Betina Krahn

Betina Krahn by The Mermaid

Book: Betina Krahn by The Mermaid Read Free Book Online
Authors: The Mermaid
Thorne was a man of reason and intellect, a man too absorbed in delving the secrets of the universe to botherwith trifles like mating and pleasure. She thought of his pride and superior airs. No doubt he considered himself above such nonsense.
    But then, a more empirical bit of evidence intruded. He hadn’t
felt
like a juiceless prig when he pulled her tight against him, slid his hands over her body, and teased her lips with his. True, she was a novice at such things, but at the time, he seemed to be enjoying it as much as she did. And if afterward he was appalled … why would a man dislike having made pleasure, if it felt good?
    Because he didn’t like the person with whom he made that pleasure.
Her
.
    She propped her chin on her hand and scowled as she looked out to sea. He believed she was either a fraud and a liar, or a young, idiotic female who confused her days with
daydreams
and infused her observations with all sorts of ridiculous female longings … neither of which would appeal to a man of logic and reason, who considered himself the guardian of the Gates of Truth. The thought caused a hollow, empty feeling in her chest and she sent a hand to massage it.
    A moment later that telling motion annoyed her and she jerked her hand away. She was a scientist, for heaven’s sake. Why was she spending precious time and energy worrying about what would appeal to Titus Thorne? She didn’t have to have his approval or his blessed kisses; she only had to have his verification of her work. In writing.
    Glowering, she took up her dolphin call again.
    I T WAS WELL PAST dawn when Titus sprang up in the middle of his bed, wild-eyed and sweating, feeling the sting of phantom fish tails against his face. He’d been dreaming again. After a night of tossing and turning and finding every lump and button on that torture rack of a mattress, he had finally sunk into exhausted slumber just before dawn. And he soonfound himself entangled in both damp sheets and disturbing dreams.
    It wasn’t the first time fish had appeared in his dreams. In London, the morning after he first encountered Celeste Ashton, he had awakened with his hands flailing about his face, pushing away the fish tails that were swarming around him. Virtually every night since, his beleaguered mind conjured up some strange vignette or other involving fish, whose tails usually ended up in his face.
    Last night there were fish eating other fish. The big ones that were doing the eating turned and winked at him. Then they blew him kisses with huge, cherry-red lips. When he didn’t respond, they grew irate and began to chase him. The chase ended when he stumbled and scraped his leg, and they all took turns swatting him in the face with their tails.
    “Damned silly dreams,” he muttered, hauling himself out of bed and throwing open the window for a bit of fresh salt air. His injured ankle was too tender for his usual morning calisthenics, so he settled on the floor for a few push-ups instead. As he completed twenty, he realized he was doing them in rhythm … five quick ones … and a longer, slower one. He paused and sat for a moment, hearing that same infectious rhythm he had drummed out last night, and thinking for a moment that it was his heart beating that way. Grabbing his chest in alarm, he soon realized that it was coming from
outside
, not inside.
    It was
her
, calling her dolphins again. The sound was drifting in through the open window.
    After breakfast in the dining room with an inquisitive Lady Sophia, he found himself ushered through the house and out the kitchen door, his hands filled with food and drink for Celeste. When she was on the trail of a discovery, Lady Sophia had declared, her granddaughter could be forgetful of her health and well-being. Thus, he had to make his way down the stepped cliff, across the soft beach, and along the rocky path to the dock while juggling a covered metal bucket, a cloth-draped basket, and a plate of warm scones.
    “Miss

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