The Russian's Acquistion(6)

By: Dani Collins

“I’ll remind him to be more sensitive next time,” Aleksy said.

“Next time?” she repeated with a kick in her heart. “He’s here?”

“No, we’re alone.”

Her stomach quavered. She folded her arms over her middle, trying to project confidence when she felt gullible and stupid. “Well, I’d rather deal with him. At least he doesn’t sneak up on a person like a thief.”

Aleksy’s golden-brown eyes flashed a warning. “I bought the company fair and square and entered a flat I now own. You’re the one with no right to be here.”

“It’s a job perk!”

“It’s a love nest. One the firm will no longer support.”

So this was about money. She had deduced as much. He must have bought the firm believing its worth to be higher and only learned that Victor had falsified returns after the purchase went through. He didn’t have to take out his bad luck on her, though. They were both victims of Victor’s ruse.

“You know, if you let me keep my job, I could pay rent and this unused apartment could generate income, rather than be an expense,” she suggested.

He narrowed his eyes, displaying thick eyelashes. “How long have you been here?”

“Over a year.”

He moved through her small lounge with calculating interest, probably adding up the value of her few possessions. The place came furnished, but the faded snapshot of her parents in the cheap frame was hers. Her father’s pipe stood on the mantel above the gas flame fireplace. The items were all she had and didn’t come with real memories.

He jerked his chin at the pipe. “I’m surprised you let him keep you in here. A woman with your assets could have pressed for the main prize.” He turned his head.

She ought to have been offended, but her body betrayed her. Heat flooded her under his lingering stare. Her breasts became tight and sensitive and her thighs wanted to pinch against a sweet tingling sensation high between. She was compelled to wet her parted lips with a stroke of her tongue.

His cynical lift of an eyebrow stabbed her with mortification.

“That pipe was my father’s, not Victor’s.” She moved to snatch it up, as though that were all it would take to whisk away the pulsing attraction disconcerting her. “I never—” She cut herself off and tightened her fist around the pipe. “I signed a confidentiality statement,” she finally said, lifting her chin to see him better.

He was so looming and intense with not a shred of compassion for a naive young woman who had wanted to believe she’d been noticed because she worked hard. Aleksy Dmitriev was far above her, not just in wealth and education, but in confidence and life experience. Part of her was intrigued, but their inequality raised her barriers. It killed her to beg guidance off him, but she had to.

“I’m sure you would know better than I whether such agreements are meant to be binding after a death. With your being the new owner, are you in a position to insist I disclose—”

“I insist,” he commanded, flat and sharp. “Tell me everything.”

“Well, I don’t know anything of national import. Don’t get excited. I’m just sick of you accusing me of sleeping my way to the top when I didn’t. Victor was impotent.”

He took her chin between his thumb and curled finger. “Don’t lie,” he warned.

She lifted her free hand, intending to shove his disturbing touch away.

He caught her wrist in midair, but what really held her immobile was the ferocious flare of gold in his eyes. His irises glittered with more demand than this situation warranted. It made her still out of curiosity.

“Why would I lie?”

“Because you know I don’t want you if he’s had you.”

She sucked in a shocked breath and instinctively tried to pull away.

His grip on her wrist flexed lightly to keep her close. “That wasn’t really what he was hiding, was it?”

Clair was plunged out of her depth, body reacting with alarm, mind splintered in all directions by what he’d said about wanting her.

“I—I didn’t know until today that Victor was hiding anything,” she stammered, trying to ignore the detonations of nervous excitement inside her. “I thought he was exactly what he looked like. A successful businessman.” She tried to resist looking into his eyes, but once his stare caught hers, she couldn’t look away. Her nerves seared with something like fight or flight, but it wasn’t fear. The danger here was subtle. Sexual.

“How did you meet him?”

“Who are you? Interpol?” She longed to move away, disturbed beyond bearing.

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