Summer Incognito<br/>

Author: Jan Abney
Publisher: Janet Abney
Published: 2010-09-10
ISBN(s) 978-1453824603
Pages: 94 pages
Category: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Genre(s): Romance, Contemporary, Romance & Friendship Read Excerpt >

ALONE ON the deck of the small luxury yacht in the middle of a warm, star-studded summer night wasn't exactly where she wanted to be. Her hands were having a hard time keeping her long auburn hair down as the cool breeze blew it around her face. The light weight skirt she wore was also being lifted by the unseen winds, but it didn't worry her. No one was around to see anything. It was almost three o'clock. All the guests had retired to their rooms a few hours before.

Unable to sleep, Selina had tiptoed out of the room she shared with three others who were working on the yacht. Her body was tense, her mind couldn't find the peace she needed to settle down for her fist night on the water.

It wasn't caused by a day of idleness. She'd never known such hard work before. By the end of the day she should have fallen into a deep, dreamless sleep as soon as her head was on the pillow. But her eyes stared into the darkness, seeing the familiar faces she thought she had left behind. After more than an hour, Selina made her way to the upper deck. She had a lot to think about, and she didn't want to disturb anyone below.

"If you'd stuff your hair inside your blouse, you could hold your skirt down." A mascluline voice caused Selina to jump and grab the cable barrier in front of her, letting her hair whip around her face as her skirt continued thrashing about her legs. "I didn't mean to frighten you." There was a note of apology in his tone.

Collecting herself, she held her skirt down with both hands, her cheeks growing hot with unseen color. Her eyes remained on the water below them, without seeing it. She could hear the waves crashing on the rocky beach yards away, but she wasn't listening any more. Sea lions moved about those rocks, barking, but even those sounds were no longer heard. All the haunting faces and voices she was trying to rid her mind of were miraculously gone.

His hands were catching the flyaway hair as she continued to stand, unmoving. "You're having trouble sleeping I assume?" He didn't speak very loud. She barely nodded in answer. Having most of the unruly strands in one hand, his other raised the soft cotton neckline to place the silky hair inside. "I'm sorry, I don't remember your name. You're one of the crew, if I remember correctly." Would he ever get her to talk to him? Wondering if he had been speaking to a mannequin, he knew, in trying to catch her hair, he had touched the soft, warm cheeks and the back of her neck. No, she was definitely real.

Turning to face him out of respect, he being a guest and she a servant, her eyes were on the top button of his shirt. It was difficult for her, being her first job. Wasn't it just last week that she was giving orders to the housekeeper and cook? Telling the chauffeur where she wanted to go? "Selina..." Her eyes closed against the mistake. "Ah... Selina... ah-ah... Baker." She stumbled over the words, almost stomping her foot in frustration, hoping he wouldn't notice. She didn"t want anyone to know who she was.

"Selina," he repeated as he watched the rise and fall of the dark water. His hands were in his pockets as if he was afraid to touch her again. "That's unusual. I like it." He could sense she was looking at him, though he was still watching below the deck on which they stood. "Well, Selina Baker, what has you unable to sleep tonight?" He speculated, as he thought of the problems keeping him up.

Stuffing her earlier thoughts to the back of her mind, she found a substitute answer, though it could be part of her trouble. "First time off land, sir." Her voice resembled a caricature of a frightened rabbit, unable to get away from what stalked it.

A rumbling chuckle came from deep within his chest. "Please drop that sir. You make me feel like an army sergeant." His teasing went unrewarded. "I'm glad it isn't because you're seasick." Turning to her, he looked into the face which was still looking at nothing in particular. "First time away from family also?"

Was there something in her expression that told of that? Wondering how he could know, she looked into his eyes for the first time. "Yes." Her answer was whispered, and she knew he could tell she was very nervous. Actually, it was the first time she had run away, but she wouldn't let that out. Besides, she was twenty-two years old. Would he believe she was a runaway?

"A little homesick then," he stated without emotion. "It doesn't matter how old you are, when you finally leave home, it isn't easy." He didn't expect an answer but she shrugged her shoulders, her full lips pulled down in a frown. "Could I get you something to drink? It might help."

Selina couldn't see much in the dark, but she thought he was laughing behind the somber expression. "No, thank you. I should go back to my bunk. Tomorrow begins quite early." It was the most she had said to anyone in several days. Turning, she took a few steps before hearing her name called out softly.

"Selina." He didn't want her to leave. He knew she wouldn't sleep any more than he would. Walking to where she had stopped, he went around to face her. "You aren't tired just yet, are you?" An answer wasn't waited for, knowing she wouldn't speak to him. "Come, have a nightcap with me. I don't like drinking alone."

There was no questioning, it was a command. "If you feel like talking, I feel like listening."

How could he know she had problems that needed to be talked about? Not that she was going to do much talking, she told herself. He walked a step ahead of her, pulling her by the hand to the dining room bar. She was in no mood to drink, but felt obligated to do as he ordered, as that was her job. At least, it was what she was told at the interview. How long ago that seemed, though it had only been two days.

She had gone to the Los Angeles area because she knew someone who would let her stay until she had things together, and he wouldn't blab her whereabouts to her family. It hadn't taken long, as this job had come up just days after she arrived. It was only a two-week cruise, but the money would help her get an apartment and she would worry about another job when she got back.

Keeping to herself about where she was going, she felt she couldn't even tell her friends. Because of that, she didn't have any fears that her father would find her too soon. Selina had to show her father that she could make it without family, that she could be independent.

"What will the lady have?" The question brought her back to the present. Behind the bar, he set two glasses between them. "Name your drink. I'll do my best."

Selina stood pondering what she should so. She knew if she started drinking liquor, there was no way to keep her secret, at least not if he decided to ask questions, which was probable. Drinking loosened her tongue. Not that she thought he had ideas of the problems she was going through, but he could tell she was homesick. Would that make him more curious about her?

"Ginger ale, please." Sitting on a tall bar stool, she leaned against its back, feeling lifeless. Maybe she needed to talk. But she didn't trust anyone to keep her secret. Too much was at stake.

With a shrug, he added ice to both glasses, pouring scotch and water for himself. "You look exhausted. Feel like talking about what's keeping you up?" Handing her a glass, he watched as she shook her head. "It might help." Strands of the dark auburn hair came out of her shirt, dancing when she shook her head a little harder. "How about music? This silence is deafening."

It wasn't silent, the sea sounds were all around them. Sipping the soda, she watched as he walked to the stereo across the room. He was tall, and built of strong muscles. His tight faded jeans hugged him and the white pullover cotton shirt accentuated his broad shoulders.

When the speakers were sending out the tune from the CD he had selected, he turned, the drink in his hand hardly touched. He kept his eyes on her as she watched him slowly return, sitting on the stool beside her.

"You're so talkative, a guy has a problem getting something said." His smile brought out a dimple in his left cheek and a few laugh lines around his blue eyes. Setting the sweating glass down on the counter, he emptied her hands of the soda. "Want to dance?" Taking her hand, he pulled lightly until she stood.

Reluctantly she went. Dancing was something she enjoyed, but hadn't done in a few months. What was the harm, she asked herself. They were both unable to sleep. The music and empty floor called to them.

He held her hand against his chest, her other he had put on his shoulder, while he held her waist. Only a fraction of an inch separated them. It was as if they had practiced, as if she knew his every step before he made it. She felt like they were floating above the carpeted floor.

His smile brought light to his eyes. "You make it seem like floating," he spoke her thoughts, making her suspicious of him. "I've never had a partner like you. I could get used to his."

His quiet voice held a tenderness, telling her he cared. Didn't he mind that she was one of the hired help?

"If you were here to relax, I think we could hit it off." He spoke again the essence of her thoughts. "But if you were here to enjoy, you would have a companion, wouldn't you?" He was only musing, wondering how he could get her to contribute to the conversation. "I had a companion, myself, but at the last minute she couldn't come on this cruise. Maybe there was a good reason she decided not to come." His voice was hushed. "A very good reason after all." As he continued to move to the rhythm of the music, he put a little space between them, looking at her. "Maybe it was destined for us to meet
this way." He spoke his thoughts aloud, not actually to her. "Yes. I'm convinced if Annabelle had come, I wouldn't be here this very minute dancing with you. What do you think?"

With a hint of a smile, she enjoyed hearing what he thought. "If I hadn't seen how much you had to drink, I'd swear you had two glasses too many. Maybe you had, before coming out on deck." Selina didn't miss a step, following his lead as he turned her around under his arm, bringing her right back to where she had been against him. Their eyes met for a moment, then he pulled her a little closer.

She felt his masculine sigh. "I think it's time I went back to where I belong."

He chuckled as deeply as before, and she felt the vibration as her cheek rested on his shoulder near his neck. "Where do you belong, Selina?" he asked as if he already knew. When she didn't give an answer, he laughed low again. "What's wrong?" he continued to tease. "Is it against some female creed to fraternize with your boss?" As soon as he had spoken this, he felt her muscles tense before she pushed away from him.

Her eyes were wide as she tried to believe what she had heard.. "Boss?" Selina hadn't had an inkling that this was the Mr. Derek Sterling, the man who owned the yacht. What in the world was she doing in his arms? The fact that it was her job to do what he wanted came to mind, but also came the thought that there was a limit to what she would do. "Boss?" she repeated without thinking.

Still backing from him, she came to a stop against the wall. Letting her head lean back, a small cry of disbelief came from her throat. How in the world had she found herself in this situation? They had been so busy the first day, and with all the other problems on her mind, she hadn't even thought to ask anyone who was who among the guests. Having been interviewed by an agent, then bustled to the dock almost without thought, there was no way she could have known who he was.

Summer Incognito   by   Jan Abney   |   See Bio >

Selina has left her father's home, determined to show him she can make it on her own. She is afraid he is trying to set her up to marry someone of his choice. That isn't what Selina wants. His choices in men are totally wrong for her

Going to Los Angeles where no one knows where she is, Selina get a job on a small yacht as one of the crew. Unable to settle down in her shared room - visions of her family keep her tossing and turning - she goes up on deck, in the fresh air. With the breeze blowing, she holds her hair down to keep it out of her face, allowing her skirt to be whipped around her legs. No one is up to see, or she thinks.

A deep voice comes from behind her. If she would tuck her hair down into her blouse, she could hold her skirt down. She turns, but can't look up into the man's face. Because she was hired through the employment office, whisked on board, kept busy throughout the first day, she doesn't know that this man is the owner of the yacht, her boss. Derek Sterling.

Because neither of them can sleep, he suggests dancing in the dining room to soft music. She makes it feel as if he's floating. Ideas start forming in his thoughts. What can he do to get her to become one of his guests on this two week cruise, rather than his employee?

BWB never takes commissions - Authors! Sign Up Now! Only $9.99
Retail: $4.99FAIR TRADE Price: $1.99

More books by

Bringing Indie Authors and Readers Together...
© Bookstore Without Borders | T 403.336.1313 | E | Powered by