Falling in love with the next door neighbor—impulsive. Kidnapped by her ex-husband—startling. Traded for contraband on the high seas—unbelievable.
Photo-journalist, Georgina Barrister, realizes she has little time left in this world when her ex-husband hands her over as partial payment for a shipment of illegal imports. Apparently being the perfect wife, the perfect hostess, and the perfect lover hadn’t been enough for him. What did he expect of her now, to be the perfect token? As a captive on a freighter, how will she escape?
Special Agent Jake Callahan believes love at first sight is impossible, until he meets Georgina Barrister Kaplan. However, his assignment on a high-seas trafficking case must overrule his feelings when Georgina becomes the prime suspect.
In search for the truth will they lose their one chance at happiness?
Fantasies with spice and humor. http://www.jj-keller.com Trade Agreement, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxf1tPBXdSY All rights reserved.
Shivers cascaded over Georgina’s body, the November cold penetrating her thin dress. She braced herself against the bumpy jolts as the speed boat hit rough water. The night was moonless, deep black ink surrounded them. The closer they got to the freighter, the faster her heart beat, a quick cadence to match the waves hitting the side of the vessel.
Georgina drew in a shaking breath and tried to lessen her grip on the rail of the boat as they pulled
beside the ladder. Her fingers ached with the chill of tension. She glanced at the freighter. It was oh-so tempting to simply fall into the water, but she’d freeze to death or get eaten by sharks. No, the only logical means of escape was catching a ride on the gray metal whale floating in the dark night, on a black ocean, surrounded by a mysterious fog.
She glanced at Kandi, her ex-husband’s current femme-de-jour, dressed in a sleek strapless azure
dress and spiked heels, then to Tristan himself. She’d loved him once, but now even looking at him made her colder. His fingers wrapped around the rail of the freighter’s ladder. He grabbed her hand and tugged her from the seat.
Her spine tingled with dread. Tristan couldn’t be trusted. She knew better.
“I’ve changed my mind,” Georgina said. “You can let me off at the next port.”
Tristan gripped her hand tighter and pulled her toward the ladder. “Can’t.”
“Why not?” Georgina jerked Tristan’s arm, ready to throw him overboard. Did demons sink? Her
stomach tumbled. Getting on that freighter would be a mistake.
Kandi slid beside Tristan and snarled, “Just get on the ship, Georgina, or I’ll throw your spoiled ass overboard and you can swim back to Virginia.”
Shocked at Kandi’s language and the threat, Georgina glared.
“It’s too late. There’s no going back…not for Gemma either,” her ex-husband spewed.
Damn him for using her best friend as a pawn.
Georgina’s heart rate went tachycardia. She blew slow breaths trying to slow the pace. She released his forearm, sat down on the padded boat seat, and crossed her arms.
“Georgina, climb the ladder.” Tristan’s jaws snapped together.
Kandi sighed and tapped her foot on the metal rail of the rocking boat.
Had Tristan really kidnapped Gemma? He had to be bluffing, but Georgina’s heart rattled against
her chest. What if Gemma wasn’t safe? She’d already lost one baby, she couldn’t lose another. “I
Tristan gripped her arm and jerked her upright. She reached up with her other hand and dug her
nails into the tender skin of his palm.
“She’ll go,” Kandi said.
Georgina sneered at the two, pivoted, and clutched the nearest brass rung.
The three-inch heels clipped the metal, and she slipped on the third rail of the ladder. Determined,
she tightened her hold and stepped to the next rung.
Homeward bound. A precarious scramble on steps or fear of the unknown wouldn’t prevent her from returning to her little house and Jake. Thoughts of the sleepy little town of Nero intruded. She’d often complained about the boredom and photographing nothing but dog and garden shows. Well, she’d trade her current situation for some of that routine any day.
Jake, her lover. Her heart clutched a little in her chest. Was he searching for her? She maneuvered up one more rung. In the back of her mind, she hoped Jake would come to her rescue.
A wintery breeze blew up her dress and she shuddered. She was beyond chilled in the clingy
little dress. She clutched a metal bar and pushed the hem down. Her foot slipped, and her spiked heel dug into Tristan’s fingers. She applied as much pressure as possible.
Tristan roared. He slapped her rear with such force she pressed flush against ladder. “Keep going,
Georgina. Move it.” Bastard. She stepped to the next bar, releasing his hand.
Finally, she reached the top. Two goons, heavyweight bookends with matching blank
expressions, hauled her over the rail. Tristan crawled on deck and helped Kandi onto the platform.
“Come.” One of the goons, with a melodic Russian accent, motioned with his head.
It didn’t sound like a request.
The men led them down a staircase, through a corridor, and into a square, frigid room. A stainless
steel table and two metal chairs were the only furnishings. One seat was occupied by a man she
assumed to be Aleksandr Stypopas, the captain of this fine vessel.
Like the gentleman he was, Tristan sat down on the other chair. A bottle labeled IKON Russian
vodka sat in the middle of them like a referee. Kandi stood behind Tristan, her hand resting easily on his shoulder. Georgina stood to the side, as close to the door as possible.
While the men talked, in Russian or Ukrainian, Georgina deliberated how to convince Aleksandr to return her to the States. He was as dark and mysterious in appearance as the freighter. His
shaggy black beard seemed blacker as a result of the elegant gray shirt and pants covering his thin body.
Would this nightmare ever end? It had to be a dream, because Aleksandr was wearing Armani for
God’s sake, at midnight, on a freighter, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He didn’t look like a man who did favors out of the goodness of his heart. Would he want money? She didn’t have anything to offer. Or did she? She shuddered at the thought. A raised voice captured her attention. What had she missed?
There was a palpable sense of menace in the air.
Had they walked into a trap? Would they all be killed?