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Emma Wildes

silent, the usual constant rustling and movement gone. Even the

birds ceased their insistent racket, a hushed silence hanging like a

pall over the leaves and twisted vines.

Anthony moved purposefully in front, knife in one hand, spear

in the other. Vigilant, he led them through the dense growth,

finding his way by the markers they had left on previous

excursions. Behind him Jonathan followed, carrying Jenna in his

arms, her golden head resting on his shoulder. Charles made up the

rear, transporting provisions such as food and some skins with

water from the pool. He had also strapped to his back several

sleeping mats, since they had no idea how long the storm might

rock their little island.

Because it was coming.

For one thing, the wind was rising, and by the time they left the

beach, the surf had been wild and foamy, licking the shore like a

hungry animal, washing away sand and crawling ever higher. The

hut would not survive this onslaught, and Jonathan felt a pang of

regret for all the times he had made love to Jenna there, and the

hours when they had lain and slept together.

By the time they reached the other side of the island, the sky

had turned a lurid color and the tallest trees groaned and thrashed

in the increasing gale. Anthony and Charles checked the cave first,

having a hard time lighting the torch, their faces grim and set. The

first spit of rain came as Jonathan stood outside, Jenna still nestled

against his chest, her face a little pale.

“Will we be here long?” she asked, obviously reluctant to go

inside, even when Charles whistled to let him know it was safe.

“I can’t tell you that, love,” he said with patent reassurance, the

protective feeling over his precious burden so intense he didn’t

know it was possible. His arms tightened a little around her slender

body, feeling her fragile bones, her soft vulnerability. “We’ll be

safe, that’s the important thing. Are you ready? We need to go in, I

think. Hear that roar? The storm is coming, much, I would guess,

Savage Shores


like the one that sank our ship.”

Her face lost even more color. “Yes, let’s go in.”

Ducking inside, he saw that Charles had already unrolled a

mat, and he set her on it gently. The torch flickered, shoved into a

crack in the wall and he knew it wouldn’t last long, though some

time before he and Anthony had made a journey and gathered

wood that they had piled in the corner against such an emergency.

However, the space was not ventilated as far as he knew, and

building an actual fire inside was a bad idea. If they needed light,

they had torches, but otherwise, it was going to just be the darkness

and the raging fury outside.

Anthony said in awe, “Listen to it. This morning the sun was


“It’s coming like an avalanche,” Charles remarked, wiping

sweat from his forehead with his hand, his eyes narrowed on the

doorway. “Do you remember, my lord, that time in the Alps? We

could hear something similar and realized that the mountainside

was loosening its load of snow. An entire village was wept away

before our eyes.”

“I remember,” Jonathan said, sitting down next to Jenna. “It

was incredible and horrifying at the same time.”

“This sound reminds me of the siege at Badajoz,” Anthony

offered, his face grave with memory. “We battered the fortress for

days and it began to rain, making it all the more miserable.

Wellington sent in more and more men, until we finally breached

the walls and took the town. I can still hear the constant roar of the

cannon. It went on forever.”

Always cheerful, Charles gave Jenna a bright smile. “So you

see, this is nothing. No wounded, no casualties or missing villages,

only a passing typhoon. These rock walls have been here for

thousands of years. We’ll be completely safe.”

“Only because you all planned ahead.” Her smile was wan. “I

cannot think but that I am very lucky to have three such far-sighted


Emma Wildes

men taking care of me. Unfortunately, this sound reminds me of

the night our ship went down. My father didn’t want me to come

see him in India in the first place, but I insisted. I hope he hasn’t

racked himself with guilt, thinking he should have stood firm. I

have felt guilty myself more than once, when I felt happiness and

joy here, knowing he was grieving.”

Outside a tree cracked suddenly, the crash audible even inside

the thick walls. She shivered and Jonathan reached out to touch her

face lightly, running his fingers along her perfect jaw. “Your father

was blessed by having you, just as we will be blessed by this

coming child. Come now, it needs rest, and so do you. Lie down

and sleep. We’ll be here.”

To his surprise, she did as he instructed when he eased her

back on to the pallet, amazingly asleep in no time as he held her

hand, her fingers slowly growing lax. When he looked up, he

realized Anthony, and especially Charles, grinned at him in the

sputtering light despite the furious assault of wind and rain outside.

“What?” he asked defensively.

“You should see yourself,” Charles chortled. “You are such the

tender and solicitous lover, nothing like your usual distant,

unapproachable self. All those fine ladies back in London you have

seduced and left bereft would swoon to see you so soft and caring.

If you are not the most besotted fool on the face of this earth, I will

eat the next tree that crashes to the ground.”

“That I would like to see,” Jonathan muttered, nevertheless not

letting go of Jenna’s slim hand.

Crouching closest to the doorway, Anthony also laughed. “I

agree with Charles. You should simply admit to yourself that you

are madly in love with her.”

“She’s with child on an island being storm-tossed by a violent

tropical tempest. I would hardly be human if I didn’t take great

care with her.” The protest sounded weak, even to his own ears.

“We’re human. Do you want one of us to hold her hand while

Savage Shores


she sleeps?” Charles asked innocently, his mouth twitching. Crosslegged on the stone floor, he looked smug and amused. Shaking his

head, he murmured, “Don’t bother to answer, my lord. You and

Jenna have been growing more and more attached to each other as

time passes. Anthony and I have both seen this coming. I believe,

in fact, I warned you.”

Jonathan bared his teeth in a feral smile. “Be careful lest you

push me too far. I could still castrate you both in your sleep.

Believe me, it has occurred to me.”

“I was a little afraid of that,” Charles said, only half-laughing.

A sudden great gust of wind blew in a fine spray of rain, the

sound of the pounding storm increasing outside. Anthony

murmured, “We left the beach just in time. I wonder what will be

left when this is over. I hope we brought enough food.”

“I hope the island will still be there when we try to emerge,”

Jonathan said with feeling, the howl outside frightening, even to

someone who had been through dangerous situations many times

before. “Flooding could be a problem for us, even here.” Lightly

stroking the fingers of the woman sleeping so quietly beside him,

he said, “I would give my life to keep her safe, that I do admit.”

“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.” Anthony said above the

roar of the fearsome wind. “With a child growing inside her, she

needs each one of us, and you most of all.”


Emma Wildes

Chapter 7

The beach, Jenna decided, was so littered with debris that it

was unrecognizable as the serene place they usually occupied.

Despite the brilliant sunshine and soft warm breeze, fallen trees lay

everywhere, and there were fronds and branches splayed on the

sand, along with the bodies of dead birds and the occasional sea

creature washed ashore and stranded. Three days the storm had

ravaged the island, and it had left its toll. She felt unaccountably

sorrowful for the loss of her hut, as it had been the one thing hers

alone, and a place of refuge.

“Look here.”

Glancing up, she saw Anthony was the one who shouted,

pointing at some object tangled in a mass of sodden vegetation.

Picking her way carefully, she walked over, Jonathan right behind


“What is it?” she asked, seeing a huge pile of what looked like

white cloth.

“Ship’s sail,” Jonathan explained. “Blood and thunder, it looks

like a mainsail.”

“Don’t get your hopes up,” Anthony warned, frowning, going

down on his haunches and pulling at the material. “In a storm like

that one, this could have come from miles and miles away.”

“Or close by. Maybe we should start scouting, looking to see if

there is anything on the horizon like we used to do everyday.”

“It probably sank,” Jenna said, thinking of the violence of the

wind howling outside the cave.

“Possibly,” Jonathan admitted. “But it is good to know there

Savage Shores


was a ship nearby. At the very least there might be more debris we

will find useful. There might also be survivors. Come on, Jenna,

we will walk north up the beach. Anthony, you and Charles go the

opposite direction. Shout if you see or find anything.”

Nodding, Anthony went off to find Charles. Jenna fell in step

next to Jonathan, both of them walking carefully on the littered

beach, searching among what was mostly leaves and tree limbs for

anything else, their gaze going time and again to where the azure

sea met the pure blue sky. It was almost ironic that it was such a

beautiful day and she lifted her face to the faint wind, ecstatically

happy to be out of the cave. The sun felt warm on her shoulders

and breasts, the sand soft and hot under her feet. Next to her,

Jonathan walked with athletic grace, his spear in one hand, his

knife gleaming at his lean waist. His vigilant gaze scanned the

jungle now and then, always checking for danger, always alert.

“Don’t go too far ahead,” he told her. “I am just going to take a

quick look at that pile of tree limbs over there. It appears there

could be something dark in the middle.”

Nodding, Jenna kept on walking as he clambered over a fallen

log and began to examine the twisted branches. There was a small

rise ahead, and the beach curved past it, unseen. To her complete

and utter surprise, she saw a small party of men come around the

corner, trudging through the sand. There were perhaps five or six

of them, the one in front wearing some sort of uniform even in the

heat. Halting in her tracks, she was too startled to even cry out.

Apparently, she had the same effect on them, for when the

leader caught sight of her standing only a short distance away, he

gave a sharp order and they all stopped.

The order had been in English. That fact registered dimly. His

uniform too, was familiar. As the daughter of a military man, she

recognized the insignia of a captain. For a long second, they all just

stared at each other. Then one of the men muttered, “Oh my God,

Captain Murray, I think we died in that blasted storm after all.


Emma Wildes

Look here, we’ve found heaven.”

* * * *


Even as Jonathan struggled to pull what looked like a

cannonball out of the sand, he registered the sound and the

significance sank in. Abandoning his find and leaping over the

debris, he saw Jenna just ahead, her slender golden figure like a

beautiful shimmering mirage, her long silken curls lightly moving

in the wind. A band of men were just beyond her, stopped in the

sand. She stood very still, a caricature of surprise, clad only in the

animal skin around her slim hips that did little to conceal anything.

Everything else was bare, from her long tanned legs to her lovely

firm breasts, and as far as he could see from the gawking

expression on the faces of the men staring at her, each one of them

was enjoying the view and probably could not believe their eyes.

Sprinting forward, spear in hand, Jonathan saw the leader spot

him coming, his hand going to his sword. Slowing his pace so he

would not appear so threatening, he walked to Jenna’s side, his

stance obviously protective as he stood slightly in front of her. He

probably looked at the best like a ragged pirate with his long hair

and rough-cut beard, armed with a business-like spear, guarding a

lush tropical goddess.

The man standing at the point of the group wore an English

military uniform, Jonathan realized. Opening his mouth to speak,

he was cut off as the officer, a middle-aged man with blond hair

going to gray, and sharp intelligent eyes, said sharply, “Davidson,

try the closest local dialect you know. Tell them we are here

looking for a missing part of our ship and mean them no harm.”

Obligingly one of the men began to speak in some of gibberish,

his gaze still on Jenna as if he couldn’t quite tear it away. Jonathan

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