It was a little unnerving. And he wondered if he was up to this. To be strong enough for her, to be her match.
"Hey, want a soda?"
He focused on her. "A beer."
"Hell no, you're driving this thing," she said and tossed him a soda.
He caught it. "You could."
"I know I could, but I get hot seeing you standing at the wheel like a sea captain."
He grinned. "Let's get underway then." He popped the soda top.
She laughed and gave him a seductive smile. "Foreplay is everything, Bryce. Have some lunch with us girls and then take the long way home."
Home, he thought. She'd made his house that way. Before he and Carolina had been just living there, secluded. Now there was something better. Much better.
He sat down beside her, sharing sandwiches and munching on chips, the baby between them and making more mess than any child had a right to make. Neither of them cared. They talked for what felt like hours, about Carolina, his business, the low country he loved so much.
"So," Ciara said, finishing off her sandwich and dusting her fingertips. "I never did ask, what's the name of your boat?" It was already in high tide water when she got in.
He hesitated and Ciara wondered if that was a blush she saw, or just too much sun. "The ships for the company are called the Lady Carolina and the—"
"Stop stalling, Ashland. I mean this one." And he knew it.
He didn't answer, smirking to himself. Frowning suspiciously, she set down her soda and went aft, sitting on the edge and hanging on to the ladder to lean down and look at the back.
She popped up, blinking. Stunned.
His smile was slow and almost lecherous.
"Hong Kong Knight. You named your boat after a night of sex!"
"After my most memorable one, yes."
"Oh, bet that kind of boasting went over real well with Diana."
Instantly she wished the words back. Yet his expression didn't change, telling her that he'd let that part of his life go.
"She never knew. No one did. Ever. It was my secret."
Ciara felt warmth explode inside her.
"Nope, though I do have one friend who suspects and mentions Hong Kong just to see the look on my face."
"What look was that?"
She stood and walked toward him, seduction in every cell of her body. "Pure satisfaction." She stopped close and bent, giving him a delicious view of her bosom before she kissed him.
Her kiss had passion written all over it, in the way she outlined his mouth with slow deliberation, in the way she pushed her tongue between his lips, mimicking the dance they had done all last night.
His groin tightened and Bryce shifted in the seat, one hand steadying Carolina. He wanted to touch Ciara so bad, fondle all that flesh hanging out of her swimsuit. But there were just too many boaters around.
"Is it time to go home yet?" he said when she eased back. She was breathing as hard as he was.
"Weigh anchor, captain. And take a shortcut."
* * *
A few hours later, on the balcony under the stars, Bryce pushed into her, her body calling him back. A slick slide of passion and hunger that never seemed to weaken, only grow stronger, washed over her.
"Bryce," she gasped and lifted her hips to meet his strong thrusts, digging her feet into the floor.
His features were tight with desire, his body taut against hers as he thrust. Ciara pulled him down onto her, wanting to feel his pleasure and make it her own. He plunged and she smiled into his eyes as her body burst with satisfaction. Pure and loving. She arched, sweet rapture spilling through her blood, making it sing.
With one hand, Bryce held her off the floor and against him, gazing into her eyes as passion erupted, splitting through him and into her. He kept pushing, his gaze sweeping her body in the throes of her climax.
It was enough to make his eyes burn. To know he gave her pleasure, to know he'd found more than he bargained for when she walked into his life.
Several moments passed, their breathing and the wind the only sound filling the room. He lowered her to the floor and sank down onto her.
She moaned with contentment and he eased from her, rolling to his back and pulling her close. She wrapped her limbs around him, sighing.
Ciara stared up at the stars coloring the Carolina night, and her breath caught as one shot across the dark sky. "Make a wish," she whispered, pointing.
"I don't need wishes. I'm a very contented man."
She nudged Bryce. "And arrogant, too."
He shifted to look at her, tipping her face to the moonlight. "What did you wish for?"
"I'm not telling."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You hide things from me, Ciara. I don't care what they are, except that you don't trust me enough to tell me."