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“What sort of danger are you bringing me into?”
“Nothing for you to worry about. I’m good with pistols. I’m good with lots of things.” His voice held a smile, and he flicked the top button of her dress open with the tiniest motion of his index finger.
“Stop that.” Shock zinged through her. She planted her hands on his shoulders to
push away, but he resisted, anchoring her in the circle of his brawny arms. “Let me go!
Stop teasing. You’re trying to distract me. I demand to know what trouble you’re bringing Jeremiah and me into.”
“You demand?” His laughter vibrated his chest beneath her palms. “Lady, you can’t make demands on my ship. The cardsharps who frequent Moreaux’s gaming salons are a different breed than the fur traders and muleskinners you know. They’d as soon put a bullet in your chest than lose a hand of cards, but as long as you’re with me, you’ve got no one to worry about.” He ran his index finger gently along her cheek. “’Cept maybe me.”
A sharp retort sprang to her tongue, but the hungry look in his eyes froze her. His gaze fell to her mouth, and he eased forward. Anticipation held her captive as his lips brushed over hers, warm and gentle, fitting like the missing half of a pair. Her eyelids fell shut against the sparks in her mind, and she swore she felt them ignite, the heat flowing up her chest and neck.
When he sat back, she opened her eyes to find him regarding her through dark eyes of his own. Wanting more, she folded her lips together, savoring the wondrous sensation of his mouth on hers a moment longer.
“Did you see that coming, angel?” he whispered.
His teasing words were like ice water in her face. “I see everything I want to see. Be serious.” Truth be told, she was glad she wasn’t standing at the moment. His surprising kiss could’ve swept her feet out from under her. She looked down at him haughtily. She’d show him she wasn’t to be played with. There’d been other men who’d tried to spread her legs, who’d kissed her first—though never as sweet and seductive as Rory’s kiss. But she’d bested every man, found their weaknesses, turned their superstitions against them. Rory wasn’t any different. He thought to bring her back to his boss like a prize? Well, she was nobody’s trophy! “What makes you think you can kiss me, Captain?”
His hand slid behind her head. He smirked. “You’re the one who came to me. Now”—he twined his fingers in the back of her hair and murmured—“let me kiss you properly.”
Dell refused to come any closer, but he bent his knees, propping his feet up on the
other chair and causing her to fall against his body. Her hands flattened on his chest, feeling the solid muscle beneath the linen of his shirt. His lips covered hers again, and his hand caressed the back of her neck in a gesture so tender and intimate, unlike anything she’d ever felt before. The tip of his tongue touched her bottom lip in request. She couldn’t deny her curiosity a moment longer, so she opened for him, allowing his tongue to seek hers.
He tasted of smoke and rum, provocative and forbidden as he coaxed her, melting her inside and out, until she gave way and parried, matching movement for movement.
When she fell fully into his erotic dance, he purred low in his throat. His fingertips
trailed up and down her neck, stroking her skin with care, but his lips were urgent. She
drank him in, following her instinct to dissolve in his embrace, allowing him to deepen his exploration. Her fingers fumbled under his open shirt, questing for his skin and finding the fine hair of his chest.
Rory turned his head, taking in a deep breath. His hands covered hers. “I was wrong. Maybe you’re the dangerous one.”
Dell bit her bottom lip as she tried to corral her racing heart. Suddenly uncomfortable in his lap, she readjusted, and he groaned. She discovered the reason for her discomfort—his rigid organ strained against her backside.
Rory tapped her chin with a light fingertip. “If you’re after respectability like you claim, you’ll not find it with me. Understand?”
Dell nodded and untangled herself from him. His arms fell away as she cast off his blanket and stood. Perhaps it was the wine she’d drunk or the heady comfort of his warm body, but she immediately wished she’d stayed put, enjoying more of his kisses. She hugged herself, looking at his boots, the deck, anywhere but at him that he might know her thoughts.
“Unless”—he shifted and spread his arms across the back of the chair in an invitation for her to feast over the naked muscles of his chest—“you’d rather lower your standards like your mama and wallow in decadence with the rest of us.”
“Like my mama?” Dell huffed. “Damn you! My mama was a decent woman. That’s why she got me out of that kind of life. One kiss—two kisses—doesn’t make me one of your tarts, Gory Rory. And you kissed me. I never asked you, I never gave you permission.”
He lifted a mocking brow. “You sure didn’t try very hard to refuse me.”
Dell spun away and headed back to the captain’s quarters. She heard him mutter an
indignant “Gory Rory?”
His laughter rang in her ears as she closed the door.
Length: 267 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (November 4, 2014)
She played right into his hands.
Possessing uncanny people-reading skills like her mama, Philadelphia “Dell” Samuels has spent thirteen years in her aunt’s rustic Ozarks home, telling fortunes over playing cards and trying to pass as white. But the treacherous Mississippi River childhood her mama dragged her away from finally catches up to her on a steamboat captained by her old friend Rory Campbell.
Known to his crew as the Devil’s Henchman, Rory is a gambler in need of a miracle. Following the cold trail of his boss’s wife and bastard daughter, Dell, Rory has only one goal in mind: saving his crew from the boss’s cruelty by ruining him. The only one who can defeat the Monster of the Mississippi is the man trained to take his place. Rory’s convinced he can lure his boss into a high-stakes game against a rival, and with Dell’s people-reading skills, the monster will lose everything.
Under Rory’s tutelage and protection, Dell agrees to the tortured captain’s plan. Passion and peril quickly bring them together as lovers. But when Rory’s plan goes awry, the lives of the innocent depend on Dell’s ability to read the situation correctly—and hopefully save them all.
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