For ten years, Kathryn has struggled to survive in a war-torn region that used to be part of the United States. Her country ripped apart and her husband presumed dead, she and her son need a miracle to find safe passage to the West. She’s not expecting that miracle to come in the form of Captain Brett Logan when he stumbles, injured, onto her front porch.
A privateer for the Republic of Texas, Logan keeps one eye on the horizon and one hand on his sidearm, knowing the life of a modern-day pirate is often short. When an enemy bomb nearly ends him, Kathryn nurses him back to health. Against her better judgment, she’s drawn to the enigmatic man with his tattoos and battle scars.
Kate finds shelter in Logan’s arms—and his bed. The captain navigates her body with the same skill that he sails the seven seas. The heat of their passion gives way to deeper currents. But with danger surrounding them, they must struggle to stay together and survive.
“Kate, do you have a razor?” Logan rubbed at his face, an inch of beard covering his jaw and chin.
“Sort of.” From a drawer, she produced a paring knife that had been ground to a straight edge. “Jonas used to use it.”
Handing it to him, she hesitated.
“If you don’t want me to use it…” he said.
She turned the handle over in her hand, plucking the blade with her thumb. “No. It’s fine, but it probably needs sharpening.”
Once finished with the whetstone, she offered him the knife, handle-side out.
“I-I don’t know how to use a straight razor,” he stammered, the implicit request hanging between them.
With a halfhearted chuckle, she pulled a chair up to the washbasin and motioned for him to sit. Stripping off his shirt, he settled into the seat, leaning back.
Wetting her fingertips, she lathered up her hands. No choice but to hover over him, she leaned in to soap his beard. His gaze flitted to her bosom and then straight ahead again, but the damage was done. Flames licked at her cheeks, racing down to her pussy. Ignoring the throbbing between her legs, she put a swipe of foam on each of his cheeks, over his chin and mustache. He looked like Santa Claus. She smiled at him and wiped lather from his lips. His mouth was softer than she’d thought it would be.
Though the weather had turned cooler, Kathryn fanned herself, heat radiating from beneath her clothes. “Do you mind if I open the kitchen window?”
“Not at all.”
She leaned across him and cranked the lever, letting in a breeze perfumed with basil and sage.
“It’s nice out today,” he said, a hitch in his voice.
“Yeah. It is.” She pulled up a chair and sat close to him. His breath smelled of her homemade peppermint toothpaste, warmth came off his skin in waves. Butterflies in her stomach distracted her for a moment but she managed to regain her focus on the task at hand.
Placing a hand on his strong shoulder, she steadied her first downward stroke. The razor scraped across his face with a scratching sound, revealing a fresh patch of hairless skin. After she’d finished one cheek, she gripped his chin with her thumb and forefinger, turning him to look the other way. His neck arched at an angle that showed off every sinewy muscle. Her gaze wandered down his body, the rise and fall of his broad chest, his pulse at the base of his throat. Kathryn took a deep breath, trying once again to ignore the fact that he was one of the most beautiful men she’d ever laid eyes on. What would he do if she leaned forward and kissed the warm spot just behind his ear? She imagined running her mouth down his neck, letting her tongue trail over his fragrant skin. Blinking away the torturous imagery, she managed to finish the shave without climbing onto his lap and covering his mouth with hers.
“There you go.” She wiped the remaining soap from his face. By accident—by accident?—she let her fingertips pass over his baby-smooth cheek. Electricity shot through her and she fought off a shiver.
His gray eyes darted from side to side and he didn’t get up as she’d expected him to. “Could you—if you don’t mind—could you wash my hair? I still can’t bend to do it and I don’t want to get my stitches wet and I hate to ask, but…”
She swallowed and wiped her hands on her apron. “Sure. It’s no problem.”
Easing his head back against the washbasin, she noticed his abs tense. “Is that position okay?”
No matter how many times she corrected herself, her gaze returned to his taut torso. In the light of day, the tattoos stood out against his tanned skin. Something about the tats intrigued her, made him seem more dangerous. Exciting. She’d never been with a man like that. Then she noticed another woman’s name scrawled across his chest.
He’s already spoken for, she reminded herself.
Wetting his hair, she brushed the fine strands away from his face. She lathered her hands again and set about scrubbing his scalp. Locks of hair slipped through her fingers like silk and more than once she smoothed them across her hand just because she liked the feel.
“Mm, that’s nice.” He looked up at her.
Her throat tight, she didn’t know how to reply. Ignoring the hammering of her heart, which echoed between her legs, she finished rinsing his hair with a few dipperfuls of water.
“Okay, you’re done.” She wiped her hands on her apron again.
“Thank you.” He sat up and blotted at rivulets of water that streamed down his sculpted neck.
“No big deal.”
He gave an impish grin. “It’s been a while since a woman has touched me like that.”
Her cheeks grew hot and she tamped down the impulse to rake her fingers through his wet locks. Before she could stop herself, she asked, “Who’s Blanca?”
“On your chest,” she pointed at the tat. “Who is she?”
He looked down at the rose on his chest. “An amazing woman who will never be mine. I’d had a bit too much tequila the night I got that tattoo, thought it might impress her. It didn’t.”
“You still have a relationship with her?”
“Not so much a relationship as an arrangement—her word, not mine.”
“Hmph. Should’ve known.”
Still toweling his hair, he asked, “What’s that mean?”
“Nothing.” Her cheeks burned hotter, anger replacing chagrin.
“It meant something.” He crossed his arms over his chest, arching an eyebrow.
“You’re just that kind of man. A girl in every port, a flagrant disregard for social standards. It’s that devil-may-care attitude that lets you stretch the limits of decency.”
“Oh yeah? How so?” His posture stiffened, he towered over her, leaning forward, his scent flooding her nostrils.
“Well, you know.” She dropped his gaze and busied herself cleaning up. “Roy says you run heroin for the Mexican cartels.
“Heroin?” Furrowing his brow, he shook his head. “No. Hell, no. I’ve never smuggled hard drugs like that.”
“‘Hard drugs?’ Am I correct in assuming you’ve run what you’d consider ‘soft drugs’?”
Again he advanced on her, too close for comfort. “Sometimes during the course of a business deal, I have to be flexible. I do favors for powerful men and they procure the medical supplies and munitions I need. But it’s only marijuana or generic Viagra, maybe counterfeit painkillers. Nothing that would ever hurt anyone.”
“It could hurt me and my son, having a drug smuggler in the house.”
He narrowed his eyes. “But when I was just a gun-running pirate, that was okay?”
Kathryn slammed her hand on the counter. “As soon as you’re stable to travel, I want you out of my house.”
“What’s with you? First you don’t like me because I’m a Texan and Texans didn’t do enough to keep the
Union together. Now you don’t like me because I’m willing to go too far for a cause I believe in. You’re an awfully hard woman to please.”
“Why on earth are you trying to please me in the first place?”
His gaze locked with hers and he sighed, but gave her no answer.
Of all the stubborn, skirt-chasing, infuriating men. Kathryn ground her teeth. He talked about casual sex and smuggling dope as if these activities were as normal as eating breakfast. A man who tattooed himself with a woman’s name on a drunken whim? Had he no respect, no boundaries?
Throwing her hands in the air, she headed for her bedroom, but Logan stepped in front of her. At first she thought it an act of aggression, but instead of malice or annoyance on his face, she saw something else flame in his eyes. One large, work-calloused hand glanced over her cheek and he brushed away a stray lock of hair.
“What do you think—?” she began to object. He put a finger to her lips and caught her around the waist.
More barbed indignation sprang to mind but her mouth refused to cooperate. In fact her whole body had turned mutinous at the feel of his warm skin. Visions of her dream flashed through her mind.
His lips pressed to hers. Not a peck or a whisper of a kiss, but a full measure of passion. His tongue sought out hers, hot breath against her cheek, strong arms bound her torso to his. She gripped his shoulders, struggling to resist the fire raging between her thighs.
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