A/N I loved this story so much when I read it and while i was reading it i pictured the main characters to be Dimitri and Rose since the personalities fit so well! In any case, the Disclaimer goes to Richelle Mead for the characters and Jennifer Greene for the story plot, I own nothing!
Dimitri Belikov wants to leave his bad history with women behind, so a business cruise should do the trick. Two complications - a sexy woman and a dead body - are both on board.
Rose Hathaway knows his type - arrogant corporate hotshot. No problem, she'll have Dimitri eating out of her hand. Until a killer forces her to find safety and comfort in his arms. Will mayhem at sea throw any chance of romance onboard?
In the army, Dimitri Belikov had developed a reputation for trouble. Not for getting into it, but getting out of it, and he was most attracted to trouble when the odds were against him. Temporarily, though, impossible problems didn't strike him as any fun at the first time in his life, he couldn't find his guts. He really, really wanted to disappear in a deep,dark cave under an assumed name where no one could possibly find him.
It was the boat.
Since he'd arrived in Juneau yesterday, the rain had gushed down in thick, drenching sheets, and still showed no sign of letting up. The rain didn't bother him. That he was cold and soaked didn't bother him, standing on the dock, staring at the 103-foot yacht - ironically named Bliss- Dimitri reflected gloomily that he'd rather suffer a burst appendix, get married again, face a firing squad - anything but climb aboard.
He'd never liked boats. Didn't matter if it was a dingy or a luxury yacht. The idea of being trapped on one for the next two weeks was enough to give him shudders...
and the funny part of it all was that the boat trip had been his gray, relentless rain blurred any chance of clear visibility, but Dimitri still kept his gaze homed on the four men climbing aboard ahead of him. They were all brilliant - a ton smarter than him - yet they'd become his employees a mind-boggling few weeks ago.
They'd sucked up to him for the get-go, but with each other...Hell. This morning, typically, none were speaking to each other. Enough friction sizzled among the four to fry a hole in the ozone. The silent anger pouring off the men was so toxic that it was bound to combust unless Dimitri somehow found a way to identify and defuse the source. Soon. Damn soon.
The yacht staff - captain and mate - greeted each of the men and ported their gear. Dimitri was last by choice. He wanted to board that boat like he wanted to cuddle up with a hornet's nest. Still, if he had to find something positive about this incredible mess...at least there were no women push came to shove, Dimitri didn't doubt his ability to handle financial crisis or catastrophes or unexpected avalanches. He was pretty good at handling most anything but estrogen.
"Mr Belikov-Dimitri! Welcome Aboard!" the captain, in full rain gear, surged forward and extended his hand. "Hope your trip into Juneau was pleasant. Nice weather for whales , huh?"
Dimitri was beginning to recognize Alaskan's unique brand of humor, and even wet and raw, the captain's smile was deferential. Dimitri got mighty tired of people treating him as if he walked on water, but in this case, he didn't mind the wary respect. Naturally, he'd thoroughly researched Ivan Gregory before signing on for this trip.
The captain was thirty-eight, of Lithuanian descent, a man's man with a history of hard drinking, womanizing, and maverick morals - but Dimitri didn't mind a man's faults as long as he knew what they were. The critical factor was Ivan's experience. The captain knew the seas around Admiralty Island like the back of his hand, and had an unbeatable track record for sailing his way through rough weather, always bringing home passengers and boat undamaged.
"It was good to meet your men." Ivan grabbed his duffel before Dimitri could reach for it. "Interesting group. My crew is especially looking forward to this trip...we'll get your gear taken below, give you some time to wander about and get familiar with the ship..."
"That sounds fine. Thanks." Dimitri tuned out the captains small talk as he stepped aboard. He'd seen pictures, done his homework, of course, but was still startled by the reality of the boats interior.
Peeling off his wet hood and jacket, he noted the aft deck was big enough to hold a board meeting. Double doors led into a spacious salon, the inside wall paneled in wild cherry, the cabinetry done in a rich burl. The leather seating clustered mid room was framed by bookshelves, all stuffed with books and references on Alaskan lore. Dimitri was just leaning closer to study the signed oil painting on the inside wall when his head suddenly shot up.
For an instant he though he heard a soprano. A woman's voice, emanating from the next room off the passageway-the entrance to the dining area.
But his attention was immediately distracted by the shock of hearing laughter from his team. His four guys were all peeling off their wet-weather gear, same as he was, but they were suddenly talking, clearly surprised and enthralled with the comforts of the yacht, sounding animated about the trip ahead. Dimitri wanted to hold his breath. He had no illusions the camaraderie would last, but it was a beginning - the whole reason he'd put this trip together. All four of them, he believed, were good men. Or had been good men, once upon a time. This trip was a chance to see if there was a prayer he could pull them back together.
Ivan pushed his captains cap and was clearly trying to channels the group's attention.
"Okay, everyone, Hans here is my first mate." He motioned at a spectacled gray-haired man who looked like a quiet grandfather type. "Rose is our chef on this trip. You'll meet her shortly. Hans in the meantime, will take you below, help stow your gear and then give you a tour of the ship. The only place off limits is the crew's quarters. Otherwise you're free to go anywhere, and explore all you want. I'll be topside for a few minutes, calling the harbormaster. We'll make lunch in the dining room at twelve-thirty and do some Q&A, fill you in on the schedule, safety features and all that. A-OK?"
Rose? Dimitri's head whipped around again. There'd been no woman's name on the crew roster. He was positive.
And then he saw her.
Actually, what he precisely noticed was her shrugging off the captain's attempt to cup her behind as she hiked past him into the main salon. She dodged the captains move, smooth as silk, but Dimitri's gaze still narrowed. Since she was female, she was inherently a problem. The captains behavior hinted there could be an additional awkward problems between employer and employee. Yet, determining how much difficulty she was likely to add to the trip was confounding because her looks didn't remotely fit the picture.
Her hair was brown, and she wore it freely but had a messy look to it, cascading down her back in waves. Maybe she'd gotten around to brushing it last year. Her clothes revealed the flat figure of a kid - skinny jeans, mocs, a long-sleeved t-shirt with the slogan Forget Love! I'd Rather Fall in Chocolate! If she reached five-three, Dimitri would be surprised. With no makeup and flawless olive skin and a downright stubborn chin, she looked young. Twenty four, twenty five? And far more like a scrapper than a siren.
Yet the first mate, the well-past-Viagra-age Hans, gazed at her as if she were the sex goddess of the century.
Dimitri's warring men - Purdue, Yale, Fiske and Arthur - spotted her and got the same moonstruck look. The captain obviously thought she was the sexiest thing to ever sail this sea or any other. Dimitri wanted to shake his head. Were they all crazy? She was no dazzler. More like an underfed scruffy mutt.
Only then smiled and said, "Hey, guys, I'm Rose."
His heart went slam as pitifully as the rest. It was that ssslllooooowwww smile. That throaty voice. That incomprehensible "something" that sent a guy's testosterone soaring and ransomed his common sense. Him, too, Dimitri thought gloomily. His heart was thumping like a puppy dog's tail; his equipment already standing to attention. Hell.
He'd known this trip was going to be nonstop stresser, but he figured her presence on the boat was going to turn the next weeks into a nightmare times ten.
Hope you enjoyed the first chapter!
Yet again this story belongs to Jennifer Greene and Richelle Mead.