Randy studied him silently for several moments. Her eyes moved over his billowy cotton shirt and then up to caress the scar on his cheek. “You were a pirate?”
He sent her a blank look. “I was a privateer more than I was a pirate, but I won’t deny it completely.”
“What’s the difference?”
Suppressing a smile, he looked at her; she was being so careful not to offend him with her inquisition. It appealed to him. “Privateering was legally sanctioned during times of war. Pirating was not.”
She beamed at him. “So you were a bad boy?” He gave her a genuine smile and watched as color flushed her cheeks.
“Indeed,” he finally said softly.
“What type of ship did you sail?” She watched his eyes.
“I had a sloop and seventy men who sailed under my command.” He shrugged. “She was a fairly small vessel, compared to the large galleons as such, but she handled well even in the shallowest regions...and if the wind was with us, not many could catch her.”
“You’ll have to see my ship collection then. I have a few sloops.”
A surprised look appeared in his eyes. “Truly?” He paused for a moment. “I could never understand why a child would want to collect such things.”
Randy leaned back. “I don’t know why I started it. The first time I saw one I felt a peace and wanted it more than any other toy my mother could offer.”
He nodded. “I understand that well enough.” He studied her for a moment. “I cannot believe how much you’ve changed over the years.”
Biting her lip for a moment, she squinted at him. “How long have you been lurking in my life?” She frowned. “I can’t remember anything before I was four that involves you.”
Looking down, he had an uncomfortable feeling. “I felt drawn to you the first time I heard you cry...you weren’t much more than a wee infant in your mother’s arms at that point.”
“Really?” She offered him a soft smile. “That’s kind of sweet. You’ve watched me since I was born?”
He felt he should explain. “I tried not to be intrusive.”
She shook her head. “You weren’t, trust me. I know intrusive and it’s not you.”
“Good, then.” He studied her again, trying his hardest not to let his eyes wander down over the tight shirt she wore. There seemed to be more skin showing than not and despite himself he liked it. “How many years are you now? I lose track from time to time.”
His was shocked that so long had passed. “And yet still unmarried.”
Humour filled her eyes. “This isn’t the seventeen hundreds, Jareth. Women don’t get married when they're children anymore.” She stood up and set her cup in the sink, then turned back to the table.
His gaze was moving over her, without his permission, and if he’d been a real enough man he would have wanted to express how much he appreciated how she looked. His gaze stopped on her belly. She smiled at him. “It’s a belly ring; do you like it?”
Jareth stared at the small stone dangling from her navel and was surprised to find it very arousing. “It is...very appealing to look upon.” He looked back up at her face and clenched his jaw shut when he saw the sensual look she had in her eyes. He stood up and cleared his throat. “I would like very much to see your ship collection.”
Randy took a moment to look at him. His pants, though worn and faded, were tight enough to let her know that a nicely shaped man lay under the cloth. He wore a single faded dark sash around his waist, the fringed ends falling over one hip to mid-thigh. She looked up to the chest she could see in the vee of his shirt. He was nicely shaped everywhere, or so it appeared.
His dark hair rested on his shoulders, and she wished she could touch it, just once to see if it was as thick as it appeared. When her eyes moved over his strong jawline and up to the scar, she once again wished she could touch it lightly with her fingers, for just a moment. His pale blue eyes were the shade of steel when she looked back to them. An unexpected heat moved through her.
Jareth stepped ever slightly closer to her and looked down into her eyes. “I must ask”—his voice was deep and husky—“that you refrain from looking at me so. I may be stuck between, but I can assure you I am still a man inside, Miranda.”
A shiver shot right down her spine at the sound of her name spoken in his deep voice. She swallowed. and fought the urge to step closer to him. “If you weren’t a ghost, I would be strutting around everywhere I could with you, just to make every female who saw us drool.”
He stepped back from her and smiled as he put his hands behind his back. “I thank you for the compliment.” He frowned. “drool is a compliment, is it not?”
She laughed. “Yes, it was.” She turned toward the door. “Come see my ships.”
Jareth mentally scolded himself as he followed her. He hadn’t felt urges like this in...he couldn’t remember when, but he knew it was well over a hundred years ago. And feeling them now, with the only person to see him in close to two hundred and fifty years, wasn’t a good thing.
Having longed for someone to talk to, he wasn’t going to botch it completely by lusting after her. His eyes went to her swaying bottom again, causing him to groan inwardly. Just think of her as that cherub-faced child, he told himself.
He felt better at that thought; until she walked to her shelves and bent over to slide open the pane of glass. Tamping the lust that quickly shot to his groin, he quickly went over to the case to look inside, rather than at the curve of her ass.
“Are any of the sloops I have close to yours?” She leaned on her knees and looked up at him.
Jareth reached his hand in and then remembered he couldn’t touch anything. He pulled it back out, put it behind him, and nodded. “The pale one on the end is quite like my Calico, if it had a few cannons on it.”
Straightening, she smiled. “We’ll have to get some and add them then. Your ship’s name was the Calico?”
He inclined his head. “It was.”
“Named after the notorious pirate John Rackham? Or was there another reason?”
“I was bold in my youth. The most feared pirates to ever sail were captured and hanged at least thirty years before I had my own vessel, but I’d grown on the tales of them and thought it would be a bold move to name my ship after Calico Jack.” He shrugged.
She chuckled. “I probably would have done the same thing.”
“I know you would have,” he said quietly. “I have watched you battle and win over all these years.”
Randy snorted. “And yet I still haven’t gotten very far.” She shook her head. “So what else can I add to this sloop to make it a replica of yours?” She reached into the cabinet and pulled it out carefully, then set it on top of the shelf. She watched his eyes as he looked at it.
He could not stop yearning for his ship.
“Did you have a Jolly Roger? I could make one to match yours.”