19 - What Happens on A Cruise, Stays on The Cruise
What was it about the smile she wore on her face or the beat tapping out of her lipstick-red painted toes that made him think it was okay to raise that question.
Or was that it? Raise it when she'd least expect it.
Because his eyes conveyed words, she wants his lips to keep entombed. The question raised, raised emotions; she's hoping she'll never have to speak.
Very much invited, the unmistakable sweet-tropical scent of coconut, baked-on-skin, dropped itself amid this non-verbal conversation. She felt saved by a scented bell, knowing she no longer needed to verbalise her answer. But certainly, whoever had just saved her deserved her attention.
Only, the belle she'd looked up to find wore a black bikini, topped off with a messy, platinum-blonde up knot. The last person she'd been expecting to see.
Hiii, how was your horseriding? Her eyes darting from Lemara to Joshua.
Not quite approving of the view her sunglasses brought her, Lemara lifted them off her eyes. That or her Dark and Stormy cocktail had a double shot of West Indian elixir. But since neither of those was to blame, she lowered the sunglasses back in place.
It was Natalie.
It was good.
His good ending with a pitch nearer G causing Lemara to look back at him.
Lemara certainly enjoyed herself. Reaching over and brushing the top of her right thigh.
Yes, we had a great time. Gave Josh a chance to hone in on his riding prowess.
Goading as she reached over for her cocktail, taking a sip in a silent cheer to herself.
Awesome. Then, if you're ever in Kentucky, come out and stay at my families horse ranch. Grinning like a Cheshire cat at Joshua.
That horse did a funky shizzle. That, was not how the conversation was supposed to go. That, was certainly not what Lemara had in mind. That cannon well and truly backfired.
You'd love that, Em. Looking over at Lemara.
Uhmm. Lips pursed, meeting his eyes.
What breed of horses do you have?
Turning back to Natalie. His interest spiked in spades.
Oh, mostly American Saddlebreds. Beautiful horses. Hey, do you ever fly to Kentucky?
Not a route we fly, no. His eyes perusing a virtual map for confirmation of that answer.
That's a shame.
Ahh, such a shame indeed, Lemara mused.
What about Nashville? Natalie continued.
God, this woman was relentless.
That's a route we do fly.
You'd never guessed it, but Natalie offered herself a seat at the end of Joshua's lounger, brushing sand off his feet. Lemara's breath almost caught, Joshua looked at his feet.
You've got sand on your feet.
No shit Sherlock.
That's actually better. She continued. It's quicker to get from Nashville to the ranch. So yes, anytime, let me know.
Yes, sure, why not. That should be fun.
Unintentionally mirroring Joshua, Lemara laid back, watching the two in full banter.
Plus, we have a lakeside cabin a half days ride away. It's pretty basic, no electricity, gas, internet, just nature. We can...
Whose the 'we' she's really referring to?
...stay over, watch the stars light up the sky, go fishing...
Sounds good, but Em loves her creature comforts. Looking over at Lemara and taking her right hand in his left.
Nice to know she's suddenly remembered.
Well, I'm going to let you guys enjoy your tacos. Gonna try and catch a few more rays before we have to head back to the ship.
By the way, what's the name of your ranch?
I'll tell you later. Waving as she walked away.
That enjoy could not have been anymore forced out of Lemara.
Natalie had finally walked away, but Joshua's eyes followed, and Lemara's followed his.
Nice of her to invite us to her ranch.
When finally he looked back to Lemara, he'd significantly misjudged the situation.
No, Josh, she invited you to the ranch. And I can almost bet on the pair of heels you just bought me; the riding she wants to do is not on her four-legged American Saddlebreds.
He laughed out loud.
You're betting your heels?
That's pretty serious. What riding does she want to do?
On the West Indian thoroughbred lying next to me.
They both laughed.
I need a swim. Inhaling deeply.
You do, do you? Eyes slanted at him.
Yes. Joining me?
No. But I'll walk you to the water; it's a bit treacherous out there. Snakes in the sand and all that! Flicking her eyes in the direction Natalie went.
He laughed, stood up, pulling her up with him. Hugging, inhaling her, as he often does. She felt his heat.
Now where were we. Kissing her left shoulder.
Still on a beach in Cozumel. Nibbling on his ear.
Hmm. His tone hot, low.
A forefinger traced a line from the tip of her nose to her lower lip. She nipped it. He smoldered.
Right hand in his right, his left hand on her rear, they strolled across the hot sand, chatting, laughing. Joshua suddenly picking her up, throwing her over his right shoulder, the end of her long braids whipping at the back of his knees.
Josh! Stop. Put me down. Full of giggles.
Ah ah! You're coming in with me.
Josh, my braids are going to get wet, put me down. Squealing upside down at his back.
Em, you say that as if your nearest bottle of shampoo and conditioner is back at Heathrow.
Ignoring her protests, he kept his stride and into the water; the ends of her braids becoming synchronised swimmers.
Josh. No. Put. Me. Down. Kicking up her feet.
You, do not, say no to your captain.
Captain, my ass! Giggling uncontrollably.
He stopped, but for what reason, captain, ass or a big fish?
That remark got her on her two feet. Exactly where she wanted to be. Free of his hold, she made a dart for the shore, but Joshua quickly caught her by the waist. She never really had any chance in highwater of escaping him, but it was worth the try.
Now I'm definitely not letting you go.
He was in hysterics; she was in hysterics. Bent over his hold across her waist. His right arm single-handedly carrying her further out to sea with him.
Josh, my braids
Baby, we'll wash them later.
They'll take forever to dry.
Shoulder deep in the water, he stopped brought her around to face him.
Wrap your legs and arms around me. Captain Hart was in control.
No. She mocked in disagreement.
If you don't, I'll drop you.
You'd never. Shrieking with confidence from her vulnerable position.
She felt him loosen his hold.
Ahhh... Josh, I swear.
You swear what? Further loosening his grip. You swear to wrap those legs of yours around me?
He brought her face up to his. Those eyes gazing back at her weren't eyes of Joshua ready to drop her. Rather they compelled her. Compelled her to wrap her arms around his neck, lock her legs around his hips.
I can do better than that! She sparked.
A wicked smile graced his lips when he dipped her back and she clung to him with all fours.
I like it when you do what your told. Lowering his mouth decidedly over hers.
Like her arms, their tongues locked, danced. The sea cooled but his hell stirred. She smiled, then gasped, he'd shifted her bikini, cupping her hips, pinning her to the nothing between him and his hell-raiser. A small moan left her lips.
Hell stoked the fire she held between open thighs. Blood rushed her veins, ran hot. His tongue salty, deep and breathless when finally, they came up for air.