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Authors: Amberly Woodruff

Stranded

BOOK: Stranded
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Stranded

 

Amberly
Woodruff

 

Copyright

Amberly
Woodruff 2013

Photography
Bertknot
& Lies Thru A Lens

First Published by Penny
Dreadfuls
2013

Chapter 1
 
 


Omigod
!’
Tamsin choked as another wave slapped her in
the face, spray drenching her already chilled arms and legs, soaking her hair
and thin summer top. One of her sandals had gone over the side of the boat ages
ago, when the wind first got up and the waves began to behave like towering
breakers instead of the calm sea she’d set out on. Her jeans were so sodden
they were like a clinging second skin that rubbed her inner thighs every time
she moved.
Hard to imagine that what had started as a quest
for a bit of peace and quiet had turned into this nightmare.

An expert sailor she wasn’t. But then she hadn’t intended
to do more than row out to the rocks at the edge of the harbour and think about
the dilemma she found herself in. But the rocks were inhabited by a colony of
seagulls, whose raucous complaints made thinking impossible. So she’d ventured
just a bit further, shipping the oars and letting the boat drift, lying on her
back on the bench with her jacket as a pillow, lulled by the warmth of the sun
on her face and the gentle rocking of the water. She hadn’t intended to fall
asleep - in fact, she’d been sure her restless mind would have kept her alert.
But she hadn’t factored in the effect of several sleepless nights, the long,
rushed drive down here, the nagging anxiety that had slowly but surely drained
her energy over the last few weeks.

Not that she was underrating Damien’s significance in her
life, but her current circumstances had kind of put things in perspective, and
right now the issues between them seemed a lot less important than what was
rapidly turning into a fight for her life. She wasn’t even sure why his
marriage proposal had flung her into such a panic, or why that panic had caused
her to take flight rather than sitting down, talking and working things out.
Except that Damien wasn’t very good at listening - which was one of the reasons
she was concerned about tying herself to him for life: that and his general
controlling behaviour. But Damien seemed a million miles away right now.

She had no idea where she was. The world was a tossing
maelstrom of heaving waves, howling wind and near darkness. Even if her watch
had survived the constant soaking, she daren’t let go of the side of the boat
for long enough to glance at it for fear of being pitched into the sea. Her
mobile, buried in her bag in the bottom of the boat, swilling back and forth in
six inches of salt water, was equally unlikely to still be functioning. This
was Cornwall in late April, for heaven’s sake, not the middle of the Atlantic
in winter, so why was it so cold and wild?

It had seemed like a good idea, taking the dingy from its
mooring in the inlet that bordered the perimeter of her aunt’s property. The
same as it had seemed like a good idea coming down to stay in the cottage on
the spur of the moment, not telling
anyone,
so intent
was she on escape. Now nobody would have a clue that she was missing, -
especially as Damien had, bit by bit, isolated her from the people close to her
- let alone that she had ventured out to sea in an ancient, badly maintained
boat that was never meant for anything more than negotiating the waters of the
creek when the tide was in.

The pitching of the boat had woken her: as it happened, out
of a surprisingly erotic dream where unseen hands had caressed her skin, whispering
over her nipples and questing her secret folds, a faint sense of husky male
scent and the rasp of lips on her
skin
rousing her to
tingling awareness that brought her to the edge of orgasm. A month without sex
had obviously taken its toll if her mind was running riot like that. Though her
awakening was sudden and complete, dousing her with all the effectiveness of a
cold shower. Gone were the rocks and the coastline beyond them, with its little
cluster of cottages tumbling down the cliff to the harbour. All she could see
was an endless vista of ocean and clouds, where the horizon was invisible and
there was no land in sight. She wasn’t stupid; she knew her chances of survival
were not good, would be even less if she was thrown into the freezing sea; every
year people drowned off the coast of Cornwall in far kinder weather than this.
She’d never been more frightened in her life, shuddering, icy, teeth
chatteringly
frightened.

Why hadn’t she stayed with Damien,
why
, instead of panicking and running away? Surely she could have
made him listen to her, bought some time before she made up her mind what to
do. But Damien was going to New York to take up an
unmissable
job offer. He’d made it clear that if she wouldn’t marry him and go with him,
their relationship was over. Never one to compromise, (which had made him seem
excitingly strong and male to her at one time), he fully expected her to give
way to him, leave her family and friends and start a life she would never have
chosen for herself. Did she love him enough? Should anyone make that kind of
demand from someone else? Had she ever loved him in the way that would have
made the sacrifice worth it? Yes, she’d enjoyed his almost cruel, blond good
looks; his thrusting maleness when they made love; the way he filled her up,
sliding in and out of her faster and faster till she was wild with wanting; the
way his hands had manipulated her so confidently to the edge of abandon, his imperious
tongue and eager mouth sucking and licking and prodding till she was almost
delirious with the need for consummation. But was that love or fascination,
affection or obsession? And, if she was honest, didn’t it all leave her feeling
empty, longing for something more?

Their very first meeting seemed to have set the tone for
what was to come. She’d been out clubbing with friends and he’d cut in ahead of
her at the bar, doing a double take, backtracking and apologising, taking over
and collecting her drinks order along with his own in a confident, managing way
that had left her feeling breathless and rather in awe of his spectacular good
looks. He’d obviously liked what he saw as well, eyes moving up and down her
body, clocking her green eyes, cloud of amber hair, perilously short red velvet
dress and the five inch killer heels that made her feel so tall and slender and
sexy. He’d smiled a slow, lazy smile, commandeered her for the rest of the
evening, ignoring the friends she’d arrived with, and, five vodkas later, taken
her back to his place in a taxi, ravishing her mouth with his in between
issuing orders to the driver about how to get there and where to drop them.

Half expecting a slick, clichéd city bachelor apartment,
she’d none-the-less still been impressed with the small terraced house with its
comfy furniture and crisply white walls, stripped pine boards stretching away
to the foot of the stairs towards which he now pulled her, not really giving
her a chance to take in much more. Then they were in the first of the upstairs
rooms, the dim lighting revealing a king size bed with a wrought iron head.

He turned her to him, sucking on her lower lip, roaming his
mouth down her throat and along her collarbone, fumbling at the tiny buttons
that fastened her dress over her breasts, thumbs pausing to circle her nipples
before releasing each button slowly, tantalisingly. She gasped, feeling the
heat rush to her groin, making her wet and ready for him. She was suddenly
aware that her breasts were free of their confines, the whisper of lace that
was her bra pulled down, and then his lips were busy again, tongue flicking at her
left nipple, then her right; almost painfully rough. Flames of pleasure
engulfed her, flooding her with a sensuous, drugging passion, making her blind
with desire. An echo of a warning told her that she didn’t do one night stands,
and she didn’t know him, but it was lost in the sheer, drunken lust that blazed
through her as she felt his erection nudge at her belly through the thin fabric
of her dress. She found her own hands questing, scrabbling at the button on his
jeans,
sliding
her hand inside to grasp his smooth,
pulsing length. He groaned and flung her back on the bed, tugging up her dress,
pulling it over her head, yanking off her knickers (their flimsy black lace now
soaked). Impatiently he paused to drag off his own clothes, though she was left
wearing stockings and her pulled down bra. He spread her legs, running his
hands up her thigh, parting her folds, bending to take her labia in his mouth,
sucking and pulling on her clitoris till she was shrieking with heady pleasure.
She sat half up, pushed him down beside her, took him into her mouth and ran
her tongue up and down his shaft, her hand cupping his balls, then licking the
head of his penis in slow, tantalising strokes. But he wasn’t going to let her
take control for long. His mouth returned to her core, tongue thrusting inside
her and then coming back to her clitoris again and again, licking, probing till
she was moaning with frustration, waves of approaching bliss building up and
receding. Each time she approached the crest of ecstasy, he pulled back. Then,
when she thought she could bear it no more and would explode with desire, he was
plunging into her, thrusting deeper, pulling her legs up onto his shoulders so
that pain and delight mingled. He set a rapid pace, but she matched him thrust
for thrust until she felt her orgasm explode inside her. Then he was pulling
out of her, furiously working his erection with his hand, face intent and
fierce, spraying her breasts as he peaked, to collapse moments later, panting
into her neck. Tamsin had lain there, shocked and excited to her very core.

So that was Damien, controlling and domineering from their
very first encounter, taking over her life, dictating the pace in and out of
bed, pressuring her to move in with him within a month of that first encounter,
gradually cutting out her friends, discouraging her from seeing family, first
flattering and then beginning to criticise her so that she was never sure if
she was in the right, but, in between, being overwhelmingly affectionate,
making her feel wanted like no one else had ever done, mastering her, gradually
eroding her freedom, making her feel cherished and imprisoned at the same time,
being overbearing and then touchingly vulnerable in his need for her. No wonder
she had bolted when he wanted her to agree to the ultimate loss of liberty and
choice.

Yet look at the predicament she had landed herself in by
running. If she’d agreed to his ultimatum, at least she’d have a life. Her
chances of life out here were diminishing with each wave that hit her, each
dousing of her chilled, numb body. The wind redoubled its fury, the sea heaved and
roiled, flung the boat up, brought it crashing down, the darkness intensifying,
swirling around her till she could barely see four feet in front of her.

Suddenly a wall of denser darkness was rushing towards her,
towering maybe twenty feet above her. There was a deafening crack, her hands
were torn loose from their grip on the sides of the boat, and she was catapulted
into the air, flying through clouds of spray. She felt a blinding pain in her
head, and then blackness sprinkled with stars engulfed her.

Chapter 2

 

 

A flickering
on her eyelids woke her.
That and the warmth bathing her, seeping into her cold bones.
Then the memories all rushed back: the wild storm, the monstrous wall of solid
dark that had seemed to rush towards her, the crack of impact and a splintering
sound, almost drowned by the crashing of the waves. There were some other
impressions, but she wasn’t sure if they had been real or a dream: a man’s
voice shouting, a light, strong masculine arms pulling her from the water.
After that, nothing, till now.

She began to open her eyes,
but
it was all such an effort. She tried again and winced as golden, dancing light
struck across her face. Her head hurt, a dull, throbbing pain that pulsed and
receded in time to her heart beat. A tentative exploration with her fingers
found a lump the size of a walnut above her left ear, and her hair seemed stiff
and sticky just there. She opened her eyes again, fully this time, blinking
while they adjusted to the brightness, then looked around her. Rough-hewn stone
walls surrounded a space about twelve feet square, There was a desk against one
side on which was an open laptop, with shelves of books and scientific looking
instruments behind it. The wall opposite was hung with various tools and
implements: an axe, ropes,
a
shovel. There were a
large window and a plank door. She could see it was daylight outside, but the
sky was still grey and brooding, clouds racing across it in ragged streaks. The
dancing light was coming from a blazing log fire, and she was lying on what she
now saw was a wide bed or couch, covered in blankets.

Tamsin pushed the blankets to one side and
sat up, wincing as various aches and tender spots made their presence felt. Her
head was thumping worse than ever and she felt sick. She was wearing her cotton
top and her bra and pants, but her jeans appeared to have been removed while
she was unconscious, and now she was able to see just how badly bumped and
battered she was. A huge bruise spread up the inside of her left thigh, her
knee that side was scraped too, though not too badly, and her forearm was livid
red and purple. Any kind of movement made her nauseous and faint, yet she had
to get up, had to see where she was: so, tentatively levering herself more
upright, she began to swing her legs towards the floor.

That was when the door opened, startling
Tamsin so that she jumped,
dizziness
overtaking her
and making her lean back against the wall. Then her eyes widened as she took in
the man negotiating the doorway, a steaming mug in each hand. Wow! A cliché had
just arrived: six foot or so of utterly gorgeous male hunk: lean,
stubbled
jawline; broad shoulders; slim frame; tousled
black curls that tumbled shaggily almost to his shoulders; intense dark eyes -
even in her current state, she was strongly aware of how he looked. So her
memories were correct, there
had
been
a male rescuer, and one who looked like a rock star or a movie hero at that!

‘Ah, you’re properly awake then,’ he said
solicitously, pushing the laptop to the back of the desk to set one mug down,
handing her the other. ‘How do you feel? You surfaced a couple of times last
night, and you were making waking up noises just now, so I made you some hot
soup. I don’t know how long you were adrift in the storm, but you need to get
some food inside you.’ He reached towards her as he spoke, steadying her hand
as she raised the mug shakily to her lips, teeth chattering against the rim as
a wave of shock swept over her, coming out of nowhere.

‘I’m lucky to be alive, aren’t I?’ she
said in a small voice, following on with ‘Where am I? This isn’t
Polgorrow
, is it?’ She felt tears welling up and began to shiver.

He sat on the side of the bed, took the
mug from her and put a supportive arm round her shoulders. ‘It’s ok, it’s ok,
you’re
safe now.’
 
His hand rubbed her arm comfortingly. ‘You
set out from
Polgorrow
? I’m afraid you’re a long way
from there. I don’t know how you managed to land up here?’

‘So where am I? What happened?’ She put a
hand up to her aching head.

‘This is Fulmar Island, about halfway between
Lands End and the
Scillies
.’

Her eyes widened.
Halfway
to the
Scilly
Isles?
She must have drifted, or
more probably been driven by wind and waves, fifteen miles or more out to sea.
She began to shake again, harder this time, and, seeing, he pulled her against
him, putting the mug to her lips.

‘Try not to think about it now. Drink your
soup,’ he said, voice light but gruff, one arm supporting her, his hand holding
the mug, pulling it away when she’d attempted a few hesitant gulps.

‘Tomato,’ she said, wiping her mouth with
the back of her hand. ‘Gosh, that feels better. You were right, I needed to
eat.’ Her voice sounded strange to her, and she seemed to be spouting
inanities, but, really, everything seemed obscured by a surreal fog that left
her thoughts disconnected and vague. She supposed that was due to shock.

He offered the mug again, and this time
she took it herself, draining it then leaning back against him, strength
flooding into her body. At the back of her mind she was aware of his maleness,
the scent of his skin sweet and musky, but she was still too shaken and drained
to take much notice.

‘What happened to me? What about my boat?’
she asked, after a few silent minutes, in which she felt the shock recede a
little and warmth spread through her comfortingly.

‘Look, I don’t want to alarm you, but there’s
not much left of your boat; it’s pretty obvious it wasn’t meant for the open
sea. You hit the rocks at the entrance to the cove; otherwise you might still
be out there. You may be concussed - no way to be sure, and nothing we can do
anyway, but you’re going to have to take it easy for a day or two.
 
I have no idea where you intended to end
up, but I can’t believe it was here.’

 
‘No,’ she replied, ‘I just wanted a bit
of peace to think, so I rowed out just beyond the rocks by the entrance to
Polgorrow
harbour
. Then I sort of
fell asleep.’

‘You really
have
been lucky! Never trust the weather off Cornwall, I know it’s
nearly summer but storms can blow up out of nowhere, and that boat of yours was
never meant for the open sea.’

Then it began to sink in fully that she
was miles from anywhere familiar and she stared at him in horror. ‘Oh my God,
how am I going to get back to the mainland?’

‘Ah…’ He stood up and crossed the room to
put her mug on the desk. ‘The thing is, I’m really sorry, but you’re sort of
stuck for a while, I’m afraid.
Until the helicopter arrives
with my next lot of supplies anyway.
And that won’t be for another week.
And, before you ask, no, I can’t radio for help like they do in the movies
because, like in the movies, my radio is dead. It was pretty ancient and, well,
it stopped working a couple of weeks ago. Not a problem usually. I don’t need
anything unless there’s an emergency, and nobody is expecting to hear from me.
And I know people in Cornwall sometimes get French mobile phone signals, but
there’s no reception here, absolutely none. We’re miles from a mast and the hills
are pretty effective at blocking reception. We’re not even on a shipping route:
you couldn’t have landed in a more remote place if you’d tried!’

Tamsin gaped at him, unable to take it in
properly. She couldn’t be stuck here, out of contact with her life, she just
couldn’t. She knew she’d wanted space to think, but this was ridiculous: this
was total overkill. If she didn’t go home soon, Damien would assume she wasn’t
coming back at all and would leave without her - and she still didn’t know if
that was what she wanted.

Seeing her reaction, her rescuer’s face
softened and he smiled, showing white, even teeth. It lit his face up, and
Tamsin felt a flutter of something stir in her. He really was extraordinarily
good looking. ‘Look, I know it’s not ideal, but there’s stuff to read, I’ve
even got my Kindle, there’s the laptop, and the island’s pretty nice when the
weather isn’t doing what it’s doing now. You really don’t have a
choice,
anyway, you’ll have to sit tight till the beginning
of May when they next fly in. So… I suppose we ought to introduce ourselves.
I’m Jed Baker. I’m here studying the local seabird population.’

Tamsin blinked. ‘You mean you’re a
naturalist?’

‘Yep. I’m doing a summer stint on the
island for the organization that owns it,
logging which
seabirds are here
and whether the populations are declining. And who are
you…?’

‘Tamsin Smith.
And I’m really sorry to land on you.’ Her voice was
groggy and slow now as a tidal wave of weakness overtook her again. ‘I’ll do my
best to keep out of your way.’

He smiled again, a slow, easy grin that
kicked a little tremor of response from her overstretched emotions. But the
weakness washed over her once more and the tremor died. The pain in her head,
which had receded while they were talking, had come back, causing her to put a
hand up to her forehead.

‘Right, you need to rest. Do you need the
loo first?’

But Tamsin was
lying
back, eyes already closing, engulfed by a deep, dark tunnel of sleep.

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