Catherine Michelle O’Halloran had never in her life seen a man that was gorgeous enough to make her want to weep, until her father introduced her to his new business partner, Captain Connor Anthony McDuff. Catie stood in awe at the handsome man until her father shook her out of her daze.
“Cate, stop acting rude and say hello to Mr. McDuff.” Her Father, Colin O’Halloran said. Catie disliked her father, an auburn haired, blue-eyed man with tan skin and a take no prisoners’ attitude. He was so overpowering that people rarely noticed his five-foot-five inch short frame, for they were so intimidated.
Connor McDuff was extremely tall; Catie guessed he was almost six feet, maybe taller. She felt like a child compared to him, only a slight five foot two. Catie held out her hand to him.
“I’m Catie, nice to meet you,” she said softly, and he nodded, shaking her hand. His large, strong hand enveloped her small one, and the contrast of her pale skin to his bronze was stark.
“Connor.” His voice was deep and melodic, a hint of a brogue in it.
“Are you Irish?”
“Scottish.” He answered, and she nodded, staring up at him, studying his swarthy features. He had golden eyes, the most gorgeous things she had ever seen in her life. They looked like golden pools she could swim in, framed by a thick fringe of black lashes with thick, dark eyebrows.
“You don’t have a thick brogue.” Catie said softly, and he shrugged.
“I live on the sea most of the time, I travel a lot. You tend to lose your accent.” She felt as if his deep, velvety voice was music, making her want to sway. She could have looked at his etched face and full lips all day, but her father stopped her.
“Go do something, Cate, stop bothering Mr. McDuff.” Her father said, and she looked down and nodded.
“Sorry. Good bye.” Catie said, sneaking one more look at Connor’s glorious face before she turned to leave, promptly tripping in her haste. She earned a laugh from her father, and worse, a look of concern from the man of her dreams. She kept running, up to her room, quietly shutting the door behind her and sitting down to finish up some homework.
Catie’s room, no doubt the smallest one in the house, even smaller than the maid’s room, was covered in movie posters both old and new, all epic. She had a weakness for epic movies. The rest of their estate was gigantic by all means, with almost twenty rooms. Tall ceilings painted white, as were all the walls. It was a bright, open, sunny estate, with ceiling to floor windows in most of the rooms.
Colin of course made money off of it with his crops here, having something dangerously close to slaves working on them and living on the “guest” houses on the land. The houses were nicely accommodated and beautiful like the rest of the place. The estate was white and cornflower blue, with parts of it in brick. It was such a sunny home for such terrible people.
Catie decided to take a walk and go see the workers. She’d always been more than nice to them. Though well fed, she still felt Colin was far too harsh, giving them such little pay and forcing them to work so hard and such long hours. Many of them were foreign, numerous of Cuban and Mexican descent, but still all very sweet.
She walked up to a little boy and handed him a snickers bar with a smile. He was thin, but not too thin for Catie to worry overmuch. She walked to their park she herself had built with the help of the workers, and pushed a little girl on the swings. She practiced her Spanish with the workers, who all seemed very gracious.
Catie slowly walked back, glimpsing Connor and Colin sitting on the back porch under an umbrella, talking and sipping lemonade. She trembled when Connor’s eyes caught hers, his golden gaze resembling a hawk, a predator. But there was something good about him under all that danger, that or Catie just was a Sado Masochist. That was of course a theory to consider.
She headed back the other way, avoiding any further embarrassment. She changed into comfy sweats and a tank top, sitting back down to maybe do her homework. She’d never had problems concentrating before, but Connor distracted her to no end. She was clenching her pen tightly, doodling. This was nothing like her. She tossed the pen angrily, wincing when there was a hole in the wall, but not much caring. Her own strength shocked her at times.
Her parents would most likely make her pay for it. Joan and Colin O’Halloran were rich, but spent little money on her. Her father had his hand in every pot, he owned ships, hotels, and stocks...everything that made money, he was part of.
Connor had made her feel lightheaded, weak, and insane. As if he would ever notice her, he must have been at least twenty or older. Not to mention he was too handsome for her. He looked like a pirate to her with his deeply bronzed skin and the glimpse of his tattoo on his chest she had seen when he had bent to shake her hand. The tattoo had looked like a small anchor, but she wasn’t sure.
His nose was aristocratic and straight, as if he were descended from royalty. He had thick black hair that went past his collar and looked as if he hadn’t had a cut it in a while, and he had stubble on his face that looked at least three days old. For some reason that made him all the more attractive. She wanted to run her fingers...
“Catherine!” She heard her mother, Joan, yell, and she groaned.
“Come here and help me with my make up, will you?”
“Do it yourself.”
“I said come here.” Her mother yelled, and Catie grimaced and did as she was bade, interrupting her amazing daydream. Her mother was in a sheer black dress, her olive skin luminescent as always. Joan was half Italian and half French, with blue eyes, an elegant face, long nose, and hardly any wrinkles since she had gotten Botox.
Her mother treated her like the hired help, with no respect or love. She often gave her advice about how to get a man, but Catie ignored it for she did not want to be like Joan. The money hungry whore.
“Put on my eyeliner.”
“Can’t you accomplish that feat yourself?”
“Stop being a ruffian and stop scowling, it makes you look ugly. You should put on makeup yourself; you could look pretty if you did. I wish you were prettier, Catherine. I always wanted a beautiful daughter who looked like me.”
“Shut up and widen your eyes.” Catie muttered, applying the eyeliner quickly.
“Do not tell me to shut up. God, look at your hair. Do you even brush it?”
She sighed in aggravation. “I’m done. Now leave me alone.” Catie muttered, and her mother laughed.
“You’re only mean to me because you’re jealous of me.” Her mother said, and Catie froze on her way to the door.
“I’m mean because I hate you.” Catie said, and cringed at her mother’s laugh.
“You need to get a man. I’m sure someone must like you. A deaf man with bad vision, at least.”
“Go to hell.” Catie mumbled, walking away hurt. She hated her mother so much she at times wondered how many years a minor would be put in jail for murder. Catie felt sick, so she ran up to the attic, and lay in the small bed of the attic, closing her eyes and once again imagining a different life.
Connor Anthony McDuff was bored to pieces talking to Colin O’Halloran. His mind kept drifting to Colin’s daughter. What was her name? Catie or Cate. She had said Catie. Connor wondered how old she was. She seemed smart, detecting his brogue when few could. That beautiful round face, the full lips, the bright green eyes, those breasts...
“You didn’t have to send her away.” Connor had said moments after Catie had left, and Colin had simply waved his hand dismissively.
“Damn girl needs to leave already, get a man. She’s just a nuisance, always listening to that rock music and speaking Shakespeare and crap. She was an accident, you know?” Colin said, and Connor was surprised. He had known Colin was a harsh man, but he had not known he was so mean to his daughter.
Now Connor could not hear a word Colin was saying, for the girl was on his mind. She had been gorgeous; with milky white skin one rarely saw these days. Her eyes had been a gorgeous light green, her body the perfect hourglass shape with the best bosom he had seen in a long while.
When Connor felt an erection coming he shook his head. It must have been because he had been out to sea and had not seen a woman in such a long while. He hadn’t had a woman in a good three weeks, and seeing that delectable angel had been too much for him. Was she the one he would have to capture? He supposed she was. Well, that would be troublesome.
Colin introducing him to his wife, Joan, interrupted Connor’s thoughts. Connor shook her hand, said hello, but wasn’t paying much attention to her. He did, however, notice she was rubbing his leg under the table they sat at. He slid away, not wanting her to touch him.
Joan was pretty in a preserved, vain way, and was at least fifteen years his senior. As much as he needed a woman, she was of no interest to him for some reason. He had nothing against older women; he simply didn’t like conceited bitches anymore, though they had been fun a long time ago.
“Where’s Cate?” Colin asked the maid, and she looked up quickly from her ironing.
“Up in the attic, sir.”
“What in hell is she doing in there?”
“I think she’s crying. It sounded like it when I asked her to come down for dinner.” The maid said quietly, and Colin laughed.
“Yeah right. Cate never cries.”
“She’ll just have to go hungry if she’s going to be stupid.” Joan said, and Connor was horrified. He had never had parents; he had grown up on the street. He shouldn’t be feeling sorry for a girl with filthy rich parents, but he did, and could not understand it.
“Anyway, Connor.” Colin said.
“Yes?” Connor asked.
“I’d like to have part ownership of your fleet.”
“Yes. I think I can make you a rich, rich man.” Colin said, and Connor looked at his food for a moment, smirking inwardly. Oh, he would make him a rich man indeed.
“I honestly don’t think I need any help.”
“But I’d pay you handsomely, and let you have room and board here. That would save you loads on a home.” Connor shrugged.
“Let me think it over tonight.”
“No problem, boy.”
“Do you mind if I take a plate of food up to my room?” Connor asked, and Joan frowned.
“You want to leave?” she asked.
“I’m extremely tired.”
“Been out on the ocean to damn long, probably. Africa to Florida is a long ass way. Help yourself boy.” Colin said, and Connor took the plate of food upstairs until he got up to the attic. He cursed himself for what he was about to do, and then hesitantly knocked on the door.
“Go the hell away.” He heard a mumbled voice say, and he smiled at her angry attitude.
“I would, but I have nowhere else to go at the moment.” Connor said, and heard a pause, then stepped back as the door opened. He saw Catie standing there; her hair tousled from what he guessed was her hand running through it. He still couldn’t figure out its color. She was in a pink tank top, apparently with nothing under it, two hard perky nipples peeking through the thin material. It made his thoughts go haywire, but he controlled them.
“I didn’t mean to yell at you. I thought you were Joan.” Catie said, and he half smiled.
“Do I look like her?”
“God, no, you’re-” She stopped her sentence, looking away. “Why are you here?”
“I came to bring you food. I figured you were hungry.”
“You...you did what?” She whispered, and he became uncomfortable.
“I know, thank you. But how would you know I was hungry?”
“Had a feeling.”
“Come in.” She stepped aside and letting him in. Connor noticed she had set the attic up to her liking.
“You live in here?”
“Half the time. It’s the only place I can get privacy.” She admitted, eating the food he had brought her ravenously. He stared at her until she looked back in embarrassment.
“Guess my feeling was right.” She blushed.
“On the nose. Shouldn’t you be downstairs with my parents?”
“I was bored to tears, to be blunt.”
“They tend to do that to a person. Why are you here?” she asked again, and he raised an eyebrow.
“I told you.”
“No, I mean in this house.”
Ah, the loaded question. How to go about that one. “I’m soon to be living here. Your father and I are negotiating business.” She nodded, sitting down on a love seat.
“You want to sit down?” she asked, and he shrugged and sat next to her. “What business are you in?”
“I own and sail ships. I deliver goods between countries, but I usually sail ships for other reasons.” Connor watched her green eyes light up.
“I thought you looked like a pirate.”
“I guess you could call me that.”
“You’ve been all around the world?”
“God you’re lucky. I’ve never been out of the US. I always wanted to go somewhere, but my parents never would take me. They’d leave me here alone, you know?”
“When you were how young?”
“They started doing it a couple years ago.”
“Did you throw a party?” he asked, and she laughed.
“I wish. I’ve always been a loner, though.”
“I have too. I’m sure you had a boyfriend over.”
“I’m a loner in that department too.”
“Nobody’s asked you to marry them yet?” He suggested, and she smiled.
“I’m too young for that.”
“Twenty’s a nice age to get engaged.”
“Are you...” She trailed off, and he shook his head. “Oh. How old are you?”
“You’re not that much older than me, then.” He felt ages older than the lass.
“I guess. When do you graduate?”
“This year. I’m valedictorian.”
“I’m sure your parents are proud of you.”
She scoffed. “No.”
“Well, you should be proud of yourself.”
“I’m not. Everyone thinks I’m a freak because I do so good in school.”
“Well, kids are dumb.”
Connor’s attention went to her breasts as she took a deep breath. They were full and sweet, glowing in the moonlight from the attic window, her nipples erect and tempting. He tried to take his attention off them, and paid attention to a poster he saw, gulping for words to say.
“You like Casablanca I see.” Connor said, and she nodded.
“You like romances?”
“Yes. I like adventure too. I even like Star Wars but I rarely share that with anyone.” She admitted quietly, and he nodded.
Connor felt her eyes on him, and looked to her to see she was studying him. When his eyes met hers she looked away quickly.
“What’s the matter?” he asked, and she shook her head.
“You’re just really...”
“I don’t know. You look like a Greek statue.”
He was curious at the statement. “I’m Scottish.”
“I know that, but you look like a Grecian god or something.”
“You said statue.”
“A god and a statue are the same thing?” he asked, and she sighed.
She sighed. “Ugh, you knew what I meant,” she said, and he smiled at her shocked expression. “I didn’t mean to-”
“No problem, I was trying to get on your nerves anyway.”
“Oh,” she said, embarrassed. “Thanks for making me feel like an idiot.”
“I didn’t mean to-”
“I was kidding, it’s fine.” She cut him off as he had done her. As she laughed softly her chest moved, and his eyes were drawn to it. His hand went to the swell of one of her breasts before he could stop himself, and he caressed one pale globe gently, making her gasp.
When he realized what he was doing he stopped, but her hand came atop his, her green eyes dazed with lust. Connor moaned, sliding his hand down until it was under her thin cover and her bare breast was against it. Her breast was silky and soft, and overflowed his big hand, the nipple was small and erect. He flicked a thumb over it, making her whimper.
Connor knew that he should stop, so he pulled back slowly, and stood, putting his hands in his pockets. “I apologize, I just haven’t been with a woman in a while.”
“I have to tell you something...” She whispered, and he felt his body grow cold at her tone of voice. He merely raised an eyebrow as she looked up slowly at him, her eyes wide. “I’m only fifteen.”
He made a choking sound, his eyes as wider than she’d ever thought a human’s could get. He slowly assessed her body, turning her on even more with the look. His eyes absolutely caressed every inch of her. He finally looked away, running his hands through his hair and shaking his head.
“Fifteen years old?”
“Yes.” she said quietly, and he shook his head as she caught her bottom lip between her teeth, turning him on when she ran her tongue along it.
“You are not fifteen.”
“Yes, I am. I’m almost sixteen though.”
“But... but you’re graduating high school.”
“Because I skipped a few grades. Kind of a nerd.” She giggled nervously. Connor ran his hands through his hair with even more frustration, giving him that sexy, wild man sort of look.
“I thought you were at least eighteen.”
“Damn it all to hell.” He muttered. “I just molested a minor.”
“You did not. It was an accident. I’m not going to tell anyone.” He scoffed at that. He was usually very careful, asking for ID in some cases. He had been lusting after a girl six years his junior. She wasn’t even close to being legal. What the hell was the matter with him?
“This won’t happen again. I swear it won’t, I was just out of it.” Catie looked down in horror. She had liked his hand on her breast. She had wanted him to continue.
“We’ll just forget this ever happened.”
“It’s not a big deal anyway, it’s not as if men haven’t groped me before.”
“Kidding,” she said quietly, and he shook his head.
“Right. I’m going to sleep.”
“You’re sure you’re not angry?”
“I’m not upset at all. Don’t go postal on me, okay?”
Connor shook his head, guilt and lust taking turns racking his brain. He left without another word. His dreams were fantasies of her, and her dreams were nightmares of her parents as usual. Connor felt guilty, but he was right when he thought Catie was angry with him.
She was very angry. Not because he had touched her, but because he had stopped. She had felt electric tingles thrumming under her skin, as if he could send electricity through his fingertips. It had felt amazing.
“Oh, there you are, Catherine. Where have you been?” Joan asked, and Catie scowled as she saw her family eating.
“I was in a play, remember?” she asked, and Colin laughed.
“You can’t act.” Colin said, and Catie shook her head, showing him roses.
“I got these.” Joan gave her a dirty look.
“It was ‘Romeo and Juliet’.”
“And you were what, the nurse?” Colin asked, and Catie put her coat up, revealing the medieval dress.
“Juliet.” Catie answered, and Joan laughed.
“You? Wasn’t Juliet supposed to be beautiful?” Joan asked, and Catie clenched her fists.
“Maybe she was the only one who could memorize the lines. Can’t think of another reason why they’d pick you, Cate.” Colin said, and Catie chanced a look at Connor, and then turned away feeling completely mortified. Why did they have to point out her plainness in front of him like this?
“I was good. Everyone applauded for me more than anyone else.” Catie said, and Joan smiled coldly.
“Pity, is what that was.”
“Are you going to eat, miss?” The maid asked, always worried about Catie even though she couldn’t show it too much. Catie sighed, nodding.
“Sure.” Before she sat, Connor pulled out her chair for her. Catie turned her head, looking at him in shock, but his face was expressionless. “Thanks.”
“Sure, lass,” he said softly, and she smiled and accepted her plate. Joan’s hand landed on Connor’s thigh again, and he pulled away, concentrating on Catie’s breasts in the gorgeous red medieval dress. It had a corset underneath, and her round breasts were pouring out of it. The color also looked complimentary with her hair and made her emerald eyes pop.
He couldn’t believe her parents, but he was quickly getting used to the rude ways.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Colin asked, and she scoffed.
“I did. You didn’t pay attention.”
“I want your roses.” Joan said, and Catie rolled her eyes, thrusting them to her. Whatever got her mom off her ass.
“Fine.” She muttered. Joan gave Connor a smile, taking them.
“Did you remember all of your lines?” Connor asked, and Catie looked up in surprise, and then nodded slowly. “How did you like the kissing scene?”
“It was gross.”
He laughed. “I played Romeo when I was younger.”
“I imagine you did a wonderful job.” Joan said slowly, and Colin laughed.
“You, Romeo? I don’t see it.”
“I was terrible. I had the grossest kissing scene too, so don’t feel bad.” Connor said, still looking at Catie, and she smiled.
“Cate wouldn’t know what to do anyway.” Colin said, and Connor sighed, looking away. The animosity toward their daughter was grating on his nerves. It wasn’t like they were mean parents; it was like they were mean people, jealous of their daughter’s beauty and talent. It was ridiculous.
“I’m going to change and then read a book.” Catie said, and Joan laughed.
“You must stop reading all the time. Is it not pathetic and nerdy to do nothing but read all the time, Connor?” Joan asked, and Connor gave her an exasperated look.
“I read a book at least every week. I think it makes you smarter.” Connor said, and Catie gave him a thankful smile and then cleaned her plate, walking upstairs.
“You don’t have to be nice to her because she’s homely.” Joan said, and he rolled his eyes.
“Is this a joke between you all or something? I mean, why do you call such a beautiful girl plain?”
“Too much of a darn gentleman is what you are, Connor. She’s not too ugly, but she’s far from beautiful. Can’t even get a man. The ones that do like her she turns away.” Colin said, and Joan smiled.
“I wonder if she’s a lesbian. I do hope not.”
“Well, I’m going to the library. Do you have any whiskey?” Connor asked, and Colin laughed.
“We have everything. It’s in the bar. Help yourself.”
Connor was glad to see so many books and alcohol, and settled down in a comfy chair, reading. His mind wouldn’t turn over, though. He kept thinking back to Catie and what had happened last night. How he had touched her breast.
He had made love to another woman last night, but it hadn’t been as good as he would have liked. It didn’t even get Catie off his mind the tiniest bit. She was...
“Hi.” Connor heard a soft voice say, and he turned, seeing Catie in her slip and slippers. Her slippers weren’t childish, but sensible, and her red slip showcased her breasts and thighs, nearly matching her multicolored hair. At least a few strands of it, for there were just too many shades of red in her hip length hair.
“Hello,” he said, and she gave him a wavering smile. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine. I’m used to my parents doing that.”
“It’s a bloody shame, but I never really had parents anyway.”
“Who did you live with?”
“A lot of foster parents that never lasted. None of them were like that though.”
“It used to bother me, but I don’t care anymore.” She sat on the grand piano’s bench, setting up a book and looking at it. He noticed her white back, seeing an eraser sized brown birthmark on it when her long, wavy hair fell toward her shoulder.
“It does.” Connor said softly, and she swung around in shock.
“It bothers the ’ell out of you and you won’t admit it.” Connor said, and Catie looked away.
“Maybe.” Catie admitted, and Connor looked to his book.
“About last night-”
“I told you, it’s fine.” He nodded, liking the music that poured out of her fingers. She played Beethoven flawlessly, and when she started to play a baroque piece he stood, walking to her and standing behind her. She looked up at him, still playing.
“Mind if I sit?” he asked, and she smiled.
“Sure.” He sat next to her, and when her hair fell in front of her face he tucked it behind her ear before he could help himself. Catie froze, her hands midway to the keys, and Connor cursed himself. “You have long hair.”
“I know. My parents always tell me to cut it.” Catie said quietly, and he scoffed, wanting to touch the full, long mass of hair again.
“Don’t, it’s nice.”
“Thanks. You have really nice hair.”
“I need a cut and a shave, but I haven’t felt like doing either. Think I’ll shave tonight.”
“Don’t cut your hair though.” He nodded.
“For you, lass, I shan’t go through with it.” Connor said, and Catie smiled with a satisfied nod of her head.
“Thank you.” When she started to play again Connor joined her. He had learned to play piano when he had been boning his music teacher in twelfth grade. Catie stopped, looking to him curiously.
“I’m a wee bit rusty.” Connor said, and Catie shook her head.
“You’re good. Where’d you learn?” she asked, and he considered telling her, then changed his mind.
“I took a class.”
“I taught myself. My parents despise it. I bought this myself, you know.” There was a hint of pride in her voice. Connor raised his eyebrows.
“How did you do that?”
“I won an essay contest. I don’t get allowance, so I usually save any prize money, but I couldn’t help but buy her. Isn’t she gorgeous?” Catie asked, and Connor laughed, looking at the big, shiny black piano.
“Very.” He agreed, and Catie started to play a two-part piece.
“Join in here.”
Their beautiful harmony on the grand’s keys spread some joy throughout the dark, gloomy estate. It also brightened up Catie and Connor’s neglected hearts.