Falling for Jack (Falling In Love) - By Christina Carlisle Page 0,1

loaded the cases onto the deck of the boat and then looked up at her. “Be careful climbing down with those shoes on,” he said, watching her as with an anxious expression she turned and began a perilous descent to the deck. The rope ladder swung precariously and the girl gave a startled yelp as her knuckles grazed against the rough stonewall.

“Here, I’ll help you.” Jack’s reaction was instinctive as he placed his hands on her skirt. He felt the curves of her deliciously rounded bottom beneath his fingers as he guided her.

Even with his support, she landed awkwardly on the wooden deck. A loud crack caused them both to look down as one of the delicate heels of her shoes snapped. Bending, she removed the shoe and held it aloft as she examined it.

“That’s bad luck.” He decided he had to say something to fill the ominous silence. As she bent again to remove the other shoe, his jaw dropped at the clear imprint of his two oil-streaked hands marking the pale blue material of her skirt.

He hesitated. After all, it wasn’t his fault but wow, it looked funny. As the girl turned to face him, he managed to suppress his laughter.

“Ah, miss. I think I should let you know that you’ve got a couple of dirty marks on your…your skirt.” Phew. He’d got that out of the way.

The girl twisted from side-to-side in an endeavor to view the damage. Touching one of the marks, she held up a hand now smeared with engine oil.

This time he couldn’t contain his mirth and burst out laughing. “I’m sorry, but you are in a bit of a mess, aren’t you,” he grinned, reaching into his pocket for a handkerchief to wipe her hand. They both stared at the filthy cloth he produced, which was the one he had used earlier to wipe the engine.

“I’ll change my clothes, if you show me where,” the girl said coolly.

She had a slight foreign accent, but Jack couldn’t quite pick it. French? German? He studied her face. Her eyes were downcast and he realized that not once had she looked directly at him. She showed no change of expression at these sudden calamities but wore the same haughty look. He wondered for a moment whether he should kneel and kiss those delicate little feet with their shell-pink colored toenails. Perhaps that would bring a smile to her face?

“You can change in the cabin. It’s not very big but will suffice. By the way, my name’s Jack.”

The girl examined the cases and then picking one and lifting it, threw him an almost embarrassed look. “Mine’s Lara,” she replied, before picking her way in her bare feet down the few stairs into the boat’s cabin.

Jack shrugged and turning away, prepared the boat to sail. He lovingly patted the safety rail. “Well, Jezebel, are you ready for an adventure?” he asked. “I know you haven’t been the best lately so I’ll understand if you don’t want to go too far.”

He half expected the old boat to reply, after all, they’d been together since he was a teenager and he knew all her moods and how to handle them. She could be as temperamental as any woman, and he enjoyed the many challenges Jezebel flung at him as her age forced her to rebel at various times. And this could be one trip they would both enjoy.

~ * ~

With a sigh of relief, Lara sat on the hard wooden bench in the tiny cabin, pulling off her sun hat and placing it on the rickety table in front of her.

She had made it. She was free. Exhilaration swept over her as she listened to the man, Jack, moving around on the deck above her. Soon she would be on her island paradise left to ponder her future, if only for a few days. But it was enough time. It had to be. Enough time to give her the breathing space she so desperately craved. The space she needed to consider the demands about to be thrust upon her because of her royal birthright.

Of course, she would need to let her parents know where she was and that she was safe so Mark, the detective assigned to guard her, wouldn’t be blamed because she had given him the slip.

She jumped as the engine spluttered into life and settled into a comfortable drone. As the vessel slowly pulled away from the wharf, she relaxed. Placing her case on to the table,