Mouth dry, he swallowed and shook his head, partly to refute her question and partly to clear it from the haze that had engulfed it.
He wanted to reach out a hand to her waist and pull her down to him. He wanted to roll her onto the sand and...
‘Next time you decide to go out into the lagoon, make sure you let someone know,’ he said in a far harsher tone than he’d intended.
Suddenly he felt furious. He should be in Paris finalising the documents that would make the completion of the Plushenko deal a formality, not worrying about the safety of the woman whose actions had been the catalyst preventing him from being in Paris. He certainly shouldn’t be fantasising about making love to her, and certainly not right now when there was an emergency afoot.
She eyed him coolly before a tight, emotionless smile formed on her face and, so quickly that he had no time to react, she gathered her thick hair together and wrung it out again, this time over him, cold droplets falling onto his chest.
He jumped back. ‘What did you do that for?’
‘Because I felt like it,’ she answered with a shrug. ‘And because I’ve possibly just spent the most relaxing, wonderful hour of my entire life and you’ve ruined my mood completely with your irrational sanctimony.’
‘I am being neither irrational nor sanctimonious.’ He gritted his teeth together. He would hold on to his temper if it killed him. ‘Anything could have happened to you out there. You might have got cramp...’
‘Anything could have happened, but it didn’t.’
‘But if it had there would have been no one there to help you. In future, I would appreciate it if you let someone know when you’re planning an activity with danger attached to it.’
Her eyes held his, narrowing, studying him, before he caught an imperceptible shift in them, as if they’d melted a little. Her clamped lips relaxed, a wry smile playing on the corners. ‘Message received.’
‘Good.’ All the same, he made a mental note to warn his staff to keep an extra eye on her. Emily had a reckless streak in her. He would not have anything happen to her when she was on his island and under his protection.
‘Was there a particular reason you sought me out? Or are you just stalking me? Only, it’s the second time you’ve come looking for me today.’
He ignored her flippancy. ‘The tropical storm I mentioned earlier has changed paths—only slightly, but it’s now heading for us.’ He’d been given the news on his way to the dining hall.
She blanched and tilted her face upwards. ‘I thought it felt a little breezy.’
The wind was slowly picking up speed, a few tendrils of her drying hair lifting with the breeze.
‘These storms can turn from nothing to something very quickly.’
A sharp breath escaped her pretty lips. ‘Okay, so what do we do?’
‘What we do is go to safety,’ he said grimly.
‘Are we leaving the island?’
‘No. We have the necessary shelter and provisions here.’
‘The way you were talking, it was as if we had to move to safety now.’
‘We do. The ocean currents are already strengthening. I’ve sent the last of my staff who live on the neighbouring islands home so they can be with their families, but the rest of us need to move to higher ground.’
* * *
Emily had been a touch sceptical about Pascha’s insistence that they head straight for the shelter. Now she understood. The weather was changing far too quickly, even for her liking.
When they’d started walking the trail, a different path to the one she’d followed to the waterfall, the sun still blazed down on them. They finished guided by Pascha’s powerful torch.
He’d insisted she carry a torch too, which she’d nestled in her rucksack with the few other items he’d permitted her to bring to the shelter. He’d chivvied her along in her hut, glaring at her while she’d debated what she needed to take.
In the end, he’d snapped with exasperation, ‘The lodge and its huts are designed to the highest of standards. The chances of it sustaining any significant damage are very slim. Your possessions will be fine.’
‘Then why are we going somewhere else for shelter?’ she’d asked.
‘Because a slim chance is worse than no chance. The shelter’s on high ground and is designed to withstand the worst the weather can throw at us. I can guarantee your safety there.’
The wind had picked up as they walked but had no more strength than a mildly blustery English day. She knew this would increase, could feel it in the air around her. And she could see it. It wasn’t yet full sunset but thick, black clouds covered what was left of the sun, the previously cobalt sky now a dismal dark grey.