January 23, 2008 | Uncategorized
When Karina woke, it was almost dark. Her mouth was dry, her cheek creased from sleeping with her face mashed into the corded trim of the pillow sham, and she didn’t know where she was. Slowly, the memories of Lenny’s betrayal, her slamming out of the condo, and then arriving in Jamaica returned. She needed a drink of water, a clock, and a phone.
The soft shuffling of papers caught her attention, freezing her. Maybe Todd had come home, but she didn’t think so. Whoever was rifling through her brother’s things was being much too quiet to have any legitimate reason for being there.
Adrenalin rushed through her body, sharpening her senses. She strained to hear anything more from inside the main cabin as she felt for the release button to one of the hidden compartments, which Todd had showed her the first time he brought her aboard the boat. The mechanism clicked, allowing her to slide the secret panel soundlessly open. Her palm settled comfortably over the handgun’s scored rosewood grip.
Quietly she withdrew the weapon, closed the compartments, and checked the gun’s chambers. It was fully loaded–ready to fire. An unholy thrill raced through her veins.
She climbed the three steps to the salon. A man sat with his back to her as he clicked the mouse engrossed in reading the familiar word processing screen.
Assuming the two handed shooter’s stance her brother had drilled into her, she yelled at him. “Nice and slow now, put your hands on your head.”
He complied with her order. “If you hold on a minute, I can explain.”
Ignoring his offer, she issued another demand. “Get up.”
Again, the man moved slowly, but he obeyed her orders. This was good, because she didn’t want to shoot him. A gunfight could damage the boat’s interior. “Start talking.”
“I’m a friend of Todd’s–may I turn around?”
She thought about it for a moment. She wasn’t really dressed to entertain. But, she wanted a look at him. “Okay, but real slow.”
The stranger met her gaze with dark eyes that seemed to burn right through her skin to her very soul. She shivered with an awareness that raised goosebumps everywhere that his eyes caressed her body.
“I don’t know you,” she said flatly. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”
“Sam Moreno, I’m a friend of Todd’s. He asked me to resolve a couple of system problems for him. That’s all I was doing.”
“I’ll bet,” she muttered rudely to mask her inexplicable reaction to him. “Do you always snoop through your friends’ emails while you’re helping them out?”
He ignored her question, lowering his hands without permission. “It’s your turn, who are you and what are you doing here?”
Briefly, she reconsidered shooting him somewhere non-critical–as a warning. It would put a fast end to the seductive challenge in his eyes. She decided against it. Just possibly, he really was one of her brother’s friends. Besides, she would be the one stuck cleaning up the resulting mess and she was in no mood for swabbing the deck.
Her decision for leniency had nothing whatsoever to do with his broad shoulders or brooding glances. Even tired and cranky, she had still noticed his incredible eyes, black curls, sensual mouth, and powerful forearms dusted with black hair.
The loose fitting shirt and slacks only served to make her more aware of the hard body underneath the casual island clothes. This was so out of character for her she knew she must have passed tired and moved into delusional territory.
“Hands back on your head,” she snapped at him, more cross with herself for imagining him naked than truly upset with his failure to follow her directions. She waved the gun, emphasizing her point.
He complied much too reluctantly.
“I’m Todd’s sister, Karina,” she said crossly, finally answering his question. Then she tried to focus, growing crankier by the minute. “Did you find whatever you were looking for?”
“Not yet,” his voice was cool and controlled–a deep male sound that called to feminine instincts she’d believed dormant or missing–his gaze raked over her barely covered body, sizzling with unmistakable lust.
It wasn’t as if he were the first guy to notice she was female. There was nothing unusual about his frank appraisal, except she’d responded in kind. Heat raced up her neck flushing her cheeks with rosy color, a band of excitement constricted her breathing, her heartbeat accelerated like she’d been working out, and her feminine parts surged to life.
Of course, her previously non-existent sex drive had picked the worst possible moment to wake up and smell the testosterone. Worse, she couldn’t control her arousal any more than she could command the tides. The ice princess had melted.
She stared at the stranger, who’d set fire to her body. What had he told her his name was? Sam. This was crazy. She was running on fumes and needed to lay down for another couple of hours. Attraction, or not–and she wasn’t kidding herself about the strength of the heat arcing between them.
But, she wasn’t so far gone that she was ready to buy his story. So much for her plan to be a wild woman.