Excerpt from Chapter 3 of The Price Of Eden by Bren Yarbrough Bruhn
|THE PRICE OF EDEN
Excerpt from Chapter Three
Cait moved a hand to her throbbing head, covering her eyes as she fought the confusion that clouded her mind. Lowering her hand, her eyes became brilliant and wide, then blazed with fire as she recognized the man sitting beside her on the bunk.
She screamed, the sound sending a sharp bolt of pain through her head. Her eyes traveled over Wolf's bare torso, then moved to his raven hair, hanging loose around his broad shoulders. It took her a moment more for it to register that she was partially undressed too, but when she did, she sat up swiftly on the bunk. The scream had been nothing compared to the agonizing pain her abrupt movement caused.
Outside, everyone heard Cait's scream. Zack smiled smugly, then glanced back at the other men. Daniel took a step in the direction of the door. Zack moved forward and caught him by the arm."Don't go in there," he warned.
Daniel shot him a perplexed look as he protested, "But . . . Cait . . ."
Zack led him away from the door. "Don't worry, Daniel. You trust Wolf don't you?" Daniel nodded in agreement.
"Then let him handle this," he said. He was curious as to just how Wolf would handle the situation, but he knew it would be much more entertaining without Daniel's interference. And with any luck at all, maybe this experience was just what Wolf needed to bring him to his senses.
Inside the cabin, Cait was calling Wolf every name she could think of, trying to cover herself with the sheets with one hand, while trying to scratch his eyes out with the other. In a crab-like motion, she scooted to the far corner of the bunk, holding the sheet tightly to her body.
"Just as I was beginning to think I could trust you, you turn out to be a sneaky, lying, cheating . . ." she searched her mind for an appropriate word, but could find nothing vile enough to describe him. She had already used every word she could think of, except swear words, and she was tempted to toss in a few of those, because she could never recall being quite this furious at anyone.
"What have you done with my brother? And what were you attempting to do to me?" she demanded in outrage.
"I haven't done anything with Daniel, and I was only trying to help you!" Wolf answered. "If you will—“
"You mean only trying to help yourself!" Cait interrupted sharply. "You promised me that I need not fear you invading my privacy! But now I awaken to find you undressing me!"
Then another thought occurred to her as she recalled the peculiar odor of the chowder she had eaten before she had gotten sick again, fueling her rage further. "You put something in my food, didn't you?" she gasped furiously. “You planned to take advantage of me while I slept!" Another spate of insults erupted from her lips as she shot him a scathing glare.
Wolf eyed her with amused patience, grateful that she appeared to be her old self again and exhibited no signs of a life threatening injury. He remained silent, waiting for her to exhaust her vocabulary so he could explain. At length, she paused, still glaring at him while she gathered ammunition for another verbal assault.
"Madam, you are indeed very much confused, and you seem to have a very high opinion of yourself," he said, his grin mockingly congenial. "I have never met a woman who would warrant such tactics. It may surprise you to learn that many women are most eager to share my bed, and don't have to be drugged, or even coaxed, to find great pleasure in doing so."
"But you knew I would never do so willingly!" she shouted belligerently. "I am a married woman, and even if I were not, I'm nothing like the other women whose company you seem to prefer."
His grin widened, his gaze sweeping her. "Even if I did want you that badly, I certainly could have conceived a much better way than to take you while you were full of that disgusting mess and suffering from a head wound," he replied calmly.
"What?" she asked, her hand moving to her throbbing head. Due to her frenetic activity, the wound had started to bleed again, a tiny rivulet of blood inching its way to her eyebrow. When she pulled her hand away, there was blood on her fingertips.
Wolf reached down and snatched up the already bloody napkin he had been using, tossing it in her direction. She caught it in mid-air, clutching the sheet tightly around her with one arm across her breasts. Eyeing him cautiously, she gingerly applied the napkin to the wound, wincing slightly.
"All right, then!" she said with a pout. "But why did you find it necessary to remove my clothes?" Then her eyes roamed over his body again. "And just what are you doing half-naked yourself?" she asked, her eyes narrowed.
"For one reason, I was afraid that you had some sort of serious internal injury, since you were having trouble breathing. And it's no wonder. That damned corset was so tight I'm surprised it wasn't cutting off your circulation. And for another . . . to be quite frank madam, you stink to high heaven."
"I what?" Cait demanded in outrage.
"Breathe," he commanded.
"I said breathe!"
Cait sat up straight and took a deep breath, her stomach flipping queasily. She immediately put a hand to her mouth. "Oh!" she gasped, her nose wrinkling in distaste. "What on earth is that stench?"
A smug smile teased the corners of Wolf's lips. "That delightful odor is courtesy of you, my dear. If you don't believe me, feel free to examine the garment yourself," he said, lifting the offending article of clothing from the floor and presenting it to her in a tightly balled fist.
She shook her head, covering her nose and mouth with the sheet. "Get it out of here!"
Wolf arched a brow, "Oh, now you want me to remove it?" he asked sarcastically, his grin widening.
Her eyes closed, Cait nodded enthusiastically, a crimson blush creeping up her neck. Then her thoughts returned to the other question she'd asked, which he still had not answered.
"But if you were truly only trying to help me, then perhaps you will be so kind as to explain why you're half naked, too!" she shouted, her temper rising again.
A scowl darkened his features, his own anger igniting to think she still clung to the ridiculous illusion that he been attempting to rape her. "Since you were confined to this cabin, I saw no harm in sailing this vessel dressed in any way I please. If I take a notion, I'll stand at the helm buck naked! It is my ship!" he ground out through clenched teeth.
Cait stared at him, her eyes wide, her mouth agape. A vision of Wolf standing naked at the helm of his ship formed in her mind. Sudden warmth suffused her cheeks as she visualized his taut buttocks and muscular thighs without the thin layer of clothing he wore now. The very thought unsettled her, but at the same time the idea of him piloting his ship in such a way struck her as being ridiculously funny. Her anger vanished instantly as she fought to shake the image from her mind. Her eyes tilted up to his face as he stood regarding her with slight contempt. Try as she might, she could not control the gale of giggles that bubbled to her lips.