This week has been busy with us looking at homes in (and not in) our area. The Dude and I made the joint decision it’s time to buy, but we’re stuck now on WHERE, so the last few days has had a lot of driving around, finding and speaking to realtors, etc, trying to find the “perfect” home within our budgets.
That said, I haven’t forgotten about you. 😉 Today is Snippet Saturday Part the Second, and I dug around for some meaty bits to the story so far. I’ll probably kick myself for giving away so much beforehand (you’ll know how it all turns out at this rate! 😀 ) but hopefully these make your weekend a teensy bit brighter.
Always before, Jeremiah had been in control, but somehow this was different. He didn’t try to restrain me in any way; his kiss wasn’t an assault or struggle. His lips caressed mine like a lover, making no demands other than for permission to continue. When I opened to him, still he held back, tongue dancing and teasing. I tightened my grip around his neck, pulling him close and wanting more, but he took his time, lips and tongue a gentle torment that was nothing like I’d experienced in his hands.
He broke off the kiss, leaning his forehead against mine. Firelight danced in his eyes and, my breath catching, I traced his beloved face with my fingertips. His eyes searched mine, holding back none of what he was feeling. I read him like an open book, and the knowledge was intoxicating.
“Lucy,” he murmured, my name a benediction on his lips. Desperate longing shone through his eyes as he kissed me again before asking softly, “Stay with me tonight.”
I shut my eyes, licking my lips, then looked back up at him. Desire ached in me, alongside a bleak loneliness, and ever fiber of my being screamed for his touch. He shifted, running a hand down the side of my neck and arm. A cool island breeze brushed against my hot skin, and I shivered as he whispered my name again, lips moving across my forehead.
Both of Jeremiah’s hands clenched into fists atop the table. “I spent years fighting against people like you in the Army…”
“Then you quit that life to take over mine.” Lucas’ lips kept their upward tilt but lost what humor was left. “I was pushed out of the only existence I knew by my own brother. He took over the gilded throne and let me fall to the wolves.”
“You didn’t fall,” Jeremiah said, voice as cold as ice, “you jumped. You kept jumping, and now you’re trying to drag me down with you. Our father…”
“Your father gave you everything and left me nothing,” Lucas hissed.
“I didn’t want this!”
“But you took it anyway, didn’t you?”
“Hey,” I snapped, aware that the two men looked poised at any point to leap over the tables at the other’s throat. Peering around the room, we didn’t seem to be attracting any attention in the empty outside area, but if the conversation continued that would change. “Can we stay on subject here?” I asked in a low voice.
“You say I’m yours, but I’m not allowed to love you. So what am I? A responsibility? A liability?”
His chin came up. “I swore to protect you.”
I gaped at him. Surely he understood what I was asking. “I don’t care about my safety,” I snapped, “that’s not important right now…”
“It is to me.”
“Why?” My last word was a shout, and Jeremiah straightened up. I waved my hands around my head, unable to contain my energy. Giving an exasperated grown, I turned away, rubbing a hand over my face. When I looked back, that stoic mask was back over his face, and I suddenly wanted to cry. “Why do you think you can claim me, yet reject my love?” I murmured brokenly. “What gives you that right?”
He didn’t answer for a long moment, and I almost turned to leave when he finally spoke. “Love isn’t a happy ideal in my family.” The mask threatened to crumble for a moment before clamping back in place. “I don’t wish for the…complications love might bring.”
My shock at his short speech faded quickly. “That may be so,” I conceded, trying to make him understand, “but my parents were happily married for twenty-four years before they died. My grandparents, fifty-two. The words mean something to me.” I sighed. “I never asked for you to reciprocate, I only wanted to tell you how I feel.”
But Jeremiah just shook his head. “That word is a mere platitude. If the affection is there, why does it need to be named?”
Platitude. That word again. Oh, how I hated that word. My hands balled into fists, insides quaking at the sudden rage it induced. “You won’t even try to see my side, will you?” If it didn’t fit in with the way he believed, it was wrong. Was this the real Jeremiah? Had I been so blind this entire time?
I skittered across the floor away from the body, then beat at the hands that tried to help me up. “What the hell,” I screeched, pushing away from Lucas. Adrenaline coursed through my body and all I could do was pace, heart racing and body jittery. “Why does this always happen to me,” I demanded, unable to stand still. I dug my hands into my hair, pulling at it in frustration.
Then Lucas was in front of me, blocking any escape. “Hold still.”
I fought him for a minute, so he grabbed my shoulders and gave me a shake. “You’re bleeding, let me take a look.” His eyes narrowed shrewdly. “Stop fighting. I doubt you’d take kindly to being slapped right now.”
Damned right. The threat did however calm me down enough for him to press a dishrag that I hoped was clean against the wound. “I have a first aid kit in my bathroom. Kolya, take care of the body and figure out how he got onto this ship.”
I slapped away his hands, determined to walk by myself, then screeched again as he lifted me up in his arms. All I wanted to do was be left alone, but he carried me kicking and screaming back to the room, dumping me on the bed before shutting the door. He rummaged through the bathroom, then came out holding a big red box. “Hold still, I want to look at that.”
Grumpy, I complied reluctantly, flinching away with a hiss when the alcohol stung. “My life was so boring before I met you and your brother,” I muttered. “Is this some sort of cosmic payback for being the dullest girl on the planet for so long?”
“Perhaps,” Lucas quipped, and at my dark look he laughed.
“Then I’m to believe your visit here was totally by chance?”
Lucas sounded like he was talking about the weather, but like his brother I sensed something dangerous behind the words. Niall on the other hand didn’t seem quite as tuned in to the Hamilton universe. “I saw a chance, I took it?” he said, shrugging.
Rage suffused Lucas’ face, taking me by surprise. Gone was the happy-go-lucky persona; like flipping a switch, Lucas looked ready to kill. He advanced on Niall, the gun pointing at the Australian’s head.
“Son.” At Matthews’ gruff call, Lucas hesitated. The grizzled sea captain was watching the younger man closely. “Don’t do it.”
For a handful of seconds it looked as though Lucas wasn’t going to listen, then the switch was pressed and a smiling mask came over him again. “You’re lucky that I’m a nice person,” he said, raising the gun so it pointed at the ceiling. He signaled behind him. “Let his man take him downstairs, then lock them both in the hold with a first aid kit.”
“You’re going to pay for this,” Niall muttered as his man helped him to his feet. It looked as though Jeremiah had only shot him in one leg both times. “I know people on the outside, and they won’t take kindly when I tell them…”
Lucas lowered his gun again, casually firing at the good leg, and Niall collapsed into his bodyguard. “Okay, so I’m not that nice.”