DAYS OF DESIRE
by Tina Donahue
Genre: Historical Romance
Pub Date: 7/4/2017
In a pirate’s lair, nothing is as it seems . . .
When Royce Hastings is found washed up on the shore of a verdant tropical
island, he tells the natives he is a merchant headed for Mozambique.
The truth, however, is far more mercenary. Noble by birth, the once
favored Royce has lost his fortune and family; now he is a hired
henchman on the trail of an elusive pirate. His “shipwreck” was a
fake. He’ll stop at nothing to infiltrate the island and capture
his prey. His mother and sisters’ lives depend on it.
The last thing Royce expects is to be captured himself. But the lovely young woman
who tends to his wounds in the tropics quickly takes hold of his
heart. Simone is the island’s healer, and her skilled ministrations
not only awaken his soul but disturb his conscience. His path has
been predetermined; his identity must remain concealed at all costs.
Yet the passion he feels in Simone’s sultry, loving arms cannot be
denied. With his loyalties torn, Royce must make an agonizing,
unthinkable choice. . . .
“Diana Fletcher is mine.” Benedict Bishop pinched snuff generously between his stout fingers. “You will make certain to deliver her.”
In times past, Royce Hastings would have dismissed Bishop as the swine he was. Not now. Circumstances were not in Royce’s favor, his loved ones’ future in his hands. If he made a wrong move or didn’t do everything Bishop demanded of him, his mother and sisters would pay with their freedom, virtue, and perhaps their lives.
Quelling his outrage, he simply listened and endured.
Bishop sniffed the tobacco. Face contorted, he sneezed explosively into a lace-edged handkerchief then blew his nose. The resultant honk mingled with the din outside the shadowed room. Horse hooves clopped, carriage wheels clattered, merchants hawked their wares. Slaves were among the
A nude young woman, her skin as dark as night, fanned Bishop with ostrich feathers. The air she produced did naught to relieve the oppressive heat and humidity flowing through the open windows.
Sweat bathed Bishop’s ruddy face and numerous chins. He blotted each.
Another female slave knelt on the polished stone floor, kneading his fleshy calves and naked feet.
He cleared his throat. “Tristan Kent will hang, of course, along with Diana’s brother, Peter.” His beady eyes gleamed. “That will teach her to try to get away from me.”
Only a woman gone mad would willingly be at Bishop’s side. Old
and ugly, he stank of rose water, the scent heavy and cloying. “Have you considered Diana never joined you here because she and the others might be dead?”
“Impossible.” He set his powered wig more firmly on his head. “Natives have heard of a white man and others on an island off Madagascar. From the description they provided, that man has to be Kent and his pirate crew. They also mentioned a white woman. Who else but Diana could be with them?”
“How can you be certain the natives spoke truthfully?”
Nasty business that consisted of a rope wrapped around a victim’sskull, then tightened until his eyes burst out. The perfect torture chosen by barely civilized men. “How many did you have questioned and killed?”
“Enough. Once my agents dispatched several, those remaining were eager to divulge everything. Except the island location, which they swore they didn’t know. I believe them.” He flicked a persistent fly from his brocade coat. “Even a witless savage wouldn’t willingly die or risk his children’s deaths to keep such a secret. The whereabouts are for you to discover. My crew will help you capture Diana, the others, and islanders, if there are any. The natives should bring a fair slave price, compensating
me for losing the Lady Lark. However, if the vessel’s about, you’ll return it with everything else.”
As easily as that. The man was either stupid or insane. “Have you any idea who Tristan Kent truly is? Not romantic rumors on how he treats his crew and captives, but fact. Mainly, what he’s capable of.”
“He’s taken enough ships from me to prove he must hang. I will not rest until he does.”
“If he’s had Diana for as long as you say, she could be with child by now.”
Bishop curled his upper lip. “Until I discard her, she belongs to me, no other man. If she’s conceived, once she births the bastard I’ll give it away or send it to a workhouse. Not my concern.”
Even the Devil wasn’t as foul. “Her reaction to your plan should worry you deeply. The moment you give her infant away and see her brother’s neck broken, prepare for her to plot your end. I promise it won’t be pleasant.
Females are curious like that when it comes to their families. As far as Kent goes, you believe he’ll be easy to fight and win against? A pirate no one has yet to catch?” Royce leaned up in his chair. “If he’s alive, has an island, and Diana, he will protect both, especially if she’s carrying his child. A frontal attack would be suicide. Should anyone escape death, he would hound them and you to the ends of the earth.”
“You sound afraid.”
“I would expect daring from a man who is willing to engage in the foulest deeds for much-needed capital. It would seem your reversal of fortune has affected far more than your appearance.”
Royce suppressed a retort at how common he must look to a windbag like Bishop. Wigs were for fools who had gone bald or cared what others thought, not him. In this clime, silks and velvets were a torment only a simpleton would suffer. Royce’s wool breeches and linen shirt clung to him, providing enough discomfort. “Unlike some others, I value good sense.”
“You should have thought of that before your—damnation.” Bishop jerked his leg from the slave. “You scratched me.” Rage tightened his features. “Filthy savage.” He slammed his cane on her shoulder.
The crack and her shriek tore through the smallish space. Moans followed. Trembling, the slave drew her arms and legs into herself. Royce gripped the walking stick before Bishop hit her again. “Beat her to death and you lose valuable merchandise.” All that mattered to men like him.
“She deserves punishment.” Bishop tugged his cane.
Royce held on to it. “You’ve succeeded in drawing blood and proving your superiority.”
“I’ll do far worse to her and to Diana. She’s the one who should be naked and cowering at my feet, and she will be with your help.”
Royce wrested the cane away, then hurled the thing. It struck the
whitewashed wall and clacked against a table. He dropped to his chair.
“Any woman will fight to her death if you threaten her child or family.”
“Diana has no power. No female has.
“You.” He threw his buckled shoe at the beaten slave. “See to your task and take care this time, lest I kill you.” He stuck out his portly leg.
Tears slid down the young woman’s ebony cheeks. She crawled to his side and stroked him.
He sighed noisily. “See what a strong hand does? It instills fear and obedience. No matter what you may believe, you have no control over this situation, any more than a slave, Diana, or Kent does. You will do as I demand or risk everything. Tell me, what would you do if harm came to your mother and sisters?”
Bile rose in Royce’s throat. He swallowed the hideous taste. On Bishop’s word, Royce’s sisters and mother could be lost to him forever because he hadn’t the funds to buy back their freedom. To bring them home.
His determination to succeed grew icy, his calculation cold. Having Bishop’s neck in his hands was going to be heaven. A murder he promised himself once he had the money to rescue his family. “Care to find out?”
Fear registered in Bishop’s dark eyes. He fiddled with his lacy collar.
“You best see to your undertaking. If nothing else, Diana’s enslavement, along with Kent and Peter’s deaths will ensure your loved ones’ well-being.”
Tina Donahue is
an Amazon and international bestselling novelist in erotic,
paranormal, contemporary, and historical romance for traditional
publishers and indie. Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Romantic Times and
numerous online sites have praised her work. Three of her erotic
novels (Freeing the Beast, Come and Get Your Love, and Wicked Takeover)
were Readers’ Choice Award winners. Another three of her erotic
novels (Adored; Deep, Dark, Delicious; Lush Velvet Nights)
were named finalists in the 2011 EPIC competition. Sensual
Stranger, her erotic romance, was chosen Book of the Year 2010 (erotic
category) at the French review site, Blue Moon reviews. The Golden
Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was to created specifically for her
erotic romance Lush Velvet Nights. Deep, Dark, Delicious received
an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition. Take
Me Away captured second place in the NEC-RWA contest. And The
Yearning was honored with an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition.
She’s featured in the 2012 Novel and Writer’s Market.
Before penning romances, she worked in Story Direction for a
Hollywood production company.
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