Eleven-year-old Joy wants Lady Emily to be her step-mother. She hopes her father will like her as much as she does, and marry her so he'll remain at home instead of leaving her and her three brothers months at a time while he captains his ship.
Captain Geoffrey DeBohun never intended to give up the sea. Nor did he look to remarry. But when he feels his blood begin to thrum when close to Lady Emily—as it used to do with his first wife—he decides he will pursue this woman.
Lady Emily doesn't want to be drawn to Captain Geoffrey DeBohun. She believes her brother, the Earl of Spode, has Geoffrey DeBohun's brother in mind for her, the Earl of Wickerdun. When Joy's first wish comes true, Emily wonders if perhaps the girl might get her Christmas wishes after all.
"Careful, Ardmoor. Maddy'll have my head if you come to harm! Had to promise I'd keep an eye on you."
"Treats me like I'm a bloody china doll! I won't break if I fall! Half my leg is gone already, and the peg can be replaced."
"Surely your sister worries about the part of you that can't be replaced," Wickerdun suggested.
"Just what we need, a bloody peacemaker." Ardmoor whipped his head around at the sound of Spode's low whistle. Looked in the direction Spode and Wickerdun stared. "Bloody hell!" The two men beside him remained silent while they watched Geoffrey assist Emily to her feet.
The three men continued forward.
Geoffrey was positive she was as aroused as he. Well, perhaps not as aroused, but she was interested. There'd been no screaming for him to unhand her. No strident demands he release her. She'd stared at him with a look of wonder. His cheek still tingled where she'd touched and stroked. True, she'd been wearing mittens, but his cheek still tingled, which led him to wonder what it would feel like if her bare fingers touched and stroked. His mind conjured up a picture of her touching his bare body. Which in turn inflamed that part of him that had been idle for so long. That's when her eyes widened even more.
"I want to kiss you." It was a foolish thing to say. He realized that as soon as the words passed his lips. She struggled to rise, but collapsed and gazed into his eyes.
Geoffrey blinked. Why? "Why? Because…I've had the urge to pull you into my arms and kiss you from the first moment I saw you."
She drew back and arched a brow at him. "The first moment you saw me you accused me of conspiring to take your children from you. The words you used, however, were more colorful."
Geoffrey smiled and watched her eyes darken; his smile deepened. "True. But I was attracted to you, which might have angered me."
Geoffrey looked up at the four pairs of eyes peering down at them. "We were discussing Joy's wish."
"Ooh, ooh! Has Lady Emily—"
Geoffrey broke in. "A lady's decision is never rushed, princess." He helped Emily rise, but growled softly upon spying the approach of his brother, Spode and Ardmoor.