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Thrust back in time with Mateo, a dangerous but sexy pirate, Catherine struggles to keep her world upright as wicked storms push them around the high seas. While fighting savage Indians, his superstitious crew and different time lines that confuse the hell out of both of them, Catherine is drawn more and more to Mateo. And the sex is pretty hot, too.But they both need to return to their own times. Can they find a way to save themselves and stay together, or forever be torn apart?
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A jarring sensation jolted Catherine Snowden from her nap. She sat up, glancing around at the empty beach. The only noise was the soothing sound of the waves upon the sand. Her gaze scanned the horizon, stopping on a large ship drawing closer.
Blocking the glaring sun with a hand, she squinted. Still far away, the ship appeared almost like a mirage, shimmering in the heat. It was an awesome vessel, like something out of an old movie. Even from the distance, she could hear its huge billowing sails snapping in the wind.
Moments before the ship reached the break point, activity bustled on its deck. Men ran to and fro, hauling down the sails. A large anchor splashed into the sea, and Catherine stood to watch the impressive display.
There had to be cameras somewhere, filming a new movie, but a quick glance right and left showed no crew in sight. The beach was empty. Her attention returned to the activity on deck.
The actors wore period pirate clothing, with the typical frilly shirts and black leather pants. And bandannas. Bright red bandannas with ties hanging halfway down their broad backs. She snorted. They couldn’t be any more cliché if they tried.
Amused, she watched as the “pirates” leapt into rowboats and oared like maniacs to the shore, shouting in raspy, bawdy voices the whole way.
The first rowboat lumbered over the waves and coasted to the beach. A tall, handsome rogue of a man stood up and was assisted out by a short, stocky man with a grizzled gray beard. The tall man sported a shadow on his chin and upper lip. He looked deliciously dangerous. The casting agency certainly picked the right guy.
To Catherine’s surprise, the man walked straight up to her and gave her a bold head to toe appraisal. She took a step back. It was kind of rude, no matter how intriguing this whole thing was.
The actor advanced, his eyebrow cocked with obvious amusement. A grin spread across his face, reminding Catherine of the old black and white movies, where the villain sported the same grin while twisting his handlebar mustache.
Two other rowboats arrived and, within moments, she was surrounded by several large, somewhat stinky, men.
The niggling suspicion of the dashing man staring at her so boldly grew. If she wasn’t so curious about his outlandish costume and the huge boat bobbing on the swells, she would have turned and fled.
“Are you lost?” Catherine glanced around, hoping to spot someone that might be able to help her if she needed it. The usual crowds of children and tourists should be showing up by now, but the beach was eerily void of life.
“I thought I was,” the actor grinned, the gleam in his bright blue eyes sinful. He rushed her and grabbed her around the waist, easily hefting her over his broad muscular shoulder.
“Hey!” Catherine beat his back with her fist. “Put me down. I'm not in your movie!”
The jerk ignored her and seemed oblivious to her thrashing fists. He turned to his men. “We will leave here before her man discovers she is missing.”
“But, Cap’n, what about supplies?” a rough voice said to her right.
“We have enough to make the next port. Let us depart quickly.” He climbed back into the rowboat and sat down, pulling her off his shoulder and turning her around. He wrapped his strong arms around her waist, and, although she squirmed like an eel, he held fast.
What the hell did he think he was doing? Couldn’t he tell she wasn’t in the movie?
The grizzly old sailor heaved the boat off the sand and
hopped in with a grace that belied his apparent age. The water lapped at the sides of the little boat as the sailor pushed away from the beach with his oar.
The other men followed in their rowboats, watching her with wary gazes. What in the hell was going on?
The jerk set her down on the rough, wet bottom of the boat. He held her shoulders with a firm grip, preventing her from leaping out and into the water.
“Wherever you camera people are, you better put an end to this right now! I do not consent!” she screamed as they rowed to the ship.
The waves crashed over the bow of the tiny boat, coating her in salty mist.
This couldn’t be part of the movie. Maybe it wasn’t a movie, maybe it was some hidden camera show. That would explain the lack of a visible camera crew. Still, being carried off like some captive infuriated her.
Damn it, her surfboard was still on the beach, unprotected. Any loser could swipe it.
She cupped her hands around her mouth. “If my stuff gets stolen, I’ll sue your asses off!”
The beach remained empty.
They neared the ship and Catherine looked up, awed at the sheer size of the vessel. It seemed so real. They had to have a big budget.
The other rowboat disappeared around the other side of the ship.
A crude rope ladder flew over the edge, and Catherine had to throw herself backward to avoid being hit. The ladder slapped against the side of the boat with a heavy thud.
“Climb up.” The pirate grabbed the ladder with one hand and poked her in the back with the other.
She squirmed away from his touch. “No. It’s too high.” Who were these movie people, putting innocent bystanders at risk? A fall from the top of the ladder would result in a nasty injury, if not death.
There was no way in hell she was climbing that ladder.
She changed her mind when the pirate drew a dagger from a sheath around his thigh. He motioned to the ladder with it. “Now. I will not wait any longer.”
Catherine’s mouth dropped. “Are you threatening me?”
The pirate nodded, the smile gone from his face. “Now, up. Go.”
The blade gleamed. For a movie prop, it looked wickedly sharp.
She wasn’t happy about it, but she started up the ladder. Monday, she’d speak to a lawyer on Monday to start proceedings against this company. They would pay for this.
Halfway up, she looked down over her shoulder. The pirate was right behind her, clenching the dagger in his teeth.
They had to be filming this. This was too outlandish, too silly not to be a movie.
But where were the cameras?
At the top of the ladder, a pair of burly forearms reached over and grasped her wrists. Hauling her over the edge, they unceremoniously dropped her on the deck. She gasped for breath after the long climb. A gap-toothed, bare-chested sailor smiled down at her. She could smell his foul breath and body odor from where she sat on the floor.
“Get away from me!” Catherine kicked out with her bare foot.
The pirate who’d kidnapped her swung himself over the railing, landing like a feline on the deck.
She stood and spun to face him, her fists clenched, breasts heaving. “I don’t know what movie set you came from, but I am not part of the cast!” she fumed, gritting her teeth. Her eyes darted from one corner of the ship to the other. “I want to be taken back to the beach. My belongings are still there.”
The pirate looked perplexed. Genuinely perplexed. “Moo-vie?” His voice was deep and rough, scratchy and sensual. The kind of voice that developed after years of yelling orders.
Catherine huffed. “Are you stupid? Yes, movie. TV show. Whatever you people are up to. Whatever production company you work for, I’m not part of it.” She slashed a stray wet lock of hair from her eye.
“I do not know what a ‘moo-vie’, is. Explain.” The pirate’s quirked brow infuriated Catherine. Not only did he kidnap her, but he was playing games as well.
Couldn’t he tell she wasn’t fooled?
“Oh!” She turned away. This was ridiculous, but the thought she might be on camera forced her to calm down. But then again, she would never allow the broadcast of this show. No way. A smug fury rose within her.
A small, grizzled old sailor stared hard at her, scratching his salt and pepper beard. “I don’t know about this, Captain. I think we should take ‘er back.”
The tall actor, the one who had forced her up the ladder at knifepoint, shook his head. “No, William. She will stay.”
William gave a little salute. “As you say. But the men will not like this.” He turned and joined the other pirate-types as they dragged up the gigantic iron anchor.
Catherine’s eyes widened. The smugness left her, leaving her just red hot angry. “What are they doing?” Catherine cried, running toward the men. “Hey! You can’t do that. I have to get home.” She waved her arms to distract them from their task.
They ignored her.
She spun around, confronting the “captain.” “They can’t do that.” She had no difficulty making her voice sound savage. “My wallet is on the beach. My surfboard, too.”
He studied her with a puzzled expression, then cocked one side of his lip in a wicked grin. She wanted to rip it off his face. “Yes, they can. They follow my orders.”
“Then order them to stop!” She turned to the men, who were securing the anchor to the side of the boat and pointed a shaking finger at them. “Stop it! Put that anchor back right now.”
They laughed. Raucous, brazen, uncouth laughter that grated her nerves. This was not funny. Not the least fucking bit funny.
Her face on fire, she clenched her fists at her sides and glared. She moved to the edge of the ship and peered over the side. Though the swells were large, the water wasn’t choppy. She could easily swim back to the beach. With a quick glance over her shoulder, she scrambled onto the ledge.
Before she could leap off, strong hands clamped her waist and pulled her gently down. She kicked out her feet, stubbing her toe as he set her on the deck. The flare of pain made her even more furious.
Before she could elbow him in the ribs, a loud snap drew her gaze upward. The sails had been released and caught the wind with a dramatic flourish. The ship tumbled over massive swells toward the open sea.
Something wasn’t right.
The pirate readjusted his grip and wrapped his arms around her, pinning her arms to her sides. She could smell the leather of his pants, the salt in his hair. Looking around frantically, she couldn’t see any other ships. Where were the boats carrying the camera crew?
Catherine struggled in his grasp, trying to pull her arms from his tight embrace. His forearms bulged, his biceps flexed.
He inclined his head and spoke against her neck. “Do not struggle and I will let you go.” His accent was odd, as though he had read the script, but couldn’t quite get the inflection. He wasn’t as good an actor as she first thought. But, God, his warm breath caressing her neck…
As the shoreline grew distant and disappeared, so did her hope. She ceased struggling. She would wait for her chance to sneak onto one of the rowboats. This guy couldn’t guard her forever.
Then, the whole production would pay. Her father was a lawyer, he would help her. Well, maybe, if he wasn’t too busy with his own cases. She shoved the thought of her father out of her mind and instead thought of the millions she would make from this fiasco.
The pirate smiled and touched his lips to her ear in a feather-light kiss. Shivers ran down her spine as warmth spread throughout her body, converging at the juncture between her thighs. He loosened his grip on her, and though her mind hated what he had done, her body didn’t want him to let go.
“So, what is this moo-vie you speak of?” The pirate’s eyes narrowed as he said movie, as though the pronunciation was foreign to him. He seemed cluelessly sincere, but he couldn’t be. He was an actor, he was paid to be sincere.
“You know damn well what a movie is.” Catherine returned to the railing and gazed at the receding tiny line that was the beach. Her beach. Her home.
Damn, damn, damn! Her car keys were also in her beach tote. Grounds for a lawsuit, for sure. She itched to face the production company in court.
“Where’s the director?” She whirled to face the actor, who had stepped right behind her. Her hair whipped his face and he squeezed his eyes shut. Undaunted, she grasped the front of his shirt and made a fist. She yanked him close, and pushed up on her tiptoes until she was nose to nose. “Where is he? Tell me!”
The pirate smiled before opening his eyes. They were blue, as blue as Lake Tahoe. She vacationed there, once, and jet-skied for three days straight. The lake had been unfathomable, and so, so blue…like this guy’s eyes. Her knuckles grazed his sternum. His pecs were rock hard. Catherine’s stomach fluttered despite her anger.
“I don’t understand.” He placed his hand over the fist that snagged his crisp white shirt. He pressed his callused hand against hers. “I don’t know what a ‘dee-rect-tor’ is, but I am the captain of this ship.”
He stared at her with an innocence no one, not even the best actor, could invent. He wasn’t kidding. He really had no clue what a director was, or what a movie was.
Which could only mean this insanity was all, somehow, real.
Mateo’s mind reeled. Why had they come ashore in the first place? Of course. Supplies. Fresh water. Fruit. The remaining supplies on the ship weren’t depleted to emergency levels, but something pulled him to this particular shoreline. An impulse, really.
He was glad he listened to instinct. He couldn’t believe the resemblance this woman bore to Gwendolyn. Was that why he’d taken her onboard despite the protests of his men? Because she resembled his lost love?
He watched her as she fumed on about movies and directors. Her accent was strange; her words completely foreign. His gaze trailed down her tanned, toned body. Her scandalous, attire made his cock throb, despite her ravings.
She spun to face him, her fists clenched at her sides. She was a fiery one, just like his Gwendolyn. The similarities between the two amazed him, from the dark copper shoulder length hair that framed her face to the pert dimple in her right cheek.
“Take me back to the beach.” Her voice was a growl, but, oh, so sensuous.
He shook his head. “I cannot do that.”
“Why the hell not?” Her eyes could have shot daggers. She was a vixen when she was angry. His body burned with desire.
“Because I am captain of this ship. I cannot leave you alone on foreign land.” Her man, wherever and whoever he was, was foolish to leave her alone. He didn’t deserve her.
“It’s not foreign to me!”
He squeezed his eyes shut against her suddenly shrill voice. He could do without that. Gwendolyn never screamed. “It is of no matter, you are under my protection now. I will not leave you until I find you safe harbor.” Although his words came out confidently, he had doubts. Why was this woman dressed like this? What had she meant about movies? Why did she speak so strangely? His men didn’t like her; they feared the bad luck she would bring. Had he made a mistake? This woman obviously could take care of herself.
But he had thought the same about Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn was strong, confident, a fiery lass. He’d been fooled into thinking she could handle herself.
And it was because he let down his guard that she died.
He should not have taken this woman onto his ship. A mistake committed in the heat of the moment. With her deep green eyes and slender neck, she looked so much like his Gwendolyn. But now she was on his ship, and he would protect her until he was sure she was safe.
He would not be responsible for another woman’s death.
~ * ~
Catherine stared at him, trying to decide if he was foreign or just plain slow. He didn’t look stupid, and couldn’t be, if he was the captain of this grand ship. Besides, those eyes sparkled with intelligence.
He must be foreign. But how did he end up on Coconut Beach, Florida?
She let go of his shirt. He didn’t let go of her hand. His thumb caressed her knuckle.
“Where are you from?” Catherine asked, unable to place his weird accent. Maybe it wasn’t contrived. It sounded a little Irish and a little Spanish, like a bizarre mix between the two. She also couldn’t tell his descent from his looks. To her, he looked as American as apple pie, with Hollywood blue eyes and short dark curly hair escaping from the red silk bandanna. His skin was tan and smooth, and he was tall. Really tall. He had to be about six-foot-three.
“Why, I’m from Ireland,” he said, as if it were obvious.
Maybe he had a Spanish parent. That would account for the strange blending of accents.
“Okay, then what are you doing here?”
“Where is here?”
“America,” she replied, rethinking her notion that he may be just a plain old dumb-ass.
“Amer-ica. I have not heard of it.”
Catherine’s jaw dropped. What? If he was playing a game with her, he was darn good. “Duh, America. You know, the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave?”
His look of utter confusion was like a slap in the face. She was confused, too. More than confused. She frowned.
Something about this whole situation is very, very wrong. Stranger than the fact I’ve been kidnapped and am now sailing out to sea.
A thought struck her and an unpleasant electrical feeling coiled down her spine. “What year is it?” she asked, her eyes narrowing.
“Fourteen hundred and seventy two,” the pirate replied, so totally serious that Catherine gasped. She sank to the ground with a heavy thump. Didn’t Columbus discover America in 1492? If so, this guy beat him by a full twenty years.
What was she thinking? This was ridiculous! Time travel was not possible.
The pirate squatted, searching her eyes. “What year do you think it is?” he asked, tilting his head. Like she was the one who was crazy. He rested his forearms on his knees.
She stared at his large, strong hands, her mind numb. “Uh…it’s two thousand seventeen.”
It had better be!
The pirate laughed, a deep hearty rumbling in his throat. “You amuse me, pretty maid.” He slapped his taut, leather-clad knee. She could see the outline of his quadriceps. Impressive, but not something she should be noticing right now. She tore her gaze away from his powerful legs, but his eyes were just as distracting.
“Um.” Damn, his eyes were beautiful. Oh yeah. “No, really. To me, it’s two thousand seventeen.” Catherine blinked up at him, and his gaze turned thoughtful.
“Intriguing,” came his quiet reply. “I’ve heard of such things occurring at sea, but have never experienced it myself.” He rubbed his chin and pursed his full, sensual lips.
The pirate gave her a mysterious, distant look. “Strange things, things that cannot be.”
Catherine found herself softening toward the man, despite his rough handling of her on the beach. Something had definitely thrown them both through a loop, and she began to feel a strange partnership with him. There was more to this story than what her mind was processing. She could feel it, like a ripple through her soul.
“Why did you take me?” Catherine asked, feeling an urgent need to change the subject.
“Because you are dressed indecently.” Although his tone was thoughtful, even a little haunted, his eyes again languidly trailed down the length of her body. He looked hungry, in a laid back, casual sort of way. Or maybe it was his dark lashes that made him seem relaxed. Maybe he was ravenous.
“Huh?” Catherine crossed her arms in front of her breasts in an effort to repel his lingering eyes.
“Dressed like that, you beg to be taken.”
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