Page 6 of Hawkes Harbor

And on a ship full of beautiful women there was one who seemed lit by a spotlight.

He couldn't figure out why this one girl was so special—even her beauty was dimmed by her fearless assurance. Her brazenness went beyond bravado—he'd seen tough chicks before.

She owned the world.

Small, she had hair of a dark shiny mahogany red, dark eyes; she was tanned a deep russet brown. She had a perfect body, breasts as round as small grapefruits—most of the day she only wore an orange bikini bottom, sometimes threw a man's white shirt over it, and somehow made that the perfect uniform for the Riviera.

She spoke so many languages Jamie had a hard time figuring out her nationality, kissed so many men he had a hard time deciding which was the fiancee; altogether, he had a hard time every time he saw her.

He couldn't remember wanting a girl as badly as he wanted this one.

He couldn't even have a good time at a whorehouse; the ones who looked like his passengers were too expensive, the others seemed stale and dull. And not one of them owned the world.

Her name was Selene.

He watched the young rich set skiing and swimming and speedboating, dancing and dining. He served their drinks, did his job, had his fantasies.

He took the first chance he was offered.

The other deckhand, the Frenchman, could swim, but obviously only as an alternative to drowning; Jamie would as soon be in the water as on the boat—no dreams of sharks ever troubled his sleep.

With inward reservations, the captain asked Jamie to keep an eye on the swim platform.

They drank a lot on the swim raft; the pleasant sweet smell of marijuana wafted from that end of the boat.

Jamie gloated when privately asked to add lifeguarding to his duties—Selene was always basking in the sun, like it gave her a deep, sensual pleasure.

He had many thoughts about having her in broad daylight, in the hot sun of the afternoon.

She gleamed in the light like a jewel.

It was late one afternoon, when they were anchored off Saint-Tropez. Jamie was free for a couple of hours; he decided to go for a swim himself if the swim raft was empty.

A hot pallor hung over the ship as it bobbed languidly in the dark blue water. The boat was quiet, it was the hour when most rested for the evening.

Selene was alone on the raft, and she looked up as he paused in the stairwell.

Jamie felt his heart quicken, the immediate throb of desire.

She was stretched out on a large turquoise beach towel, a Tom Collins glass beside her.

Gin and lemon. That was her drink. Jamie made them extra strong for her but could tell no difference in her behavior.

"Need another drink?" Jamie asked. His tongue felt swollen. The air seemed to hang heavy and hot.

She raised her sunglasses and held up her suntan lotion.

"Could you put a little on my back? I can't bear to leave while there is any sun left."

Her English was accented, but he couldn't place it.

Jamie stood motionless. "Sure."

Elation vied with nervousness for only a moment, as he jumped down the stairwell onto the deck.

She rolled onto her stomach. Jamie sat beside her. He could smell lemon juice in her glossy hair, then the coconut scent of the lotion overpowered it.

He had never touched such satiny skin. The lotion slid over it. She was very warm, almost hot, to his touch. She caught her breath, and he smoothed the lotion over her shoulders, down her back, ran a finger gently but firmly down her backbone. He swallowed as she made no move to stop him. He went a short way into the crease of her buttocks. She had a small, heart-shaped butt, just made for gripping.

"Your name is Jamie?" she asked softly.

The sound of his name in her mouth made his heart stop.

"Yes."

"That is very nice, Jamie."

He grew more confident, remembering other female bodies under his hands—

He smoothed the lotion on the back of her legs, thighs, slid his hand under the bikini bottom...

The sun hung heavy and hot and motionless in the sky, no air stirred.

Selene sighed and rolled over on her back. She kept her eyes closed under her sunglasses, but her breathing changed. A heavy excitement pushed every thought from Jamie's mind, except for this ... here ... now...

His hand, still slick with lotion, slid downward—he paused to rub her navel with a gentle finger, exploring ... mimicking a thrusting motion. Then he slid it between her legs. She moaned, shuddered into climax.

Jamie had tears in his eyes from holding back, his whole body ached with tenseness; he bent over to kiss the lips that had swollen on their own ... oh God, he couldn't wait much longer.

The stinging slap startled him so much he took almost a minute to realize it came from her.

"And what do you think—I would get personal with a deckhand? That such a person could kiss me?"

Her voice dripped amused scorn.

"W-w-what?" Of all times for his stammer to reappear. He thought he had never been so hard, so ready...

"Go away." She rolled back onto her stomach, but not quickly enough to hide her smirk.

Jamie's face went hot, but he couldn't even grasp at anger, through the intense frustration.

He heard the speedboat coming and stumbled to his feet, to his cabin, while the slap still burned like a brand on his face.

A cold shower didn't help—he had to take care of it the old-fashioned way.

And thinking of her...

He had to bartend that night; the guests were all motoring over to a cruise ship for dinner. He was grateful for that.

If he thought he had to wait tables tonight he'd throw himself overboard.

And the way he swam it'd take days to drown.

Selene was a wearing a white Moroccan caftan that clung enough to show she wasn't wearing anything under it.

She was the most beautiful of a set of beautiful girls. And as he went by them with a tray of drinks he heard his name mentioned in a stream of foreign language, the sound of laughter, unmistakable in any language.

He went hot, and later, as she sauntered by him, he felt her hand squeeze his butt.

He had never hated anyone so much. He had never wanted anyone so much. He had never experienced hate and desire at the same time. By the next day it was apparent she was going to continue tormenting him.

He couldn't touch her. But if this went on much longer, he couldn't not touch her. He would lose control.

He had never hated a woman before, had never even slapped a whore. These violent fantasies were new to him.

But in reality, he dreaded being around her bold smirk. She was always brushing up against him, many times he felt her hand. And he was still so excited by her it was impossible to conceal it.

He knew what she was whispering to her friends, and they laughed at him for it. He knew he should quit before he killed someone.

But he couldn't even imagine what elaborate tale Kellen would make of it, if he quit. He knew he'd meet up with Kell sooner or later; he'd seen him twice on the Riviera, getting into a limo, playing tennis at a hotel where Jamie was picking up guests.

He could just imagine saying, "Yeah, I had a great job till some little rich bitch ran me off."

No girl was going to chase him off this boat.

He stayed and did his job. Got madder, and hotter. It was his first experience with obsession.

And very late one night, when they had cruised back to Saint-Tropez and docked, when the French deckhand was in the town for some kind of family reunion, the captain busy in his cabin aft, and Jamie lay in his bunk, hot-eyed and fantasizing, Selene slipped down the narrow stairs of the hatch and stood next to him.

Wordlessly, he grabbed her wrist and in a second she was pinned under him. He had no thought but vengeance.

She was wearing a short white terry robe; when he yanked it open she was wearing nothing.

He couldn't breathe.

Her eyes glittered in the dark like a cat's. "I like it rough," she said, breathless.

"You came to the right place," Jamie muttered. He pinned her wrists over her head with one hand, the other grasped a breast viciously.

He kissed her mouth hard, biting to make her lips swell. His knees forced her legs apart.

"You came to the right place."

He entered her immediately, and began acting out his dreams.

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