Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(13) by Lorraine Heath
He fought back the jubilation as she became visible. He wasn’t going to give her the upper hand in this encounter. She was fortunate that he hadn’t already cast off. Stuffing the glove back into his pocket, he strolled nonchalantly across the quarterdeck and descended the steps to the main deck. Then he sauntered down the gangway to the dock just as she came to a stop, breathing heavily. Even in the dim light, he could see she was flushed. She would be even more so when he claimed his kiss.
“You’re late,” he said in as flat a voice as he could muster.
Her silvery eyes widened. “I daresay, not even ten minutes.”
“Ships run on a schedule, my lady.”
She angled her chin. “Yes, well, as I’m paying for this voyage, I expect it to run on my schedule. If you didn’t understand that was my purpose in hiring you, then perhaps I should look elsewhere.”
He couldn’t stop the smile this time. He should have known she’d not apologize. “Unfortunately, any schedule involving a ship is subject to tides and winds.”
“Oh, my dear. Will we not be able to leave tonight?”
He wondered at the urgency, but didn’t comment on it because it worked to his advantage for them to be under way as soon as possible.
“I think we can manage.” A dark-haired woman who didn’t seem to be much older than Anne was standing slightly behind her, her eyes blinking continuously as though she couldn’t quite believe she was here. Her maid, her chaperone no doubt. He nodded toward the two men carrying her trunk. “Are they coming with you?”
“No, only the trunk.”
“Peterson! Get the lady’s trunk on board.”
Peterson was a big brute of a man. He took the trunk from the liveried footmen as though it contained little more than feathers. As he passed back by, Tristan said quietly, “My cabin, Peterson.”
“Yes, sir.” He trudged up the gangway.
“He doesn’t sound pleased,” Lady Anne said.
“He’s a grumbler. You’ll get used to it. The men who are on board are there because they choose to be. Those ruled by superstition are remaining behind.”
“Will that cause a hardship for you?”
“For you, Princess, I’d suffer any hardship.”
She laughed, a sweet sound that wove around him, and he wondered if she were descended from Sirens. He thought he might gladly crash upon rocks just to hear that clear pure tinkling. “You’re not going to wait until we’re at least on the ship before beginning your absurd flirtation?”
She wasn’t going to fall easily, but then he’d known all along that she wouldn’t. “Your words are like a dagger through my heart.”
“I doubt you can be so easily wounded, Captain.” She spoke briefly with the men who had accompanied her. When they left, she indicated the woman who remained. “This is Martha, my lady’s maid. She comes with us, of course.”
“Of course. Allow me the honor of escorting you aboard.” He called out for Jenkins and when the young man joined them, instructed him to escort Martha up the gangway. Tristan extended his arm to Anne.
She wrapped her hand around the crook of his elbow and allowed him to lead her up the corridor. He’d thought Lady Anne might tremble, if not with his nearness, then with the anticipation of the journey. Instead, she seemed to become almost somber as she stepped onto the deck.
“Peterson, get us under way.”
“Aye aye, Captain.”
While Peterson began shouting commands and men began scurrying around the ship, Tristan said, “I’ll show you to your cabin.”
“I’d rather stay out here while we leave.”
“As you wish, but let’s get you out of harm’s way. Up the steps there.”
She did as he bid, and he followed her up, his eyes level with her swaying hips. Once up top, she crossed over to the railing. Joining her there, he realized that the maid was right behind him. She was going to be an inconvenience, but he could work around her.
“Why Revenge?” Lady Anne asked quietly.
“Why did you name your ship Revenge?”
Planting his elbows on the railing, he clasped his hands together and stared at the black water beneath them. He’d done similarly the first time the ship on which Sebastian had left him had drawn away from the harbor. He’d thought the sea mirrored his soul. The next morning it had been a brilliant blue that had given him hope once again. “For a good many years the need for revenge gave purpose to my life. It seemed an appropriate name for a ship that would bring me untold wealth.”
“It’s bad form to speak of money.”
“You asked.” He shifted his gaze over to her. She, too, was looking out, and he wondered if she was imagining her meeting with her fiancé.
“Whom did you wish revenge against?” she asked.
“I don’t know you well enough to share that tale with you.”
She did glance over at him then. “I suspect you’re a very complicated man, Captain.”
“Not really. I see something I want and I take it. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.”
She looked back out as the ship gave several creaks and moans. A sudden lurch and it was moving slowly through the water.
“I was under the impression you had a fast ship,” she said.
“Not when we’re in the harbor. We have little moon by which to see. You could have hardly picked a worse night. A daytime departure would have been better.”
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