Wednesday, 14 April 2010
Lush Velvet Nights by Tina Donahue.
Let me start off by saying that it is VERY HARD to get over Adored and Adam. There's a few lines in that book which still affect me when I read it for the fifth time and these are just parts of a conversation, the story is just forever imprinted.
So when I read Lush Velvet Nights, whilst I knew from the excerpt it would be good and that it's written by the same author responsible for the awe I have for Adored, this is no ass kiss I'm serious, I wasn't expecting to have slightly red eyes after reading this. Not only was I in tune with the story because it is so wonderfully, perfectly written and the characters fully dimensional human beings, I was turned on by the gorgeous sexual descriptions, feelings and the way Nathan took Adriana. And took is a cheap word but to really take someone, that doesn't come cheap and that is not cheap.
The ending of the book blew my mind. I want to go back to my story Slowburn and have them strip each other raw internally. I was happy to read about a man who isn't just a hunk to be used sexually by women (mm not that I have a problem with that, mmmm) but he's got things he really needs to work through himself. Adriana is an intelligent and feisty woman with depth and sensitivity for Nathan who destroys the cliche of an erotic story Viking, because he fully grows to incapsulate (word?!) that strength and determination of that spirit. I thought she would need his strength because she had things to work through too but it was the opposite and Nathan isn't even a weak man.
I'm sure I will want to write more about this but I've just read the book so I'll leave you with an excerpt and a blurb for now.
Wish me happy articulation for Slowburn cos I'm going to need it and less than two weeks to go for the release of Lissa Matthews' Sweet Caroline (oh Buck!)
"During the day, Adriana’s a lonely corporate heiress, helming a supermarket empire. At night, she hires escorts, scripting provocative fantasies of kidnapping, lust, submission and endless longing. It’s all she has to excite her until she meets Nathan Wynn.
Tall, blond and muscular—like a modern-day Viking—Nathan is a labor relations attorney representing Adriana’s union employees. His imposing presence intensifies her basest desires. When he protects her from an escort he believes is an attacker, she knows he’s wonderfully dominant and unrestrained.
Fascinated by Adriana’s underlying sensuality, Nathan brings her to his secluded mountain estate, determined she submit fully to his hunger. At a gentleman’s club, he makes certain she denies him nothing. Engaging in a seductive sexual journey, Nathan’s caught off-guard by his stunning need for Adriana—and a growing emotional connection she will not let him deny."
An Excerpt From: LUSH VELVET NIGHTS
Copyright © TINA DONAHUE, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
Beneath Adriana Greco’s conservative business suit, her upper thighs and buttocks were naked, prepared for what would happen once her meeting ended. Somewhere outside the doors of this office, her kidnapper waited. A man she’d never met, one who’d take control, bending her to his will, stripping her bare, keeping her his sexual slave for the three-day weekend ahead. A fantasy she’d arranged with the escort agency known only by the letter S. Not for the first time she wondered what the S represented—Submission, Seduction, Sex—or all three.
Her pulse quickened and her mouth went dry. She didn’t dare leave the conference table to get another bottle of water. Her legs trembled so badly, Adriana wasn’t certain they would support her. Even if she did make it to the refreshment table, the others in this meeting might notice her lingering at Nathan Wynn’s side. How could she resist? He provided a more pressing temptation than her scripted fantasies with men she hired.
Early thirties and definitely in his prime, Nathan stood near the credenza by the snacks, glancing at the Los Angeles skyline. In the January rain, a more common occurrence than tourists thought, the sparkling city lights seemed to wiggle, providing a kaleidoscope of shifting colors bleeding into the darkness.
Nathan’s rugged good looks gave away none of his thoughts. As a successful labor relations attorney negotiating the new contract for Adriana’s union employees, he’d controlled today’s bargaining so effortlessly. Now he met her company’s newest proposal with silence, using the lull to strike uncertainty, to intimidate.
Adriana’s attention trickled down his large frame. Her heart beat at an uncomfortable pace. Hours earlier, he’d removed his navy suit jacket and rolled his shirt sleeves to mid-forearm despite the room’s slight chill. At the time she’d inhaled deeply, wanting to draw in his scent, a masculine fragrance reminding her of a morning breeze in Greece…the air warmed by the sun, moistened by the sea. His shoulders were impossibly broad, straining his shirt’s expensive cotton fabric as he filled his coffee cup, a prelude to giving the meeting’s participants his decision.
Fascinated, Adriana watched his muscles flexing with his movements. The flesh on her inner thighs grew moist. Light brown hair dusted his forearms, a contrast to his dark blond locks. Unlike other attorneys of his stature and wealth, he wore his hair as carelessly as a manual laborer, longish in the back and on the top, allowing it to skim his ears and forehead.
Suppressing a shiver, Adriana imagined his hair hanging to his shoulders like a Viking, the strands tangled from the ocean’s stiff wind, his powerful body clothed in fur and leather, his dark brown eyes intent, ruthless, lusting as he and his crew left their ship in search of plunder and women. Reaching her, he would grip her arm, precluding any escape. No screams, no pleas would stop him from taking what belonged to him. Inside her crude hut, where she’d been born and nurtured by parents who had long since passed, his sinewy body would imprison hers on the animal skins serving as a maiden’s bed. Not any longer. From this moment forward, she’d never know another night or another day without his dominating touch. Mouth over hers with his tongue plunging inside, he’d shove her homespun dress to her waist, baring her sex. Shamelessly, possessively, his long fingers would probe her cunt, seeking her hot channel. Once inside, he’d pierce her barrier and stretch her virginal flesh, preparing it for his cock. Her wait wouldn’t be long. He’d sink deep into her with one forceful thrust, his weighty testicles slapping her buttocks as he pumped unrelentingly, enslaving her to his body and the carnal future he intended for her.
A nagging pressure built in Adriana’s groin. In response, moisture seeped from her pussy.
Without warning, Nathan’s eyes lifted from his coffee to her. His studied indifference wavered.
Adriana’s lips parted at the chink in his armor, the surprising vulnerability she detected in his penetrating gaze. What caused such a thing? Had she spoken without realizing it or sighed too loudly?
His attention remained on her. Heat flared in his dark eyes.
A shiver of pleasure ran down Adriana’s spine. The rest of her froze in confusion. In all the days they’d spent holed up in this room, Nathan never looked at her as anything other than his adversary. She owned Greco, Inc., a prominent supermarket chain inherited from her father, an unhappy man who’d rarely noticed her at all. The only men who gave her their time and full attention were the ones she hired.
Self-consciously, she touched the edge of her half-rim reading glasses, adjusting them.
A smile lifted the corners of Nathan’s demanding mouth. Adriana tried to pull in a full breath and could not. She stared at his inviting lips. Seconds slipped by. Her heart pounded in time with the slanting rain striking the windows. It sounded like crinkling cellophane.
Steve Boyle, her company’s attorney and one of her best friends, tapped her wrist with his pencil. Eyes still on Nathan, she leaned over to Steve.
Nathan’s assistant Meghan strolled to the window, pretending to read her notes, giving Adriana and Steve a bit of privacy. Adriana stared at the lovely twenty-something girl, guessing Meghan probably slept with Nathan on a regular basis.
Steve brought his face close to Adriana’s ear. His shaggy mustache tickled her cheek. “What gives?” he whispered.
Her attention strayed to Nathan’s eyes. They hadn’t moved from her. Her cunt ached. She whispered, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yeah, I know. You’re not paying attention. Wynn asked you a question several minutes ago. So, what gives? Is your bun too tight? Did it cut off circulation to your brain?”
Uncomfortable warmth spread from Adriana’s chest to her neck and cheeks. She averted her gaze from Nathan and flicked it at Steve. Although he was thirty, the same as her, his rapidly balding head made him look much older. To compensate for the hair loss on top, he’d grown one of the biggest mustaches she’d ever seen outside of those on men of Middle Eastern ancestry. Her voice lowered another notch. “Be nice, or I swear I’ll tell everyone here you use Rogaine on that thing on your upper lip.”
Unfazed by her retort, and certainly not deterred, Steve’s hazel eyes twinkled with mischief. “Better answer Wynn or he may think you were staring at him because you think he’s hot.”
Adriana’s blush reached the tips of her ears and prickled her scalp. “What did he ask?”
“If you want to sleep with him.”
Her heart lurched. Blood drained from her face so quickly the room spun.
Steve noticed. His hand squeezed hers. “Hey, relax. I was joking.” His eyes narrowed with his scrutiny. “You okay?”
Not even close. She lied with a nod and repeated, “What did he ask?”
“If we’d be willing to extend our current healthcare benefits for another year, then modify them to what we want. In exchange, the union’s willing to immediately reduce their number of paid holidays.”
Even with her dizziness, Adriana knew it wasn’t a fair exchange and would cost her company several million dollars in this shitty economy. Of course, a strike could nudge them toward bankruptcy like so many other California businesses. No wonder a smile had interrupted Nathan’s controlled demeanor. He deserved his reputation for grinding adversaries under his heel, giving her very little wiggle room, just like in her Viking fantasy, with far less pleasant results.
If she agreed to his demand, she’d prove her father right—she wasn’t the child he’d wanted—a fearless, brutal, driven executive who didn’t take shit from anyone, not even the unions. If she didn’t agree, she’d force Nathan to return. She’d hunger over him for a few more days before she ultimately surrendered to his stipulations and the knowledge he’d never desire her. The heat she’d seen in his eyes represented a male’s reaction to a fight he knew he’d win. Would he celebrate his victory tonight with Meghan? Would he imprison her beneath his nudity? Was she his type? Did he have a type?
Heart sinking, Adriana didn’t bother to look at the girl or him. She didn’t want to know about Nathan Wynn’s private life. Nor would he ever know about hers and the paid escorts she used, including the kidnapper who surely stalked the hallways outside this office, waiting for her to emerge.
“Fine,” she said in answer to Nathan, groaning inwardly at the catch in her voice. She cleared her throat, left her seat and spoke to Steve. “Wind things up, will you?” Deliberately stepping around the table to avoid any contact with Nathan, Adriana stopped at the door and glanced back. Nathan regarded her ass and legs for a long moment. At last, he lifted his head. Several strands of hair bobbed over his surprisingly dark brows. His smile returned.
Her knees weakened. She locked them, overwhelmed by an insane urge to run her fingers through his hair, mussing it further as she drove her tongue into his mouth. Reality kept her rooted to her current spot. His smile had nothing to do with her as a woman. It recorded another of his conquests. She’d never stood a chance against his legal prowess, neither had Steve, and Nathan knew it. Adriana’s fingers gripped the doorknob. Unfortunately, her voice rang with longing. “Have a nice weekend. You earned it.”
Nathan’s brows lifted ever so slightly. “Should I take that as a compliment?”
His vibrant baritone matched his masculine bulk and enriched the sterilely decorated room, conjuring images of animal skins and leather, shoulder-length hair and a man’s uncivilized, insatiable appetite.
Without meaning to, she smiled. “You should.”
“Then I will, Adriana.”
A muscle in her belly jumped at how her name sounded wrapped in his resonant voice. Her hand loosened around the knob, not yet ready to open the door.
Steve cleared his throat. Impatiently, or perhaps jealously, Meghan tapped her pen against her legal pad.
She is sleeping with him. Fighting an envious sigh, Adriana opened the door. “Thanks for coming.”
Steve’s head jerked up. He seemed uncertain whether to snicker or frown. “We appreciate you getting through this so quickly,” he amended.
Adriana nodded to indicate that’s what she’d meant to say. Nathan ignored Steve and kept his full attention her. Why? What did he want now? “I have to go,” she said. Not waiting for his comment or goodbye, she hurried to her office.
There, she sagged against the door, trying to catch her breath. Should her kidnapper excite her even a sixteenth as much as Nathan did, she’d be in for the fuck of her life. However, if she found him wanting…
No, she wouldn’t consider such a thing. She’d enjoy the next three days if it killed her. On that happy thought, she went into her private bath, leaned toward the mirror and checked the scant makeup she wore. Crap. Her mascara had smeared, leaving dark smudges beneath her eyes. And she’d just about eaten off her mauve lipstick. With shaking hands, she fixed her face and considered undoing her bun. Her long, black hair reached halfway down her back, which made it her most striking feature. However, if her kidnapper-date thought so too, she wouldn’t have much else to wow him with once they were deep into her fantasy.
She left her hair pinned up and considered her gold-rimmed glasses. Should she put them back on or keep them off? She hadn’t worn them in her corporate photo she emailed the agency. Had she told the rep she’d wear them tonight so the escort would be certain to recognize her? Unable to recall details of what she’d said, Adriana sucked her lower lip until she remembered her freshly applied lipstick. Slipping her glasses back on, she peered over them, regarding her reflection. Her olive coloring and black hair resembled her father’s, who’d been of pure Greek descent. Her blue eyes matched her mother’s, who now lived in London with her fourth husband and their sons. Her look of anxiety belonged to her alone.
Eyes closed, she whispered, “Don’t do this to yourself. Have a good time. You deserve it.”
Partially convinced, she sprayed her throat, wrists, bra and thong with Gucci’s Envy Me, a Christmas present from her matronly secretary who mistakenly thought Adriana’s life rocked. The jasmine and peony scent wafted up, its fragrance mingling with the breath freshener she spritzed in her mouth. Her black silk trench coat, an impulse purchase for tonight, fell in soft lines over her charcoal business suit and sapphire silk blouse.
Her heart continued to pound.
Cell phone in hand, she speed-dialed Joe Malachi to let him know she wouldn’t need him for the next three days. Technically, Joe served as her live-in chef. She’d inherited him, along with Greco, Inc., after her father passed, since Joe had been her dad’s cook. To Adriana, he’d been the father she’d needed. When her parents divorced shortly after her fourth birthday and her mom took off for Europe to start a new life, Joe gave Adriana the love her dad could not. He’d listened to her incessant babbling and comforted her childhood hurts. He—not her dad or her mom—had helped pick out a dress for her middle-school dance and discussed whether she should go to Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton or the school she really wanted to attend. She couldn’t have hoped for a better substitute father and owed him an explanation as to why she wouldn’t be returning to her Beverly Hills home until Tuesday.
Not that she would tell him the truth.
He picked up on the fourth ring. “Lizzie?”
Adriana smiled at the nickname Joe had given her as a little kid, claiming she’d been as demanding and imperious as England’s Queen Elizabeth. Thus, the moniker that evolved into Lizzie and turned into an endearment. It and his raspy voice relaxed her more quickly than a slug of bourbon. With him, she’d always felt loved and safe. If only she could meet a guy her age who’d want her around as he always seemed to. “Hey, Joe.”
“What’s wrong?” he asked, no doubt hearing the edge in her voice. “You going to be later than usual tonight? Not waiting for her answer, his next question and comments came rapid-fire like a homicide investigator’s. “You having car trouble? Tell me you haven’t been in an accident. It’s raining out there.”
“Yeah, I know. And I haven’t crashed. I’m still at the office…but I won’t be coming home tonight or for the next three days.”
“Three days?” Something clanged in the background. Most likely a skillet he’d put on the range. “Is that jerk union lawyer keeping you there?”
She wished. Nathan’s thoughts were surely on his upcoming night with Meghan as soon as Steve wrapped things up. “No. We’ve agreed to the union’s terms and they agreed to ours. I just thought…” She panicked, not knowing what excuse to give him for her extended absence, and then the perfect explanation popped into her head. “I’m going to treat myself at a spa. You know, a mini-vacation for the holiday weekend. I thought I deserved it.”
“You know you do,” he agreed readily. “You work too hard. You never have any fun.”
Tonight she would. If the Goddess of Lust smiled down on her, this would be one three-day weekend she’d never forget. Her face warmed. “I’ll keep my cell phone on if you need me.”
“Just tell me the name of the place. That’ll be good enough.”
A bead of sweat rolled from her temple to her jaw. She paced the length of her office, decorated efficiently and unimaginatively in chrome and leather. “It’s Beautiful something. I can’t recall. One of the VPs told me about it. My secretary arranged for them to pick me up. If you need me, call my cell, all right?”
“You gonna be okay?”
Her eyes closed. He knew she’d lied. “Sure.”
“You need me for anything, you call, understand?” His voice softened further. “I’ll be here. I’m not going anywhere.”
Tears stung the corners of her eyes. She murmured, “I know. I’ll see you late Monday.”
“Or before if you want. Okay?”
Afraid she’d blurt the truth about this weekend and cause him even more concern, or disappoint him because she hired lovers, she mumbled a quick ‘sure’, ended the call and grabbed her oversized purse. Inside, she’d put custom-made lingerie from a Parisian couturier, another indulgence like her coat. She’d also packed mascara, lipstick and her Gucci perfume. Everything she needed, except boundless confidence, to embark on her newest fantasy. The longest she’d ever committed to. In the past, she’d only indulged in a few hours with escorts, pretending they were either a marauding pirate who’d taken over her ship or an escaped prisoner who hadn’t mounted a woman in far too long. Never had she spent the entire night with any of the men.
Again, uncertainty gripped her as she left her office and entered the building’s public hallway. Foolishly, she’d told the service to choose tonight’s lover so she’d be surprised, just like in a real kidnapping. At the time, Adriana thought it would add an element of danger and excitement to her building sexual tension.
How right she’d been.
Dimly lit halls led to the bank of elevators nearest the street-level garage where she’d parked. The path stretched endlessly and veered around too many blind corners. She passed locked offices with darkened windows, the door plaques stating one belonged to a wholesale distributor, another to an exporter, the next to an office temp agency and beyond it a group of CPAs. Although it wasn’t yet seven, the staff for these companies must have decided to get a head start on the holiday weekend. At the first intersection, Adriana entered the new hallway and stopped. About twenty yards ahead, a man headed toward her. A stranger she’d never seen here before.
Tall and young, probably in his late twenties, he wore an expensive business suit that fit his lean frame superbly. With his assured advance, his eyes met hers.
Adriana’s heart beat out of time. She didn’t notice his features or the color of his hair. She saw only a blur of motion, him coming closer, closer, closer. Her mind asked, Are you the one? Her lips refused to part and say the words.
She stared in fear and arousal. Her thoughts ran wild, playing images of him pushing her against the damask wallpaper, barking an order and capturing her mouth, tearing her blouse and bra open to expose her breasts.
A whimper rose in her throat. Her sharp intake of breath interrupted it. She caught a hint of cologne. His? A woodsy fragrance, it reminded her of Aspen prior to the first snow. Not as masculine or arousing as Nathan’s but nice nonetheless.
Alternately softening to her need for human closeness and warmth and tensing with apprehension, she waited for him to make his move.
His steps continued to slow. Taking in her face and length, he gave her an odd look as though she wore new mascara smudges beneath her eyes. He passed without the words she expected to hear or a savage kiss.
Adriana’s heart refused to slow. She turned. At a brisk pace, he went around the corner, fleeing from view. Nearly breathless and certainly confused, she rested her shoulder against the wall and wondered if he’d be coming back. Maybe part of his act meant pretending he didn’t desire her. His behavior would give her a false sense of security and would make the actual kidnapping even more outrageous and delicious.
Unable to stand the suspense, she returned to the intersection and glanced down the hall. Empty. He must have slipped into the men’s room or hid in the stairwell to confuse her further. Unless he’d gone into one of the darkened offices because he belonged there, not with her.
Torn as to whether she should wait him out or continue, Adriana settled on the latter course and went down the next hallway, periodically stealing glances over her shoulder. The young man didn’t follow. Her pulse slowed. Vague irritation at having to wait coursed through her, along with her ever-present longing. She reached a new corner and turned into it. Halfway down the hall, a man about her age stood at a closed office door, looking at his watch.
His broad shoulders and large frame made him escort material. Dark hair, beard-shadowed cheeks and a look of impatience fit Adriana’s image of a pretend-kidnapper. Like the first guy she’d encountered, this man was a stranger.
He’d either heard her approach or sensed her presence. Head lifting from his watch, he met her eyes.
Her stomach twisted with anticipation. The rest of her couldn’t move. She waited for him to say the words she’d given the agency, a command to let her know he’d be spending the weekend with her.
He called out, “Do you have the correct time?”
Unfortunately, those weren’t the words. Her heart sank. Lifting her arm to check her watch, she noticed her shaking fingers and made a fist to hide her nervousness. Her blouse’s thin fabric wiggled with her quick, shallow breaths. “Five to seven.”
“Thanks.” He rapped the door three times and frowned as he waited for a response.
As she passed him, Adriana glanced at the plaque. It bore the name of a mortgage company about to go belly up.
The man muttered, “Stupid prick better show his face.”
Her thoughts exactly. Where in the hell was her guy? She walked backward down the hall, expecting him to be at the other end, rounding the corner. The only one to notice her happened to be the guy at the door. He gave her a weird look and called out, “Do you work at this place?” He advanced several steps. “Is Rivera your boss?”
She shook her head and pointed behind herself. “My husband’s waiting for me.”
“Would that be Rivera?”
“No.” She pulled out her cell phone to fake a call to her nonexistent spouse or to 9-1-1.
The guy stopped advancing. He returned to the door and pounded on it with the heel of his hand.
Adriana escaped to the next hall. Ahead, she saw the bank of elevators with no one waiting for them or her. Could the agency have gotten the date wrong? Hadn’t they been able to find any guy to spend three days with her? If so, they would have emailed their apology, right? So he had to be here, unless he’d gotten in an accident because of the rain. Shoulders slumping, she punched the down button. While waiting for the elevator to arrive, she went to the fire exit, hoping to see her escort hiding inside. Emptiness and a blast of cold air greeted her, along with an unpleasant musty odor reminiscent of rain or a wet, dirty dog. The elevator dinged.
The doors parted. A muscular, thirty-something man leaned against the back rail. He wore khaki slacks and a short-sleeved shirt with the name Ramon embroidered on the pocket. A tool belt hung low on his lean hips. Below it, he sported an impressive bulge. Adriana’s eyes jumped from it to his broad chest, full mouth and piercing black eyes. His shaved head and the small gold hoop in his right ear completed the picture, making him dangerous, seductive, hers?
Had to be.
What had she gotten herself into? He looked capable of devouring her. A good thing, given her lonely nights and mounting desire. . .a daunting proposition given they didn’t know each other. On a hard swallow, she edged into the space and leaned against the wall to his left. His attention remained ahead on the still-parted doors. Was he waiting for them to close so he could give her his scripted command, or did he simply enjoy making her wait for the inevitable so she’d want it even more?
Her eyes trailed down him, noting the ornate tattoo on his wrist of a stylized sun. It looked oddly menacing. She dragged her attention away, shifting it to the doors. They remained opened. Her heart skipped several beats at what would happen when they closed finally. Ramon would approach and bark a ruthless order. His hand would be on her throat, keeping her head still so he could claim her mouth. With his body imprisoning hers, the meaty bulge behind his fly would promise pleasure, passion and her submission.
Heat poured through Adriana, wilting her shoulders. Expectation weakened her legs. She gripped the railing with both hands, requiring the support. Something pinged, the sound metal makes as it becomes chilled. She flinched with the sound. On a subdued whoosh, the doors began to close.
Adriana’s heart pounded wildly. She turned her head to glance at Ramon, then brought it back at the unexpected movement in her peripheral vision. A hand snuck around the side of the right door, keeping it from closing.
She stared at the fingers, long with blunt tips. The doors hesitated and opened. She forgot to breathe.
Nathan moved inside the small space, abbreviating it even more with his height. His imposing presence made Ramon as inconsequential as a kid brother. The edge of Nathan’s briefcase tapped the door. His head lifted from it to her legs.
Unbearable need slithered through Adriana. Her toes tried to curl in her high heels. Her mind whispered a truth she didn’t want to face. She wanted Nathan, not Ramon or any of the agency’s other studs. Too bad, good sense answered. Nathan wanted Meghan on his menu, not her. Foolishly jealous, Adriana glanced around him, expecting to see the young woman trailing behind as she always did.
The hall remained empty. The doors closed. Jerking slightly, the elevator began its downward journey with only her and Nathan.
Before Adriana got too smug and smiled, she reminded herself his bed play had nothing to do with her. Meghan had probably stopped in the ladies’ room to freshen up or to remove her underwear, promising to meet him at his car.
Adriana glanced at the buttons on the elevator’s control panel, realizing she hadn’t punched the one for the parking garage. Neither had he. Only the one for the fifth floor glowed. Why? Suddenly, she remembered Ramon. Had he punched the button for five? Whatever would possess him to do so? What could be waiting for them there? She’d told the agency they’d be taking her car to the hotel and the penthouse suite she’d rented for the weekend. Surely Ramon knew that, unless he’d wanted to catch her off guard and take her in the stairwell…or he wasn’t her guy.
The thought should have daunted. Too easily, Adriana brushed it aside, her attention fixed on Nathan.
His head inched up her sheer black stockings to her coat, skirt and blouse, his journey unhurried. He didn’t give a damn if she noticed. As a male, he owned the right to regard her at his leisure. At her eyes, he lingered. Surprise and something more flashed across his ruggedly masculine face. An invitation that urged her to cross the small space and join him. A promise of pleasure as intoxicating as his scent and the hint of male musk beneath it.
With the suddenness of a stolen kiss, he smiled…a playful grin, personal, disconcerting, enticing. “Adriana.” Her name and his strong voice lingered in the compact car.
Helplessly, she smiled at the sounds and the man. “Nathan.”
He crossed over to her side, glancing away only to punch the button for the garage.
His proximity and size overwhelmed. Her knuckles hurt from squeezing the railing too tightly. Turning to her, he tempered his voice as if he didn’t want Ramon privy to what he said. “I thought you’d already left.”
She watched his broad chest expand with his quiet breathing. His navy wool topcoat matched the twilight shades of his suit and silk tie. Eyes edging up to his mouth, her attention lost in the faint stubble on his upper lip, she answered, “I thought you were still with Steve and Meghan.”
He didn’t respond immediately.
She met his thickly lashed brown eyes, as sinful as dark chocolate, as seductive as a caress. “Did you change your mind?”
The corners of mouth lifted with his broadening smile. “About what?”
Sleeping with Meghan. Not about to voice her thoughts, Adriana searched for a logical answer. Miraculously, she found it. “The terms of the contract.” Is that why he’d left her offices? Had something gone awry during the wrap up? Would he be back after the long holiday weekend? Would she be able to see him again? No matter how much money her company would lose with his newest negotiations, Adriana couldn’t help her budding excitement. “Surely Steve didn’t finish things so quickly.”
Ramon cleared his throat. Nathan glanced over, the ends of his hair skimming his much darker brows. Adriana held onto the railing for dear life so she wouldn’t reach up and brush his stray locks back.
Nathan returned his attention to her. “No, I haven’t changed my mind on the terms. And Steve isn’t finished. Meghan’s with him and prepared to spend the night until everything’s settled.”
Surprised, Adriana blurted, “You don’t mind?”
“About them doing the work?” He leaned close enough for her to smell a hint of coffee on his breath. “Better Meghan and Steve than you and me.”
You and me. Her heart made those words sound as hopeful as I want you.
Get real, her thoughts taunted. If he wasn’t spending tonight with Meghan, he’d indulge himself with another woman, one of countless females who’d be delighted to participate in and submit to whatever he craved. Perhaps domination and submission, bondage, a bit of corporal punishment.
The possibilities whirled so quickly in Adriana’s mind, she lowered her head to stop her lightheadedness."