She smiled at the first man. “Hello, I’m Hope Sinclair. It’s very nice to meet you. You must be Conner Reese.”
He gave her a warm, inviting smile. “Actually, I’m Bob Gibson, captain of the Conquest.” He turned to the man behind him. “This is Conner Reese.”
She tried not to stare. If she’d had more time, she would have known everything there was to know about the partners of Treasure Limited. As it was, she knew Brad Talbot, the money man, and she had met Eddie Markham, the owner of Pleasure Island. This man, the head of the search operation, Conner Reese, was nothing at all what she had expected.
She extended a hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Reese. I’m Hope Sinclair. I assume you’ve been expecting me.”
“Expecting you to what?”
She didn’t like his tone, or the unfriendly look in his eyes. But she had to admit they were gorgeous, the same incredible blue as the sea. And he was handsome. Remarkably so. He was wearing red swim trunks and canvas deck shoes, his chest bare and nicely sculpted with muscle. He had a set of very impressive biceps, a lean, flat, six-pack stomach, and a pair of shoulders that would stretch the limits of a size seventeen shirt. And he was tall, at least six-foot-two, with a very dark tan.
Still, it was obvious he wasn’t pleased to see her and that jabbed her temper. She didn’t want to be there in the first place. The least he could do was be pleasant.
She pasted on a smile. “Since you weren’t told I was coming, I suppose I had better explain. I’m a writer for Adventure magazine. I’m here to do an article on your search for the Spanish galleon, Nuestra Senora de Rosa. I assumed someone from the magazine would have called you.”
“Yeah, well they didn’t. Adventure might like to do a story, but unfortunately we’re not interested. It’s a shame you came all this way for nothing but that’s the way it is. The last thing we need is a bunch of people finding out we’re down here looking for sunken treasure.”
She worked to keep her friendly smile in place, all the while cursing Conner Reese. “I’m afraid you don’t understand. I’ve been assigned to do this story and that’s what I intend to do.” She glanced around at the ultra-modern equipment on the deck, most of it new. “You probably have a satellite phone out here. Why don’t you call Brad Talbot? He can explain what’s going on.”
“Talbot? This was Talbot’s idea?”
A noise behind them interrupted her answer. She turned to see one of the crewman coming down from the wheelhouse holding a cell phone, a huge black man in baggy knee-length shorts and a blue-flowered shirt. He had a chest the size of a wine cask and arms that would rival Mike Tyson’s.
“It’s for you, boss.”
Reese took the phone, flicked a glance at Hope, then turned and walked a couple of feet away. He was angry and getting madder by the minute, speaking louder and louder until she could hear every word.
“Are you insane? We let her write a bunch of articles about this operation and we’re going to have every amateur treasure hunter within two thousand miles breathing down our necks. This isn’t the States, Talbot, it’s a private island. The only laws here are the ones they make up. We won’t have a damn bit of protection–legal or otherwise–if we start to have trespassing problems.”
Talbot said something lengthy on the other end of the line.
“This is crazy,” Reese said. Then, “Fine–have it your way. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Reese ended the call and took a deep breath. He handed the phone back to the big black man. “Thanks, King.”
“No problem, boss.”
Reese turned to face her, a scowl on his handsome face. “I guess you’re staying, since Talbot holds the purse strings.” He gave her a perusal that went from her breasts to her toes and sent her hackles up another notch. “But then you probably knew that already.”
Hope clamped down on a nasty retort and the captain stepped into the fray.
“Why don’t I take the lady down to her cabin?” he suggested, trying to prevent what was fast becoming a mutual dislike.
Reese gave Hope a cold, hard smile. “I’ll take care of it. I want to make sure our guest gets properly settled in.”
Ignoring his grim expression, Hope reached for her carry-on. Surprisingly, Reese picked it up before she had the chance. At least he knew how to behave like a gentleman, though she figured he usually chose not to.
She sighed as she followed his broad, muscular back along the deck to the ladder. It was going to be a helluva long three weeks.
Conn’s gaze sharpened on the screen. He looked, then
looked again. The magnetometer was pinging like crazy, and
his pulse began to thrum. “Looks like another anchor.”
“Yeah, but this one’s miles away from the Santa Ynez.”
“True, and I don’t think the scatter pattern fits.” Conn
pointed toward the screen. “According to the professor, the
storm swept down from the northwest, moving the last two
ships in the fleet south and east, missing the Serranilla
Banks and pushing them toward the island. From the last
sightings of the Santa Ynez mentioned in the sailor’s journal,
the ship would have been blowing in from the northwest.
The anchors would have been used to keep the ship from
running aground. They would have wound up in a line starting
north of the reef. Of course, a hurricane might have
moved it or the sands may have shifted.”
“What’d you find?” Captain Bob came down from the
“One of the anchors,” Conn said. “Let’s just pray this
one’s from the Rosa.”
And this time, it might just be. The Nuestra Señora de
Rosa had been sailing close behind the Santa Ynez. There
was a very good chance the anchor could belong to the
Rosa, running along behind her.
“I heard you found another anchor.” Hope came into the
chart room along with the camera guy, Tommy Tyler.
“That’s great. Maybe this is it.”
“If it’s really off the Rosa, we’d at least know she’s here.”
He turned to Joe. “See any sign of anything else, like maybe
one of the cannons?”
“Not so far,” Joe said.
But the magnetometer continued its pinging. “Andy, you
take over here. Joe, let’s go get our gear.”
“Hey, buddy, if you’re waiting for me—”
Order Deep Blue Today!