Her mind began to race. Her imagination went into overdrive. Scenario after scenario ripped through her head and she filled with the agonising awareness that she could well have lost him.

As wretchedness scythed through her and a wave washed over her Phoebe’s legs gave way and she crumpled into a heap.

Even the weather had turned against him, thought Alex grimly, dredging up every ounce of strength he possessed to keep the yacht upright.

He’d been out in worse, but not much. He braced himself for yet another wave that bore down on him. A whoosh of water crashed over the stern and as the boat groaned and creaked Alex staggered beneath the force of it. His muscles stung with the effort of holding the tiller steady. Every bone in his body was battered and bruised and he could feel a cut on his cheek.

He should have checked the forecast. He should have turned back at the first hint of rain. He should have been watching the wave patterns and paying attention to the darkening of the skies. He should have remembered that storms in this part of the world tended to set in in a matter of minutes.

But then there were lots of things he should have done over the past week.

He should have realised the depths of his feelings for Phoebe sooner, and he should have stayed in London and insisted on hammering things out with her instead of running off to lick his wounds here.

Because what good had that done him? None at all. All he’d done here was sit and brood and ache for her. At least, he thought as adrenalin coursed through his veins, it proved he could still feel something.

If he ever got back to the island alive, and right now the chances of that happening were looking pretty slim, he’d head straight back to London. He’d wine and dine Phoebe and woo her properly until her resistance buckled under the relentless pressure. Once he’d got her back into his bed and rendered her all soft and warm and amenable, he’d set about making her love him as much as he’d realised he loved her. However long it took. He didn’t care. He was fully prepared to devote the rest of his life to the endeavour.

And as that was the case, he thought determinedly, he would not be consigning himself to a watery grave any time soon. His heart pumping wildly with renewed energy, Alex hoisted the storm sail, set the stern to the waves and concentrated on steering the yacht to safety before the storm bashed them both to bits.

How long she’d been sitting there when something slammed into the side of the jetty, Phoebe had no idea. She was numb with cold and despair. The thought that she might never see Alex, might never hold him again, had been tearing away at her and her whole body ached unbearably with grief. She trembled and wrapped her arms around herself and waited for the icy wave to wash over her. For all she cared, it could knock her into the sea, drag her under and carry her away.

When it didn’t, and she heard the slap of wet ropes landing on wood inches from her knees, her heart began to hammer and her eyes flew open.

For a moment Phoebe just stared. Then she rubbed her eyes and blinked and felt everything inside her spring to life. Because there, right in front of her, was the Phoenix Three. A bit battered but in one piece and she didn’t think she’d ever been so happy to see forty feet of gleaming white fibreglass.

Relief thundered through her. She hadn’t lost him. At least not to the storm. He was there. Alive. Unclipping himself from the guardrail and stepping off the boat.

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‘Alex,’ she croaked, lurching to her feet and beginning to shiver uncontrollably.

But he was throwing loops of rope over the bollards and clearly hadn’t heard her so she swallowed and tried again. ‘Alex!’

Alex froze and spun round. ‘Phoebe?’ For a moment he just stood there and stared at her. Then she caught a flash of raw unguarded emotion on his face and her legs automatically propelled her towards him.

She stopped a foot away, suddenly completely at a loss as to what to say. The speech she’d spent the entire flight over carefully practising flew out of her head. Because, the way he was glowering at her, he didn’t look as if he was pleased to see her at all.

‘What the hell are you doing here?’ he said roughly, wiping the water from his eyes and looking her up and down as if he couldn’t quite believe she was there. ‘How long have you been out here?’

‘I don’t know,’ she croaked and wrapped her arms around herself.

Alex frowned, then shrugged off his oilskin and helped her into it. And then as the warmth from his body enveloped her Phoebe couldn’t hold back. She launched herself at him, flinging her arms around his neck, pulling his head down and pressing her mouth to his, pouring everything she’d gone through into a kiss that shook her to the soles of her feet.

‘I’m sorry,’ she mumbled over and over again against his lips, wanting to never let him go.

Alex’s arms whipped around her waist and crushed her tighter against him. He kissed her back as if his life depended on it. She moaned and sank into him and his hands came up to cup her face. He cradled her as if she was the most precious thing he’d ever held and Phoebe nearly collapsed with relief. He was pleased to see her.

But as heat spread through her all the feelings she’d been protected from by the numbness came crashing down on her and she suddenly found she was shaking. Sobs began to rack her body.

‘Phoebe?’ Alex lifted his head and gazed down at her, his eyes blazing with heat and desire and concern.

‘I thought you were dead!’ she yelled, pulling back and thumping him in the chest.

He caught her shoulders and pulled her closer to stop her thumps and her shivering. ‘Why would I be dead?’ he said soothingly.

‘I thought you’d capsized and drowned and been eaten by sharks.’

Alex held her tighter. ‘There aren’t any sharks round here.’


Tags: Lucy King Billionaire Romance
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