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by Nia K. Foxx
Description: Joi needs a job. A way to keep the wolves at bay. So she takes a Halloween job on the Buccaneer, an erotic cruise ship. She's hoping to make bank and get out, but the captain has other plans for this serving wench.
eBook Publisher: Loose Id, LLC, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: January 2009
93 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [121 KB]
Reading time: 70-98 min.
Joi had first thought the magnitude of the Buccaneer was something spectacular to behold, until she saw its captain. What a sight to behold. The niggling doubts that began in the back of her mind once they boarded the ship grew to a full-fledged alarm as she did her best to look anywhere but at the man now standing in front of her. He'd insinuated himself next to the HR spokesperson, who quickly finished her last thought before looking expectantly at the pair joining her and the crew. In spite of the difference in their sizes, Joi immediately noticed the familial relationship between the man and woman who'd been blocking the stairway entrance. Both had thick blond hair that hung just beyond their shoulders, the male with a more wheat coloring than the woman. Captivating, ice blue eyes looked out onto the group and she was certain she wasn't the only one struck by their intense shade. Joi realized she was staring at the man and was held by the commanding quality of his stare. She had a sneaking suspicion he was denied very little. Refusing to get caught up in his concentrated focus, she did her level best to keep her attention on the female. To her dismay her efforts only aided in her drawing further contrasts between the siblings. His skin was very fair in comparison to the woman's tanned complexion. Where she was attired in casual jeans and a short-sleeved top, he was dressed conservatively, like he'd come straight from a board meeting to the marina. The dark business suit, surprisingly, complemented his fair skin and seemed to fit his less than conventional hairstyle. He was broad in the shoulders and in spite of the suit's extensive cut, Joi could make out some muscular definition as he crossed arms over a broad chest. A gust of wind rushed by, catching his free-flowing hair. For a brief moment, Joi felt as if she were really in the presence of a Viking captain. She made the mistake of making eye contact once more. He fixed her with a predatory gaze so primal it made her breath catch. A warm chill ran down her spine and tingled its way throughout her body. She look distractedly down at her sandal-clad feet, hoping the pair would say their piece and let them move on before she found herself ogling him further.
"Um, this is Ari and Kelsey Yngvar." Their guide introduced them and Joi noticed more than a few spines straightening. She wondered if it was uncommon to have the owners address the crew.
"I'll be your captain for the cruise this year." His voice had a thick, opulent timber that could not be ignored. "Will this be a maiden voyage for any of you?"
Eva pushed at her elbow in encouragement for her to respond. One other person had his hand held high in the air. He was a member of the housekeeping staff and seemed very enthused to be a part of the team, or so he'd said during their break as he made his rounds about the conference room, introducing himself personally to everyone. Reluctantly, her hand joined the other newbie and she made the huge mistake of looking at Ari. His eyes were like a trap and she couldn't get away from his persistent stare.
"Then I guess we'll have to make a special effort to keep an eye out for each other."
Was it her imagination or was he speaking directly to her? She'd definitely keep a watch for him, to make sure she steered as far away from the man as humanly possible. Although she couldn't quite put her finger on the reasoning, Joi knew Ari was a hazard to avoid, especially if she hoped to walk away from the voyage unscathed.
"You all know who I am; it's only fair I find out who you all are."
A second set of group introductions ensued, with Ari shaking the hands of each person on the crew.
"Joi, barmaid," she said quickly, trying her best not to have to step forward but when the people in front of her parted to give him access, she had little choice but to extend her hand. It was supposed to be a brief contact, a quick brush of the hands to be over with quickly for him to move on to the next person. Only it didn't turn out that way. His much larger hand swallowed hers in a firm grip. Electricity sparked between them at the contact, snaking its way up her arm. She couldn't stop the audible gasp or the momentary weakness in her legs that had her stumbling forward. Luckily, she stopped herself before she fell into him. How embarrassing would that be? Her musing was short-lived. To her horror, she felt a distinct tug on her hand, which lead to another forward momentum that sent her doing exactly what she'd feared. He'd done it on purpose, she was certain of that, but to everyone else she most likely looked like a clumsy oaf falling into his body.
"I got you," he said next to her ear. Too close in fact. A hand beneath her elbow was used to steady her while the hand he'd pulled was now planted firmly against his chest. She could feel the thud of his pulse beneath fabric and skin. The hand responsible for her tumble was placed gently over her own to hold it in place.
Dear God, was he ... sniffing her? Indeed, he was. Surely someone had to notice his odd behavior, but from her vantage point all she could see was the material of his clothing. If only that were the only thing she was aware of, she would have been able to count herself lucky. Unfortunately for her, she happened to get a good whiff of his scent, too. It was like no cologne she could put a name to, but her mind was bombarded with various descriptions as it searched to label it. Strong. Heady. Masculine. Virile. She couldn't isolate just one description. It embodied all of those and then some. Again, her mind registered a warning, encouraging her to keep her distance, which was quite impossible at the moment with her held so close to him.
"Excuse me," she apologized loud enough for everyone to hear, not caring at that second that she wasn't the cause of her current predicament, only knowing she wanted to be swallowed up into the comforting shelter of the group once again.
Her first attempt to tug herself free was met with firm resistance and she was fairly sure she heard an animalistic sound akin to a growl.
"No apology necessary. You just need to get your sea legs is all," his sister said good-naturedly at his side and Joi noticed the dainty hand placed on her brother's shoulder.
The growling ceased suddenly and almost as quickly she found her elbow released, although it took several more seconds to have the hand placed against his chest relinquished.
She relished the sweet taste of freedom, moving on unsteady legs back into the fold of the crew.
"Don't worry. You'll get accustomed to it quickly," Eva offered in an encouraging whisper.
That's exactly what she was afraid of.