. Or perhaps fatigue. He could not imagine how she had managed to get from the docks to the ship without assistance. But before he had time to marvel at her combination of strength and softness, she was pushing herself upright, pushing away from him.
It was undoubtedly the smartest thing she had done all day.
“Yes, we’re under sail,” he confirmed, as she looked daggers at him.
“I demand to be set ashore this instant,” she said, setting her feet apart so the ship’s motion would not catch her off guard again. “With the boy.”
Andrew glanced behind him at the receding view of English Harbour. “Can’t be done, I’m afraid.”
“Wh-wh-where are you taking me?” she spluttered, the barest hint of anxiety now creeping into her voice.
“As luck would have it, I’ve just given orders to make for the north side of the island,” he told her. At her skeptical glance, he stepped away from the table and motioned to the charts spread across it. “See for yourself.”
She stepped forward and peered down at the map, tracing one finger along the route he had marked out. “Why, there’s Angel’s Cove.”
A frown wrinkled her brow. “I would think a merchant ship’s captain would conduct his business in the docks.”
“Not all of it,” he said, locking her gaze until she looked away.
“So you will take me home.”
It was not exactly a question, so he evaded it. “It grows late. I won’t risk my ship, slipping into unknown waters after dark. We’ll have to wait until morning to make landfall now.” He felt a twinge of guilt for deceiving her. But she would learn the truth soon enough.
And he would arrange to be out of earshot when she did.
“I couldn’t possibly stay on board overnight.”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to,” he replied with a half smile. “Unless you fancy swimming to shore.”
“I can, you know,” she insisted, drawing herself up. “Swim.”
A forbidden image rose in his mind, of a water sprite with red-gold curls and stormy eyes, emerging from the sea clad only in a clinging wet shift . . .
But the fantasy evaporated when she added, “Edward taught me.”
Cary was the very last person of whom he wished to be reminded right now. “I wouldn’t recommend it, all the same,” he snapped, dismissing the heat in his voice as annoyance. “Ship’s surgeon, Mr. Beals, will be here soon to look at those hands. And I’ll send up some food and hot water too.”
“You’ll see that Caesar is well taken care of?”
“I already have,” he assured her, although he could see by the look in her eyes that she distrusted his claim. No doubt she would attempt to check on things as soon as she had the chance. God knew where one of his crew might find her next. “You’re safest here. Rest.”
“I’m not a child, Captain Corrvan,” she pointed out, quite unnecessarily. “And I am not accustomed to being ordered about like one.”
“Well, Miss Holderin, you’ve found your way onto my ship. I give the orders here,” he said as he turned toward the door, snapping his fingers to bring Caliban to his side. “And when I give orders, they are obeyed.”
Caliban, however, remained firmly planted at Tempest’s feet. Emboldened, she gave a sly smile. “Always, Captain Corrvan?”
With a black look for her and a muttered oath for the dog, he ducked under the lintel, then fished a key from the pocket of his waistcoat and locked his cabin door behind him.
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