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The answers came to me as swiftly as a ship in full sail, and—Voila!—I had my story.
He caught a whiff of her delicate jasmine scent, soap from the merchantman, before he heard the whisper of her slippers and skirt on the deck blend with the sigh of rippling wavelets against the brig’s hull. With all his will, he managed not to turn around and draw her to him and kiss her again. For those few minutes on the docks, he’d forgotten Brock and hatred and eve n Davina. With the fire of rage now ablaze afresh, the temptation to seek solace from the beautiful widow tightened every nerve in his body.
He would not disrespect her that way.
But she’d promised to stay. And now she’d come to him. For the past two hours she’d been below, soothing Belinda’s histrionics over being left behind all day and knowing nothing of what was afoot. Now Phoebe glided up beside him within touching distance.
He continued to grip the taffrail so he didn’t touch her. “’Tis late for you to be up and about. Should you not be in your bed?”
“When there’s a caged lion pacing overhead?” She smiled at him in the blend of silvery moonlight and golden binnacle lantern glow. “I couldn’t stay away.”
“A braw lady to approach a lion in his lair.” He allowed himself the luxury of one ghost of a touch on her face, the merest hint of his fingertips skimming across the curve of her cheekbone.
No more. No more. In harbor, no helmsman stood at the wheel to force him to propriety. The nearest watch stood halfway down the main deck and out of sight.
“And I’ve not paced this half hour or more,” he added with the merest hint of a smile.
She’d been drawn to him as he wanted her to be, connected to his spirit because of those moments of contact on the wharf, those seconds of admitting their attraction to one another. Attraction without love or even liking and respect on her side. Something purely carnal and therefore wrong with a good woman like her.
Completely wrong regardless of the woman, a faint voice from his past reminded him—a past whose teachings he’d set aside for the sake of destroying James Brock.