I can see Una, Cat, and Rhona screaming and jumping up and down, along with guards, and my father, and Lord Carlson. But the boat keeps moving, sailing swiftly away from the dock.
I panic, whirling, my breath catching. Am I adrift? How in the world is the boat moving so fast? The deck pitches as the boat hits a swell, and I gasp, swaying on my unsteady legs and blindly grasping at air.
“You might want to hold on to something, princess.”
I shriek at the sound of the voice behind me, jumping out of my skin as I whirl to see—
My heart jumps into my throat.
It’s him. Standing above me on the captain’s deck overlooking the main deck, holding the wheel and smirking at me as the wind tussles his perfect hair and the sunlight glints off is wicked eyes and gorgeous smile, is none other than him.
My jaw drops, my head spinning as I whirl. The boat pitches again, and I gasp as I reach out to grab ahold of one of the rigging ropes. My eyes dart back to him, narrowing.
“What are you doing here!?”
He grins wickedly, and it’s that look that sends dangerous thoughts through my head and temptation through my veins. Just like I did before, when he… when he…
When he tempted me.
“What am I doing?” he shrugs, flashing me that smug, roguish smile of his.
“This is Lord Carlson’s boat!”
“Indeed, it is, and a fine boat it is.” He sighs, turning to gaze out over the water dramatically. “Too bad I’m reasonably sure he can’t sail.”
“He—” I sputter, staring at him. “Are you stealing it?”
Malcolm turns back to me, grinning that gorgeous, tempting smile of his that sends heat through places in me it really shouldn’t. Those piercing blue eyes blaze into me, that dark, tussled hair blowing wild around his perfect face and chiseled jaw.
“Stealing it?” He shrugs. “Perhaps. Or perhaps there’s something else I’m stealing, and the boat is just part of the deal.”
Those eyes burn into me, and I flush. Instantly, memories of that stolen kiss come rushing through me, and my skin tingles as I shudder.
“No thank you.”
“Turn this boat around this instant!”
He chuckles, shaking his head as we just keep sailing away from the dock.
“You… you scoundrel!”
I storm up the three short steps to the captain’s deck and rush at him. My fist swings at him, but he catches it easily, chuckling. I gasp as he whirls me effortlessly, spinning me and tugging me against his muscular chest as one arm wraps around me, pinning me to him.
“Why you…! Let go of me!”
Something wicked shivers through me—excitement and forbidden heat blazing across my body as I twist and writhe against this huge, muscled, gorgeous, and forbidden man.
“You’re not marrying Lord Carlson,” Malcolm growls lowly into my ear, making me gasp as that deep, honeyed baritone voice rumbles through me.
“Says you?” I hiss.
“Yes,” he growls, the sound almost erotic in my ears, and I tremble.
“I do say so,” he hisses, pulling me close.
“Let go of me,” I snap.
He hesitates before loosening his grip on me just enough to turn me so that I’m facing him, pressed between him and the wheel of the boat. His piercing blue eyes rake over me, blazing into me and leaving my skin heated and my breath baited.
“Where are you taking me,” I snap, trying to hide the shake in my voice.
I bite at my bottom lip, eyeing him. “Do you even have a plan here?”
He grins. “Do I look like the sort of man who plans?”
“Let go of me.” I swallow, letting my eyes meet his. “Please.”
Malcolm eyes me, nodding slowly as he steps back and drops his hands from me.
“As you wish, princ—”
I turn, and I bolt.
I don’t even know what I’m thinking. I can swim, a bit, but we’re pretty far from shore. I run anyways, white dress billowing out behind me, and I’m almost to the railing when he grabs me. I gasp as strong arms haul me back as I squirm and kick, pinning me to his muscled chest.
“Were you planning on swimming?”
I purse my mouth shut and he chuckles.
“Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re coming with me, and—”
“If you think for one second—”
“Shouldn’t have kissed me, princess,” he growls, the fierceness in his voice making me gasp sharply, shivering in his grasp.
“Because now, I just want more.”
When his lips crush to mine for the second time, the last of my resistance crumbles. I sink into him, letting the heat and the fire in that kiss just blaze through me as he wraps his arms tight around me. The kiss is slow and deep, but powerful and passionate. And by the time he’s slowly pulling back, I realize I’m still hanging in the moment—eyes closed, and breath held before I quickly blink. I look up, my green eyes lock onto his blue ones, and my face blazes bright red.