Pirate turned Privateer, Jacque Cherif LaFleur awakens on a beach only to discover he's washed in with the tide...200 years after he's presumed dead. His only possessions are his Letters of Marque, signed by the King of France, and a rare ruby. As vengeance fuels his quest, Jacque sets out to right the wrongs of his past. And just maybe, the King's coveted diamond...
The death of her beloved father has left Esa Keats devastated by his betrayal. He's willed the family business to a complete stranger! Desperate to flee the chaos that has become her life, as well as her fiancé, Esa escapes to the Florida Keys. Absorbed in her own misery, she is oblivious to the bulk sprawled along the shoreline…until she stumbles over it. To her surprise, the bulk is none other than a man dressed in 18th century pirate garb. As Esa embarks on a quest with the eccentric renegade, she finds herself thrown back to the 18th century...and straight into the hands of the Corsair's treacherous crew.
“I’m wooing you, remember?” came his raspy reply. The heat of his breath on her cheek sending tingles down her spine. Good God, he smelled absolutely divine. His closeness was unnerving. He hadn’t laid a finger on her, yet his warmth enveloped her and filled her with forbidden lust. “Lucky for us, the Captain finds me quite likable and has promised to see to it that no one intrudes upon our amorous evening.”
She should run down the steps right this minute and lock herself in the safety of her cabin, but she didn’t.
The clever cook had conjured up a romantic feast for two: Shrimp scampi with new potatoes smothered in a buttery wine sauce, a salad of European lettuce, apples, pine nuts, cucumbers, watercress, and delicious white balsamic vinaigrette, as well as, strawberries in a sugary sweet sauce layered with whipped topping for dessert. A candle-lit lantern and silk flowers set the ambiance as the sunset abated, and the dusky sky grew darker.
Jacque looked much more delectable and fulfilling than the tailor-made meal they were about to partake. Pop! The cork from a fresh bottle of wine spewed. Her hand flew upward in protest when Jacque lifted her wineglass then proceeded to fill it. Tilting his head to the side, he winked and promised, “Avast, Cherie, it’ll cure what ails ye, so long as you don’t overindulge. Not to worry, I’ve taken the liberty to have freshly brewed tea brought up for you as well.” An erotic smile graced his all-too-handsome face as he nodded toward a pitcher across the table. “I know how ye favor the sugary concoctions.”
Jacque raised his glass and held it high before adding, with a confident grin, “Here’s to a beautiful night spent in the company of the most stunning lass ever to have been born in this century or any other.”
Putty, pure putty.
The man was even more skilled with pretty words than muscle, were it possible. Her stomach churned as just a sniff of the wine assaulted highly sensitive nostrils, but she forced herself to sip it, nonetheless. Blah! She had better get something of sustenance into her stomach before she developed a dreaded case of dry heaves.
She was already on deck, with such a mouthwatering display of culinary craftsmanship.
Why should such a lovely spread go to waste?
“Everything looks delicious, Jacque. You really shouldn’t have gone to such trouble. Thank you.” She smiled, inwardly berating herself. How easily she’d fallen prey to his obvious scheming. He was up to no good, that fact was quite clear. Her body betrayed her mind and rebuked its pleas to flee, to seek a safe haven elsewhere, while she still could.
“’Tis my pleasure,” he replied in that dreamy tone while assembling her plate. “We’ll save the best for last.” He set the strawberries on the other side of the table. Something about the way he said it caused a mixture of fear and delightful anticipation to leap into her chest.
Over the romantic dinner, they spoke of their mutual fondness for sailing. Jacque seemed intrigued and pleasantly surprised by Esa’s vast knowledge of the sea.
She couldn’t eat another bite, yet Jacque insisted. “Just one, Cherie.”
“The fall of man resulted from such a masked request.”
The silver-tongued serpent chuckled and brought the fork to her mouth. “Mmmm,” she uttered, giving in to temptation and partaking of the sugared fruit. It was divine; Sweet, cool, and refreshing, perhaps, just one more.
Esa gasped when her eyes fell upon Jacque’s ravenous gaze. What was he staring at? She brought her hand to her mouth, but he bumped it away with his forearm and leaned closer. With a slow, deliberate, and erotic flick of his tongue, he made a dash of whipped topping lingering on the corner of her mouth disappear.
Licking his lips, savoring every speck of sweetness, he drew back and gave her that seductive, irresistible grin she thought meant solely for her. The wine must have helped, as Jacque was so confident it would, for her head no longer felt pounded like a jackhammer. Too bad, it didn’t cure her flaming desire for the relentless sex-god!
“What did you season the food with—Spanish fly?” She snickered.
He laughed, and she jumped. She hadn’t expected him to know what the term meant.
“Ye feel under the effects of an aphrodisiac, Cherie?”
The wolfish gleam returned.
She put her foot in it that time. “Eh, no,” she blurted, heat rising to her cheeks when he chuckled deeper. Best change the subject—quickly. “I only meant the food was very good. Thank you.”
A sinister guise flashed across his face. “Indeed, Mademoiselle, though, I’d agree, the cuisine quenches one appetite yet heightens another.”