Tricia looked at Merry Joyful in frank disbelief. “A coup? Pirates?” she echoed. “From where? I've never heard of Dagmorvania. Must be pretty tiny—you know, like Monaco?”
Merry Joyful's burst of laughter was spontaneous and musical, but Marcus's expression was merely amused. “I know this must seem strange, but believe me, it will seem even more strange before we're through.”
Tricia didn't see how that was possible. “I'm already suspecting that you're all vampires or something. You all seem very. . . odd.”
“Well, some of us may seem like vampires,” Marcus admitted, “but trust me, it's more complicated than that.”
Tricia gave him another moment or two to elucidate, and then glared at him. “Is that all you're going to tell me?”
He glanced at Merry Joyful who shrugged and said, “You might as well tell her.”
“Perhaps once we're aboard the ship,” he said. “It might be more believable then.”
“Ship?” Tricia echoed. “In case you haven't noticed, we are aboard a ship.”
Marcus smiled sardonically and he cast a disdainful glance at their surroundings. “If you call this. . . thing. . . a ship, then perhaps you aren't ready to hear the rest.”
“Try me,” said Tricia.
Just then, Mustafa returned with Jean Pierre. “The enemy has taken control of the ship,” Mustafa reported. “We must depart. Your safety is far more important than signing any treaty.”
Jean Pierre wrinkled his nose in distaste. “I agree, my dear Mustafa, but must you bring us to the absolute bowels of this vessel to do it?” Pulling a elaborate lace handkerchief from his pocket, he held it to his elegant nose and shuddered.
“It was the best way, Your Majesty,” Mustafa replied. “But we must depart before the ship goes down.”
“It's going down?” Tricia echoed. “Then by all means, let's get going!”
Jean Pierre turned toward her, and Tricia felt her body stiffen. Where Marcus made her want to melt, this man chilled her to the bone.
“Ah, so the lovely lady is coming with us?” Jean Pierre drawled. “How nice.”
“We couldn't very well leave her here, Jean Pierre,” Marcus protested. “Armand had her up for sale to those—” He broke off there as though unable to think of anything bad enough to call them.
“Never mind,” Jean Pierre said with a dismissive wave of his handkerchief. “Summon the ship and we'll be on our way.”
Mustafa smacked his name pin and muttered something into it that Tricia didn't catch.
“How are you doing that?” she asked as she heard an audible, though unintelligible reply. “Is it a walkie talkie or something?”
“Oh, my dear,” Jean Pierre chuckled. “How quaint!”
“I believe some explaining is in order,” said Marcus. “Don't you agree?”
Jean Pierre's lips curled into a devilish grin. “Do you know, I do believe I'll enjoy this,” he murmured.
As Tricia watched in speechless horror, all three of the men began unbuckling their belts.
Backing away, she stuttered, “I—uh, d—don't think I need that kind of explanation.”
“Oh, but I believe you do,” said Marcus. “After all, actions speak louder than words.”
With a wide grin, he unzipped his fly and pulled his out his shirttail.
“No, really,” Tricia said, doing her best to remain calm. “You can just tell me.”
Marcus shook his head slowly and unbuttoned his shirt, starting at the top and slowly working down to the last button. The other men followed his lead.
Tricia's mouth went dry. They were going to ravish her! All three of them!
“Are you ready?” Marcus drawled.
“I believe she is,” said Jean Pierre.
In perfect unison, the three men pulled back their clothing to reveal perfectly sculpted torsos with six-pack abs and three navels—each.
“You're aliens!” she gasped.