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Pirate captain's daughter Nancy Black has five more days as first mate before she takes over command of the Briar Rose. The only person standing in the way is the gorgeous acting captain Heath, the man she loves to hate. When she goes ashore in Bermuda to find out what Heath is up to, she has a nasty surprise... and seeks comfort in the arms of a handsome stranger, who makes her realize she has more choices than she thought. A final showdown with Heath beckons. But can she really turn her back on the ship - and the man - she has loved since childhood?
Advisory: This 10,500-word erotic romance is the third in the Briar Rose series. Contains explicit sexual material and is not suitable for under-18s.
I was about to give up on this establishment and leave. It was obviously so fancy it deterred the bulk of the sailors I was hoping to meet. And then the doors swung open and one of the finest-looking young fellers I had ever seen in my life walked in.
He had a strange kind of color to his hair: reddish like some of the Irishmen I have known, and it tumbled down his back in rivers of burnished copper, its wild curls tangling. His skin was bronzed by the sun, giving him the overall shade of a fox, or a chestnutty kind of horse. He was tall and broad, and the scars and muscles of his arms spoke of a lifetime hauling ropes and wielding an oar under the glare of the tropical sun.
But it was his eyes that first drew the attention. God's name, those eyes. They were the brightest blue one could ever imagine: bright like the blue of the sea and the sky. He smiled at me and unusually for that kind of man, it was as if he had recognized a kindred spirit in me. He was a creature of the sea, as am I, and he saw himself in me.
I knew instinctively he was not going to offer me money or open a conversation with one of those lines that the sailors spin to the working girls, and when he came and sat down opposite me, I'd swear I felt my heart jump in my chest, like it was a little bird or a baby rabbit or something.
Here, finally, was a man who would distract me from Heath. Indeed, I had not thought of Heath the minute this giant of a man walked into the saloon.
He had an easy manner about him.
"Hello, Madam. You do not look like the girls who work these bars. If I had to make a guess at it, I would hazard a guess you are a sailor like myself."
"Nancy Black. First mate of the Briar Rose. Your supposition is correct, sir. I am a sailor and have been so all my life. Whom do I have the pleasure of meeting?"
I loved the way his eyes crinkled up at the corners, creased no doubt after a lifetime spent avoiding the glare of the open sea, which could be so bright in the tropics it could blind a man.
"Rufus Hardy at your service, Ma'am," and he gave this funny little salute, bringing his hand to his forehead in a smart-ish gesture. His voice was unusual. I had at first assumed him to be Irish, but he had an odd drawl.
"And from where do you hail, Rufus? I am new in these parts, my ship only just having anchored last night."
"Mine too. I am from the new colony in Virginia. I worked my passage here after hearing that the streets of the island were paved with gold. Only once I arrived I see they are but potholes and mud. You are not married, Nancy?"
"No, Rufus. And I don't mind telling you I am looking for a man like yourself to have some fun with. I will not pay you and you will not pay me, but if you would like to retire to one of these rooms..."