The Russian's Acquistion(9)

By: Dani Collins

Her arm came across her breasts, forcing him out of his fantasy. Her blue eyes were wide, her lips parted. A blush of awareness bloomed across her cheekbones. She knew exactly what he was thinking and even though she was acting shocked, she wasn’t repelled. Her lashes dropped to hide her eyes, but she flirted light fingers through hair that looked as shiny and silky as gold tassels on a scarlet cushion. Her chest rose in a shaky little pant and she ran her tongue over ripe lips.

It struck him that she wasn’t accustomed to wanting the men she used.

He chuckled, delighted not only to have the upper hand, but to have her delectable body fall so easily under him. “Go ahead, Clair,” he taunted. “Ask me if offering to share that bed will persuade me to let you stay in it.”


FOR SOME REASON Abby’s note from this morning came back to Clair.

I miss waking up with you.

Clair didn’t allow herself to be an idealist. She knew better than to wait on Prince Charming, but her insides twisted all over again. She’d had invitations to sex before, even considered a few, but something had always held her back. Fear of letting down her guard. A sense of emotional obligation that wasn’t comfortable. Never once had she heard anything so blunt and tactical.

“I thought you believed me when I said I wasn’t sleeping with Victor.”

“Victor, yes. No man at all?” He was three thousand percent confident, laconically filling her bedroom doorway with his primed body. “You’re what? Twenty-five?”

Clair closed lips that had parted with indignant denial.

“Twenty-three,” she muttered, which was still long in the tooth to be a virgin, but she was stuck in a catch-22. She had thought she ought to save herself for someone she cared about, but she shied from any type of closeness. Opening up was such a leap of faith. Handing your heart to someone put it in danger of disappointment at the least and complete shattering at the worst. The right man hadn’t come along to tempt her into taking the risk.

This man shouldn’t tempt her, but sex without the entanglement of feelings held a strange allure. She suspected it would be very good sex too, not just because he looked as though he knew his way around a woman’s body, but because her own seemed drawn to his, sense and logic notwithstanding. He made her hot.

It was driving her crazy. She didn’t know how to cope with it except to pretend the reaction wasn’t there. Shaking out the T-shirt she wore to bed, she folded it against her middle and said frigidly, “What makes you think I want to sleep with you?”

“You’ve managed to convince me you’re capable of honesty, Clair. Don’t start lying now. You want me.”

He could tell? How? Humiliated, she avoided her own eyes in the mirror opposite, not wanting to see the flush of awareness he obviously read like a neon sign.

“That bothers you, doesn’t it?” he mocked. “That you’re attracted to more than my fat wallet?”

“What wallet?” she scoffed, ducking an admission that she was reacting to anything. “All I heard was an offer for one night in exchange for what, one more day here? You said I was selling myself short earlier. Surely a man in your position could do better than that.”

Her words didn’t take him aback, only provoked a disparaging smile. “You want the penthouse.”

“I didn’t say that,” she protested.

“Good, because the sale closes tomorrow.”

Her insides roiled. She really was homeless. She didn’t let him see her distress, only blurted, “You work fast.”

“Believe it.”

Her belly tightened at the resolute way he said it, and quivered even more when she saw the gleam of ownership in his eye.

“Well,” she breathed. “I can hardly ask you to share this bed if you can’t arrange for me to stay in it, can I? Pity.” Her false smile punctuated her sarcasm.

“I’ll provide you a bed. One that’s bigger and…sturdier.”

A jolt of surprise zinged all the way to the soles of her feet. He wasn’t supposed to take this seriously. She wasn’t.

She clenched her hand around the edge of the laundry basket as if it were a lifeline that would lift her out of this conversation, but for some stupid reason, her gaze dropped to his open collar where a few dark hairs lay against his collarbone. She imagined he was statue perfect under that crisp fabric, with sharply defined pecs and a six-pack of abs. His hips—

Good grief, she’d never looked at a man’s crotch in her life. She jerked her gaze away, mind imprinted with a hint of tented steel-gray trousers. She blushed hard and it was mortifying, especially when she heard him chuckle.

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