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torture. As was the fact that once they stopped talking, he knew

they were engaged in another activity, a low moan drifting out now

and then, the sound of ragged breathing finally punctuated by her

soft cry of release and a lower groan as Charles came as well.

Dammit
, he thought blackly. Her infernal idea had sounded

marvelous when it involved
him
being able to satisfy a very

burning lust in her young body. He had thought he could handle

the fact she would be fucking Anthony and Charles, too, because

he was never possessive of his lovers.

But he was pretty miserable sitting there, a prisoner because it

was his turn to stand guard. Anthony was sound asleep on a pallet

nearby.

Refusing to analyze his feelings, he focused on the fact that

there was one good thing about this evening…tomorrow
he
was

Jenna’s bodyguard.

Savage Shores

57

Chapter 5

The day began with rain, a gentle patter that sifted occasionally

through the roof of the hut. Jenna moved now and then when it

woke her, finding a drier spot. She was naked and sleepy but alone

as she had been the past two mornings. The men always got up

early and began to work on their daily survival, looking for food,

hunting, fishing, and keeping a vigilant eye constantly on the

horizon for a ship they could signal. When thunder boomed, she

grimaced and scooted into the corner. The roof was certainly not

waterproof. Dreaming of her dry bed in her luxuriant bedroom in

her father’s London townhouse, she drifted back to sleep, not even

stirring much when she felt the first insidious glide across her

back..

* * * *

“Jenna, don’t move,” Not able to keep his voice even, Jonathan

froze halfway through the doorway, staring at the serpent coiled

next to her. She was nude still, and sleepily gorgeous, her lashes

fluttering as she lay on her side, her long slender legs resting

together, her splendid breasts gently moving with each slumberous

breath.

The snake was thick in girth, but he couldn’t tell exactly how

big, not that it mattered with the creature actually touching her, and

he was suddenly petrified she would wake and panic, causing it to

attack.

“Jonathan,” she muttered, stirring a little. “What’s wrong?”

58

Emma Wildes

He didn’t dare tell her. A fear he had never known—not even

when he realized the ship was sinking—gripped him. Smiling in

sickly reassurance, he said, “Nothing…it’s late morning, I just

wanted to make sure you were feeling well.”

Advancing slowly, he crouched in the low space, wondering

how the hell he would do this. The creature was actually coiled so

close she would realize it at any time, and if she tried to turn over

to see what was touching her back, she would be bitten.

Hell and blast.

The serpent lifted its head, the tongue flicking out, registering

his presence.

Not sure what else to do, not able to leap over her because the

space was too small, and the snake just too close, Jonathan took a

deep breath and suddenly grasped her slim ankles. Yanking

violently as he stumbled out of the doorway, he dragged her

backwards onto the wet sand of the beach out of the hut, not

pausing even though she fought and twisted against his assault, her

long shining hair trailing behind her, her expression one of both

fury and surprise.

Sputtering, completely naked and magnificent, she sat up and

shook out her long golden tresses once he stopped a safe distance

from the hut, looking confused and angry, her eyes sending sparks.

“Are you insane?” she demanded, her breasts heaving, the golden

triangle at her thighs visible from his viewpoint, the darkness

between her legs intriguing at all times, even now.

“Most days since I’ve been here,” he confirmed dryly,

dropping her ankles, though admittedly enjoying the view of her

silky tempting cleft. “Jenna, I apologize if I startled you.”

“You apologize for waking me from a sound sleep by dragging

me out into the mud like one of the Sabine women?” she

demanded. “If you wish sexual congress so early, my lord, perhaps

you could just ask me. I believe it is your turn.”

Her scathing words brought the blood to his face, even though

Savage Shores

59

he thought he was immune to anything as naïve as chagrin. “I do

wish sexual congress,” he said evenly, “and in that interest, I prefer

you to be alive so that I can take my pleasure. Forgive me, but the

snake you were so cozily cohabiting with looked detrimental to my

selfish desires. He didn’t bite you, did he?”

The blood drained abruptly from her face. “What?”

“You know, the one coiled right next to you inside.”

“Oh, God.” She began to shake, her eyes widening. “I hate

snakes…are you serious?”

“It must have crawled in the door when Charles left you,” he

explained, his voice softening. “The walls of the hut are down in

the sand, but the doorway is open…Jenna, you are fine now…”

“Oh.” She scrambled to her feet and flung herself at him with a

sob, mindless of her nudity.

“I am not one to fend off beautiful women in a state of

complete undress, but you are covered in sand,” he murmured into

her hair, lifting her up despite his words, the weight of her luscious

body in his arms, her bottom satin and round, her breasts warm

against his chest.

“Wipe me off then,” she whispered, “but don’t let me go. This

is your day…you can do whatever you like.”

That suggestion went straight to his groin like a streak of

lightning in a night sky.

“I hate snakes, too,” he offered, smiling in relief that she

wasn’t hurt, his heart slowing a little.

“You do?” The general’s daughter looked very young with her

trembling lips and ashen face. A golden mane of hair trailed over

his arm and brushed his thigh.

He gave a grimace. “Ask Charles. I am a complete quaking

coward when it comes to the slithering things.”

She swallowed, and then emphatically shook her head. “No,

you aren’t, my lord. I don’t believe it. You are unfazed by

anything.”

60

Emma Wildes

Not by seeing her lying sleeping next to a deadly reptile
.

Relishing the feel of her naked body against his, Jonathan said

neutrally, “Let’s say I would gladly walk through glowing hot

coals to avoid one. However, I think we need to get this one out of

your abode, so if you will stay here, I’ll take care of that

unpleasant task.”

“No.” Her arms tightened frantically around his neck. “Stay

here and hold me.”

Women often complained over how the world worked, with

men in charge and their roles subject to male authority and

privilege, but looking into the limpid eyes of the girl in his arms,

Jonathan found he could not deny her anything she asked of him.

“I’ll do whatever pleases you,” he said softly, meaning it. Then he

added, “Now…and later. Did you miss me these past two nights?”

“Yes.”

“It didn’t sound like it.”

Her cheeks grew pink but her gaze did not falter. “I did what I

said I would do. Did you expect less of me?”

The truth was, he thought her very courageous as well as

sensuous. But it still annoyed him against his will that she had

enjoyed the lovemaking of other men. He said shortly, “My

expectations aside, I am glad this is my day.”

“I am, too.” Her voice was hushed, her long lashes fans on her

cheeks.

“Hell,” he muttered, hearing shouts in the distance. “What

now?”

Setting down his delightful burden, Jonathan took her hand and

tugged her forward. “Come on, it sounds like Charles and Anthony

are in some sort of trouble.”

Running, pulling her along, he headed toward the raised voices.

It took him only a few seconds to realize that Anthony and Charles

were at the trapping pit. They had dug it in a small clearing just

inside the line of foliage and thick trunks the first week of their

Savage Shores

61

arrival, working for days with big shells to scoop out the dirt and

damp sand to make it deep enough to keep small animals from

being able to escape. It was five feet deep and roughly square, with

perfectly straight sides. A tall man could easily vault out of it, but

the little fierce pigs that roamed the island were trapped, and they

had also once caught a rabbit-like creature with huge eyes, which

had tasted a little like guinea fowl. They checked it several times a

day, covering it over with fronds so unsuspecting animals would

wander over and fall through.

Now, Jonathan saw as he ran up, dragging Jenna by the hand,

the fronds were destroyed and scattered and from the depths of the

hole came low, ominous sounds. Anthony and Charles both held

their spears with business-like attention, only glancing over as he

arrived, obviously at the ready in case the animal in the ground

decided to emerge.

Anthony said without prelude, “It looks like our skulking

friend has injured something in his fall. Otherwise he would

simply jump out. There was something in there and he must have

heard it and decided to help himself, hence the blood.”

Jonathan drew his brows together and took a guess. “The

leopard?”

“A beauty. And so damned mad, he’s spitting. The trouble is,

our spears aren’t long enough to kill him if we are standing on the

edge, and I’m not all that anxious to jump in there.”

Letting go of Jenna’s hand, Jonathan moved forward to peer

downward into the pit. Sure enough, the cat was crouched there,

hissing and growling low in his throat. A magnificent beast with

malevolent green eyes and powerful muscles, it bared impressive

fangs and howled as he stared at it.

“What is this, some kind of plot with the jungle beasts to make

my hair turn gray this morning?” he muttered. “Well, we can’t

leave him in there. It isn’t humane to let anything die of thirst or

hunger, but damned if I’m going to feed and water it until it heals

62

Emma Wildes

and jumps out. He’s been a nuisance already. We have to kill it.”

“How?” Charles asked simply.

“If you can keep it at bay with your spears, I can jump in and

use my knife. I’ve hunted big cats before, I know how.”

Jenna gasped. “No, are you insane?”

“He has done it before,” Charles confirmed, sounding

thoughtful. “And look at him, my lord, it looks like he night have

broken his leg, for he turns only so far and drags his right paw.

Since he needs the other to keep himself upright, all you need

worry about is his teeth.”

“Is that all?” Anthony asked dryly. “Better you than me, Jon.”

“It needs done. He was going to be trouble, we all knew it.”

“I suppose so.”

“Absolutely not.” Jenna grasped his arm, staring down at the

cornered animal. “He could tear you to shreds.”

Turning and looking at her, he realized he’d dragged her stark

naked from the beach. Her lithe, slender body was coated with a

fine layer of sand and her luscious breasts heaved with agitation.

She seemed uncaring of her nudity, but then again, he reminded

himself, both Anthony and Charles had seen her that way already.

“I’ll be fine,” he said soothingly. “In fact, I prefer jumping into a

pit of claws and razor teeth to dealing with the serpent in your bed.

Charles can dispose of your unwanted bedmate.”

“Bedmate?” Charles asked in obvious surprise, his dark eyes

widening. “She slept with me last night.”

“And woke up with a snake. That must have some poetic

significance.” Jonathan grinned with cynical humor. Turning back

toward the pit, he pulled his knife from its sheath and tested the

sharp blade with his thumb. “Now, gentlemen, are you ready? Just

keep him from moving and I’ll do the rest.”

“Be careful,” Charles murmured, “this could be more

dangerous than Constantinople, my lord. And that was a sticky

situation indeed.”

Savage Shores

63

“What could be more dangerous than a pit with a deadly

panther in it?” Jenna demanded, her voice tight with audible

hysteria.

“A woman scorned,” Jonathan answered blithely.

“I beg your pardon?” She blinked, distracted for the moment

from the dangers of what he proposed to do.

“I’ll give you details later,” Charles said with a wink. “Let’s

just say his esteemed lordship almost lost a very important part of

his anatomy that I know he values highly because of a jealous—”

“That’s enough.” Jonathan interrupted, scowling. “And keep

the details to yourself. In the meantime, can you help me or are

you going to stand there gossiping?”

Looking entirely unrepentant but obediently hefting his spear

with a steady hand, Charles grinned. “Forgive me, my lord. I am

ready when you are.”

* * * *

The very worse thing about being stranded in a tropical

paradise was not the marauding presence of unknown creatures,

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