Marooned With A Millionaire
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УObviously. Did you really think I would ask you about your sex life?Ф
She leaned forward and propped a cheek on her palm. УWell, do you have one?Ф
He looked away but not before she saw discomfort in his eyes. УI donТt want to go there.Ф
Oh, but Lizzie wanted to. She wanted to know more about him since they would be sharing their time for a while, and whatever else they might decide to share. She was suddenly very warm. УI imagine a man like you has certain needs to fulfill. And I imagine there are plenty of women at your beck and call to take care of those needs. You know, a woman in every port.Ф
After pushing his bowl to one side, he clasped his hands in front of him and stared at her. УThink what you will, but I donТt care to discuss my love life.Ф
УThen you do have a love life.Ф
УNot anything to write home about.Ф He looked as if heТd regretted making that admission. Lizzie was glad he had. At least now she didnТt feel so alone in her celibacy.
УI can relate,Ф she said. УMy love life is more or less nonexistent.Ф
That recaptured his attention. УObviously you had one at some point since youТre pregnant.Ф
If he only knew the real circumstances behind the pregnancy. One couldnТt be wined and dined by a plastic catheter. УYouТre right, letТs not go there.Ф
His crooked smile made a sudden showing. УAh, come on now, Dorothy. You started this.Ф
She stood. УAnd it is now finished, Ahab.Ф
The lights flickered as Lizzie carried their plates to the sink. She stopped and stared at the ceiling. УWhat was that?Ф
Turning, she found Jack with his head lowered, the bridge of his nose pinched between two fingers as if he had one heck of a headache. Then came a long, frustrated sigh. УThe batteries are going down. ItТs only a matter of time before the lights go out completely.Ф
УThen weТre going to be completely in the dark?Ф
He looked up. УYeah.Ф
УDo you have any candles?Ф
УAnother rule. No candles on the boat, which means we need to conserve power.Ф
So much for creating a romantic ambience, Lizzie thought. УFlashlights?Ф
УA couple. But IТm out of extra batteries. I do have a kerosene lantern we can use until that fuel runs out.Ф
Just peachy. Lizzie leaned back against the counter. УDoes this mean weТre going to have to eat cold food?Ф
УAnd take cold showers in the dark until weТre rescued?Ф
УYeah. But I was planning on that anyway.Ф Coming to his feet, he headed toward the stairs. УUntil the water runs out.Ф
УWhere are you going?Ф Lizzie asked, following behind him in case he decided to shoot something else.
УTo light some flares.Ф
УCan I help?Ф
He stopped and faced her. УYou can watch.Ф
УThatТs no fun,Ф she said with a grin. УIТd really rather participate.Ф
He inclined his head. УWould you?Ф
УYes. DonТt you think itТs more productive when two people get in on the act?Ф
УThat depends on the act.Ф
In a fit of feminine insanity, she brushed her bangs away from her forehead and attempted a coy look.УDid you have a particular act in mind?Ф
His silver eyes darkened with something mysterious and promising and overtly sensual. УFlares, Dorothy. WeТre going to ignite some flares.Ф
Something else was igniting. Something new and different within Lizzie. Something combustible that had to do with chemistry, and not the kind one studied in high school. Combustion between a man and woman. Between Ahab and Dorothy.
Maybe Captain Jack didnТt want to acknowledge it now, but he would if Lizzie had any say-so in the matter. They were stranded and had to find some way to pass the time. Life was short, and no one could predict the future. She might as well go for it because this chance might never come again. The chance to experience what it would be like to have a strong, brooding sailor make love to her. A live, virile man. For the very first time.
Then once she returned to her life, she could take the experience with her. And on those lonely nights, she would bring out the memories to keep her company.
If Jackson Dunlap could be persuaded to cooperate.
Jack sent up the flares, only two tonight. HeТd save the other two for later if these didnТt happen to summon assistance.
He glanced at Lizzie who watched the cloudy sky with wonder, as if the display of light had been provided for entertainment.
УTheyТre so pretty,Ф she said, turning her amazing smile on him. УI remember thinking that very thing while watching Titanic.Ф
Good, God. УI donТt think we should go there, either, Dorothy.Ф
УOh, pooh. It was a nice romantic movie, if you overlooked the ship sinking.Ф
УThatТs my point. IТd rather not discuss sinking ships.Ф
УI guess youТre right.Ф As she backed up to the railing, her smile vanished but it didnТt detract from her wholesome looks. With her wispy layered blond hair framing her face, her wide, guileless blue-green eyes, she seemed almost childlike at times. Yet her body shouted woman. JackТs gaze automatically drifted to her full breasts outlined against the thin fabric, confirming that fact.
Dragging his attention back to her face, Jack tried desperately to ignore her current state of undress, but with her wearing only his shirt and, he suspected, nothing else, his attempts at detachment were futile.
She didnТt seem to notice though, much to JackТs relief. УDo you think someone will find us?Ф she asked evenly, but she couldnТt mask the concern in her voice.
She seemed doubly disturbed despite the reappearance of her smile. УMaybe in a day or two, right?Ф
He couldnТt bear to shatter her optimism, or to cause her more anxiety. УProbably.Ф If someone happened upon them. If the Coast Guard had been notified of their disappearance. If the storm didnТt hinder any kind of rescue. And if they were lucky, they had twenty-four hours left before they had to deal with that.
Determined to provide some hope, he said, УLook, we still have plenty to eat. Of course, you might have to give up your dietary requirements for the time being.Ф
Her hand came to rest with reverence on her abdomen. УI will do that for HankТs sake. He needs food.Ф She wrinkled her nose. УEven if it is some kind of questionable goulash.Ф
Jack admired her commitment to her child. Admired her ability to look on the sunny side of the situation. If only he could be that sanguine, but unfortunately he was far too jaded in general, in spite of his financial success.
The waves picked up, jarring the boat. Lizzie lost her footing and luckily Jack was close enough to catch her, close enough to smell her feminine scent mixed with sea air as she looped her arms around his neck.
УWhoa there, Dorothy.Ф
УSorry. Guess I donТt have my sea legs yet.Ф
She had great legs, Jack thought, and they were brushing against his at the moment. Even though he was wearing chinos, he could still imagine how her bare skin would feel against his. How she would feel beneath him.
He really should let her go, but what if she fell again? She did, closer against him. УIsnТt good balance required when youТre in a balloon?Ф he asked, surprised at the grainy quality of his voice, at his bodyТs swift reaction to her nearness. At his resistance to turn her loose, which had absolutely nothing to do with courtesy.
УNot really,Ф she said in a wistful tone. УYou have very little sense of movement in a hot air balloon. ItТs as if youТre standing still, and the whole world is falling away from beneath you.Ф
Jack experienced that same sensation at the moment. He felt as if something inside him was falling away, namely his opposition to anything that threatened his solitary life, his emotional fortitude. УSounds great.Ф
УIt is great,Ф she said on a sigh, her eyes linked with his as solidly as her arms circled his neck. УItТs incredible.Ф
So was she, Jack decided. Incredible attitude. Incredible eyes, both wise and innocent. Incredible breasts pressed against his chest. And a very incredible mouth. Although it made no sense, he wanted to know that mouth intimately. Soon. Now.
There was no wisdom in his contemplation, no hesitation in the kiss. He simply took it, grabbed for the brass ring, as heТd done most of his life. Success had not come to him without risk, but the way Lizzie responded to his explorationЧthe slide of his tongue against hers, the way phenomenal heat coursed through his bodyЧthis attraction to her was more than risky.
As if heТd literally been burned, Jack pulled her arms from around his neck and placed her hands on the rail to steady her. Unfortunately, he wasnТt feeling all that grounded, and it wasnТt due to his lack of sea legs. УI donТt know why I did that.Ф
She touched her lips with long slender fingertips. УI know why.Ф
УYeah? Mind explaining it to me?Ф
Her grin came with the force of a gale. УYouТre a boy, and IТm a girl. ItТs nighttime, and we just enjoyed some fireworks.Ф
He couldnТt deny that. He also couldnТt deny that he wanted her in a big way, but he couldnТt act on that need. He had to remember she was pregnant and needed much more than he could give, emotionally speaking. He had to remember that in a matter of days she would be gone, and he would be back to his old life, exactly the way he wanted itЧalone, with no concerns beyond his own welfare. With no worries of letting anyone down.
УSorry,Ф he said. УIt wonТt happen again.Ф
With one hand braced on the railing, Lizzie slipped the other down her side, over her hip, and back up to her waist where she planted it, as if displaying her wares. And some nice wares they were. УYouТre sounding mighty sure of yourself, Ahab.Ф
At least heТd sounded that way. УI am. Now letТs go. ItТs time for bed.Ф
УIs it really now?Ф
He balanced on releasing a very descriptive oath. УYeah. You can sleep in my bunk, and IТll take the fold-down sofa.Ф
УIsnТt your bunk big enough for both of us?Ф she asked in a raspy, seductive voice.
Not in this lifetime. УIТd probably roll on top of you.Ф
УWhat a horrible prospect.Ф
Did the woman know no shame? Did she know what she was doing to him with every innuendo she uttered? Damn straight she knew. For some bizarre reason, sheТd decided to play with him, in every sense of the word. And as bad as he wanted to play, Jack wouldnТt. He couldnТt.
A woman like Lizzie needed stability, not a man who had spent his adulthood recklessly searching for adventure at every turn. She needed something solid and secure, a man who wouldnТt fail her.
His first priorityЧhis only priorityЧwas to keep her safe until they again reached shore. Even if he was having a helluva hard time avoiding the fantasy of making love to her.
Lizzie had never been one to put much stock in fantasies, at least where men were concerned. Yet every night since the day sheТd tried to get pregnant, she had fantasized about her babyТs father. She knew only what the fertility clinic had volunteeredЦ German heritage, mid-twenties, just over sixЧfeet tall, brown hair, hazel eyes, a recent college graduate who happened to be very smart. Magna cum laude, in fact. She really liked that part. Not that she hadnТt been proud of her accomplishments. Just because sheТd chosen the creative route instead of academics didnТt mean she couldnТt hold her own in the intelligence department. After all, she had been top in her cosmetology class. The best darned aesthetician in the whole school, as a matter of fact. She had a gift for transforming women into what they envisioned themselves to be, at least from a superficial standpoint.
Unfortunately, sheТd never been able to physically transform herself, not that sheТd really wanted to. She had no use for makeup. Who needed the hassle of flaking mascara and reapplying lipstick on an hourly basis? Maybe she wasnТt anything special in the looks department, but she knew who she was and what she wanted from life. She had scrimped and saved, squirreled away her tips in order to try her hand at the balloon business. With the demise of Bessie, it looked as though it might be a while before she could start over again.
No problem. She would still have her little one. She only hoped that her child would inherit her creativity and his fatherТs brains. A nice balance.
Lying back on the pillow in JackТs УbunkФЧwhich happened to be queen-sizeЧshe allowed the steady rock of the boat to lull her into bliss, but it did nothing to bring about sleep. Oh, well. She would just try to imagine the man who had fathered her child.
She saw only Jack Dunlap.
If only she could get him out of her mind. But how could she? The man was sleeping in the next cabin wearing who knew what. Maybe nothing. That consideration brought about both chills and steam running helter-skelter through her body.
How silly sheТd been to think that she could actually seduce him. They certainly hadnТt taught her that technique in school. How ridiculous to believe that he would fall into her bed with the bat of an eyelash. If she chose to consider she couldnТt even entice a man whoТd obviously been by himself for months, then she would definitely be depressed. So she just wouldnТt think about it at all.
But she couldnТt quit thinking about him, his handsome features, his sober demeanor, his occasional smile that could knock the floor out from under her if she hadnТt had good sense to ground her. Not to mention his strong arms earlier on the deck. Boy, had he smelled great. HeТd felt great, too. And come to think of it, heТd kissed even better.
Though he hadnТt taken her up on her offer for a little night magic, he had shown some signs of life when, for reasons unbeknownst to her, he had decided to give her mouth a try. Maybe heТd been trying to shut her up.
Rolling to her side, Lizzie curled up into a ball and attempted to generate some heat. Thoughts of the good captainТs lips aided her somewhat, but she could still use some extra covers. Might not hurt to tell Ahab good-night since an hour ago heТd pointed her in the general direction of the bedroom then left her alone. She didnТt like being alone.
On that thought, she slipped out of bed and padded into the adjacent living area. The room was shrouded in darkness, the boat continued to sway and she accidentally knocked her knee on the sofaТs arm.
She stifled her urge to yell out in pain for fear that she would startle Jack, and he might have found more bullets.
УAre you awake?Ф she whispered.
УAhab?Ф she called, this time a bit louder.
Still no answer.
Having somewhat adjusted to the limited light, she moved toward the sofa now made into a bed and used her hands to feel for Jack, a rather pleasant prospect. He wasnТt there.
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