‘My Lady Pirate’ by Danelle Harmon

BOOK BLURB: Proud Pirate Queen…With her feisty band of warrior women, Maeve Merrick, the notorious Pirate Queen of the Caribbean, commands the seas in her beautiful schooner Kestrel. Burned by the treachery of men and nursing a painful betrayal from her past, Maeve wants for nothing … until the sea delivers a handsome castaway to her remote island.

High Stakes and Betrayal…Nothing is as it appears. Maeve’s prisoner has a dangerous secret – a secret that could very well change the fate of nations … but from the moment the fiery she-pirate lays eyes upon her gift from the sea, she finds her most precious possession – her heart – in danger of becoming a pirate’s plunder in this fast-paced, passionate tale of love set in the summer of 1805.

EXCERPT: In this short excerpt from My Lady Pirate, Maeve Merrick, the beautiful and dangerous Pirate Queen of the Caribbean, has just returned to her hidden tropical island to find her handsome and mysterious castaway escaped from the “jail” in which she’d left him—and sound asleep in her bed. . .

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Maeve pushed open the door to her room, tossed her scabbard into a chair, and saw the pirate sprawled on her bed, fast asleep and naked as a newborn babe.

She froze.

Then, holding her breath, she slunk backward, flattened herself against the wall outside, and, shutting her eyes, leaned her head back against it, the image of that virile man stamped indelibly on her brain.

Fury at his insolence . . . shock at discovering him in her bed—her bed! . . . joy that he hadn’t fled like the coward she’d thought him to be . . . excitement at the sight of that handsome body. . .

And terror of the broken heart she knew he would give her.

Maeve’s first instinct was to kill him. Her second was to slip into bed with him and have her way with that splendid male body. She decided instead to creep back into the room and gaze at him until she decided between the first and the second.

She found him awake and sitting up, reposing against the pillows heaped at the headboard with his hands linked behind his head and his black hair in disarray across his brow, his arms, her pillows. His shoulders were dark against the lavender satin, his chest a formidable expanse of darkly tanned muscle. His manhood was bared to the world, his amused gaze challenged hers, and there wasn’t the least shred of modesty in those wicked indigo depths—only ripe humor and bold, blatant invitation.

“Care to drop anchor beside me, lass?” He grinned, wolfishly. “Morning is the fairest time for a tryst, you know.”

For the first time in her life Maeve Merrick was at a loss over what to say, do, think. She stared at him, unable to tear her eyes from that magnificent male body that lay so dark against the creamy sheets and violet pillows, her creamy sheets and her violet pillows—

She grabbed up her cutlass and pointed it at him, accusingly. “You—” Her hand was trembling, and she saw humor dancing in his eyes as he looked at the jiggling sword tip. “You escaped. . .”

“Aye.” He gave a lewd, suggestive wink. “Proud of me?”

“Proud?”

“Aye. Your pirate here is smarter than you give him credit for.” He tapped his temple and grinned. “I merely plucked the key from you when you lay senseless in my arms. You really didn’t expect me to berth on that filthy pallet outside, now, did you?”

Her mouth fell open and she could only stare. The rogue! Her skin flushed hot and feverish, flushed hotter still as she noticed that he was beginning to swell and rise and stiffen. Her palms grew sweaty, and she tightened her grip on the sword hilt and forced herself to meet his eyes, admiring his courage and yes, even his insolence. No coward, this man!

“So,” he drawled, taking advantage of her stunned silence. “Did you have a nice meeting with the admiral?”

His words jolted Maeve out of her shock. “My meeting with Lord Nelson is none of your blasted business! And if you think to change my mind about handing you over to him”—she stormed to the window to escape the temptation his virile body offered—“you’re wasting your breath.”

“Ah . . . so you did meet him,” he murmured from behind her. “Quite a remarkable little fellow, isn’t he?”

“In spirit,” she allowed, “but not stature. I make two of him.”

She was staring out at the turquoise sea, gripping the cutlass so fiercely the wire-bound hilt drove itself into her palm. Then she swung back, not liking the feel of that amused gaze nailing her between the shoulder blades, of having her back to an enemy, of knowing his eyes were sliding heatedly over every inch of her spine, her bottom, her legs, her bare calves. . .

“So, you failed to convince him of your mystical powers, eh? Is his lordship’s course a southerly one, after all? Hmmm?”

“I will not answer that. You’re a spy and therefore I shall disclose no information about the British Navy to you.”

“Why this apparent loyalty to the British Navy, eh? By your speech, I’d have thought you an American.”

“I am an American. But I detest the bloody French as much as the British do. And as for Nelson, he’s not only a hero, but the finest sea officer in the world and I happen to admire him, all right? Now shut your damned mouth before I lose my temper and flay that tongue of yours into ribbons!”

His lips twitched, and she bristled at the thought that he was inwardly laughing at her. “Well, you can’t blame a body for trying,” he said mildly, his gaze sliding down the front of her shirt with enough heat to burn the fabric right off her skin. Maeve slapped the flat of the cutlass across her chest, but the action only called further attention to that part of her anatomy. “And Villeneuve? Surely you can tell me about him. . .”

“Villeneuve is north, and that’s all you need to know.”

“Aah, but does Nelson know that?”

“Aye, I told him.”

He smirked. “And did his Lordship believe you?”

“No,” she admitted, her mouth tightening in an angry line. Unbidden, her gaze flickered to his masculinity before she glared up into his smug, amused face. “Damn you, do you have to lie there, all exposed?”

“It’s . . . hot.”

“There’s a fine breeze blowing!”

“I wasn’t referring to the weather.”

In one quick motion, Maeve drew her dagger and flung it at his head, satisfied to see him jerk away so that the vicious blade impaled the wall just above and behind him. “You are disgusting, despicable, and totally without pride!”

“On the contrary, madam.” Without blinking an eye, he reached up, pulled the dagger from the wall, and plucking an orange from the nightstand, began to use it to peel the fruit. “I am quite proud of it, thank you.” Still holding her gaze, he popped a section of the orange into his mouth, eating it with slow, suggestive motions that shortened the breath in Maeve’s lungs and made her realize that he was not the only one who was hot. Her temper and her temperature were rising as well. Had she had her pistol, she probably would’ve shot him. Probably. Maybe. Maybe . . . not.

Her gaze darted from him to the window. From the window to him. From him to the window . . . and each time she looked at him, she saw that he was watching her, fully enjoying her discomfort.

He grinned, and suggestively licked at the juices trailing from the sweet fruit, letting his tongue wrap around each section and making sure she saw him doing it. His eyes were dark, laughing, and half-veiled by heavy, thick lashes that did nothing to conceal the wicked expression that lit them.

The suckling noises increased.

“Stop it!” she hissed.

He dropped the orange section into his mouth, licked his lips with a slow, languorous, circular motion, and slowly peeled off another.

The heat rose in Maeve’s blood.

“Would you like . . . a taste, madam?”

She raised her cutlass. “I’ll give you a taste—”

“No decisive battle was ever fought from afar,” he interrupted on a low murmur, still grinning. “Nay, two vessels must lie alongside of each other in order to best bring their guns to bear.” He bit into the orange, making lewd, evocative noises as the juice trailed from the succulent flesh and dribbled down his chin. There was a dimple in that chin, and Maeve felt her heart skipping, staggering, faltering. “We have a signal for such an engagement in the navy. ’Tis called close action.”

 “You are no longer in the navy, and I am not a ship!”

“Nay, you are not . . .” His voice grew low, dangerously seductive. “But I like the cut of your jib, the taut trim of your sails”—the dark gaze slid over her breasts, the gentle flare of her hips—“the shape of your hull.”

“Get out of my bed.”

“Why? I really am most comfortable. Not as comfortable, of course, as I would be if you were to drop anchor beside me. . .”

Her skin tingled and flushed crimson. “I said, Get out of my bed!

He suckled the juice from his fingers. “What, would you prefer to do it on the floor?”

“I’d prefer that you shut your mouth before I shut it for you!”

“Now that, “ he said, wickedly, “could be interesting.”

“Damn you, I’ve had it with your sly innuendos!”

“Now, Majesty, “ he murmured, affecting a look of mock hurt. Putting the dagger down, he sat up, swung his handsomely muscled legs off the bed, and sat looking at her, charmingly boyish, alarmingly dangerous, and shamelessly naked. “Don’t go getting your guns all primed. I am just a sailor . . . and what sailor doesn’t lust and pant after a beautiful woman? I find you beautiful, and”—he let his gaze rake over her breasts, her hips, her bare ankles—“I want you.”

Maeve swallowed hard.

“Come, now, dear lady.” His hand, a broad, and callused hand—a man’s hand—slid over her silky sheets in a way that was calculated to suggest that same masterful hand roving over her equally silky flesh. He gave a slow, heated grin that sent the temperature of her blood soaring to new heights. “Don’t make me come over there and get you . . .”

His body seemed relaxed, but she sensed the raw power underneath, the ability to spring, wolflike, and bring her down like a helpless hare.

The Pirate Queen took a step backward.

“You fear me,” he murmured, his eyes glinting. He spread his hands, as though in truce, and again she was struck by the power, the strength, in those broad palms, those beautiful, tapered fingers. Shivers coursed through her. She had no trouble imagining them around her throat. No trouble imagining them crushing the life out of her.

And no trouble imagining them caressing her heated flesh.

“I fear nothing!” she snapped, defiantly. “D’you hear me? Nothing!

“No? Your lie is thoroughly unconvincing, I’m afraid. I think you fear me very much.” Rising to his feet, he took a step forward. Another. “You see, Majesty, I have waited all night and half the morning for you. I have waited . . . all my life. Now, be a good lass, and let me pleasure you. . . Love you. . . Stroke your sweet flesh into flame and fire. . . After all”—again, he flashed that disarming grin—“we have so little time left together. . .”

He took another step forward but Maeve stood her ground, gripping the raised cutlass, her gaze locked with his and every muscle in her body strung shroud-tight—

“I’m warning you, pirate!”

Sweat ran down her spine as he moved closer.

“Stay away from me!”

“So little time,” he said again—and reached for her.”

FEATURED AUTHOR: Danelle Harmon

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