Captive of My Desires (Malory-Anderson Family Series #8)

Captive of My Desires (Malory-Anderson Family Series #8)

by Johanna Lindsey

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Johanna Lindsey sweeps readers into the dazzlingly passionate world of the incomparable Malorys, an aristocratic family of rakehell adventurers and spirited ladies — which turns ever more tempestuous when James Malory introduces the daughter of a pirate to London society.

Gabrielle Brooks sets sail from England to a Caribbean island in search of her estranged father and encounters a life-altering surprise — her father is a pirate! After spending three wonderful years hunting treasure with him, Gabrielle is dismayed when he decides she must return to London to find a proper husband. His old friend James Malory will sponsor her in polite society. Gabrielle is escorted to balls and parties by James's wife, Georgina, and her brother, Drew Anderson, a dashing American sea captain and fun-loving rogue. When Drew embroils Gabrielle in a scandal the night before he's to sail home, the pirate's daughter vows revenge by commandeering Drew's ship and taking him prisoner. But as passion runs high on their sea voyage, it becomes difficult to tell who is truly the captor and who is the captive.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416505488
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 04/17/2007
Series: Malory-Anderson Family Series , #8
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 241,174
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Johanna Lindsey (1952–2019) was world-renowned for her “mastery of historical romance” (Entertainment Weekly), with more than sixty million copies of her novels sold. She was the author of nearly sixty nationally bestselling novels, many of which reached the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Lindsey lived in New Hampshire with her family.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

She'd been told to hide, and stay hidden. That had been Gabrielle Brooks's first thought as well after the noise had drawn her up to the deck and she'd seen what was causing the commotion. It wasn't the captain who'd given her the order, though. He'd been nothing but confident that he could lose the ship bearing down on them. He'd even laughed about it and shaken his fist at the Jolly Roger flying from the attacking ship's mainmast, which was visible now to the naked eye. His enthusiasm — and dare she say delight? — had certainly relieved her mind. Until the first mate pulled her aside and told her to hide.

Unlike the captain, Avery Dobs didn't appear eager for the upcoming confrontation. His complexion as white as the extra sails being swiftly hoisted by the crew, he hadn't been gentle about shoving her toward the stairs.

"Use one of the empty food barrels in the hold. There are many of them now. With any luck, the pirates won't open more than one or two, and finding them empty, they'll move on. I'll warn your servant to hide as well. Now go! And no matter what you hear, don't leave the hold until someone whose voice you recognize comes for you."

He hadn't said until he came for her. His panic was infectious, his roughness surprising. Her arm was probably bruised where he'd gripped it. It was such a change from the courteous way he had treated her when the journey began. He'd nearly been courting her, or so it had seemed, though that was unlikely. He was in his early thirties and she was barely out of the schoolroom. It was just his deferential manner, his gentle tone of voice, and the inordinate amount of attention he'd paid her during the three weeks since they'd left London, that gave her the impression he liked her more than he should.

He'd managed to instill his own fear in her, though, and she'd raced toward the bowels of the ship. It was easy to find the food barrels Avery had spoken of, nearly all of them empty, now that they were nearing their destination in the Caribbean. Another few days and they would have sailed into St. George's harbor in Grenada, her father's last known whereabouts, and she could have begun her search for him.

Nathan Brooks was not a man she knew well, though all her memories of him were fond ones, but he was all she had now that her mother had died. While she'd never once doubted that he loved her, he had never lived at home with her for any length of time. A month, maybe a few months at a time, and, one year, an entire summer — but then several years would pass without a visit from him. Nathan was captain of his own merchantman with very profitable trade routes in the West Indies. He sent home money and extravagant presents, but rarely did he bring himself home.

He'd tried to move his family closer to where he worked, but Carla, Gabrielle's mother, wouldn't even consider it. England had been her home all of her life. She had no family left there, but all her friends were there, as well as everything she valued, and she had never approved of Nathan's seafaring occupation anyway. Trade. She'd always spoken the word in disgust. She had enough aristocracy in her ancestry, even if she bore no title herself, to look down on anyone in trade, even her own husband.

It was a wonder they'd ever married. They certainly didn't seem to like each other much when they were together. And Gabrielle would never, ever mention to him that his long absences had led Carla to take a...Well, she couldn't even bring herself to think the word, much less say it. She was so embarrassed by her own conclusions. But Albert Swift had been a regular visitor to their two-story cottage on the outskirts of Brighton during the last several years, and Carla had behaved like a young schoolgirl whenever he was in town.

When he'd stopped coming around and they heard the rumors that he was courting an heiress in London, Gabrielle's mother had undergone a remarkable change. Overnight, she turned into a bitter woman, hating the world and everything in it, crying over a man who wasn't even hers.

Whether he had made Carla promises, whether Carla had intended to divorce her husband, no one knew, but her heart seemed to have broken when Albert turned his attentions to another woman. She had all the signs of a woman betrayed, and when she took sick in early spring and her condition had worsened, she'd made no effort to recover from it, ignoring her doctor's advice and barely eating.

Gabrielle was heartsick herself, having to watch her mother's decline. She might not have approved of her mother's obsession with Albert, or her unwillingness to try harder to save her marriage, but she still loved her mother deeply and had done everything she could think of to cheer her up. She'd filled her mother's room with flowers that she scoured the neighborhood for, read to her mother aloud, even insisted their housekeeper, Margery, spend a good portion of her day visiting with her, since she was such a chatty woman and usually quite funny in her remarks. Margery had been with them several years at that point. Middle-aged with bright red hair, vivid blue eyes, and a host of freckles, she was opinionated, outspoken, and not at all awed by aristocrats. She was also a very caring woman, and had taken to the Brookses as if they were her own family.

Gabrielle had thought her efforts were working, that her mother's will to live was returning. Her mother had even started to eat again and stopped mentioning Albert. So Gabrielle was devastated when her mother passed away in the middle of the night. "Pined away" was Gabrielle's personal conclusion, because she'd been on the mend from her illness, though she would never mention that to her father. But her mother's death left Gabrielle feeling utterly alone.

Although she'd been left a lot of money, since Carla had been quite well-to-do herself from a family inheritance, Gabrielle wouldn't see any of that money until she reached her majority at the age of twenty-one, and that was a long way off. Her father did send funds regularly, and there was the household money that would last quite a while, but she'd just turned eighteen.

She was also going to be turned over to a guardian. Carla's solicitor, William Bates, had mentioned it at the reading of the will. In her grief, she hadn't really paid attention, but when she'd been given the name, she was appalled. The man was a philanderer and everyone knew it. The rumors were that he chased his maids all over his house, and he'd even pinched Gabrielle's bottom once at a garden party, when she'd been only fifteen!

A guardian, and he in particular, wouldn't do a'tall. She still had one parent living. She merely needed to find him, and so she set out to do just that. She'd had to conquer a few fears first, of sailing halfway around the world, of leaving behind everything she was familiar with. She'd nearly changed her mind twice. But in the end, she'd felt she had no choice. And at least Margery had agreed to go with her.

The trip had gone very well, much better than she'd anticipated. No one had questioned her traveling with just her servant. She was under the captain's protection, after all, at least for the duration, and she had implied her father would be meeting her when they docked, just a small lie to keep any concerns at bay.

Now, thinking about her father and finding him kept her current fears in check for only a short while. Her legs had fallen asleep, curled into the barrel as she was. She'd had no trouble getting all of herself into the container. She wasn't a big woman at only five-four, and was slender of frame. A splinter had pierced her back, though, when she'd scrunched down into the crate just before she'd pulled the lid back over it, and there was no way to reach it even if she had enough room to try.

And she was partly in shock that it was even possible for a ship to fly a Jolly Roger in this day and age. Pirates were supposed to be extinct. She had thought they had all been routed in the last century, either pardoned or hung. Sailing the warm Caribbean waters was supposed to be as safe as walking down an English country lane. If she hadn't been certain of that, she never would have booked passage to this side of the world. And yet, she'd seen the pirate flag with her own eyes.

There was a tight knot of fear in her belly, which was also empty and adding to her discomfort. She'd missed breakfast and had intended to remedy that at lunch, but the pirate ship had arrived before lunch was served, and now it was hours later. At least, it seemed like she'd been cramped in the barrel that long, and there was no indication of what was going on topside.

She had to assume they were staying far ahead of the pirate ship, but if they had lost the other vessel, wouldn't Avery have come to tell her so? Suddenly a blast shook the entire ship, and another, and more, all exceedingly loud. There were more indications that a battle had begun, the smell of gun smoke from the fired cannons that seeped into the hold, the raucous yells, even a few screams, and then, a long while later, the horrible silence.

It was impossible to determine who had won the battle. It was nerve-wracking. As time passed, her fear grew. She'd be screaming soon, she was sure. In fact, she didn't know how she'd managed not to succumb to that urge already. If they had won the day, wouldn't Avery have shown up by now? Unless he was wounded and hadn't told anyone where she was. Unless he was dead. Did she dare leave her hiding place to find out?

But what if the pirates had won? What did pirates do with captured ships? Sink them? Keep them to sell or man them with their own crews? And their current crew and passengers? Kill them all? The scream was bubbling up in her throat when the lid was torn off of her barrel.

Copyright © 2006 by Johanna Lindsey

Chapter 8

Gabrielle's nerves were nearly shredded by the time they knocked on the door in Berkeley Square. The townhouse was in the upper-crust end of town. It had taken half the morning to find out where the lord lived. Her father certainly hadn't known, as he hadn't seen the chap in more than fifteen years. All he knew was that the man had moved back to England quite a few years ago with his son.

She'd tried to look her best for this meeting, and Margery had helped, getting the wrinkles out of her clothes, but her nervousness was making her feel like she wasn't up to scratch. And she was cold. Good grief. It was still summer in England! But she was too used to the warmer climate of the Caribbean now, and, unfortunately, her current wardrobe reflected that.

She had only a few stylish dresses and even those were made of lightweight materials. Long ago she'd tossed away just about her entire wardrobe that she'd left England with, because it was much too warm for the Caribbean. Now her trunks were filled with brightly colored casual skirts and blouses, and not even one petticoat.

She had a purse full of money for her new wardrobe, but that wasn't going to help her make a good first impression today. She was hoping no one was home, that the man wasn't even in England. If Richard and Ohr weren't with her, she wouldn't be standing here biting her lip. She would be on the first ship back to St. Kitts.

The door opened. A servant stood there. Then again, maybe he wasn't a servant. With a scraggly gray beard, cutoff pants, and bare feet, he looked like he belonged in the islands more than they did.

"Wot's it to be then and be quick about it," he said quite rudely.

Ohr, without expression, said, "A letter for your master, to be hand delivered. We'll wait inside."

He wasn't giving the man a chance to disagree. He took Gabrielle's arm and pushed past the fellow.

"Now just a bleedin' minute," the man protested. "Where's yer calling card, eh?"

"The letter is our — "

"Is there a problem, Artie?"

All eyes turned to the woman who appeared in one of the open doorways off the long entry hall where they now stood. She was no bigger than Gabrielle, maybe an inch or so shorter, with dark brown hair and eyes. She looked to be somewhere around thirty years of age, with a face that would be exceptionally lovely at any age.

The three visitors were so taken by her beauty that they were speechless, giving the servant called Artie a chance to say, "They barged in, George, but I'll be giving them the boot now."

The woman — George — tsked and said, "There's no need for that." And then she smiled at Gabrielle and added graciously, "I'm Georgina Malory. May I help you?"

Gabrielle's embarrassment prevented her from answering. She felt like a bloody beggar. She didn't care what her father had done to help Lord Malory, it couldn't be enough of a favor to expect these people to take her in and sponsor her for the Season. And it might even take her two Seasons to find a husband!

The launching of a debutante was a major undertaking. It required attending party after party, planning, acquiring a new wardrobe, arranging suitable escorts and chaperones. She and her mother had talked about it often — before Carla had met Albert. And Carla had known the right people. She'd been looking forward to her daughter's Season in London. Gabrielle had, too, back then, and even on the trip here. But now that it was time to call in favors, she just wanted to go back to the Caribbean.

Richard spoke up with a charming smile, even doffed his jaunty hat for the lady. "We have a letter for Lord Malory, madam. Dare I hope he isn't your husband?"

"Yes, I am," came a deep voice in a distinctly unfriendly tone from the top of the stairs. "So get your eyes off of my wife or I will have to tear you apart limb by limb."

Gabrielle glanced up the stairs and actually took a step back toward the door. Good grief, she'd never seen a man quite so solidly built, or so menacing. It wasn't his unfriendly tone. Not at all. It wasn't even the lack of expression on his face. There was simply an aura about the man that warned he was dangerous, even deadly . . . that they should be looking for the nearest exit.

With no telling expression, the man didn't appear to be jealous, yet his tone smacked of jealousy. It was regrettable that Richard had posed his question in such a way that implied an interest in the lady, and even more regrettable that her husband had heard him.

Gabrielle shook her head. No, this couldn't be the man she was to ask this favor of. There had to be some kind of mistake on her father's part. Of course! There must be more than one Lord Malory in London. They'd come to the wrong house.

That thought gave her such relief; she was about to say so when Ohr said, "We meet again, Captain Hawke. It has been so many years, you may not remember — "

"I never forget a face."

Gabrielle turned to give Ohr a surprised look. Blast it, so they did have the right house. But Ohr could have told her what the man was like instead of mentioning fops to mislead her. And she didn't doubt Malory had been just like this when Ohr had met him all those years ago. Dangerous just didn't go away.

"We don't use that name anymore," Malory continued coldly. "So strike it from your memory, or I will."

That was clearly a threat, the second one in as many minutes. If the first hadn't produced a reaction in her two escorts, this second one certainly did. The tension was now palpable in all three men.

Of all the ways Gabrielle had envisioned this meeting going, this wasn't one of them. But then she'd had a completely different view of English aristocrats. She'd met many over the years growing up, and not one of them had been the least bit intimidating. This man was more than intimidating. Big, blond, and so muscular it wouldn't take much for him to tear someone limb by limb.

Malory continued down the stairs. Gabrielle was ready to leave before any more threats were uttered. Ohr wasn't. He didn't mention the letter, but he shoved it at the man when he was within reach.

She groaned inwardly. She knew she should have kept that letter herself, instead of letting Ohr carry it. It was sealed. None of them had opened it. She didn't even know how her father had phrased his request — as a favor, or a demand? Good grief, he wouldn't have dared make a demand of a man like this, would he?

She held her breath while Lord Malory opened the letter and scanned it quickly. "Bloody hell," he muttered when he was done. Gabrielle was mortified.

"What is it, James?" his wife asked, frowning curiously.

He said nothing, merely handed the letter to her so she could see for herself. She didn't utter any oaths. In fact, she amazed Gabrielle by smiling.

"Why, this sounds like fun," Georgina declared, and it looked like she actually meant it. She then glanced at her husband. "Didn't you read it all?"

"Yes, but I see you haven't grasped the implications yet," he replied.

"That there will be many parties to attend?" she queried.


"That we're going to be a bit crowded here, with two of my brothers visiting as well?"


"Then what's got you annoyed, aside from the remark that provoked your charming display of jealousy?"

Gabrielle could guess. Although she hadn't said a word yet, Malory must have assumed that as the daughter of a pirate she was utterly unsuitable to be foisted on the ton.

And yet all he said was, "Bite your tongue, George. I am not, nor will I ever be, charming."

He didn't deny the jealousy, though, which brought a flush to Richard's cheeks. Nor did he answer the question, which prompted his wife to make another guess.

"You must be feeling guilty, then, for making so many unnecessary threats."

It was such a provocative statement. How did the woman dare to talk to him like that? For that matter, what was a petite, perky woman like her doing married to such a big, menacing bruiser? Granted, he was handsome, with his long blond hair that reached his shoulders and those sharp green eyes. But he was deadly. There was absolutely no doubt in Gabrielle's mind.

And yet, all he did was snort at his wife and say, "The devil I am."

"Glad to hear it," Georgina said in a chipper tone, then added by way of explanation to the others present, "He's impossible to live with when he's feeling guilty."

"I'm bloody well not guilty, George."

It wasn't just the words but the tone that lent truth to that statement, and yet the woman said, "Yes, yes, and I can depend upon it, too, I'm sure you'd like to add, though we both know better."


Such warning in a single word, but the women still ignored it and said briskly to Gabrielle's escorts, "You gentlemen can be at ease now. My husband isn't going to tear off any limbs today."

"You might, m'dear, when you realize that you'll have to cancel your trip to accommodate this request."

Georgina frowned. "Oh, dear, I hadn't thought of that."

"Didn't think so," Malory replied.

"Ah, so that's why you're annoyed? You think I'm going to be disappointed?"

He didn't deny it, and actually confirmed it by saying, "Aren't you?"

"Not a'tall. Jack probably will be, though. You know how impatient children can be. But next year will do just as well for that trip."

Gabrielle had blanched with the realization that this favor was going to interfere with their plans. She finally spoke up.

"Please don't change your agenda on my account. My father probably didn't consider that you might not be available to assist me. His decision to send me here was made on the spur of the moment. We can make other arrangements and wait until he arrives to figure out something else."

"When will that be?" Georgina asked.

But Ohr said at the same time, "No we can't. He's still in the Caribbean and won't be coming here anytime soon."

"Well, that won't do a'tall," Georgina said with some finality.

But Malory clinched it when he said, "You'll stay." And that settled that. However, he wasn't finished. With a look and tone that left no room for argument, he told her escorts, "You won't. You've done your duty. She's in my care now. There's the door."

Ohr and Richard hadn't intended to stay in this part of town. Gabrielle quickly hugged them good-bye. She felt bad that James Malory had all but kicked them out the door, but she was sure it was Richard's stirring up Malory's jealousy that resulted in their having to leave sooner that she would have liked.

Alone now with the lord and lady, she felt her nervousness increase tenfold. But Georgina put her more at ease when she asked, "Shall we adjourn to the dining room? If you haven't eaten yet, the buffet is still hot. We eat at odd hours here, so breakfast is served for most of the morning. In any case, let's have a cup of tea while we get acquainted."

Gabrielle followed the lady, and unfortunately, James Malory followed her. She was sure she wasn't going to be able to relax with that man in the room. He was far too intimidating, and besides, she was still so embarrassed about intruding on their lives that she could barely get out the apology she felt she owed them.

"I'm very sorry that my arrival has disrupted your plans like this."

"Not another word, m'dear," Malory replied, his tone much more congenial now. "At the risk of earning a scowl from George, I don't mind admitting your timing couldn't have been more perfect."

"You weren't happy with your plans?"

When he didn't answer, Georgina laughed and explained, "He's still worried about that scowl he mentioned. You see, while he'll go above and beyond in his efforts to please me, the trip I wanted to take was rather quickly arranged, to take advantage of my brother Drew's ship being in London. But my husband doesn't actually get along famously with my brothers — "

"No need to wrap it up nicely, George," Malory interrupted. "I despise her brothers and they despise me. It's pleasantly mutual."

Gabrielle blinked, but Georgina rolled her eyes. "He's simplified it, but they really do try to get along."

"What she means is we stopped trying to kill each other years ago," James added.

He sounded serious, but Gabrielle simply couldn't believe that he was. And assuming that he was joking managed to put her somewhat at ease.

"At any rate," Georgina continued. "James wasn't happy about sailing on my brother's ship, so yes, he's no doubt delighted to have our trip postponed to a later date."

Amazingly, they'd managed to remove most of Gabrielle's guilt for foisting herself on them. Not all of it, but she was certainly feeling much better about it.

"I have a maid who will need to stay here with me," she told them.

"Certainly," Georgina said. "I would have hired one for you if you hadn't brought yours."

"Thank you. I'll only need to avail myself of your hospitality for a few weeks, until my father arrives and finds us other accomodations. That you're willing to sponsor me for the rest of this Season is most appreciated. By the by, if you don't mind my asking, how do you and my father know each other?" she asked James.

"He didn't tell you?" James queried.

"No, it was all so sudden, his decision to send me here. And then I was quite disappointed that he couldn't sail with me because he had some business to finish up. I wanted to wait for him, but with the Season already under way, he wanted me here soonest. Anyway, I never got around to asking him."

"I'm rather curious myself," Georgina admitted, glancing at her husband. Just what is this debt you owe? That letter didn't say."

"How do you put a price on a life? Brooks saved mine. I didn't ask him to."

"When was this?" Georgina asked.

"Long before I met you. I'd picked a fight in the wrong place at the wrong time, had about twenty drunken sailors trying to tear me apart."

"Only twenty?" She snorted. "And you consider that life-threatening? To you?"

James chuckled. "Appreciate the vote of confidence, m'dear. But they'd already stabbed me, shot me, and pronounced me dead."

A frown of concern immediately appeared on her face. "Were you really almost dead?"

"No, but one of the sailors had also cracked my head open, so I was no longer paying attention, and they were too drunk to notice I was still breathing."

"You were unconscious?"

"Quite. But since they were convinced I was dead, they were determined to get rid of the evidence. They tossed me off the wharf there in St. Kitts. It was a deep dock. And the water didn't revive me. Apparently I had no trouble sinking to the bottom."

"So Nathan Brooks fished you out?"

"To hear him tell it, he nearly drowned himself trying," he said.

"But he obviously succeeded."

"It was luck all the way around, m'dear. His ship was docked there. I'd happened to be tossed in the water right next to it. But it was late at night. No one was around, and he wouldn't have been there either to hear the commotion if he hadn't come back to his ship to fetch some map he'd forgotten. Nor would he have bothered to fish out a dead body, but he happened to hear one of the crowd ask if they were sure I was dead. So he dove in to check. I woke up soaking wet, lying under the dock where he'd left me."

"Then how do you know — "

"Let me finish. He'd been unable to carry me farther. He's a tall man, but I'm rather heavy at a deadweight. He'd left to get one of his men to help, the Oriental you met today. Then he took me to his house to mend. And there you have it."

"A very simple favor he's asked in return," Georgina said with a smile. "I would have paid him a fortune if he'd asked for it, for saving your life."

James gave his wife a very tender look, which appeared rather odd to Gabrielle, on the countenance of such an intimidating man. "That's because you love me, George, so I'm bloody well glad he didn't ask for it."

Copyright © 2006 by Johanna Lindsey

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