Home > Pirate's Protector (Sentinels of Savannah #7)

Pirate's Protector (Sentinels of Savannah #7)
Author: Lisa Kessler


Chapter One

   Duke Proctor propped his boot up on the post of the pier and rested his forearms on his knee as he looked out over the Savannah River.

   Wisps of fog billowed up from the water like ghosts rising from the depths, returning to the haunted city. Spooky to some, but he’d lived here since the 1700s, and he found it comforting to imagine that people he’d lost might not be as far away as some thought.

   In order to keep his immortality hidden, he had to reinvent himself every thirty or so years. When the mortals around him started to notice that time didn’t seem to be taking a toll on him, he’d fake his own death and return as a distant relative to collect his uncle’s estate. Over the years, he’d been a history professor, a pro fisherman, and even opened his own watersports store.

   In this lifetime, he’d opted to freelance instead of tying himself to a job with set hours. He didn’t need the money anyway. His size, standing at just over six foot three inches, and muscular build made freelancing as security a logical choice. He’d been helping Greyson, one of his immortal crewmates, with his security company, and now that Greyson had accepted a position working with Aura in the Department 13 field office, Duke had bought out Greyson’s interest in the personal security business. It usually meant late hours, but he enjoyed the work.

   He’d just finished a job providing security for a concert. His ears were still ringing while he soaked up the solitude. The full moon sparkled on the water.

   Three a.m. was the magical hour when he could pretend cell phones and social media didn’t exist, and he could imagine over two hundred years hadn’t slipped through his fingers.

   Usually, the passage of time didn’t bother him. History was his passion, but sometimes… Sometimes he wondered why life had unfolded the way it did.

   He shoved the memories back, refusing to allow them to encroach on this peace.

   There was a splash in the distance.

   Could’ve been a gator or a turtle, maybe even a giant catfish jumping. He didn’t mind sharing space with them. They hardly ever spilled their beer on him or flashed their tits hoping to get backstage.

   Tonight’s concert had been challenging. His personal security company had been hired by Justin Blake’s promoter for his first performance at the new District Live concert venue, right near the river. Duke’s staff had been professional, but it had proven tough to manage the rowdy crowd.

   After the show, the push to get backstage to the performer had been massive and his crew had been stretched thin. They’d held the line, but barely. He needed to hire a few more people, but the more the business grew, the more his interest in it waned.

   It might be time for a big change. Too early to fake his death and reestablish himself, but he could sell this business and start over again. Next lifetime, maybe he’d go back to teaching history at the university.

   A cold gun barrel kissed the back of his neck next to his ponytail and a woman’s hushed voice said, “Don’t move.”

   He didn’t flinch or even lower his boot from the post. He’d been shot before. Many times. It fucking hurt, so he hoped whoever was holding the gun didn’t fire. But even if she did, unless she separated his head from his shoulders, he’d heal.

   “Do I know you, lass?” He mentally ran through his short list of exes. Pointing a gun at him didn’t seem likely for any of them.

   “You have something that doesn’t belong to you.”

   He smirked, staring up at the moon. He’d been a pirate for over two hundred years. He owned plenty of things that didn’t belong to him. “Could you be a little more specific?”

   “Do you want me to shoot you?”

   He chuckled and shook his head. “I hate being shot.”

   She made a noise, but it didn’t sound like a laugh. “Then give me the comb.”

   What the hell was she talking about? “I use a brush, myself.”

   She landed a solid punch to his kidney that had him seeing stars. “Stop fucking around and tell me where you put the comb.”

   The sucker punch lit the short fuse on his temper. He slid his boot off the post and turned around, and she countered by pointing the barrel down and pulling the trigger. His foot exploded with agony.

   She’d shot him.

   He grabbed the lapels of her coat and jerked her in close to his face. “What the fuck is your problem?”

   She was a curvy blond with eyes as blue as the sea and full lips that he might have wanted to kiss if she hadn’t just put a bullet into his foot. She narrowed her eyes and pressed the gun barrel to his abdomen.

   His abs clenched as if they could stop a bullet. He was pretty proud of them, but even after all of his workouts, they were no match for a Glock.

   Her jaw tightened as she spoke through clenched teeth. “My problem is you and your friends took a comb, and I’m here to retrieve it.”

   She must mean his crew. They’d plundered the Holy Grail together in 1795 and after a sip, they’d all been immortal ever since. How did she know about the Sea Dog crew?

   He shoved her backward and knelt to inspect his boot. His foot was already healed inside.

   He couldn’t say the same for his favorite Wolverine steel-toe work boots. He just got them broke in too.

   “Damn it.” He looked up at her. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

   “Yes, you do.” She kept her gun aimed at him. “The Atlantean had no right to give you that comb.”

   Now that rang a bell. “The mermaid comb?”

   She nodded, eyeing his foot. “I need it back.”

   He rose to his full height. She was tall for a woman, maybe five-foot ten, but he stood six-foot three in bare feet. “Are you saying you’re a mermaid?”

   She looked at his foot again. “Why don’t you bleed?”

   He crossed his arms. “I feel like we’re having two different conversations. Maybe we should start over with fewer guns. I’m Duke Proctor.”

   She jammed her gun back into her shoulder holster and withdrew a dagger with an inlaid handle. It had the same kind of multi-color abalone shell finish as the comb. She gripped the hilt in a tight fist. “Annika Mare.”

   He raised a brow, studying her face a little closer. “‘From the sea’ in Latin. Nice touch.”

   She tossed her head, sending her long blond hair down her back. “I don’t have time for…this…whatever this is.”

   He opened his hands and held them out. “I’m unarmed, and I don’t have your comb.”

   “Fuck.” She slid her dagger back into the sheath hanging from her belt and stared out at the water. “That comb was never meant to be touched by human hands.”

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