Two glorious weeks sailing the Mediterranean.
With a setup this perfect, something's got to go adrift.
Amber's the master. She's gorgeous, spoiled, temperamental, and demanding. A sexy capitalist consumed by her father's fortune, she's entitled to everything daddy's money can buy. Except for one thing.
Giuseppe's the slave, a crewman on a private yacht sailing six friends on an idyllic cruise from Greece to Italy. He's arrogant, unyielding, and pure animal. A poor fisherman born on the crest of the wave, he's accustomed to turbulent waters.
That is, until an excursion to a small deserted island leaves Amber and Giuseppe castaway on a tropical Eden. The roles of master and slave, and man and woman, will shift. As the games between the sexes begin, it's anything goes. And as sure as the magnificent blue seas of August, the rules of love and hate will be...swept away.
|Product dimensions:||6.80(w) x 4.22(h) x 0.67(d)|
Read an Excerpt
"Juice?" the steward asked, holding out a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Amber took the cold glass and handed him back the hot, damp towel he had given her a few minutes before. It had felt wonderful wiping off her face after the long night's flight. She let the first sip of orange juice take the memory of last night's gin away. She savored the wonderful, fresh flavor.
Around her the five others were waking as the smell of coffee filled the cabin of their private jet, warming it. She didn't drink coffee in the morning, but the other five did, and she liked the smell, even welcomed it.
There were always a lot of problems with flying overseas, but at least she had made sure the plane was stocked with the best liquors and food. Dinner after they had left New York and gotten to flight altitude had actually been passable, considering she had had it brought on board from Bossons, the newest, best restaurant in all of New York City. The plane was designed to serve catered food, and the cook and steward had somehow kept the meals warm and almost fresh.
But even with the good food and the good drinks, the flight from New York to wherever-they-were-now over Greece had seemed to take forever. She needed a shower, a good, comfortable bed, and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Why planes could not be designed to be comfortable for long flights was beyond her. She and her husband Tony had spent a lot of money for this new, state-of-the-art private jet, and it was still uncomfortable. Why would anyone think that she was supposed to sleep in a chair that pretended to be a bed, and be comfortable?
The manufacturer of their new plane had promised the chairs were the most comfortable ever designed, made for sleeping on long trips. She would have a word or two with the president of that company when they got back. To her the chair felt as if it had lumps in it under the backs of her legs. On top of that, the headrest kept catching her hair, pulling it every time she moved, and the leather was of a low grade that stuck to her skin after a few hours. The man who designed those seats clearly must think that sleeping on a pile of rocks was heaven.
Amber moved her neck from side to side, trying to get at least a few of the kinks out. At one point during the night she had woken up with her head cocked sideways and drool on the pillow. She had had to ask for another pillow from the steward and go wash her face before she could even think of trying to get more sleep on that torture chair.
Around her the others were wiping off their faces, sipping coffee, and getting ready to land. The steward began picking up strewn blankets and locking cabinets, getting the cabin secured.
Across the aisle, Tony put a pillow away in a side compartment and started folding up a blanket. He was always doing that sort of thing, not leaving the small things for the servants to pick up as she thought he should. Every time she had mentioned it to him, he just shrugged and said nothing. He hadn't been born into money as she had. She had finally come to accept that because of that difference in background, she would never be able to teach him some things about the finer sides of being rich, the most important being "let someone else do it."
Tony had taken off his suit coat after dinner last night and opened his shirt collar. With his hair mussed from the long night, he looked almost sexy. Put together, yet not. That was the perfect look for him. Too bad she couldn't get him to dress and look like that more often. Even with the best suits and shoes, he always combed his hair flat, buttoned everything, and usually looked just a little too uptight for her tastes. Sometimes she wondered what she had ever seen in him.
Behind Tony was Michael, and beyond Michael was Todd. Both were good friends of Tony's, but neither was as rich, or as handsome, in her opinion. It seemed she and Tony were always taking the two of them, plus Michael's wife, Marina, along on these excursions. Tony called the group the drunk five, since most of the trips included a few nights of excessive drinking.
She didn't mind the group, actually. They had had their laughs and, in fact, she liked Marina, who was sitting in the back of the cabin. Marina had good taste, was from a fine Boston family, and could shop with the best of them.
Because of Marina's background, Amber often found herself pushing for that one special difference that only her money could buy. She knew it when she was doing it but so far hadn't stopped. Marina could outclass her, but Amber had the money that could buy class. And if Amber had her choice, she'd take the money any day.
Todd always seemed to be the problem person on the trips, and this time was turning out to be no exception. He was often crude, and never failed to irritate Amber by his choice of low-class dates. This trip he had brought along a very young, very stupid girl named Debi. Clearly Todd's attraction to her was below the neck, since there was nothing above Debi's neck besides a little too much makeup, blond hair, and empty blue eyes.
Amber had no idea where he met these girls, or if he was paying for them to come along, and she didn't really want to know. But so far not a one of them had lasted longer than a few weeks in Todd's life.
Halfway through last night's meal on the plane, Amber had decided that not even Todd would pay for Debi. No one would pay good money for a date who was as stupid as Debi seemed to be. At the airport, Michael, joking around, had convinced Debi that the only reason Tony had bought this new plane was because Amber wanted extra luggage space.
Amber had to admit that the extra luggage space had been a factor in buying this new jet, but not that much of one. It sure hadn't been the seats. But Debi had completely believed him about Amber's reason for buying a new jet.
Saying Debi was dumb was complimenting her.
Amber moved her head to the right, pulling on her left shoulder with her right hand, doing an exercise her trainer had shown her how to do. The exercise succeeded in releasing another kink in her neck, but nothing more. She wasn't looking forward to the flight home on these chairs. Maybe the chairs could be replaced during the two weeks they would be on the yacht. She'd talk to Tony about it later.
Amber yawned, letting her ears pop, as the pilot warned them to buckle up for landing. It was going to be good to get some fresh air and try to at least work out the knots in her back muscles from the long night. She had demanded a fully equipped gym where they were going. She was going to need it.
She took the last sip of her orange juice and handed the glass back to the steward.
Outside the light seemed extra bright, the air clear. She could see rock-covered mountains in the distance, with short olive trees and white buildings scattered up the slopes like white sand on a brown blanket. It looked like Greece. Nothing new. She'd been here at seventeen and then again five years ago. The first time was exciting, the second time boring. This time Tony had promised her something really new and exciting. They were going to be exploring islands on a cruise from Greece to Italy. She had to admit it did sound like fun, but not something she would call exciting.
The plane touched down gently and braked. Outside the window she could see shacks and maintenance hangars along the runway. A few of the shacks even had laundry hanging on clotheslines.
She turned away. There was nothing that interested her about living poorly. She knew people did, but she didn't care.
"You getting excited?" Tony asked, smiling at her as he buckled his seat belt.
"Yeah, sure," she said, ignoring her seat belt and staring at where the steward was sitting at the front near the closed cockpit door.
This trip had been Tony's idea, and he had planned it all. Touring some islands with beautiful beaches and old ruins was what she remembered him describing. Their previous vacations to different places around the world had never gone well, but as long as there were comfortable beds, she would deal with it. She had promised Tony she would try to enjoy herself this time.
The plane swung around near a fence and stopped, rocking gently. As she was about to stand, some movement outside caught her eye, and she focused on what was on the runway.
"What are those?" Amber demanded, pointing out the window at three cars sitting there on the tarmac. All three cars were pointed at the plane, clearly waiting for them to arrive.
The cars were old Mercedes sedans, all painted black. All three looked as if they had been through a war, with dents and faded paint. She hadn't been in a Mercedes that old since her high school prom.
"We are in Greece now, dear," Tony said, glancing out at what she was pointing at, then standing and retrieving his travel bag. "New cars take some time to reach here."
"Decades, from the looks of it," Amber said, disgusted.
"They do?" Debi asked, standing beside Amber in the aisle and looking out the window as if her pea-sized brain even understood what the problem was.
"That's because they have to drive them all the way from the States," Amber said. "Isn't it, Debi?"
Tony shook his head at Amber, but she ignored him.
Amber had teased Debi last night over dinner, and she figured that continuing to tease her might be the best entertainment this trip was going to offer.
"Can you drive all the way from the States?" Debi asked, looking puzzled.
Amber almost snorted through her nose. It was too easy. No sport at all.
"I'll explain it later," Todd said to Debi, patting the dumb blonde on the shoulder as he smiled at Amber.
Amber picked up her small travel purse and headed for the now open door. Between trying to sleep in chairs and having old cars pick them up, this trip was not starting off real well. But she had promised Tony she would try to enjoy herself, so try she would.
Heat washed over Amber as she emerged into the bright, clear light. It looked as if it was around midday local time, and was going to get warmer before it got cooler. The air smelled of olive trees and jet fuel.
The sun felt good on her face. She took a deep breath and let some of the tension fade away. Maybe this might be fun after all. She had forgotten how wonderful the air was in Greece, and how bright and clear the light.
She made it to the bottom of the stairs and stopped, looking around at the mountains and airplane hangars. Greece was exactly as she remembered it. Rock mountains, white buildings, clear blue skies. Beautiful, even from the runway of an airport.
"Oh, God," Marina said as she came out of the plane and saw the old cars for the first time. "Are we supposed to ride in those?"
"Talk to my husband," Amber said as one of the drivers in a knockoff suit indicated she should climb into the back of the lead car.
"I'll just stand out here until the luggage is loaded," Amber said, staring at the cracked leather seats of the old Mercedes. Who knew what had spilled on those seats, and she had no intention of sitting on them one moment longer than she had to.
The drive from the airport was thankfully quick, since the cars smelled of sweat, poorly masked with some sort of cleaner. The air-conditioning was loud and didn't really cool the car. Just as with the chairs in the plane, after a few minutes she found the backs of her legs sticking to the old leather of the seat.
Amber and Tony were in the lead car with their luggage, while Michael and Marina followed, and Todd and Debi brought up the rear in the last car.
The driver of Amber's car, a man who had seen his best years decades earlier, didn't seem to notice their existence. He didn't smell as bad as some New York cabbies, but he looked as if his razor had given up the fight weeks ago. He said nothing and never bothered to even look in the rearview mirror. His driving was jerky and his braking sudden. Overall, this was a highly unpleasant ride.
Tony stared at the houses flashing past and said nothing for the entire car ride. That was fine with Amber, since she didn't feel up to conversation. She had no doubt that nothing nice would come out of her mouth at this point anyway, and since she had promised Tony she would try to have fun, saying nothing was the wiser course.
The three cars wound their way through a few miles of narrow streets, bumped down a rocky slope that didn't really look like a road, and emerged out onto a long wooden pier. Their driver swung the car around, facing back toward the town, and stopped.
"This is it," Tony said, smiling at Amber as he climbed out of the car. He actually looked happy to be there.
Amber could feel the dread creeping into her stomach like a case of food poisoning. There wasn't anything close by that could be "it" as Tony had said. No big yacht, no men waiting to take their bags.
She slowly climbed out of the car, letting the warm sun and salty air calm her as she looked around. There was nothing on this dock but a few fishing boats.
"Where is our tour ship?" Amber asked. "How long are we going to have to wait?"
Tony pointed at the largest of the boats tied up to the dock near where the cars had stopped. "That's it right there."
He had to be kidding.
Amber looked at him, then back at the boat.
The thing was tiny. It had only a few deck levels and couldn't be much longer than their Hampshire pool. She remembered that Tony had said they would have a tour yacht. Well, this boat was the size of some smaller yachts at home, but far older. "Ancient" would describe it better.
The crew working on deck didn't even have uniforms. Wasn't there anything new in Greece?
Marina got out of her car and stopped.
"What's that?" she asked, glancing around at where Michael stood, smiling.
"That's where you are spending the next two weeks," Michael said. He clearly had been aware of what they were doing, but Marina hadn't. More than likely that was the only reason Marina was with them.
Amber watched the look of shock cross Marina's face as she stared at the boat.
"I did not fly all the way from New York City to wherever the fuck we are to board that," Amber said to Tony, the anger just barely held in check below the surface.
"How many vacations have we been on that you actually enjoyed?" Tony asked, working to help the driver get the luggage out of the back of the car.
She didn't answer. She hadn't liked anything they'd tried lately, and this didn't look like anything that would change that pattern.
Tony dropped a bag on the pier next to her. "Now try to keep your promise and have a good time. It was you who came up with the idea of trying something new. Remember?"
"New?" Amber said, pointing to the sailboat. "Tell me how fuckin' new is that. It's got a fuckin' chimney, Anthony."
"Well," Tony said, "it's a funnel, actually, honey. We're here now, so shall we just try to enjoy it?"
"I agreed to take part in this ridiculous idea if they had a fully equipped gym," Amber said. "I can hardly wait to see where they're hiding it."
"They have it," Tony said. "That I was assured of."
Marina headed toward the boat, leaving her bag behind, stopping right next to Amber.
"I am so sorry, Marina," Amber said, trying her best not to imagine how mad Marina was going to be by the time this was over. Marina didn't do well with roughing it, and from the looks of this, roughing it was going to be part of this vacation.
"How quaint," Marina said.
"Wonderful," Amber said to herself, soft enough that no one could hear. "Just fuckin' wonderful."
Giuseppe "Peppe" Esposito watched as the three Mercedes pulled up and stopped on the pier. He'd never had a chance to ride in anything that nice. Someday, maybe. If his luck got better. Maybe he could even get a job driving one. He knew the town pretty well, and most of the back streets and shortcuts. He'd make a good driver, but he'd miss the sea and fishing. Maybe he could do both.
He went back to sweeping, finishing up quickly to make sure the deck was clean for the passengers. He had been lucky to get this job. The captain had said over a drink that he needed an extra hand and a good fisherman to help with the six "important people" from the United States. He was going to pick them up in Greece and bring them back to Italy.
The captain had been slightly drunk and bragging that he was a big enough boss to need to hire more men. Peppe had been standing there drinking and had just happened to hear.
Peppe had spent his last money buying the captain a drink, talking to him about how good a fisherman he was, and he had gotten the job. They had left for Greece the next morning.
Since Louisa had kicked him out, he had needed a place to live and a job. Louisa had a temper like no other woman he had ever seen. When she was in a mood her green eyes flared and her voice rose and
he loved her even more. Usually their arguments ended in the best sex he could have ever imagined. But lately it hadn't worked that way. She had said she had had enough of his lazy ways. Either he got a job or got out.
He got out, and then got this job. Three days' fast sail from Italy to Greece, then two weeks going from island to island, waiting on the Americans, all for good pay. The captain told him that all he had to do was follow orders, work hard, catch decent-sized fish, and stay out of the way.
Peppe could do that, then he would find a new place to live when he got back. Louisa would be sorry she had ever pushed him out the door. He would show her.
Peppe watched as a short, blond-haired woman with a perfectly toned body got out of the lead car and stood on the pier, staring at the boat, hands on her hips. Even from a distance, he could tell she was angry. And that anger made her interesting. He liked it when women got mad, it brought out the real animal in them.
She said something to her companion, then shook her head, her hair swaying and shining in the sunlight.
The man with her only smiled.
Peppe watched, for some reason not able to take his eyes off of her. She had something about her, a way of moving, the anger, the perfect body, her class. It all came together in a package that made him want her more than he'd wanted a woman in a long time.
Suddenly a hand smacked his shoulder.
"Quit staring at the boss-lady and put that broom away," the captain said in Italian, his voice cold and to the point. "Then stand by to help with luggage."
Peppe nodded and without saying anything moved to do as he was told. He had learned quickly on the trip from Italy that the best way to deal with the captain was let him do all the talking. Peppe could be the quiet type if he needed to be, and on this trip, that was exactly what he was going to be.
He stored the broom in the galley and then went back topside to watch the visitors come aboard. For some reason, all he could do was stare at the blonde with the angry eyes and wonderful, golden skin.
Copyright © 2002 by by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.