Alicia Davidson thought her memory loss and scar were the result of a childhood fall. When she discovers the truth, and that she has a sister she doesn't remember, Alicia will stop at nothing to fill in the missing pieces of her past. Her determination will pit her against a man who not only resents her, but who awakens a flood of desire.***
Blake Merritt makes it clear he wants nothing to do with Alicia or anyone bearing the Davidson name. Only when Alicia stows away on his ship does he concede to take her to her sister. His hope is that the faster he gets rid of Alicia, the faster he'll forget her. But he hadn't planned on falling in love with her.
The trip to find her sister is a rocky one filled with fiery emotions, the shocking confession of Blake's anger toward her family, a passion that runs hot as the Caribbean sun and the discovery of a traitor who wields the power to once again take away everything Alicia holds dear.
"You're Blake Merritt?" she asked.
"Last time I checked."
Alicia exhaled heavily. "Well, this is unexpected."
"As is your presence here." He looked over her brown trousers and white shirt. "Mourning periods must be getting shorter and shorter."
Her mouth pinched. "I am in mourning, but it's not practical to travel in a heavy skirt. And I'm here because I require your help."
Blake crossed his arms over his chest. "I wasn't aware that I'd given you the impression of someone who cared."
"You haven't" she answered. "And had I known it was you he'd sent me to, I may have reconsidered."
Blake gestured to the door. "It's never too late."
"And give you the satisfaction? I think not."
"Well, let's say I am not in the giving mood. Whatever it was you needed from me, you'll have to find elsewhere."
"What is it ya need?" Captain asked.
"I'm looking for someone. Her name is Samantha. She was last seen five years ago leaving Port Royal on a stolen sloop."
"Well, now that we have so much to go on, let's not waste any more time. I mean, five years. Why, she's practically around the corner," Blake taunted.
"Samantha..." Captain said with some thought. "Are ya family?"
Alicia nodded. "She's my sister. But I don't know where she is."
"And she's in a sloop, ya say?"
"No," Blake corrected. "She was five years ago."
"That's what I was told," she said, once again talking to Captain.
"Hmm..." Captain said, rubbing his protruding belly. "I don't know 'ow much value this is to ya, but me knows a Samantha."
"Oh, good. I'll go ready the ship," Blake muttered.
"She's about yer height, a little older. Her hair is darker than yers, but I know her and Luke own a sloop." He shrugged. "Might be the same girl."
"You expect me to sail off to..."
Blake choked. "You want me to sail to St. Kitts on the chance that this is the same woman?" He looked from Captain to Alicia, not sure who was more mad. "I won't waste my bloody time, nor that of my crew."
"How far is St. Kitts?" Alicia asked.
"At least a six day's sail, longer if ya get bad weather."
"Doesn't matter how long it takes as I won't be taking you."
Her hand dropped back to her side. "We've never met. Why is it that you hate me so?"
Though the rum was starting to work, it wasn't enough to shut out her words. And it certainly wasn't enough to tell her the reason for his hatred.
"I've heard of you, let's leave it at that. And I won't sail you anywhere, therefore it appears you've wasted your time."
She pulled an envelope from the bag she carried and dropped it on the table.
"Perhaps this will change your mind."
He recognized the swirl of letters and knew who'd written his name.
"Where did you get this?" he demanded, all fuzziness gone from his head.
"I found it in my father's effects. There was a letter for me as well. He was the one who told me that should I look for Samantha, I should seek your help."
"How is it ye don't know where she is?" Captain asked.
"We were separated years ago and I lost my memory. I don't remember anything before I was twelve, and that includes Samantha."
Blake sneered. "Let me guess. You're loving father knew all along you had a sister and he only decided to tell you after he'd died?"
She looked down her nose at him, her color returning. "That's right."
"Why am I not surprised?" he muttered.
"He also said you were a good man that I could trust."
Her tone left no doubt that she believed the complete opposite.
Blake didn't open the letter. It was too late for words, or apologies, or anything else that could be written on that parchment. And her sad tale didn't change that. If anything, it infuriated him further. He refused to let himself be used.
"Well?" Captain asked, his gaze darting between her and Blake. "What'll it be?"
Blake leaned forward, shoving aside the letter with his elbow. "I'll tell you what it'll be," he answered, his gaze piercing hers. "It'll be a cold day in Hell before I take you anywhere."
Her jaw clenched and her eyes hardened. She braced her hands on the table and leaned forward. "I don't know who you are, or how you knew my father, but clearly he was mistaken about you."
"That, my dear, is the first thing you've said that I agree with." And because the truth of that haunted him every day, he raised his cup to his lips and drank.