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wasn’t quite sure whether to be insulted or to shout with laughter

Savage Shores

85

over being taken as a local heathen. Next to him, Jenna spoke first

since she was the one apparently being addressed, saying

demurely, “Jonathan, shouldn’t you tell them English would work

better. I can’t understand a word he’s saying.”

“For you,” he responded gallantly, “anything, my dear.

Captain, the lady requests our ensuing conversation be in our

native tongue, if you don’t mind.”

The expression on the face of each man in the party was so

thunderstruck it was comical. The captain finally managed to say,

“You’re English?”

Jonathan gave a very formal bow. “Jonathan Richmond, the

seventh Earl of Charbeau. Your servant, sir.”

“Good God, what are you doing here?” The captain looked

rattled, still gaping.

“We were on the
Cricket
when it was trapped in a violent

storm. The vessel sank and we landed here. There are two more of

us, Major Anthony Reeves, and Charles Blake.” He added with

feeling, “And we are very glad to see you, as you can imagine.”

“I know Reeves,” the man said, recovering a little. “Damned

fine officer…excuse me, ma’am.”

Since she was standing there half-naked, Jenna merely lifted

her fine brows, managing somehow to look every inch the lady

despite the fact that the light breeze blew her glorious hair across

her bare breasts, exposing those generous curves for the avid

stares. She laughed lightly, “Don’t apologize, Captain. I would

venture a guess you also know my father, General Hayward.”

“You—you are his daughter—oh my God in heaven, she was

lost at sea. I remembered reading it…” The man swallowed,

stammering, a fine sheen of sweat gracing his brow, no doubt

resulting from the fact he’d been ogling the admittedly spectacular

bosom of the daughter of the most important man in British

military history since Wellington. Clearing his throat, he managed

to say credibly, “I am Captain Murray, at your service in every

86

Emma Wildes

way.”

“If you are looking for your sail, we found it this morning,”

Jonathan informed him. “I’ll be happy to show you where it is.”

The captain bowed. “And once we make some minor repairs,

I’ll be honored to give you safe passage to the nearest port where

you can catch a ship for England.”

“It’s a bargain,” Jonathan said dryly. “Come on, Jenna.”

Taking her hand in an act of sheer male possession, he started to

lead her down the beach. Behind them he heard the captain bellow,

“Follow me, men.” Then he added in a firm low tone, “And if I

catch any one of you staring at the young lady, I’ll have you

flogged, understand?”

* * * *

Leaning back, Jenna closed her eyes in bliss. “Tea,” she

whispered. “I am drinking tea again. I didn’t realize how much I

missed it.” She sipped the beverage, holding the warm cup in her

hands, leaning back against a soft pillow.

Jonathan laughed, buttoning his white shirt, tucking the ends

into dark trousers that were a shade tight and a tad too short. “I

don’t know if I missed all the confining clothing, however. It feels

distinctly odd to don a shirt after nearly half a year.”

“I feel a little offended I am not invited to dine with the captain

as well,” she said teasingly, reclining on the bunk of the spacious

cabin, watching him dress in the borrowed clothes. “Though, I

guess I won’t complain. I am so tired from all the excitement I

could sleep for a year.”

“You cannot appear at the table in your island attire or you

would cause a riot. Neither can you only wear a man’s shirt, even

if it covers you to mid-knee,” he remarked, turning and lifting one

dark brow. “It will take a while to sink in, but we are all going to

have to readjust to civilized clothing and expected behavior. For

Savage Shores

87

my part, I am glad to be able to shave.” He fingered his smooth

jaw. “I hate a beard.”

“If we are supposed to be so civilized and polite, how on earth

is it expected that you will join me in this cabin then?” She was

curious how a man who clearly revered her father like Captain

Murray would allow the earl to share her bed on his ship.

Jonathan said autocratically, “Because I informed the captain I

would be. I am Charbeau, and there are some advantages to having

an aristocratic title. I doubt Murray even has the slightest idea how

to deal with the awkwardness of finding you half-naked on an

island with three men. I simply made it clear you were mine and I

would sleep here with you.”

Gazing at his tall, well-muscled form, so lean and dark in

contrast to the white shirt, the expression on his handsome face

laced with arrogance, she murmured, “Am I yours?”

His aqua eyes were direct, his mouth faintly smiling at he

stared at her. “Oh yes.”

He was right about the confinement of conventional clothing,

she almost wished she wasn’t wearing the fine lawn shirt, but it

was the only thing that could be found she could use for cover. The

urge to take it off and lie without a stitch on the soft mattress of the

bunk was almost overwhelming she was so used to being nude.

Stretching slightly and setting aside her cup, she said languorously,

“It strikes me that I have been a bit…deprived lately, Jonathan.”

His gaze narrowed, scanning her bare legs where the shirt rode

up to mid-thigh. “Deprived?”

“Of sex,” she informed him, her lashes half-lowered as she

gauged his reaction. “In the cave, it wasn’t possible with all four of

us there and the storm, I understand that, but...I am afraid I have

grown very used to the activity and maybe it is the coming child,

but I feel very…womanly.”

“Jenna,” he said, taking an audible breath, his eyes flaring, “the

ship’s mate will be here any second to escort me to the galley and I

88

Emma Wildes

just got dressed. Stop tempting me. I promise to fully oblige you

later.”

“You’ll wake me when you come back?” she asked, lifting the

hem of the oversized shirt to reveal the golden triangle of pubic

hair between her legs. “I need you here.”

“You can stake your life on it,” he muttered, his gaze glittering

bright as he stared at the apex of her thighs.

“I am looking forward to it.”

“Hell and blast, will you always entice me this way?”

She answered in complete unaffected honesty, “I hope so.”

The light knock on the door made him say gruffly, “Cover

yourself. There is a guard posted at the door. Ask him for anything

you want. Your dinner should be here shortly. I will be back in a

few hours.”

She frowned, pulling the shirt back down. “A guard? Why?”

“Perhaps you’ve never looked at yourself, Jenna. This is a ship

full of men.” With that he stepped out, the door closing smartly

behind him.

When he was gone, she lay there feeling both bereft without his

presence and vulnerably afraid. Over the past months she had

managed to wheedle a great deal of information from Charles

about his employer. By all accounts, Jonathan Richmond was a

detached, if skillful lover, and had an aversion to the permanence

of marriage. She loved him, and back on the island she felt he was

growing into feeling the same for her …whether he recognized the

emotion or not. The trouble was, now that they were rescued, he

could easily enough deliver her to her father and walk away. The

child she carried might, or might not be his, and he wasn’t honor

bound to marry her any more than Charles or Anthony.

Anthony would wed her, she thought despondently. And he

would make a dutiful husband, considerate and caring.

Charles too, would do the honorable thing, though her father

would never allow her to marry a servant, no matter how brave and

Savage Shores

89

engaging.

Jonathan, however, was an unknown quantity. He said he

would claim the child, but that was before they had suddenly found

themselves on their way back to England. Not once had he even

mentioned feeling anything but lustful possession.

Reaching for the teacup, Jenna found her throat was too tight

with tears to swallow.

* * * *

The shipboard dining area was small, paneled, and smelled of

tobacco and long past meals. The brandy, however, was excellent

and slid smoothly down his throat. Jonathan sighed much as Jenna

had when drinking her beloved tea and leaned back in his chair.

Swirling the glass lightly, he asked, “Are Charles and Anthony not

joining us?”

“They dined below with the crew.” Murray, resplendent in a

clean, crisp uniform, his graying hair carefully brushed, said

hesitantly, “My lord, I thought it perhaps best if we had some time

alone to sort out this…interesting situation. I admit,” he added

heavily, “I am at a loss on how to handle it.”

“You rescued us. That should be enough, I would say, for a

promotion.”

“I stumbled upon you by accident. There was no valor or

cunning involved.”

“Just the same, we are quite grateful. And I have friends in

high places, even at Horse Guards. It will not go unremarked.”

Captain Murray had very light gray eyes that almost matched

his hair. His gaze direct, he nodded. “Thank you, but my problem

goes deeper than a good word in London. I somehow doubt

General Hayward would be grateful if he knew I allowed you to—

to bunk in with his young daughter. You, sir, are putting me in a

very bad position. I wish to accommodate you in every way, Lord

90

Emma Wildes

Charbeau. However, your insistence on staying in the stateroom

with Miss Hayward is beyond the pale.”

“She needs protection. Since I have been giving it to her these

past months, I want to continue to see her safe.”

“I have posted a guard at your insistence,” Murray continued

doggedly. “Is that not enough?”

Taking another mouthful of brandy, Jonathan swallowed and

leaned back in his chair, narrowing his gaze on the man sitting

opposite. “You did look at her, didn’t you, Murray, back on the

beach?”

A slow flush touched the older man’s face. “I had no idea who

she was.”

“But, just the same, you saw her incredible beauty, those very

luscious breasts, and all that smooth skin, didn’t you?”

“My lord, I just said I had no idea—”

Fingering his glass, Jonathan elevated his brows in a haughty

gesture that had intimidated many men. He said blandly, “I was

trapped on an island with her for months. Is it any wonder I would

succumb to those obvious charms? She already carries my child. I

will not get her any more pregnant with a few more nights on your

ship. Your sense of responsibility is misplaced. What happens

between myself and Miss Hayward is between us.”

The captain looked aghast for a moment, then sighed deeply in

resignation. Rubbing his forehead, he muttered, “I cannot imagine

your dilemma any more than how General Hayward will react.”

“Fortunately for you, that is my problem,” Jonathan said

sardonically. “In the meantime, tell me how you came to be there

on the beach today.”

Gratefully accepting the change in subject, Murray said, “We

knew the storm was coming…you could feel it approaching even

when the sky was clear. I ordered the ship to skirt all the islands in

the area, looking for a promising place where we could weather the

typhoon. It was a hearty blow, if I may say so.”

Savage Shores

91

Sipping his brandy, Jonathan inclined his head. “I know

exactly what you mean. We took refuge in a cave on the other side,

sitting in the darkness for almost three days.”

“We sailed as close as we could into a small cove. Putting the

ship at anchor, we found that the way the winds came the vessel

was fairly protected, at least as much as one could be in such a

gale. It was sheer luck, nothing more, but all we lost was the one

sail. When I set out to look for it, I had no idea on earth you were

there.”

A boy entered, carrying a tray with steaming chafers and

Jonathan registered the smell of beef for the first time in what

seemed a lifetime. “I despaired of being found,” he said quietly as

the cabin boy moved to serve them.

“Major Reeves said you all had resigned yourselves to a

lifetime of exile on your small bit of paradise.”

“Yes.”

Picking up his knife and fork, the captain had a heavy

speculative look in his eyes. “He also told me he saw you kill a full

grown leopard with nothing but your bare hands and a small

dagger, and I was not to judge you as an arrogant foppish lord.”

Jonathan laughed, meeting the other man’s level gaze.

“Anthony proved to be an intrepid companion. What else did he

say?”

“That Miss Hayward willingly shared your bed and to let you

deal with her father.”

“A wise man.” Jonathan sighed. “I imagine our arrival in

London will create a stir. Since I am presumed dead, I suppose my

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