Clockworks and Corsets

Clockworks and Corsets by Regina Riley Read Free Book Online

Book: Clockworks and Corsets by Regina Riley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Regina Riley
Tags: Erótica, Romance, Steampunk
formation around the unarmed Gabriella with the captain at the front. They held this arrangement for a few moments before the captain nodded at Jax.
    “Come out, with hands where we can see them!” Jax shouted.
    “Please,” the stranger begged from beyond the dark opening. “Lower your weapons and come inside. No harm will come to you. I promise, I’m unarmed.”
    “Likely story,” Jax whispered. “Mysterious voice beckons us into the dark. No, thank you.”
    “Does he think we’re stupid?” Jayne asked in a low voice.
    Gabriella didn’t think the voice sounded mysterious at all. She thought it sounded warm, inviting, and somehow familiar. It was the kind of voice she could listen to for a very long time, growing neither bored nor tired of it. This thought made her smile. She noticed that she wasn’t the only one smiling. Click grinned wide, as though he was enjoying the whole thing. Who knew what the heathen thought of the proceedings? Gabriella never understood the native’s weird ways.
    “Who are you?” the captain called out.
    “I should probably ask the same of you,” the stranger answered.
    “What do you want?” Jax asked.
    “Again,” the stranger said, “I believe that is my rightful question.”
    “Where are you?” the captain asked.
    “I’m where you want to be,” the stranger said.
    The captain closed her eyes. Gabriella could only guess that she was weighing her options.
    What choice did they have?
    “You can either lower your weapons,” the man said, “and come in, or I can close the door, leaving you locked outside. You’re free to try to get inside for another forty-seven minutes, nineteen seconds and ten milliseconds, or you can join me now. Which will it be?”
    The two parties were at an impasse. The crew was unwilling to trust the stranger enough to lower their weapons, while the stranger was unwilling to join them in the clearing. Surely the man would close the door again. Gabriella knew a simple knock wouldn’t reopen it this time. The entire trip would have been a waste, the crew would lose yet another job, and even worse than that, Gabriella would have to go home. Unwilling to face that fate just yet, she knew she had to do something desperate.
    Drawing a deep breath, Gabriella ducked between the shoulders of Jax and Click, pushing her way past the crew, daring to step away from the safety of the group. She made her way toward the opening, intent on showing the rest of the crew what she already suspected—that the stranger wasn’t going to harm them. Gasps and shouts rose from behind her.
    “Guppy!” the captain shouted over the crew’s outburst. “Stop right there, little missy. That’s an order.”
    Gabriella came to a halt just outside the opening. She narrowed her eyes at the wide doorway, silently begging the stranger for help. When none seemed on its way, she turned to the crew again, swallowing hard before she said, “Captain, I don’t think he means us any harm.”
    Keeping her gun trained on the dark passage, the captain locked eyes with Gabriella. “Get back over here. Now.”
    Gabriella didn’t want to get back over there. She wanted to dash down to the opening, find the owner of the voice, and continue her fabulous adventure. Yet she couldn’t bring herself to disobey her captain. “I know it sounds crazy, sir, but I feel like we can trust him.”
    “Jax trusts no one,” Jax said.
    “I think she’s right,” Click said.
    “You think everyone is right,” Jax snapped.
    “I do not,” Click argued. “I just think our stranger has an honest voice.”
    Strengthened by the upsurge of partial unity, Gabriella tried again. “Captain, please. We might not find another way in. He promised not to hurt us.”
    “Kid’s got a point, Cap,” Magpie said. “He does sound sort of, I don’t know, polite?”
    A ghost of a grin flickered across the captain’s lips for a moment before she gave Gabriella a single, short nod. “Lower your weapons.”

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