The Russian's Acquistion(3)

By: Dani Collins

Under his stare, her lashes flickered with uncertainty. She turned one boot in before setting her feet firmly. Her fists knotted at her sides, and her shoulders went back. Her chin came up in the same challenge she’d issued when they first came face-to-face.

“Those might have sentimental value to Mr. Van Eych’s family,” she said.

Aleksy narrowed his eyes. The heat of finding the fight he’d been anticipating singed through his muscles. She was an extension of Victor Van Eych, and that allowed him to hate her, genuinely hate her. His sneer pulled at his scar. He knew it made him look feral and dangerous. He was that and more. “Close the door.”

She hesitated—and it irritated him. When he spoke, people moved. Having a slip of a woman take a moment to think it over, look him over, wasn’t acceptable.

“As you leave,” he commanded with quiet menace. “I’m throwing out all of Van Eych’s trophies, Miss Daniels. That includes you.”

She flinched but remained tall and proud. Her icy blue eyes searched his, confirming he was serious.

As the heart attack that killed your meal ticket, he conveyed with contempt.

She turned away, and loss unexpectedly clawed at him.

He didn’t have time to examine it before she pressed the door closed, remaining inside. Inexplicable satisfaction roared through him. He told himself it was because he would get the fight he craved, but what else could he expect from a woman of her nature? She didn’t live the way she did by walking away from what she wanted.

Keeping her hand on the doorknob, she tossed her hair back and asked with stiff authority, “Who are you?”

Unwillingly, he admired her haughtiness. At least she made a decent adversary. He wiped the taint of dust from his fingertips before extending his hand in a dare. “Aleksy Dmitriev.”

Another brief hesitation; then, with head high, she crossed to tentatively set her hand in his. It was chilly, but slender and soft. He immediately fantasized guiding her light touch down his abdomen and feeling her cool fingers wrap around his hot shaft.

He didn’t usually respond to women like this, rarely let sex thrust to the forefront of his mind so blatantly, especially with a woman he regarded with such derision, but attraction clamored in him as he closed his hand over hers. It took all his will not to use his grip to drag her near enough to take complete ownership, hook his arm across her lower back and mash her narrow body into his.

Especially when she quivered at his touch. She made a coy play at pretending it disconcerted her, but she’d been sleeping with a man old enough to be her grandfather. Acting sexually excited was her stock in trade. It made him sick, yet he still responded to it. He wanted to crowd her into the wall and kindle her reaction until she was helpless to her own need and he could sate his.

Disappointment seared a blistering path through his center. He wanted her, but she’d already let his enemy have her.

* * *

Aleksy Dmitriev released her hand and insultingly wiped his own on his tailored pants, as if her touch had soiled his palm.

Clair jerked her hand into her middle, closing her fist over the sensation of calluses and heat. He was hot. In every way. All that masculine energy and muscle was a bombardment. She didn’t want to react, especially to someone who wanted to fire her.

She dragged at her cloak of indifference, the one she’d sewn together in a school full of spoiled rich kids. “What gives you the right, Mr. Dmitriev, to take away my job?”

“Your ‘job’ is dead.” His curled lip told her what he thought her job was.

“I’m a PA,” she said tightly. “Working under the president. If you’ve taken ownership, I assume you’re moving into that position?”

“On top of you? A predictable invitation, but I have no use for his leavings.”

“Don’t be crass!” she snapped. She never lost her temper. Poise was part of her defense.

He smirked, seeming to enjoy her flush of affront. It intensified her anger.

“I do real work,” she insisted. “Not whatever you’re suggesting.”

His broken eyebrow went up. They both knew what he was suggesting.

“I manage special projects—” She cut herself off at his snort, heart plummeting, suddenly worried about her own very special project. The foundation was a few weeks from being properly launched. After last week, she knew the building she’d grown up in was badly showing its age. The home needed a reliable income more than ever. And the people…

“Clair, are you okay? You’re more quiet than usual,” Mrs. Downings had said last week, catching her at the top of the stairs where she’d been painting. They’d sat on the landing and Clair hadn’t been able to keep it all in. Mrs. Downings had put her arm around her, and for once Clair had allowed the familiarity, deeply craving the sense that someone cared she was hurting.

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