Dear God, she should have fought him! She should have refused to go with him, should have shouted for help, begged the passengers and crew of the Lady Anne to come to her aid. But there was Captain Chambers to consider and she didn’t want the man harmed, perhaps even killed because of her.
She was guilty of a terrible crime, and in that brief, terrifying instant when the black-haired captain had walked into the salon it was obvious he knew what she had done.
What kind of man was he?
The devil, he had said, and Grace believed him. She had never seen eyes such an icy shade of blue, never seen a jaw so hard it appeared carved in stone.
He was tall, his legs long and sinewy, the shoulder pressing into her stomach as he had carried her down the rope ladder wide and solid. There was no extra fat over the lean muscles in his back, she knew, her face growing warm at the memory of the intimate contact.
His skin was dark, has face tanned, little crinkles at the corners of his eyes. Sun lines, not laugh lines, she was sure. She couldn’t image the devil captain ever laughing at anything, except, perhaps, someone else’s pain. Instead, his features were hard and unforgiving, brutal, even cruel.
And yet he was handsome. With his wavy black hair, winged black brows, and well-formed lips, Ethan Sharpe was one of the handsomest men she had ever seen.
“Follow me.” Captain Sharpe’s words sliced right through her. Sweet God, why had she ever let him force her off the Lady Anne?
She mustered another shot of courage. “Where are you taking me?”
“You’ll need a place to sleep. You’ll be staying in my cabin.”
She stopped dead still, the deck rolling just then, causing her to stumble. “And where, exactly, do you intend to sleep?”
His mouth barely curved. “This ship isn’t all that big. I’m afraid you’ll have to share the cabin with me.”
Grace shook her head, unconsciously took a step backward. “Oh, no. There is no way you are sleeping in the same room with me.”
One of his black eyebrows went up. “Then perhaps you would rather sleep on deck. I can arrange it, if that is your wish. Or perhaps you would rather bunk in with the crew. I’m sure there isn’t a one of them who would mind sharing his bed with you. What will it be, Miss Chastain?”
She stared at those hard, cruel features and a wave of nausea hit her. She was completely at this man’s mercy. What in God’s name should she do?
She glanced frantically around the deck. There was nowhere to go, no place to run. Half a dozen crewmen stood in a semi-circle around them. One man smiled and she noticed the black stumps of his teeth. One of them had a wooden leg, another man was big and dark and covered with tattoos.
Surely the captain was the lesser evil, though she wasn’t completely sure. At the nod she managed to give him, he turned and started walking. Grace forced her feet to move, her legs shaking as she followed him down the ladder that led to his quarters in the stern of the ship. At the bottom of the stairs, he turned and reached for her hand, helping her down with a chivalry that was more mocking than gallant.
She swallowed, collected herself, forced up her chin. “I demand to know why you brought me here. What do you want with me? What are you planning to do?”
He slowly turned to face her, his expression cold and completely unforgiving. “That is the question, is it not?”
Instead of fear, anger rose inside her, bringing a wash of color into her cheeks. “Who are you?”
Ethan looked into that beautiful, treacherous face and a sweep of lust tore through him. “You want to know who I am? Well, I am the devil incarnate and you, my love, are about to pay the devil’s due.”