First part can be found here
Sleep had been elusive last night. Every time Marie closed her eyes, she saw him. His beckoning eyes, his body, his calloused hands. It was more tossing and turning, her body waking hot and needy.
“Fucking hell.” She rolled over with a groan, feeling exhausted.
It wasn’t a work day, but she made herself get out of the bed when light spilled through the curtains. Marie felt beat up, but made her way to the kitchen for the necessary first cup of coffee.
As the coffee pot percolated cheerfully, she stood staring off into space. She’d left the window open last night so a breezy scented with salt brushed her face. Her mind turned to thoughts of the sea and warm pacific water surrounding her body as she swam.
Marie hadn’t been to the beach in ages. The last time had been when both her parents had been alive. She’d managed to convince them both that a little seaside lounging would do everyone good. Her mother had stayed perched beneath a wide umbrella and her father had laid in the sun until his skin was nearly blistered.
The blue water had called to her, and she’d heeded it then. Swimming out in the vast warm water had been different. Marie had felt welcomed there, the fish swimming around her as she’d floated in what had felt like a warm embrace. She could’ve stayed out there forever. It was her mother’s frantic waving that brought her back to reality that day. Apparently, she’d floated out further than she’d meant to.
Marie had the urge to return to the water now. It’s pull was greater than the hum of his call to her.
She’d go. A swim would set her perfectly to rights.
“First, coffee.” No amount of excitement over the beach could replace the need for a cup of java.
Twenty minutes later, a cup of coffee and a to-go cup later, Marie was in her bathing suit and headed out the door.
It was a beautiful day out as she drove down along the coast. The sun shone and the sky was a still blue. Her whole body buzzed with excitement the closer she got to her beach spot. She find herself shifting in her seat, her skin sensitive under her cover up.
Marie released a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding when the turn off came up. She maneuvered into a spot and was out of the car after barely putting the gears in park.
Slipping off her sandals, she let her feet sink into the white sand. Some of her tension dissipated as she walked out to the water’s edge. She closed her eyes when she neared, breathing in the salty air and letting it coat her tongue.
The itchiness and sensitivity of her skin had her desperate. She glanced around, noting the large expanses of empty beach.
Marie pulled her cover up off, and after glancing around again, removed her bathing suit before she lost her nerve. The breeze picked up a bit, sliding along her bare skin, raising goosebumps and tightening her nipples. She briefly considered removing the necklace, but her stomach turned at the thought.
Setting her stuff out of the way of the later rising tide, she stepped into the water.
It was chillier than she remembered, drawing a shiver from her. She welcomed it. The slight chill did more to knock away the fatigue than either cup of coffee.
She drew in a breath when the water was deep enough and dove under. Her eyes slid shut and she let the water engulf her.
The embrace of the water was just as she remembered. She opened her eyes and used her strong limbs to swim deeper into the welcoming ocean. It was freeing just being out there, naked and letting her body guide her. Her mind strayed to him again. The intensity of his eyes holding her captive seemed to carry her as much as the strokes of her body.
She needed to find her way to him before the need consumed her.
When it was impossible to hold her breath any longer, she surfaced with a gasp. She cleared her eyes and glanced toward the shore.
Marie tread water, turning around to make sure she hadn’t swam out too far. She hadn’t thought she’d traveled a great distance, but nothing looked familiar. What should’ve been an easily recognizable shoreline looked unfamiliar.
The sound of a man’s call sent her spinning in the water again.
Only a few gentle waves away from her was a medium sized ship. The wood wore the battle marks of a vessel long at sea. Salt, barnacles, and dings clung like war wounds to the hull. She saw a flag from the tall mass, but couldn’t make out the symbols on it.
What threw her was the men standing around the deck, staring out at the ocean. No, staring out at her.
She glanced down.
The clear water did nothing to hide her body. Heat danced up her cheeks as she realized they were close enough to see all of her.
In a rare moment of defiance, she didn’t cover herself. It wouldn’t do any good. Besides, they would move past her and she’d just swim back to shore once they were out of sight.
Except the ship seemed to come closer to her instead of away. The men’s faces were easier to make out and so was the flag on the tall mast.
Large black flag, the gaping maw of a skeleton skull, and two long bones crossed below it.
She didn’t know ships like that still existed outside of reenactment companies. Marie knew for damn sure there were no such companies in the area. The men leering at her over the edge of the ship looked a little too interested in being real pirates.
It was time to go back to dry land. The warm water felt entirely too cold and dangerous.
Marie spun around, drew in a lungful of air, and dove back into the water. She put her limbs to work, using powerful strokes to cut through the water.
Just when she was running out of breath, an arm around her waist lifted her up to the surface. She flailed and fought, fear making her fight to free herself. Strong arms subdued her struggles with ease. A hard body pressed into her back, a buckle and wet pants pressed into her backside.
“Look what I’ve found.”
Marie froze. That voice…
“I’ve caught a sea nymph.”
She watched a hand as it lifted from the water to caress her breast. Her nipple tightened almost painfully under his touch. The way his fingertips grazed her wet skin made her ache so badly she had to mash her lips together to stem the moan.
“Or a witch, perhaps.”
He touched the necklace and she heard his gasp. The jolt from that touch hit her harder than his calloused palm on her breast. His arm tightened around her, drawing her closer. Marie felt his chest expand, his heart beating fast against her back.
Marie was spun around and came face to face with him.
Her brain short-circuited as she stared up at him. How the hell had she managed to find him? Floating in the ocean, her new found happy place, she had found him.
The wonder in his eyes filled her tummy with butterflies. His full lips parted as he memorized her face, staring as though worried she’d vanish.
His arms tightened around her again, drawing her back into the warmth of his body. Her breasts were crushed against his chest, that lovely skin on skin jacking up her arousal.
“You came back to me at last.”
He leaned down, the lips she’d been dreaming about a hairsbreadth away from hers. Marie’s breath caught and held as she waited for that kiss.
“Ahoy, Cap.” A voice cut through the desire clouding the moment.
He drew away from her, regret marring his strong face. “Back on board with us, Mariselle.”
That brought her back to her senses. “I need to go back to the beach.”
“Beach? The nearest landmass is over a days swim away. If you survive the sharks.”
“A…” Marie blinked.
“Come on.” He puller her back to the vessel that was far closer than it had been moments ago.
She was too stunned to resist. They swam the few feet to the ship and he hoisted himself up with the help of one of his crewmates. He leaned back over to pull her up, and once she was on board, Marie was reminded again of her nudity.
His eyes made the slow pass over her body, as did every other warm blooded male. He reached for a discarded shirt.
“Lift your arms.”
Marie let him slip the shirt over her head to cover her body.
Another man stepped forward. His skin was leathery and his hair snow white. He seemed to intuit something from the captain’s posture because his eyes never once strayed to her.
“Captain, where would you like the lady placed? There’s a small room near the galley.”
She didn’t know his name. This man who had consumed her thoughts for the last twenty-four hours was still a stranger to her. Nerves changed the butterflies in her stomach to something a little more frantic.
“She’ll be rooming with me.” The younger man crossed his arms over his bare chest. “If anyone else touches her, they’ll learn why they call me Cutthroat.”