The charter captain reached for Kate’s hand and assisted her into the boat. Mac gave her hips a boost from behind then easily stepped across to the deck after her. The couple turned to the man.
“Welcome aboard the Sea Sprite. Brady Finn.” Still holding Kate’s hand, Finn gave it a firm pump.
The captain didn’t look any older than they were, but his sharp features were weathered from the wind and sun. The lines framing his smile gave his tan even more warmth. Her eyes strayed to his sandy blond hair. She generally preferred darker men who were more clean-cut, like Mac, but the way Brady’s shaggy mop fluttered and feathered in the breeze, the sun glinting off his natural bleached highlights was undeniably appealing. As if saving the best for last, only now did she meet his unusual blue-green eyes. Tropical sea eyes. Set off by fine lines radiating out from the corners of each, they were beautiful, so striking she was thrown for a moment.
No question, most women would find Brady Finn attractive. Trying very hard not to think about it herself, Kate blushed when she realized her delayed reply to his introduction was confirmation enough. Yeah, he’d rattled her.
“Kate,” she told him and eased her hand free.
As always, her fiancé saved the day, smoothing over her awkwardness by offering his hand to the skipper. His smile was open and confident. “Mac Schafer.” He looked around, taking it all in. “Wow. This is some boat.”
“Thanks.” Finn was noticeably pleased by the compliment. “Ah. Here’s Rome. He’s going to help you haul in your monster fish today.”
“Rome?” Kate raised her eyebrows and shook the Latino’s hand.
His lips tightened. “It beats Romeo.”
Brady gave his crewman a good-natured slap on the back and told them, “Rome’s not as big a fan of Shakespeare as his mom.”
Amused and sympathetic, Mac clasped hands with him and brought back the man’s easy smile. “Good to meet you, Rome.”
Kate smiled at her fiancé with pride. Mac had a way with people, a gift for diffusing tense situations. It’s what attracted her in the first place.
Stepping back, she was startled to catch the captain watching her, studying her. She had an uneasy suspicion he was quite aware of how carefully she’d examined him minutes ago. Looking evasively away, she reached for Mac. Pressed close to his side while he chatted, Kate rubbed up and down his spine, in dire need of some of his calming mojo herself all of a sudden.
Unaware to her tension, Mac said to Brady, “Your website said there’s a bathroom on board?”
Finn pointed to his left. “Through the salon and down the stairs.”
Mac gave Kate’s waist an affectionate squeeze. “See. I told you. You’ll be fine.”
“You can’t miss it.” Brady’s eyes landed on her again. To her relief, they didn’t linger this time. “We’ll head out as soon as Manuel gets here. Excuse me. I’ll see what’s keeping him.”
Rome invited the couple into the cockpit. “How about a quick tour?”