Awakened by Her Desert Captor(4)

By: Abby Green

  She saw how his gaze dropped down between them, to where she could feel her breasts pressed against him. Her skin grew hot all over.

  His voice sounded husky. ‘Admittedly, there is a lot of flesh to see.’ His gaze rose again and bored into hers. ‘But then I guess not half as much as is usually on show.’

  That ripped away the illusion of any cocoon. Sylvie tugged herself free of his grip and pushed against him to get away. She was too angry, though, not to give him a piece of her mind before she left.

  ‘People like you make me sick. You judge and condemn and you’ve no idea what you’re talking about.’

  She took a step back towards him and stuck a finger in his chest, hating how aware she was of his innate masculinity.

  ‘I’ll have you know that the L’Amour revue is one of the most upmarket cabaret acts in the world. We are world-class trained dancers. It’s not some seedy strip joint.’

  His tone was dry. ‘Yet you do take off your clothes?’

  ‘Well...’ The truth was that Sylvie’s act didn’t actually require her to strip completely. Her breasts were slightly too large, and Pierre preferred the flatter-chested girls to do the full nudity. It provided a better aesthetic, as far as he was concerned.

  Arkim Al-Sahid emitted a sound of disgust. Sylvie wasn’t sure if it was directed at her or himself.

  And then he said, ‘I couldn’t care less if you stripped naked and hung upside down on a trapeze in your show. This conversation is over.’

  Sylvie refrained from pointing out that that was actually Giselle’s act, assuming he wouldn’t appreciate it.

  He’d turned and was stalking away before she could say anything more anyway, and Sylvie bubbled with futile indignation and hurt pride. And something else— something deeper. A need to not have him judge her so out of hand when his opinion shouldn’t matter.

  She blurted out the words before she could stop herself—an irritating side effect of her red hair: her temper. She hated being a cliché, but sometimes she couldn’t help it.

  He halted in his tracks, his broad frame silhouetted by the lights of the party and the house in the distance.

  Slowly he turned around, incredulity visible on his face.

  For a moment Sylvie had to choke back a semi-hysterical giggle, but then he said in an arctic tone, ‘What did you say?’ and any urge to giggle died.

  She refused to let herself be intimidated and drew back her shoulders. ‘I believe I said that you are an arrogant, uptight prat.’

  Arkim Al-Sahid prowled back towards her. Deep in the garden as they were, he was like a jungle cat, in spite of his still pristine three-piece suit. All predatory and menacing. There was a thrill in her blood that was extremely inappropriate as she found herself backing away... Until her back slammed into something solid. The gazebo.

  He loomed over her now...larger than life. Larger than anyone she’d ever known. He caged her in with his hands either side of her head. Suddenly her heart was racing, her skin prickling with anticipation. His scent was exotic and musky. Full of dark promise and danger and wickedness.

  ‘Are you going to apologise?’

  Sylvie shook her head. ‘No.’

  For a long second he said nothing, and then, almost contemplatively, ‘You’re right, you know...’

  Her breath stopped... Was he apologising? ‘I am?’

  He nodded slowly, and as he did so he lifted a hand and trailed one finger down over Sylvie’s cheek and jaw to where the bare skin of her shoulder met her dress.

  She was breathing so hard now she felt as if she might hyperventilate. Her skin was on fire where he touched her. She was on fire. No man had ever had this effect on her. It was overwhelming, and she was helpless to rationalise it.

  ‘Yes,’ he said in a low voice. ‘I’m very uptight. All over. Maybe you could help me with that?’

  Before she could react his arm had snaked around her waist, pulling her into him, and his other hand was deep in her hair, anchoring her head so that he could plunge his mouth down onto hers, stealing what little breath she had left along with her sanity.

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