One girl. Five men. A deserted paradise island. What would you do?
Olivia Bailey is up for The Challenge. Why the heck wouldn’t she be? With mariner qualifications piled high, engineering experience to rival someone twice her age, she’s ready to take on the mighty Pacific Ocean and win.
But what about her fellow crew? Five guys, four nationalities. A billionaire’s heir who likes to take charge in every aspect of life, an outback expert with a heart-stopping smile, a Spanish chef with mouthwatering moves and sexy twins who reveal themselves slowly, until it matters, then they act fast.
An adventure was what Olivia wanted, it’s certainly what she gets. Because things at sea happen in a heartbeat, friendships grow, tempers heat and desire flares. But what about when it all upends? When the unexpected happens? Will they pull together, or will fear drag the crew of Temptress apart?
She straightened, blew out a breath and opened the door.
Riley was beaming. “Ah, good. It’s time for the adventure to begin.”
“Yes. I guess it is.”
“Four of the crew are waiting for you in the penthouse. Harrington will be joining us shortly, when you’re all together.”
“Okay.” So their captain wasn’t there yet.
Olivia followed Riley along the carpeted corridor. They rode the elevator to the top floor. When it opened he stepped directly to the first door he came to.
After swiping a key card, he pushed it open with the flat of his hand. “After you, Miss Bailey.”
“Please, call me Olivia.”
She walked past him. If she’d thought her suite was big, this one was huge. But other than that she barely noticed anything, because dotted around the room were four guys—four guys she’d be working with and getting to know, warts and all, out there on the sea.
They all turned to her, curiosity in their expressions.
Of course they were inquisitive, she was the female of the team. Gender alone made her different to them. She hoped they didn’t have any thoughts of her being simpering and weak, or not a first class sailor and engineer, if so, she’d have to put them right.
“Gentlemen, can I please introduce Miss Olivia Bailey, your final crew member.”
A tall, broad guy, with tousled curly blond hair stepped forward, hand outstretched. “G’day, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He grinned, flashing neat white teeth, and his blue eyes sparkled. “Evan Tate, Melbourne.”
“Hi, Evan.” She smiled back. His grin was infectious and, judging by the smile lines around his eyes, came frequently. His big hand was warm as he gave hers a firm shake.
“Where you from?” he asked, releasing her and shoving his hands into his jeans pockets. They sat low on his hips, and the right knee had a frayed rip across it.
“Never been, heard it’s awesome.”
“Yes, it’s nice. By the coast, like Melbourne.”
“You been to Melbourne?”
“No, but perhaps when we get to Australia, I’ll take a trip.”
“You should. It’s cool.”
“And this, Miss Bailey, is Raul Santiago,” Riley said, indicating a guy who was perched on the edge of a low white leather sofa.
At the mention of his name, Raul jumped up. He was a fraction taller than Evan, though not as broad. His black hair was thick and tickled the collar of his red polo. He held out his hand. “Olivia, it is good to meet you.”
“And you, Raul.” She shook and released.
He smiled. “I hope you like to eat.” He banged his palm on his chest. “I cook in the galley, for everyone.”
She chuckled. “Yes, I like to eat. And if you can be inventive with fish after the third week, that’s cool.”
“I can get inventive with anything.” He winked then tipped his head back and laughed. It was a loud, raucous sound that echoed around the room.
“Raul is not only an expert sailor, he’s a top chef in one of Barcelona’s most exclusive restaurants.” Riley gripped Raul’s shoulder. “And we’ve ensured he has a good supply of ingredients to keep everyone’s palate happy.”
“I like the sound of that,” Olivia said. Wow, what a treat, to have a professional chef on board. It would make a change from eating out of ration packs, which she’d done on other occasions when at sea.
“And this is Mason and Lucas McCadam.” Riley gestured to the opposite sofa. One man sat, another stood behind it.
Olivia looked between the two of them. Blinked. Looked again. They were identical. Each was big built, with white blond, super short hair. They also wore the same black t-shirt and black trousers. Each of their right arms showed a dense tattoo that extended just past their elbows.
The one sitting, rose, hand offered forward. “I’m Mason. Glad you could be here.” He smiled.
Olivia took it, noticing he wore a silver ring on his thumb. “Hi, Mason. You’re from the UK then.” She’d heard a Scottish accent.
“Aye, Edinburgh.” He jabbed his thumb over his shoulder. “This is my twin, Lucas.”
She turned her attention to Lucas. He didn’t move from behind the sofa. Instead he simply set his pale gaze on her and nodded, his lips in a tight straight line.
“Hello Lucas.” She smiled, wondering if he’d return one. He didn’t. There was something a little thug-ish about his appearance, more so than his twin who was smiley and animated, perhaps it was because he appeared so stern and as if ready to burst into action. “When did you fly in?” she directed at Lucas.
Mason answered. “Yesterday, so we spent the day exploring. Newport is buzzing.”
“Yes, I’d like to have a look around if I get the chance.”
“I’m not sure you will,” Riley said. “You’re due to head off at eleven o’clock in the morning and we have press set up before your departure.”
Olivia turned to him, her smile dropping. “But what about preparing Temptress, and checking we have everything we’ll need?”
“I can assure you the boat is well prepared. You will want for nothing.”
That didn’t sit well with Olivia. She always liked to spend time getting to know a new boat, tinkering with the engine, going through the equipment, making sure nothing essential had been forgotten.
“Don’t look so worried,” Evan said, dropping into a chair and crossing his left ankle over his right knee. “We were down there today. Temptress is top notch, all set to go.” He nodded slowly. “And the navigation system, whoa, that’ll blow your mind.”
Olivia was silent. She was used to having more control than ‘here’s your boat, off you go’. But at the moment, she didn’t seem to have much choice.
“Temptress is muy bien,” Raul said, kissing his fingertips and sitting. “Perfecto. Everything we need to take on the Pacific and more.”
“Good. I’m glad.” Perhaps she’d get up early—jet lag would be on her side after all—and get down to the harbor for at least a basic run through.
“And now that you’re all here,” Riley said, pulling out his cell. “I’ll call Harrington and get him to come and say hi.” He glanced around the team. “Because I’m sure you’re all dying to meet your captain.”
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