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Catching Caroline (Chapter 2)

Caroline stared out the porthole window and brushed the tears from her face. An eternity without Jack was a prospect so devastatingly bleak she could scarcely think through the pain of it. It couldn't be borne. She wouldn't allow it. Somehow she would find a way to have him.

"Milady?"

She glanced over her shoulder at the young seaman who waited beyond the open door of her cabin.

"Do you have any trunks to be brought aboard?"

Her throat clenched tight with misery, Caroline could only shake her head and look away, her vision blurred by the tears that welled ceaselessly. There had been no opportunity to pack, not with Jack sleeping just a few feet away from her wardrobe. She'd have to acquire new clothes when she arrived in France. It was there she decided she would begin her search.

"Very well then," he said cheerfully. "We'll be casting off soon."

"This ship is not leaving the dock."

The carefully controlled voice behind her sounded nothing like the one that had murmured so sweetly to her just hours ago, but Caroline knew it was one and the same. She spun about and stared at the apparition that dominated the slender doorway. Jack stood there, his breathtakingly handsome face so harshly set she took a step backward in fear.

His silver gaze burned into her and never left her face as he ordered the young sailor to leave them. Entering the tiny cabin, Jack kicked the door closed and thumbed the lock.

"Wh-what are you doing?" she asked, her voice faltering.

"There will be no more running, Caroline."

"You don't understand–"

"No!" he barked. "You are the one who fails to comprehend. I am weary of chasing you, Caroline, but I won't stop. Not ever. I will hunt you down, I will run you to ground. There is no place where you can hide from me."

Frightened at his vehemence, Caroline twisted her fingers in the skirts of her traveling suit. "There is something I must finish before we can be together."

"The hell you say."

"I was told to wait for another," she blurted, hoping desperately that he would forgive her once he knew. "The woman who changed me did so with a purpose. She said something about time and love–"

"Love will find a way against time itself."

Caroline gaped. "How did you know?"

"'Tis is an old vampire proverb. One of the many things I planned to share with you."

Fresh tears fell as she explained further. "The woman felt I would be a perfect spouse for her son. She said love might take time, but it would find me. He would find me. One day he will come for me, Jack. But I intend to find him first. I will tell him of my love for you, how I cannot imagine my life without you. I will never belong to another man. Never!"

"Caroline–"

The words tumbled out of her mouth in her haste to tell all. "She placed a mark on me. She said he would know me by it. He will believe me, Jack, and I will make certain he understands that there can never be anything between us."

Studying Jack's face, Caroline saw that her words did not soften him. Instead his ire appeared to grow before her eyes.

"And you didn't feel that you could share this with me?" he asked sharply. "You couldn't tell me this, discuss this with me and allow me to help you? What of the love you professed to me, Caroline? Where is the faith that my love for you would see you through any challenge you faced?"

Stung, she retorted, "What good will it serve for you to see another man's claim to me?"

His jaw clenched as he thrust out his hand displaying his signet ring. "This claim?"

She gasped at the crest that mirrored the mark on her hip. Her eyes lifted to his. "You knew?"

"My mouth and hands caressed every inch of your skin. Did you think there was any part of you that escaped my notice?"

"You said nothing!"

He gave a sardonic laugh. "I had other more pressing matters to attend to last night. With an eternity ahead of us, I saw no need for haste."

"That woman…was your mother?" Caroline shook her head, her heart aching. Her hand gestured between them. "So this feeling…this love…has been arranged?"

"No one can force love to grow betwixt two people, not even a master vampire like my mother."

She frowned. "But you came for me. Why?"

"From the moment your lips touched mine in the Moreland garden I knew what you could become to me. It was that potential that drove me these last two years, nothing else."

"Why didn't I know?"

"She left you the choice, Caroline. In the end the decision is yours to make. Whether or not I am the man you want is a conclusion you must draw for yourself. Nothing binds you to me. The mark she gave you was simply to guard you from those of our kind who prey upon the unprotected. That crest shows that you were chosen by an ancient family, that you are important to someone and would be missed."

Shocked, she looked away, afraid to believe that she could indeed have him, even as hope welled up within her. "My love binds me to you," she whispered, chancing another glance at him. "I cannot survive without you in my life. I've been miserable without you."

Jack took a deep breath, the silver of his irises molten with a hurt that she had caused. "How could you have left me so easily?"

"Oh, Jack… Leaving you was many things, but easy is not one of them. I thought it was the only way. How could I come to you fettered by the chains of another?" She held out her hands and walked toward him. "I would have searched the world over, left no stone unturned–"

Gruff voiced, he cut her off. "This habit of yours to run must be broken."

"I would not have left if you'd told me you were the one," she pointed out with an arched brow. "Your silence led me to false conclusions."

"I won't tolerate it again," he said, his voice softening but deadly earnest.

"I won't run." Her arms encircled his taut frame. "I shall never leave your side. You'll never be rid of me."

He crushed her to him and rested his cheek atop her head. "I want to throttle you for leaving that damned letter."

"I'm so sorry. Please, you must believe that. If I didn't love you it wouldn't have mattered. For a brief affair, I wouldn't have bothered. But to have you forever I had to be free."

"You can have me now. In that bed behind you."

Caroline tilted her head back to look at him. "Here?" she asked, incredulous.

He growled and she felt a tremulous excitement grow within her.

"Here." Jack stalked forward, forcing her to retreat toward the tiny bed. "You're going to prove everything you just said to me."

"The ship…?"

"Won't be going anywhere."

"My gown…?"

His wicked smile made her shiver. "Lift it."

The backs of her knees connected with the mattress and she fell on her back, her hands yanking and pulling franticly at the many layers of her skirts.

Jack's expression of pure possessiveness made her heart race. When he tore open the placket of his breeches and his cock sprang free, hard and long and impressively thick, she flooded with moisture and licked her fangs.

He spread her legs wide and began to slip inside her, taking his time, making her feel every inch. Lacing his fingers with hers, he pinned her arms above her head. "Never again," he warned.

With a gasp, she arched upward. "Never."

"You'll marry me as soon as we can arrange it."

"Yes…"

He began a luxurious rhythm, slow and sensual, an erotic dance of hardness into softness, and it swept through her in a gentle wave. Holding both of her hands with one of his, he reached for her knee and anchored it to his hip, opening her further so he could drive his cock deeper.

He fucked with such skill, such breathtaking expertise, and she loved him so much she cried with it. The loneliness she'd felt for so many years was gone, replaced by Jack's strong, steadfast presence in her heart and mind. The connection was deep, one that awed and amazed her. Closing her eyes, she touched him back, and felt his love surround her in tender embrace.

"God, Jack. You feel so good…"

He groaned and quickened his pace, the soft sucking sound of their lovemaking making her ache with the need to come.

"Please…" she begged.

"You'll wait for it," he growled. "After what you did to me this morning, you'll wait."

"I love you."

Jack pressed his lips to hers as he shuddered at her words. "Damn you."

She cried out his name as he brought her to orgasm with a powerful thrust. She felt his cock jerk inside her as he came, hot pulsing bursts of semen that pushed her over the edge until she shivered beneath him in another, more powerful release.

* * * * *

The gentle rocking of the ship brought Caroline out of the deep drugging pleasure to a gradual awareness of their surroundings. She laughed at the feel of linen beneath her cheek, a not so subtle reminder that they were both still fully clothed. "Jack. Tell me this isn't one of my dreams."

"If it is, my love, don't wake up yet. I've only just begun."

Caroline's friend, Julienne, has her story told in Sylvia Day's award-winning

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