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#1. She sang.
Loudly. Cheerfully. Defiantly.
"The sun will come up, to-mor-row ... "
If the man battling the elements heard her, he gave no indication. She finished the songs she knew from Annie, then started on Phantom of the Opera.
Tally sang to keep the fear tamped down.
She sang to defy the storm.
She sang to make sure God knew where she was since she couldn't think of an appropriate prayer.
And she sincerely hoped He liked show tunes.
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#2. Their eyes met.
For a split second she caught a glimpse of heat in his eyes. Then Jake banked the flame and broke out of her embrace.
Marnie felt a hot blush rise from her toes to her nose.
It took a moment for her eyes to focus and her brain to function. Bewildered, she looked up to find him watching her. His heavy-lidded eyes held a strange desperation as he reached back and unhooked the vice of her ankles from around his wiast.
Her legs dropped. Her heels thumped against the cabinet.
Beneath his hawklike gaze she felt stripped bare and vulnerable. He studied her face, seeming to see more than her features. He seemed to delve into her mind, to touch things deep and frightening - parts of herself Marnie was still exploring.
The muscles in his jaw knotted and unknotted. After a moment he stepped back and casually, but with difficulty, adjusted his jeans
Heat flooded her cheeks. Legs splayed, nipples peaked to his clinical gaze, she'd never experienced such acute embarrassment in her life. Her breath hitched as she jumped off the counter, tugging her top down and her pants up.
At a loss for hers, she half laughed. "I have absolutely no idea what to say." Which was a reasonable start, she guessed. It was rare for her to be speechless. But then, this was a day of firsts.
"I told you you weren't my type." The brass button on his jeans closed like the clasp of a miser's purse. Other than a faint flush on the ridge of his cheekbones and
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#3. Never run after a man or a bus, there's always another one in five minutes.
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#4. I don't give a damn if you were the featured date du jour of the sultan of Brunei. Get it through your head: You're here under duress,my duress, and the second I can get you across the river, the better I'll like it."
"Even if Winkie wants me?"
"Who the hell is Winkie?"
In answer, her gaze traveled to his crotch.
"Woman," Jake roared, beyond insane, "do you have a death wish? Get in that bed, pull the covers over your head, and go to sleep before I do something we'll both regret.
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#5. Desperately. Tally searched her brain for a prayer. Any prayer. Now I lay me down to sleep... No! Not that one. Hail Mary something, something. She wasn't Catholic. Oh, God, she should've gone to church more often. And Jesus, now definitely wasn't the time to blaspheme.
Fingers completely numb from gripping the chair, she kept her gaze pinned, with manic attention, on the pirate's large, strong hands on the wheel. Backlit eerily by the red lights on the instrument panel, those few teeny, tiny red lights were all that held her together.
She hated the dark. Hated, hated, hated it.
She wasn't that fond of roller coasters, either, and this was about seven hundred times worse. Putting the two together was overkill and proved that God had a sense of humor. Maybe she didn't want to pray after all. The boat hit a trough with the force of a ten-ton cement truck slamming into a granite mountain. Every bone in her body jarred.
Dear God, how long could the pirate ship last in this onslaught? Her brain pulled up every water movie she'd ever seen. Titanic. The Abyss. The Deep. Jaws... Oh, Lord. The Perfect Storm...
There were things she still wanted to do in her life. Off the top of her head she couldn't think of a one right now. But topping her list was dying in her own bed in Chicago. Dry. Of old age.
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#6. He should've let her drown.
Tally Cruise had the most God-awful voice Michael had ever heard, and he'd heard some doozies in Asian karaoke bars. Fortunately the violence of the storm, and the thunder of the waves, drowned out most of it.
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#7. Jake became excruciatingly aware of her, there, right behind him. The small grunts and groans as she placed each foot carefully on the slick ground reverberated in his gut. He wanted to turn around and tell her to shut the hell up.
She sounded as though she was having sex.
Good sex.
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#8. Michael held out one hand and made a "come here" motion. "Turn."
Without taking his intense focus from the open sea ahead, he swiftly unfastened the safety harness, then swiveled her face front and worked the closures on the jacket. Cold air bathed Tally's wet clothing and already chilled skin. His fingers felt warm through the wet cloth of her shirt.
"Th-thanks." Instead of feeling cold, she felt a rush of heat and stepped away. All this fear and adrenaline rushing around inside her was screwing up her normal, logical self. Her response to the man was as unexpected as it was intriguing.
Apparently, by the look on his face, he hadn't felt anything. "Get below," he said, voice grim, jaw set. He moved about on bare feet. Moved fast, but efficiently.
"Should I take your cat with me?"
"Don't have a cat."
The black furry thing right in front of him blinked.
"What's that?"
"Snap to it, sweetheart. We've got about seventeen minutes before the tail end of that typhoon hits us."
Tally almost smiled at the precision. "Exactly seventeen minutes? How could you possibly know that?"
"Want to stand there and debate it with a stopwatch?"
"No. What can I do to help?" She had to shout, and even then she wasn't sure he'd heard her.
"Told you. Below.
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#9. Hey." Her host grabbed her by the back of the jacket and hauled her upright. "I'm not fishing you out again if you fall overboard."
Their eyes met. He wasn't kidding. "Not exactly a people person, are you?" she said.
He grimaced and released her. Tally turned back to the rail, oddly disconcerted by his touch, even through the jacket. She didn't lean as far out this time, but she strained to see in the growing darkness.
Tally suspected Arnaud's boat was probably Trevor Church's boat, and if that was the case, her father was not only going to be absolutely livid about the loss of property, he was also going to blow his stack if she didn't at least make an attempt to find Bouchard. Damn it.
"I'll pay you to help me find him," Tally said briskly, turning to face him.
An eyebrow rose. "Yeah? How much?"
"A thousand dollars." He didn't so much as blink at the offer. "Are you for real? Okay, two thousand."
"Only two? He couldn't've been very important to you."
She considered Bouchard a slimy turd, a necessary evil. On the other hand, the pirate wasn't going to risk his life and boat if he knew she felt that way. "Five? Ten? Twenty thousand? How much will it take?"
"How much you got on you?"
She held her arms out. "Not a whole hell of a lot. But I have traveler's checks back at-I'll buy your boat from you." She narrowed her eyes when he didn't answer. This was nuts. She was standing out here in the middle of a typhoon negotiating with
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#10. Did you see what happened?"
"Hard to miss," he said dryly. "Your boat went kaplooie."
Tally blinked at his easy dismissal of two lives and a million-dollar boat. "Is that the technical term for it?
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#11. Tally yanked her hand away and stuck it behind her back. "God. I am so sorry." She'd touched him. Felt the heat of his tanned skin, felt the crisp hairs at his groin ... felt ... oh, man.
"Nice try, but no cigar. Want to go for two out of three?"
Tally closed her eyes and blew out a breath. "Oh, this day just gets better and better."
"It's certainly looking up for me." With an amused glance, the pirate hitched his shorts back over the sharp angle of his hipbones. There'd been so sign of a tan line.
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