Wydawca: Blue Davis Kategoria: Obyczajowe i romanse Język: angielski Rok wydania: 2017

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Opis ebooka Mint - Blue Davis

Lexi Steele began as a jewel thief in Seattle. Brave, clever and a little reckless, she defied the status quo while satisfying her hunger for an adrenaline high. When a high-rise diamond heist went wrong, she promised herself to stick to retrieving unclaimed gold, which was less likely to lead to violent situations.Did she sentence herself to a boring life? Hardly. She now trots around the globe, seeking lost treasure of the world. There's just one problem. As exciting as her life is, she has no one to share it with.James Ashton, her chief rival in the business, would love to fix this problem for her. Too bad they have been competing in the same field for almost a decade. Granted, they've been flirting for almost that whole time, but at the end of the day, business has always been business.When Lexi discovers that she needs a man to help her deal with locals in Haiti, she makes a somewhat reluctant offer to split the take with him in return for a temporary partnership. Is the implausible partnership doomed from start, or will they cooperate and learn to work together?When events take a turn for the worse, she and James must rely on each other to escape back to the States with the gold. Do they lay aside their differences and fight to succeed or do they push each other away and end in failure?This action-packed love adventure is a standalone and contains sex and violence--for adults only.Interview with Author Blue DavisWho is the female main character?This isn’t your typical damsel-in-distress story. Lexi is like a cross between Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft and Letty from The Fast & the Furious. She is cunning and street-smart and is not to be underestimated.Who is the male main character?He’s a hottie--muscle-bound, smooth-talking. He’s trouble.Is this a series or stand-alone?Standalone with HEAWhat is the steam level?All the way. Super caliente, mind-blowing sex.What type of book can a reader expect?This is a BWWM interracial adventure romance, with a hint of humor and a satisfying ending. It's suspenseful, sexy, and contains some really cool fight scenes. Enjoy!  

Opinie o ebooku Mint - Blue Davis

Fragment ebooka Mint - Blue Davis

MINT

Love of Thieves

Blue Davis

Contents

For Subscribers

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

About Blue Davis

Other Books by Blue Davis:

Copyright © 2016 by Blue Davis

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Created with Vellum

For Subscribers

Limited Time Only

Have you downloaded your FREE Russian Mafia Romance book yet? It’s waiting for you over at www.bluedavis.com.

This book is dedicated to all romance readers. Thank you! You make it all possible.

Chapter 1

Lexi

In four days from now, she could find something that would make her jaw-dropping rich, but there was a catch.

Things were busy at the Haitian harbor on that Tuesday morning. The heat and stress combination made Lexi’s forehead break into a light sweat. She rubbed her clammy palm against her khaki pants. Dozens of tall, slim locals rushed around, trading food for money, carrying crates of supplies, or chatting in the local language. Honking trucks blended up dust into the port market, creating a thin, smoky haze. Umbrellas covered sweltering fish and vegetables, while street vendors packed the dirty paths, their voices barely audible over hammering Creole music. The vessels sat still in the harbor. Old fishing boats, big trawlers, small ferries.

Curious eyes watched her. A tall, native man neared.

Her heart accelerated as anxiety twisted her gut. She swallowed and gripped her bag closer.

“You want boat?” The man’s arms fluttered through the air, wafting a blend of fuel and fish toward her.

She squared her shoulders. “Yes. I want a boat.”

He rubbed his chin. “I have no boat. But you give me $50, I tell you where boat is,” he spluttered.

Lexi’s jaw stiffened, as she tried to hide any sign of irritation her face may have shown. How annoying. Are you here to help me or to hustle me? A few fishermen lined the harbor up ahead, preparing and cleaning their vessels. She picked up her pace, trying to shake the guy. “Uh, no thanks, I’m fine. Thanks for your help,” she asserted, forcing her lips to smile.

The man froze and stared at her. After a while, he blended in with the others who stared.

She lowered her head under a sun hat.

A group of teenagers yelled in the corner as one of them threw dice in to the dirt. Two of the boys stood up chest to chest, mad-dogging each other. Rage burned in their reddened eyes.

Her trembling hands straightened her cotton blouse as she stepped foot onto the wooden dock.

The dock silenced. Two tall men glared at her as she approached. The first had arms folded over his chest. The other looked like a pit bull chewing something. He spat it out and raised his chin.

Be nice, be polite and be assertive. And above all, don’t mess this up. “Hi,” she said, smoothing a lock of hair behind her ear. “I’d like to rent a boat.”

The tallest one gave her a once-over and sneered. “You?”

Her eyes narrowed hard onto the lean man. “Yes… me.”

“And how you gon’ steer?” He looked her dead in the eye. He jutted out his chest and moved his foot to the side while he placed a hand on his hip. With a smug look on his face, he protruded his lips and batted his eyelashes while pretending to grip a steering wheel.

She tried to stop her eyes from rolling. Yeah, I get it. You’re a woman. How clever.

The other man hit him on the shoulder and keeled over to his knees in hearty laughter.

The man stared at her and then burst out into a full-bellied laugh. “I don’t have no boat for no woman,” he bellowed.

Lexi’s jaw clenched. What difference does it make whether I’m a woman or a man? Shouldn’t he be asking where the boat is going, instead of focusing on gender? Whatever. She marched back up to the main platform and scouted another fisherman polishing the side panel of a trawler. She plodded toward him. “I’m interested in the boat,” she blurted out.

The man continued to smooth his rag along the exterior.

The market clamor blared in her ear. She leaned in and spoke louder. “How much for a rental?”

He mumbled something in the native language and turned his back to her. He stepped onto the deck and polished a metal rail.

Her blood heated to a simmer as every muscle in her body tensed. Is he seriously ignoring me? The old man pissed her off. Beads of sweat formed above her upper lip. Let me make myself clear. “I’ll pay you. I have money.”

The fisherman stuck his nose in the air. “Boat not for sale.”

“I only need it for a few days,” she informed, feeling her stern eyes collapse into a desperate plea for help.

He shook his head. “Woman break boat. Boat need to be fixed. Guess who must pay to fix boat?” His eyes beat on her ferociously. “I pay to fix boat,” he proclaimed, thumbing a finger to his chest and answering his own question.

Her breath stopped short. I’ve got to convince him. If he didn’t budge, she would have to call Carl and tell him the news of how she was utterly incapable of doing her part of the job in Haiti. No way. I’m not calling that jackass.I’m getting a boat if it kills me. She drew air into her heated nostrils. “I’m not gonna wreck it. I’m going out to Strife Island. It’s not far from here. You can take me.”

The man narrowed his rigid, shady eyes on her. His eyebrows knitted as he stepped away and ran his rag along the panel again.

No. Failure is not an option.“Please,” she pleaded.

He swiped a dismissive hand at her and shook his head.

Her throat constricted as she turned around to climb the steps.

The captain at the next boat suddenly busied himself by rushing to the other side of the boat.

The other boat captains looked equally occupied, tending to their boat cleaning, carrying boxes and tools around, or generally standing facing the other direction.

Her shoulders sunk as she ambled to the dock. Her mind scrambled. Now what? Carl? I can’t call him. Why can’t these assholes help me for once instead of making things impossible for me? A dull pain dug its way into the base of her neck.

She rolled her eyes as she considered the alternatives. She despised having to dial his number. In a utopia, she would be an independent woman, free of all jerks. Especially ones named Carl Devereux. If only I had an all-woman team. We’d look for the treasure, transport it, and then sell it. Done. No greedy man-pigs intercepting the deal halfway there. But it was a man’s world.

She certainly didn’t need a man for the usual basics like sex. She had that covered by using a vibrator to keep her hormones at sustainable defcon level three. And frankly, she didn’t understand all the hoopla. Sex was the most overrated activity on the planet. Hell, her skilled dildo-maneuvering spoke volumes compared to Carl’s feeble attempts to use his own dick. No thank you. Cocks came with baggage.

Unfortunately, she hadn’t yet found a way to dispose of men for other things--like her heists, for instance. Her perilous, death-defying, one-woman heists. It was one-woman because she did all the work. Then after she was victorious, a free-loader such as Carl would settle into his comfortable armchair and make a few calls to buyers on the black market.

Her eyes closed while she shook her head. She thumbed through her phone and called the jackass. Her vision dimmed as she looked at the boats in the harbor.

His alto voice answered. He didn’t say hello, in a typical Carl way. He propelled himself above simple decencies like that. “Got the coins?” He knew it was her and answered with an eager voice.

Carl was a busy man, and she didn’t expect him to know her schedule. He moved product for hunters and jewel thieves all over the world.

Her cheeks scrunched upward as she considered how to tell him how difficult it was to secure anything at the harbor. “Not quite. I don’t even have a boat to get out there.”

“What? I’m all ready to move those coins, baby. Just bring them to daddy,” he purred. He was good at his job too, unfortunately. That meant that he was invaluable. Truth be told, she didn’t know how to sell anything on the black market herself. It was Carl that had brought her in to the treasure hunting business years ago. She needed him and she hated that. He sold gold with his little pinky. But today, he was too eager. And his mood was too good. And besides that, she could nearly feel his grubby fingers riding up her blouse while only on the phone with the scoundrel.

She curled her upper lip. “I will. I just need to get the boat. It’s harder than I thought.”

“I’m harder than you thought,” he murmured under his breath.

Nausea rose to her stomach as she held the phone at a distance. She placed Carl back on her ear. “What?” You asshat. She left the “asshat” part off and dared him to repeat what he had just said.

Silence stretched the air between them. “Oh, nothing.”

She pulled in one deep breath of air. You listen to me real good, jerk-off. “Carl. You and I have a strict business relationship.” Her shoulder muscles straightened into a firm stance. “Whatever happened between you and me is now in the past.”

Carl snickered and sucked air through his front teeth. “Tsss. You weren’t saying that when I was giving it to you raw the other day. You wasn’t saying anything at all. You was just moanin’ and moanin’. You took me in real good.”

“The other day? That was four years ago, Carl. We’re done now. Please don’t make me find someone else to work with.” She threatened as if she already had someone to work with. There was no one else. Or was there? Her thoughts leaped to an alternative.

James.

Her body heated into a heightened arousal. Her thighs closed together as she tried to shake the image of hot, hard James. She wasn’t going to call him and be desperate. She needed a boat, not a scorching hot man-stud.

Carl cleared his throat. “I’m just messin’ with ya. Now, how about this? I need to finish a few things up here in N’awlins, and then I’ll grab my boys and come meet you there? We’ll get the gold, bring it back, sell it hot and have ourselves a nice bottle of Champaign in those nice glasses from my china cabinet. Whatcha’ think about that now?”

She tightened her lips. Oh hell no, you’re not coming down here. “I don’t think so.”

“Why not? Ain’t nobody else volunteering to help your ass out. Isn’t it dangerous down there?”

“Yes.” She kept her replies brief. The phone convo had gone on far too long.

He paused. “Then why don’t you let me come down there and straighten things out for you?”

She closed her eyes. He sounded like a needy child. “No. I wanted to see if you had any contacts in Port-au-Prince. That’s all.”

Carl’s voice hollowed. “I don’t know a single soul in Haiti.”

“Oh. Okay. Well, I gotta go. I need to find someone that can get me a boat.” She itched to settle her mind back on…James. Carl was standing in the way of her grasping a nagging arousal. Heat rose from her upper thighs and centered in her core. She shut her eyes and covered the quiet whimper that escaped her mouth.

Carl’s whine interrupted. “Wait. Let me come help you… I’m beggin’ you, baby girl. Come on now. Don’t do me like this.”

James’ satisfying image hot-ballooned away, and she was left with the drowning reality of Carl the Clown at her ear.

Carl’s slimy-gelled dark hair and tanned skin popped into her mind. His light brown eyes had once made her blush. She had gotten tipsy one night on New Year’s and let things get way past her control. Lost her virginity to the man and he ended up asking her to marry him. She said no, but instead moved in with him and gave him a five-year raincheck on the wedding.

Okay, so it wasn’t entirely well-planned out. Whatever. Later, a disastrous event cut the five-year term short.

How could he still be trying four years later? He was laughable.

She chuckled. And come help me? Please. His money-hungry hands are only receiving the amount I allow him to have.

“I’ll be in touch when I get back up,” she clicked off the phone. You stay the fuck back in New Orleans. I’m not that desperate.

A little girl stood below, stretching her hands out. Her large, sunken eyes matched cheeks that caved into her mouth. Her eyes softened as she stared at Lexi.

Lexi broke into an immediate smile.

She smiled back and watched her through big, brown eyes.

“Hi there,” Lexi beamed, bending to meet the corn-rowed girl at eye level. “Your hair’s super cute. I want to get myself some braids like that. Think it’ll look good?” She tugged on her long black mane.

The girl smiled, closed her eyes, and nodded.

An aha moment flashed through Lexi’s mind. She reached in her pocket, brought out four Haitian coins, and held them in front of the girl’s bright eyes. “You want?”

The little girl bobbed her head, her eyes twinkling.

“Okay,” she said. “All you have to do is tell me who rents the boats.”

The girl shrugged and frowned.

“Okay. Uhh, where’s your mother? I’d like to ask her something.”

She shook her head.

Lexi lowered her shoulders and looked at the sweet girl again. She stammered. “Uh… Mother?” She stood up and place an index finger on her cheek. “Mère?”

The girl raised her eyebrows and opened her mouth. She pointed at a man standing behind a food stand, then ran and hid behind his leg.

The man faced toward her with his eyes closed, and a warm expression on his face. “Manman,” he offered. “In our language, it’s manman.”

Lexi delivered an immediate apology and cursed herself for not having learned a few basic words of the language. “I’m sorry. I was asking for her mother.”

The man nodded. “She died of childbirth when the girl was born.” The man opened his eyelids, to show white eyes with pupils of colorless gray. “She used to run this food stand. I followed along after her.”

The man was blind. Cook and serve fried plantains while blind? Amazing. He stirred the food around in hot oil.

A sudden sorrow washed over her. He missed his wife. His pained expression told everything. “Oh. I’m sorry.”

“No need to be. She be back. Another time. Another place.” His quick smile revealed a missing tooth.

The aroma of plantains wafted to her nose. It smelled darn good, and it was already afternoon. She cleared her throat and extended a single finger into the air. “Smells incredible. One please,” she chirped, inhaling the scent of the local fare.

The man scooped up a few of the plantains and put them on a paper tray.

Lexi lifted her chin. “I was wondering, sir, if you knew who rents boats around here.”

“It’s no good, dear.”

She held her breath. “What do you mean?”

He put his tongs on the counter and stood still. “Nobody gon’ to rent to woman. You a very nice woman, but nobody gon’ rent to ya. I’d help, but I can’t see nothing. Most I can do is tell you that you ain’t never gon’ get no boat without no man here.”

“I see.” she grumbled, half-turning. Her chest plundered. “Well, thanks for your advice.”

He asked for a meager sum of money for the national plantain dish.

She fished into her wallet and came out with three or four times the amount. She handed it to him, then knelt down to the little girl.

The cute girl came out from hiding behind her father’s leg and peered at her with big, rounded eyes.

Lexi held the coins out at an arm’s length. “Here you go.”

The girl uncurled her hand and yielded to a toothy grin.

“You earned it,” Lexi remarked, smiling at her sweet expression. The girl and her father were adorable. Lexi was no millionaire--yet--but she hoped the extra money could go towards something satisfying for the two of them. Besides, she could afford to donate money now, because she’d be a rich woman by Friday.

The man flipped through the paper bills, feeling their texture and size. “I may be blind, but I can still see this is way too much money, girl of God.” He handed a few of the currency notes back to her.

She wanted him to have the money for a rainy day. She didn’t take it, but instead browsed for an opening in the crowd. “Thanks for the help,” she said, stepping away.

He nodded and held his hand up as if to flag her down before she hurried away. He faced toward her, his magical aura filling the space between them. If he had eyes, they would have penetrated her soul.

She stood still. “Yes?”

His gray eyes pinpointed her face. “You don’t have to go it alone.”

She licked her lips and swallowed. Her vision of him blurred through tears, so she drew in a breath and shook it off. Whatever. He meant well, but he didn’t even know her. And she was fine ‘going it’ alone. She was better than fine. She was damn happy. “Okay,” she muttered. It was all she could manage.

The market crowd thinned as she polished off the last of her plantains. The food had diverted her from the dismal outlook and now reality shattered in. It was late. She hadn’t met her goal of finding the boat. There’s no way on earth Carl is coming here. She needed him to move the product, not find the product.

And James. James Ashton. A deep-rooted seed of want fluttered through her belly when she pronounced his name aloud. Should she risk calling him? He’d want his fair share. He wouldn’t travel to Haiti for free, and that wouldn’t be cool of her to ask. She didn’t want favors from anyone in the biz because they kept scores. And they never forgot favors.

People stared again, glaring at her through hollow eyes. One man in a collared black-knit shirt stopped and rubbed his chest as he furrowed his eyebrows at her. He broke into a peculiar grin.

Her body stiffened as she marched in the other direction toward the hotel. She ducked her head under her cap as she clutched her purse tight. How am I going to get that flippin’ boat?

Rowdy teenagers approached. A tight lump formed in her esophagus. A hand flashed in front of her face and disappeared.

She gasped. The fist had yanked single strands of hair from her head. An empty air swept the surface of her skin. What the…? Her eyes darted down to her own chest. My necklace! Her throat constricted a scream. The boys laughed and picked up speed up the sidewalk.

Hood rats. She fought to control her trembling jaw. Why couldn’t I remember to remove that necklace? The necklace was of little importance and she hadn’t been dumb enough to wear something of value to Haiti. Still, the boys served as a warning. A sudden chill spread across her back. Darkness settled into the street, and she saw creeps pouring out of their cardboard shacks into the dusty twilight. She wanted to be back safe at the hotel now.

She gathered her thick brown stock of hair up into her hat and quickened her pace. The lodge sat in the same neighborhood as the harbor, and granted it was on the better side of town, but she couldn’t walk fast enough. Her head clouded into a thick mass of tearful emotion as she pulled open the glass door to the lobby. A blast of cold air hit her face. Oh thank god. She gulped a full breath of air as she slid into a rust lounge seat in the lobby. Her hand covered her gaped mouth as tears fought to exit her glazed eyes.

“Miss?” A suited man leaned over the front desk, his concerned voice articulating the perfect English sentence. “How did you enjoy our lovely town this afternoon?”

She drew in a quick breath and cleared her throat. “Yes, it’s fine. It’s a fine city. I did the whole tourist loop today,” she lied. No one should discover why she was in town. Letting in people on the slightest details could be dangerous and she preferred people to believe she was here on some touristy volunteer trip. She straightened her blouse and whipped a few strands of hair behind her ear.

The man squared his shoulders, and lifted his head, but looked confused. He spread his lips into a thin grin. “Wonderful. May I help you find anything? Anything at all?”

“No, I’m quite fine. I was just resting a bit before heading up,” she explained, standing to her feet. She drew her bag closer into her shoulder and forced a smile. Her head bounced into a nod as she squeaked by and marched directly to her room through the hallway. What was I thinking to come out here by myself? Stupid, stupid decision. Her mind panicked. What the hell was she going to do now?

She checked the door lock and threw her bag on the bed. She wiped her forehead with the back of her hand. The stench of fear and fish radiated from her underarms.

She undressed until she was naked, then studied her hideous scars in the bathroom mirror. The five dimpled holes started at her shoulder and trailed to her the top of her right breast. Ugly. No man had seen her since Carl, and no man ever would again. Most of the men she encountered hungered for money, anyway.

That’s the way it worked in this business. Friends were enemies. Trust no one. Everybody hunted and scavenged for something. They were like ravens in the shadows, swooping in to thieve whatever shine they might find.

As for her, sometimes she was lucky and sometimes she wasn’t. Today had been awful.

The cold shower water never turned hot. Her mind cleared to focus again on the one man who might help her. A tingling pleasure ached her insides. Her pores broke into a sweat as she thought of the sensuous blond hairs that laced his sculpted forearms. She pushed herself into the shower and let icy water pour onto her. It calmed her and soothed her feverish body. She shivered now, her body fighting the debilitating shock. James. The name fluttered from her lips. The question is, will he screw everything up?

Chapter 2

James

The click of the ball hitting his golf club sent chills to James’ back. “This is what I come out here for, bro. Does it every time.” He shivered as his stylish caddy took the club from him. A cool air hit his polo as he sat in the cart.

His brother raised his eyebrows as he pulled himself into the golf cart. Some had mistaken them for identical twins, but Zack was three years older than James, and he made sure he knew that fact on the regular basis. “Your game’s improving,” Zack informed.

Zack’s comments were always sneaky. And sometimes they were downright manipulative. He cared about him and his other brothers—James wasn’t denying that. He just cared in strange ways. James pulled in a deep breath. “It is.”

The caddy stopped the cart in front of the next hole on the course.

His cell phone rang. The name “Lexi” appeared on the display. A sudden flush of warmth spread across his groin. A spark of heat assaulted his chest. “I need to take this.”

It was her. The one he’d thought about on the daily basis for the last ten years. A smile rose to is lips. “James Ashton speaking.”

“Hi James. It’s Lexi,” a familiar voice cooed from the other line.

The way she pronounced her own name made him shudder into a rhythmic pleasure-dome. He always answered her calls as if he had no idea who it was, just to hear her silky voice pronounce that sassy name of hers. “Well, hello,” he greeted.

“Hi. What are you up to?”

He could tell her he was lounging it up and drinking Mojitos on the course, but why bother? She was always so unimpressed with his money. It fascinated him that she dug her own gold, literally. “No, my dear Lexi. The question is, what are you up to? I haven’t heard from you in a while.”

A moment of silence passed before she spoke. “I’m in Haiti.”

His heart thudded against his chest. Dangerous place. The main city was full of rapists and kidnappers hungry for American tourists. What the hell was she doing there? The greens felt stiff under his feet. He lifted his index finger up to Zack. “What is there to do in Haiti?”

“You know what I’m doing here, James.”

Her voice made his body throb. He’d needed to fuck her from the first moment he listened to her sweet, tender sound. She’d called him to ask him for a contact number. He hadn’t even met her in person until six months afterward. He just ached to consume whatever was attached to that sultry voice and wanted to coax it into moaning his name or better yet, screaming it. Heat rose to his neck.

He’d preferred that she’d say she was baking a cake or dropping her niece off at school, or even researching one of her next cute treasure hunts. But instead, she was in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. He flapped the top of his shirt against his chest to get air. “No, I don’t. Fill me in.”

“I have a map,” she announced.

The curvy girl hovering over a map with sexy red lips and glasses invaded his mind. He held the thought, then composed himself. “And what does your map say?”

“Let’s just say, I have the inside scoop on where Black Caesar hid his stash.” She had a fresh openness to her as if slipping his swollen cock into the folds of her steaming hot flesh was a viable option. But it was never that easy.

She had clapped her legs shut like a music teacher slamming a piano whenever they saw each other in person. Only thing was, his fingers were always caught under hard wood, mashed against the keys. She’d rejected him multiple times. It pained him, but one day the clouds would part and her velvety voice box would moan ‘yes’. It was only a matter of time.

He tried to focus on the strange words coming from her mouth. He suddenly realized he had no idea what she was talking about. He scratched his temple. “Who the heck is Black Caesar?”

Lexi laughed. “You don’t know who Black Caesar is?”

He was stumped. The name didn’t sound familiar, though he wasn’t up on his current events. “Should I be familiar with Black Caesar?”

She paused. “Oh, I forgot, you’re not black,” she teased. “Only my people care about things like this.”

James laughed. “Wait, you thought I was black?”

Lexi let out a breathy chortle. “That’s cute, James. He’s a black pirate that used to ride with Teach,” she explained.

James rocked his head back. “Really? The Edward Teach?”

“Yes. While everybody’s hovering over Teach, I’m busy looking for the lesser-known pirate’s gold.”

Her smooth brown arms flashed in front of him. He imagined her pretty eyes looking at him, drinking him in. “Smart move.”

He meant it. She knew her stuff. Every time they had spoken on the phone she was either studying something or trying to get the information out of him. She was a hell of a lot more resourceful than others in the industry. He had seen the girl take on treasure hunting with ambition and intelligence. And if she showed up on the scene, it’s because she’d poured over her research ahead of time.

“Yeah. There’s only one problem though,” she added.

“And what would that be?”

“I have to get to the other island and I need help to secure a boat.”

“Okay,” he responded, letting his voice trail higher at the end.

She said nothing on the other end.

“And you need me to come help you get a boat.”

Lexi drew out a quick breath. “Yes.”

“There’s always a catch, isn’t there?”

The golf course greens looked so lush. A blond girl tried to converse with his brother. Zack took out his cell phone and texted, proving that he had no interest in girls and that he’d probably be pissed if James abandoned him. Zack was pure business. If his big brother had set aside two or three days to hang out with him, he’d better damn well be there. He rubbed his chest. “I’m busy these days.”

“It sounds like you’re playing golf, James. I can hear the club hitting the ball,” she mocked.

“Yeah, you hear that? Doesn’t that sound like heaven to the ears?”

“I hate golf. You should come out here and play a real sport.”

She loved to bash his game. That was part of her game and he lavished in it. Her tongue was so fucking daring. He wanted to take it and curl it into his mouth. “Have you tried to go to the harbor and see if anybody will give you a lift?”

“Already tried that.”

His mind scrambled to come up with an alternative. “Have you… tried to hire a captain?”

Lexi sighed. “You know what? Forget it.” Her tone fell flat. “I got the wrong man.”

His stomach clenched. She wasn’t getting away with that shit. “Whoa. I only… hello?” Silence. “Hello?” He looked at the blank screen on the phone and rolled his bottom lip into his mouth while standing still for a moment. He pocketed his phone and walked back to the cart. I’m the right man, dammit.

His brother gaped his mouth open when he saw him. “You look like a freight train hit you.”

He closed his eyes and rubbed the tiny nerves in his neck. “This girl’s killing me.”

“Who? Sheila?”

His heart pounded. “No. Fuck Sheila. I’m talking about this other girl. Lexi. I’ve been trying to get into her pants for ten years now. She’s not climbing all over me like the other girls.”

“Should she be?”

Zack talked so matter-of-factly that he wanted to grab his collar and choke him with it. He talked as if he knew what it was like to be tormented by this girl year after year with absolutely no advancement.

“Forget about her.” Zack advised. “Isn’t there enough fish to choose from?”

James took a club from the cart. “Yeah, you’re right, bro. Fuck it.”

“Yes. Let’s enjoy. Game’s good, weather’s nice. Cocktails tonight, poolside.” He raised his eyebrow. “There’s bound to be someone here that sparks your interest.”

There never was. Girls had been throwing themselves at him for as long as he could remember. They always wanted something from him. He was a regular giving machine. Sex, money, gifts. At least it made him feel like he wasn’t missing out on anything.

Lexi wanted things from him too. It was never the right things though. She wanted information. Not cock, not money. Just fucking info.

He and Zack played for three hours. The click of the ball irritated him, but he played quietly, pondering her hot lips asking him to come down there. Fuck, she was so sexy. She didn’t even realize it either.

He won the game—first time beating his older brother, but he was still troubled.

It wasn’t only information she needed this time. She had called him asking for help. That was a first. It was bizarre of Lexi to ask for assistance from anybody. You could literally smell independence oozing off of her. She’d frequently made it clear to him she didn’t need his help. So why was she asking for it now? What if she was in danger? He’d never forgive himself if something were to happen to her.

Lunch tasted bland. He chewed on the rubbery chicken and gulped it. “The thing is… she’s super cute.”

Zack dropped his fork. “Oh, are we back on that?”

Back on it? He had never left it. This girl had been plaguing his dreams for centuries. He needed to get down there and fuck her so he could sooth his burning erection. That’s all it was. “Now, wait a minute. I feel like I’m missing an opportunity here. This girl’s over there, she’s looking for treasure from some pirate guy I never heard of. It could be fun. Plus, she’s fucking hot.”

Zack’s eyebrows drew in. “Does walking around for days with a shovel sound exciting to you?”

“If you’re talking about last year at the dunes, that wasn’t fun ‘cause it was just me and you and we didn’t discover shit. You bring a hottie on the hunt, things turn around real quick,” James reasoned. “This girl’s smart too. She’ll find us something.”

“When are you going to grow up? Do you think Dad died and left the inheritance so you could fling it all over globe?”

Rage plundered through James’ veins. “Who are you to decide what Dad wanted?”

Zack tightened his jaw. “Be a man. Go to work like the rest of the family.”

“How dare you belittle activities I enjoy just because I’m not sponging sweat from my brow? I think he wanted us to be happy and passionate about life, not hammering away at some meaningless office project.”

“We’re running the family business, James. That’s what he wanted. You’re out there chasing tail and treasure like a fucking pirate, and we’re continuing the legacy.”

His brother had a way with words that made his life sound useless. His words stung hard.

“You know what? Fuck this. This girl needs me. The needier she is, the more desperate she’ll get.”