Thursday, August 7, 2014



Hadley has only one dream—to see the giant squid, a creature that has always called to her. But when she is kidnapped from her expedition not only is her ambition threatened—so is everything science has taught her about what is possible.

Determined to save his princess from a fate stranger and more terrible than death, Hadrian has no qualms about using Hadley for his own ends. But he finds himself captivated by her inquiring mind and luscious body, and soon he is torn between saving his world and saving his woman.



By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, please exit this site.


Copyright © REBECCA ROYCE, 2014

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

Hadley squinted to get a better look at the man who had dragged her from her bed early that morning, tied her arms to the mast and now informed her the whole thing was a mistake. From below deck she could barely make out the sounds of a television blaring and some distant rock music. People were obviously enjoying themselves.

Hadley was not. The truth was, she could barely see without her glasses and the midday sun’s heartless glare didn’t help. If she hadn’t been so completely stunned by what had happened, she would have demanded to be taken below and spared the onslaught of the heat on her pale redhead’s skin.

He cleared his throat and repeated himself as if she were a child or a very dense adult. “On behalf of my entire crew, Ms. Pettigrew, I owe you an apology. We didn’t mean to kidnap you. It was your sister we were looking for.”

That’s somehow supposed to be better? The thought of my sister kidnapped instead of me should make me feel pleased? Is that what they think? She snorted.

“You know what?” Hadley wished, not for the first time, that she had a glass of water. “I didn’t even know pirates still roamed the Atlantic this close to Europe. Sure, I’ve seen you guys on television robbing ships and taking prisoners in places like the Indian Ocean and off the coast of Africa, but I’ll be damned if I ever expected to be taken hostage—mistake or not—this close to Great Britain.”

He raised what was to her a blurry eyebrow. She thought she might have seen a momentary smirk on his face before it disappeared, but since she was basically blind without her very thick glasses she couldn’t be sure. Kneeling in front of her, he held something out for her to see. She looked down and joy filled her heart. He’d brought her glasses.

He opened them and pushed them awkwardly onto her face so that one arm was too high over her ear and the side other poked into the side of her head. But she didn’t care. He’d given her back the gift of sight, and that now she was no longer looking at the world through a veil of unclear fog, the anger that had been hiding at the base of her spine rose inside her, threatening to spill out.

Within moments her cheeks were burning.

Her ears hadn’t deceived her. They were still in the middle of the ocean, or at least as far as she could stretch her head left and right, she couldn’t see any land. But her boat was missing from view too. Since they’d been traveling for what seemed like hours it was likely she was nowhere near anyone who could help her to escape from the clutches of these lunatics.

In her wildest dreams, she’d never anticipated that anyone would actually kidnap her. But there they had been at dawn’s break, bursting into her cabin like a herd of wild beasts, ripping her out of her bed and forcing her off her science vessel and onto their ship. The whole experience had taken less than ten minutes. As far as she could tell, they’d left her crew entirely alone, which meant they’d been looking only for her. Or rather her sister.

They must have thought she would make the best victim in whatever outlandish plot this happened to be.

She hadn’t been able to see who had actually taken her this morning, but she could now see the man who stood before her as clear as day. He might be the one who’d taken her from the boat. He might not. Hadley supposed it didn’t really matter. They were all part of the same team.

Hadley swallowed. Even squatting, it was obvious he was huge. If she’d run into him in a regular social situation she would have avoided his presence—very tall men made her nervous. Given a choice, she preferred the men she associated with to be only a few inches taller than she was, coming in at around five foot eight or so. Shaking her head, she forced herself back to the present.

She needed to focus on getting off the ship.

Hadley didn’t know that much about boats—which was funny considering her family heritage—but she knew this one was huge. Maybe ninety feet plus, making it at least three times the size of the science vessel she’d been on. It had three giant masts, including the one she was currently tied to. She’d imagined boats like this when she read travel magazines. People rented vessels to take vacations and she’d fantasized that they looked just like this one. Who’d known she would end up being carried away to God knew where on something straight out of her imagination?

She had to look out over the horizon to see the ocean, which told her she was very high up. That meant that there were multiple decks between them and the ocean.

Although she was no expert, she would guess it was somewhere between five to seven decks, maybe more. Wherever they were, they were on a significant vessel that required a large crew. Hadley took a deep breath, knowing she was in big, big trouble.

“First of all, thank you for my glasses.” She couldn’t help it. Years of boarding school had driven manners into her psyche and right now they were all that were keeping her steady and sane. Why wasn’t the man answering? “Aren’t you going to say anything?”

Nothing irritated her more than being ignored, except maybe being humored. If he really wanted to watch her explode, he could pat her on the head and say something patronizing.

He shrugged. “You’re welcome.”

“That’s not what I meant.” She was pretty sure he knew to what she was referring.

His laugh was a rich, warm caress over her shoulder, not a sensation she should be having while she sat in the blistering sun with her hands tied behind her back. Unless she had come down with Stockholm Syndrome. Was that possible? Could that happen in only a matter of hours?

“What makes you think I’m a pirate? Maybe I’m just a kidnapper looking for ransom from your father.”

His accent was American, the first she’d heard in weeks, since she was the only non-British person on board her science vessel. She would guess he was somewhere from the South. Having been raised in New York City, all the southern American dialects sounded the same to her.

His mention of her father did nothing to calm her nerves. Very few people actually knew who he was. For more years than she could imagine, her father had worked on secret government contracts to build weapons. She’d only recently discovered this fact herself.

Most people thought he ran a shipping company. Her sister, Hailey, still thought he built boats—the story he’d told them as children. But if this man knew who her father was, then it was likely he wasn’t bringing him up because he was unhappy with the date of arrival of his latest yacht purchase or the time some goods he’d ordered had been delivered. She needed to stay calm, not give away that he’d just thrown her for a loop.

She smiled. “I think it must be the get-up you’re wearing. It screams ‘pirate’.”

Why couldn’t she stop being so pleasant to this man? He and his crew had invaded her ship before the sun had risen that morning, terrified her crew and literally stolen her from her bed, dragging her onto their boat. She was still wearing her pajamas. In all truthfulness, she should be glad she’d worn clothes to bed at all. Her quarters were right next to the boiler room and some nights she had no choice but to sleep in the nude. Now that would have been humiliating.

Five minutes ago she’d been ready to gouge out his green eyes and now, because he’d brought her glasses to her, she was treating him with civility. She closed her eyes at how pathetic she was. Even with her feathers ruffled, she could never muster enough gumption to tell someone to fuck off.

“The get-up I’m wearing? It screams pirate?” His tone told her he was genuinely confused by what she’d just said to him. She let her eyes scan his body just to make sure she hadn’t been wrong in her assessment and tried not to blush at the amused glint that lit his eyes.

Six foot three inches tall and all of him toned and fit, he looked like a man who knew how to handle himself in a fight. She wondered what his name was. He’d yet to tell her.

Stick-straight, dark-brown hair hung to his shoulders, a look that might have seemed feminine on someone else but on him said sex god.

But the long hair was nothing in comparison to the rest of him. His face was long and chiseled, with black stubble covering his chin and cheeks. His eyes were almond-shaped and green, like the color of the sea they currently swept across. Long eyelashes she couldn’t help but envy covered them, as if they kept the secrets of his soul hidden from the world.

A sleeveless white shirt allowed her a view of the multitude of tattoos illustrated on his arms. The most noticeable was a giant black bird in mid-flight, which sat on the biceps of his left arm. His green pants stopped at mid-calf, a look she wasn’t used to seeing on grown men, and his feet were bare.

“You have to admit, you’re purposely giving off a buccaneer look.”

He frowned. “I am not. I’m dressed appropriately for a day at sea, that’s all.”

She shrugged, and hissed when the ropes at her wrists dug into her skin. Well that would teach her to try to be flippant while she was tied to a mast. Her captor rushed forward and loosened the restraints slightly. Before she could help herself, she sighed with relief, then wished she hadn’t. If there was anything her father had taught her over the years, it was never to let other people know you needed them.

That gave them power over you.

When he finally finished fiddling with her ropes, he stood again. “So, Ms. Pettigrew, as I was saying—”

She interrupted him. “It’s Dr. Pettigrew.”


“My name is Dr. Hadley Pettigrew. If you’re going to use a title, use the right one.”

Normally she didn’t care if someone called her “Hey you”, but right now it seemed hugely important that he know who she was. Maybe it would also subtly tell the man that she was not connected with her father in any way.

He nodded. “I knew that, actually—guess I forgot. Fair enough. Hadley, we meant to kidnap Hailey. For that I owe you an apology, but unfortunately there is nothing to be done about it now. So it looks as if you’re our captive.”


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