Ready for an excerpt break? We've got a treat for you today! There's a storm, a near shipwreck — and sexytimes, all in the generous snippet we've got from Julie Ann Walker's 4-1/2 star rated Born Wild. It's the long awaited story of ex-SEAL Bill and Heiress Eve, that fans of the Black Knights, Inc., series have been clamoring for. We think this excerpt speaks for itself, so off we go!
It was the most wonderful way to wake up. Sweet, delicate kisses drifting down Bill’s stomach toward the erection that was straining beneath the covers…
When Eve got to his bellybutton, she stopped, dipping her tongue inside, and his toes curled. He threw back the comforter, pushed her inky hair away from her forehead, and the soft light filtering in through the portholes highlighted the glint in her gorgeous sapphire eyes as she looked up at him.
“Good morning,” she breathed, catching her bottom lip between her teeth.
“Indeed it is,” he told her, grinning, loving the half-smile pulling at one corner of her mouth. “And it’ll be even better if you continue what you’re doing.”
“What I’m doing?” She lifted a brow, playing the coquette to perfection. “Oh, you mean this?” She opened her hot, wet mouth, and swallowed him whole, laving him with the soft, raspy pad of her tongue.
“Mmm-hmmm…” He fisted his hands in her hair, thrusting his hips upward just slightly. Sweet Mother Mary, have mercy. “That’s exactly what I m-mean.” And just as he was about to settle in—because, come on, the only thing better than waking up to soft kisses on his stomach was waking up to a blow-job; he was a guy, after all—the softly rocking sailboat suddenly rolled violently to the port side, nearly tossing them off the bed. Then, the vessel heaved to the starboard, and this time Bill did slide off the mattress, slamming against the teakwood decking on his back.
“Holy crap!” Eve yelled. He pulled himself to his knees in time to watch her jump from the rumpled bed and grab onto the doorframe separating the berth from the rest of the small cabin. A sizzle of white light blazed through the portholes followed almost immediately by a deafening crash of thunder. “We’ve sailed into a thunderstorm!”
And, yeah, he didn’t need to be told. The fact that every hair on his body was standing on end pretty much made that a foregone conclusion. And talk about a total soft-on. For future reference, the best way to lose chub? Sail into a thunderstorm and get tossed off the bed onto your ass.
Scrambling to his feet, he grabbed his discarded swim trunks with one hand while steadying himself on the mattress with the other. And even with the vessel being tossed around like a cork on the ocean, he still took the time to appreciate the sight of Eve shimmying into her skimpy red bikini bottoms. After he hopped into his short, he shoved his cell phone into one Velcro pocket and staggered out to the galley in time to see her slip an orange life-vest over the T-shirt she’d donned. Handing him a vest, he pulled it over his head just as the humming engine suddenly caught, choked, rumbled unsteadily for a bit, and finally sputtered and died.
He cursed. “That can’t be another rope. We can’t be that unlucky.”
Although, in all reality, considering how things had been going for Eve lately, he wouldn’t lay down any money on that last statement.
“No.” She shook her head, her eyes wide. “It’s probably zebra mussels. With the water all churned up like this—”
“What kind of mussels?” he asked as the boat took another violent roll to the port side. He banged his hip against the table and caught Eve as she slammed against him.
“Hurry,” she said, hastily pushing away, “we have to check the output port.”
He followed her up the short cabin stairs. When she opened the door to the deck, the wind ripped the thing from her hands. It slammed against the side of the cabin—crash!—splintering the wood and cracking the porthole window. Rain immediately deluged them, soaking them to the bone and pelting against any exposed skin like tiny, sharp knives as the boat caught a wave broadside and tipped precariously. Frothing gray water rushed over the deck, pouring into the open cabin and freezing Bill’s legs from the knees down as he struggled to retain his balance.
“The engine’s cooling system’s output port is on the aft, starboard side!” Eve shouted as she pushed up onto the deck, grabbing onto the railing to steady herself as the vicious wind tried to yank her from the boat.
Boom! Another flash of lightning blazed overhead, slicing through the violent sky, cleaving the angry, roiling clouds in two.
“Go check to see if there’s a sooty residue near the port!” she yelled, stumbling toward the Harken roller that would unfurl the mainsail. “If there’s not,” he had to strain to hear her over the howling wind, over the rain drumming against the deck and the waves crashing against the hull, “then try to restart the engine! If there is residue, come back and help me with the mainsail!”
Shit, shit, shit…
Bill had been in some pretty hairy situations before, but usually he was the one who knew what steps to take. He wasn’t used to relying on the expertise of another. Though, he had to admit, if he had to be caught out in the middle of Lake Michigan during a violent squall, he couldn’t think of a better sailing partner than Eve.
The woman had been raised on the water. In fact, his sister had proudly informed him a couple of months ago that Eve was a five-time CYC Mackinac Island racing champ. At the time, he’d told Becky to stuff it, maintaining that he had no interest at all in Eve or her accomplishments. But, he had to admit as he stumbled across the heaving, bucking deck toward the rear of the vessel to check the cooling water output port—please don’t let it be sooty; please let us still have engine function—right now he took comfort in the knowledge that she was a first-class yachtsman…er…yachtswoman? Was that even a word?
Sploosh! A giant gray wave rolled over the vessel behind him, and he turned to squint against the driving rain, his heart in his throat, half expecting to find Eve had been washed overboard. But she was hanging on to the main mast, wrestling with the forestay - the cable that ran from the top of the mast to the deck.
“Hurry, Billy!” she screamed when she caught him staring. It was all the impetus he needed. Clutching the railing in a tight fist, he shuffled forward on the slick deck until he reached the back of the vessel. Taking a firm handhold, he leaned over the side.
“Oh, hell.” His whispered words were caught and tossed away by the viciously howling wind. “Residue!” he yelled to Eve, turning to make his way back to her.
“Okay!” She nodded, finally defeating the stubborn forestay. “Come help me with the mainsail! It’s blowing at least forty knots! These waves are coming every eight to ten seconds, and some are sixteen feet high! One more broadside could flip us! We have to get control! Now!”
And even though his breath was burning in his lungs, even though his pulse was racing out of control, the way Eve was working, so quickly and so efficiently, gave him a modicum of…not comfort. There was nothing comfortable about their current situation. But knowing Eve, five-time CYC Mackinac Island racing-champ Eve, was in control made him feel as if the odds were stacked in their favor.
And in his line of work, anytime the odds were stacked in his favor he considered it a good day.
By the time he managed to shuffle back to the main mast, spreading his bare feet wide on the water-logged deck, she’d already begun the process of unfurling the mainsail. “We can’t take it all the way up!” she instructed, her black hair plastered against her pale cheeks like long, dark fingers, her blue eyes bright with calculation. “We need it at about fifty percent to give us control!”
“Whatever you say, Captain!” he yelled, water filling his mouth and eyes as he tilted his head back to watch the mainsail climb toward the roiling sky, flapping violently with the wind, its cables clanging loudly against the mast.
When Eve was satisfied with the amount of woven sailcloth they’d unfurled, she instructed him. “Okay, let’s move to the wheelhouse!”
Grabbing her hand, consoled by the feel of her slim fingers laced with his, they shuffled around the cabin toward the covered cockpit. Ducking under the wheelhouse’s roof was like stepping into a base drum in the middle of the Rose Bowl parade. Rain hammered against the ceiling, roaring and pounding as huge, towering waves continued to try to roll the boat. Then, Bill watched in amazement as Eve’s hands grabbed the wheel. She turned it a bit, adjusted it a notch, then ducked her chin, water sheeting off her face, to watch the mainsail catch the wind and snap tight. The loud pop echoed even above the clamoring storm.
She nodded, blowing out a shaky breath as she maneuvered the boat into the waves until it was no longer rolling side to side but climbing each swell confidently before plunging down the other side.
“Sonofagun,” he breathed, holding onto the steering console, shaking his head. “I think I just shit enough bricks to replicate the Great Wall of China.”
She reached up to scrub the water from her eyes. “You were in the Navy,” she said, making a face. “Surely you’ve been in worse storms than this.”
“Just because I was in the Navy, that doesn’t mean I actually spent much time on a ship. And the ships I have been on were so big most storms didn’t so much as make the vessel wobble.”
“Well,” she grinned, “welcome to the Wonderful World of Sailing. It’s exciting here.”
“Hot damn,” he huffed in agreement, loving the way her eyes were bright with enthusiasm. Then, “Holy hell! You’re actually having fun, aren’t you?”
She laughed, shrugging one shoulder. Then her expression changed. Dimmed. Like someone had flipped a switch inside her. “Maybe not fun,” she admitted, “but for a second there, I forget my father or my ex-husband or both were trying to kill me. For a second there, I forgot about what happened to Buzzard…”
And as wonderful as it’d been to see excitement in her eyes, it was just as awful to see such unremitting pain and guilt there. “Sweetheart,” he tried to infuse his voice with understanding, “I told you, what happened to Buzzard wasn’t—”
“I need to go out and reef the sail,” she cut him off. “With the force of these winds, I think we’re running too heavy.”
“No.” She shook her head, her sopping hair swishing across the thick orange fabric of the life vest. “I’m the one who knows how much sail to bring in. You need to stay here and man the wheel.” She pointed at the compass. “Try to keep it at this heading. That should ensure we’re still going in the right direction for Ludington, but it will also keep up from sailing directly into the waves or having them hit us abeam.”
“You got this?” she asked, taking a step back, indicating he should take control of the vessel.
What could he say but, “Yeah, I got this.”
When he grabbed the wheel, he was surprised by the way it bucked in his hand. It took strength to hold them on the correct course.
Not something he’d ever really equated with Eve. But he was learning just how misguided and misinformed he was in that department. Still, the knowledge that she was one hell of a tough lady behind that delicate, fancy, cupcake exterior did nothing to mitigate his anxiety as she exited the wheelhouse and began inching her way across the slippery deck toward the mast. He realized he was holding his breath, trying to squint through the gray haze of rain to watch her every little movement. Forcing himself to rake in much needed oxygen, he sent a quick prayer of thanks skyward when she quickly furled a tiny bit of sail before turning to make her way back to the cockpit.
A blinding flash of bright white light accompanied a bone-rattling, ear-splitting crash that rocked the boat. The main mast lit up like a roman candle, and the hair on the top of Bill’s head and the back of his neck lifted in warning. The metallic smell of electricity burned through the air and tasted like a new penny when he dragged in a harsh breath.
Jesus Christ! They’d been struck by lightning!
“Eve!” he yelled, turning toward the starboard side of the boat where he’d last seen her. But she was…gone.
If, like, us, you must know what happens next, Born Wild is available now in stores and online. And for more adventurous love stories, be sure to visit our Everything Romance page.