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Gift Certificates. We'll Buy Your Books! Raised as a free spirit aboard her American sea captain father's majestic clipper ship, willful Nicole Lassiter has never encountered an obstacle she couldn't overcome -- until she meets Captain Derek Sutherland. His sizzling kisses leave her longing, but after they share a night of passion, his subsequent disdain makes her blood boil. Nicole vows to take her revenge -- by helping her father beat Sutherland in a high-stakes competition: the Great Circle Race from England to Australia.
What a waste, she mused acidly as she turned away. Seconds later, long, strong fingers encircled her wrist.
The Captain of All Pleasures (Sutherland, book 1) by Kresley Cole
She knew it was Sutherland even before she turned and their eyes locked. His flesh was hot on hers -- his hand was callused. From his manner, she got the impression he expected her to do just that. Did he think all he had to do was command her? The arrogance! So why did she find herself fighting a very real desire to remain? In response, he gave her a mocking half-bow. How could he be so unconcerned?
How could he seem bored when attraction fired hot and swift within her? Angered, she gave him a forbidding glare. How indifferent will you be when you lose the Great Circle Race by, say Hell, it's because of men like Sutherland that you shouldn't be in a place like that. He twisted around and frowned at her before slowing his progress down the quay. Good reasons. Besides, he's British. Laurel Banning Lassiter had been a noblewoman of English birth, whose memory was never far from their minds.
His voice hardened again as he looked at her. He'd use you and throw you away without so much as a good-bye. Especially since he knows I'm connected to you in some way. She didn't think it likely he'd recognize her since she took after her mother and bore little resemblance to her father -- except perhaps a reddish tint to her hair. And, of course, in attitude. Why aren't you in school?
A striking clipper with a sharp navy hull and jaunty white and red accents, it stood out among the hulks in the harbor as a diamond would amidst coal. This is my home. She'd longed to be back aboard and had missed the ship as though she were a friend. Her breath hitched, but she didn't want her father to notice her missish reaction. To mask it, she commented in an airy tone, "Really, Father, I don't understand why you're still fuming at me.
The Captain of All Pleasures [Paperback]
When I first got there, they told me I had to master seven subjects out of nine, which -- I -- did. She found it difficult to acquire graces designed to snag a rich, titled husband. Because at twenty and with her quirky looks, she was not just firmly on the shelf. She was on the top shelf -- the one it took a ladder to get to. She'd been planning to sail the race for the past two years, ever since reading about Queen Victoria's decree for a global contest open to sailors of any nationality.
The Captain of All Pleasures
She'd decided then that nothing would stand in her way. Not slapped hands when she chose the wrong utensil nor ridiculing dance masters, and not the constant teasing about her being too old for school. Especially not a hard-as-iron headmistress bent on cramming her into a proper-lady mold and chopping off anything that remained outside.
This race would be the greatest in history -- a win could catapult their line to worldwide recognition -- and she wanted nothing more than to be a part of it. When she didn't respond, he teasingly pulled her cap down, then asked in a conciliatory tone, "So tell me, what were the two subjects you failed? As you can imagine, the knowledge of my deficiencies is crushing," she added as she checked an imaginary tear. Lassiter looked to chuckle in response, his stifled smile showing her that he was happy to see her.
But he made his features stern again. I want to enjoy our time together before I sail, so let's get one thing straight about the race. Dear Lord, he couldn't be; he was opening his mouth, his face set to tell her she She decided then that she couldn't win this skirmish. But this was hardly over.
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She had other arrows in her quiver for their next round, so she reeled in her thoughts and forced herself to let the fight lie for now. And was even silent when he said, "I'll make this as clear as possible: Nicole, there is no way in hell you are sailing this race. And you have Sutherland to thank for making my decision easy. While I have a breath in my body, you won't be anywhere within reach when I have to contend with him. When she sat up, she blew a wisp of hair out of her eyes, and looked down at her desk, presently littered with charts.
She glared at all the numbers and equations fogging together. She couldn't think, much less concentrate on plotting a course to impress her father. She didn't expect to when the livestock in the hold had been shrilling for a quarter of an hour. Of course, this would happen when no one was on board to shush the puling animals. Lassiter had gone to a meeting he'd set up through the woman from the tavern, and nearly all of the crew were out enjoying their liberal shore leave.
The sounds dimmed. Holding her breath, she inwardly commanded their silence for the rest of the night. Just when she picked up her pen again, the animals erupted once more. Disgusted, she threw it down. Why weren't the two crewmen who'd drawn guard duty tonight seeing to this annoyance?
Probably asleep on the job. She would never fall asleep on the job. Nicole stretched her arms high above her head before rising from the bolted-down chair in her cabin. Although she wasn't going very far, she grabbed her woolen cloak and pulled it tight. She trotted with her clanging lamp toward the companionway, trying not to breathe too deeply of the sluggish low-tide air, but she couldn't suppress a yawn or two.
She thought of the other reason she'd gotten so little accomplished this whole day -- her exhaustion in the face of a sleepless night. She'd tossed and turned with sensual dreams, the sheets tangling between her legs, the fine cloth of her nightdress growing too bristly against sensitive skin. In this dream, the man who set upon her wasn't a faceless stranger.
It was Sutherland. She reminded herself that he'd largely influenced her father's misguided decision about her sailing.
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And that the race would pit her father against this man again, making bad blood worse. So why could she still feel his warm, strong fingers firm on her wrist? Shaking her head, Nicole drove him from her mind yet again. She did not have time for distractions. At the companionway, she scanned the deck for the guards. Unable to see anyone to reprimand, she swung effortlessly down the steep, narrow steps as she had a thousand times before. When the light touched the animals, the insouciant goat merely swung its head toward her. But the wide-eyed pigs and sheep were frightened and heartily announced that fact in the echoing confines of the hold.
She puckered her lips and cooed, but they were spooked as they were when a bad storm was brewing. Muttering a curse, Nicole set her lamp on the floor and reached for the shovel to throw them more feed. Her arm halted in midair.
The light from the lantern faintly illuminated a shape crouched on the floor, a huddled form partially obscured by one of the mighty timber ribs of the ship. A man? Nicole pushed her hair out of her eyes and up more securely in her hood as she squinted to make out the sailor's identity. Whoever he was, he needed to learn that he shouldn't be down here at odd hours without a good reason. Even more, if he'd upset the animals, then he should have made some effort to calm them.
But as she neared him, something inside her, some oft-ignored instinct, told her to proceed warily. He didn't answer, just rose and turned to her. Her breath leached out in a hiss. The man bore a purplish, bubbled scar that curved over his forehead and down through a vacant eye socket. A foul odor emanated from him.