She played right into his hands.
Possessing uncanny people-reading skills like her mama, Philadelphia “Dell” Samuels has spent thirteen years in her aunt’s rustic Ozarks home, telling fortunes over playing cards and trying to pass as white. But the treacherous Mississippi River childhood her mama dragged her away from finally catches up to her on a steamboat captained by her old friend Rory Campbell.
Known to his crew as the Devil’s Henchman, Rory is a gambler in need of a miracle. Following the cold trail of his boss’s wife and bastard daughter, Dell, Rory has only one goal in mind: saving his crew from the boss’s cruelty by ruining him. The only one who can defeat the Monster of the Mississippi is the man trained to take his place. Rory’s convinced he can lure his boss into a high-stakes game against a rival, and with Dell’s people-reading skills, the monster will lose everything.
Under Rory’s tutelage and protection, Dell agrees to the tortured captain’s plan. Passion and peril quickly bring them together as lovers. But when Rory’s plan goes awry, the lives of the innocent depend on Dell’s ability to read the situation correctly—and hopefully save them all.
An Excerpt from HER WICKED CAPTAIN
“Looking for someone I know?”
She startled, spinning around to find the source of the sexy voice that made her stomach dip. Right behind her in the crush of the crowd, Rory stood so near that the leg of his dress pants brushed her skirt. So close, in fact, she craned her neck to look up at him, standing a good foot taller than she. His mouth quirked in a wry grin, his emerald eyes alight. Her body gave a sudden flutter. Anger at his amusement? Or something more frustrating? Attraction.
“Not at all, Captain. Just getting a good look at your crew. They seem to be enjoying themselves.”
His humor faded as he scanned the crowd, spurred by her words. One redheaded fellow in particular—Trap, maybe—seemed to be drawing a crowd of girls, including Sarah.
Rory tugged at his cravat. “I’m delighted you changed your mind about coming.”
“I didn’t. I’m here with my family and a patron. I’m doing a card-reading later, otherwise I wouldn’t have.”
“Then the good fortune is all mine for sharing the pleasure of your company.” His hand cupped her elbow gently, guiding her a step closer to him to avoid a teenage couple headed to the dance floor. She tingled beneath his touch. “Your patron is a lucky man…or woman. I’d like nothing more than to see you in action.”
Heat fanned up her neck at his words spoken in a low teasing voice. She studied his face, exposed by the neat lay of his hair swept back for the dance. Fine lines spread beneath his eyes, his golden skin and tawny hair—effects of a life spent on open decks. Rory had grown into a striking man and dressed in fine clothing meant to accentuate his looks. He should be dancing, not talking to the likes of her. He’d singled her out again, but she knew no reason why he should.
Hellfire! Why couldn’t she read him?
“Yesterday, when you saw me outside, I was speaking with your uncle and your aunt—I believe she was Eleanor’s sister?” His fingers tightened slightly on her elbow, and Dell wondered if he even realized he was still holding her. If only she could ignore his touch as easily. “Your aunt said you were betrothed. I suppose I should offer my congratulations.”
Dell shook her head vigorously. “They’re mistaken. I’m not. I would never marry him.”
His grip loosened. “How unfortunate for the gentleman.” Thunder boomed overhead, causing a few youngsters in the room to gasp, but the fiddlers continued on, playing louder. Rory leaned to her ear to continue their conversation. “Dell, I must be frank. This weather…the river will be rising soon, if it hasn’t already, and we’ll be on our way back to Memphis. I’m sure you’ll find it no surprise your stepfather never quit searching for your mother. She was the greatest…loss he’s ever suffered.”
His words, spoken with seriousness, seemed planned and measured. Was this the part where he threatened to expose her unless…unless what? Dell glanced around, hoping no one would overhear. “I don’t understand.”
“If you were to come back with us, leaving this place, I know my employer would
welcome you as a daughter.” His cheek hovered inches from hers, and the spicy scent of him confused her.
She blinked rapidly to clear her head. “Not a chance. How could I believe that? If he’d wanted us—or me—my mother wouldn’t have left him.”
Rory leaned back, studying her face. “Are you so sure of your mother’s motives? You were just a small child. I believe Moreaux wishes to make amends. He’s growing older. He has no family of his own. I’ve no doubt he’d make sure you lived comfortably.” He grunted. “Certainly more comfortable than in a dog-trot house making moonshine.”
Of all the arrogant—
Backing up, Dell tugged her elbow free from his hand. “As I told you before, I don’t plan on staying here forever, and I don’t need anything from a man like Quintus Moreaux.”
Rory’s jaw tightened. She could see him thinking, studying her as if she were a problem to be solved. Why?
He glanced over the top of her head, and his mouth curved at whatever he saw. He
tweaked one of her curls. “You really should leave your bonnet at home more often. I’m not going to let it be said I allowed the most beautiful woman in the room to stand here talking. Come dance with me, Philadelphia.” He caught her hand, but she stood her ground.
“I am not interested in dancing, Captain.”
He chuckled, adjusting his hold on her hand. Tingles from the contact spread up her arm. “What are you afraid of? You used to dance jigs on the wharf to old Pierre’s fiddle with everyone to see.” His fingers linked with hers as he pulled her a step closer to the dancing.
That wasn’t her. Surely. She had no recollection of it, anyway, or of anyone named Pierre. Had she been happy once, living on the Mississippi? All she remembered now was fear, powerful and constant. But maybe that had been because of her mother’s illness. She could feel the warmth of Rory’s body. His pull on her hand compelled her along with the invitation in his bright green eyes. In his company, she was always the envy of the other girls. He’d been witty, clever, kind. Dancing with him now promised to be the most exhilarating moment in her dreary life. A few minutes in his arms—
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.sandrajonesromance.com/events.html
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22922437-her-wicked-captain
Historical romance author Sandra Jones was born and raised in Arkansas. She loves living in a cabin overlooking White River where she enjoys watching eagles and dreaming about the adventurous frontiersmen who once traveled past in steamboats. When she’s not reading, writing or researching, she’s the cook for her cranky old tom cat, her husband of more than 25 years, and her two grown sons. She also loves to chat with her fans.