She gasped as the warmth of his hand closed over the material of her dress, on the mound of her breast. ‘No, I——’
‘Small, but perfect,’ he told her huskily.
‘Small is right,’ she agreed bitterly, pushing his hand away.
He looked down at her with honey-warm eyes. ‘But perfect,’ he insisted gruffly. ‘Don’t you have any idea how sexy you are?’
She avoided his eyes. ‘Frank said——’
‘Forget that bastard!’ he grated. ‘What did Gilbraith say?’ His eyes were narrowed.
Laurel shrugged evasively. ‘He isn’t—wasn’t, a very sensual man,’ she dismissed.
‘I am,’ Reece told her softly. ‘Very sensual. And I’ve wanted you from the moment I first saw you, in every way there is and ever has been.’
‘When you first saw me I was slumped over the steering-wheel of my car covered in blood,’ she scorned the claim.
His steady gaze held hers. ‘And I wanted you.’
‘That sort of want is just a bodily function. And I’m not into the Kama Sutra,’ she scorned.
‘I said in every way there is,’ he insisted intently. ‘Not every position. It isn’t just sex I want from you. Laurel, I——’
‘Would you please go now?’ She turned away, her hands clasped tightly together in front of her. ‘It’s been a traumatic evening; I’d like to be alone now.’
‘Please go, Reece,’ she sighed wearily.
‘Okay,’ he rasped. ‘I will. It’s too soon for you, I realise that, but you didn’t love Gilbraith, Laurel. It’s only your pride that has been injured, and once you get over that I——’
‘Our engagement will be broken and we can get on with our respective lives,’ she interrupted curtly. ‘I’m grateful for your help, and a few moments ago I may even have felt a little sexual curiosity concerning you, but that’s all it was.’
‘Was it?’ His eyes were narrowed.
‘Yes, it was,’ she answered calmly.
He looked at her silently for several seconds, and then he slowly nodded. ‘I’ll be there about six-thirty tomorrow.’
‘Yes.’ She accompanied him towards the door.
‘I don’t… Good God, what do you have all these locks for?’ He eyed the four locks on the inside of her door disbelievingly. ‘This isn’t New York, you know!’
Laurel shrugged. ‘There have been several burglaries in the building the last few months; these locks are just a precaution.’
Reece frowned darkly. ‘Burglaries? I don’t like the sound——’
‘No one asked you to like or dislike it,’ she snapped irritably. ‘I’ve taken care of myself since I was sixteen years old, I certainly don’t need some strong arrogant man trying to throw his undoubtable weight about in my life now!’
‘I hope you weren’t implying that I’m fat,’ he said indignantly.
He was a big man, about two hundred pounds, possibly a little less, but he was in no way fat, just pure muscle and sinew and deep copper-tone flesh. ‘Maybe a little,’ she mocked. ‘Maybe you don’t get enough exercise.’
His eyes widened, gold flames in the dark brown depths. ‘I’m hoping to improve that in the near future.’
Laurel couldn’t prevent the blush coming to her cheeks at the intended innuendo. ‘Reece,’ she began warningly, disconcerted by the sudden grin he gave, deep grooves etched beside his mouth and eyes, an endearing dimple appearing in one cheek. ‘What is it?’ she demanded suspiciously.
‘Am I really strong and arrogant?’
She frowned. ‘It’s nothing to feel proud of, arrogance isn’t a virtue.’
‘It is when it’s combined with strength,’ he said with satisfaction.
Laurel was about to argue with him, and then thought better of it; she wanted him to leave tonight, not get into an argument about his virtues—or lack of them. ‘If you say so,’ she conceded abruptly.
He raised dark brows, grimacing. ‘You want me to leave, right?’
‘That is the general idea.’ She stood her ground firmly as she waited at the door.
‘Don’t forget to fasten the lock—all of them!—after I leave.’ His hand gently cupped one side of her face. ‘I don’t like to think of you alone here when someone is known to be burglarising the place.’
‘It’s a wicked world we live in,’ she taunted drily.
His mouth quirked. ‘Just tell me if I’m being too over-protective,’ he mocked.
She knew he was teasing, but she gave him a serious answer. ‘I don’t want, or need, anyone to protect me.’
‘You were going to marry Gilbraith,’ he pointed out reasoningly.
‘It would have been a partnership, not the usual male-dominated marriage,’ she dismissed.
It was to have been much more than just a marriage partnership, she and Giles had been going to be business partners, too; had already started to do so after Giles had questioned her trust in him to help her. A couple of months ago, since they had begun arranging their engagement party, she had agreed to let him handle some of the bills, had even made arrangements at the bank so that he could sign the cheques for those bills. Two days ago she had received another reminder for one of those bills. She hadn’t been concerned at the time, had put the confusion down to the Christmas post. Now she wasn’t so sure.
SHE didn’t know how she could have fallen for such a trick. She had grown up around the users her mother seemed to constantly be involved with, had always been amazed when her mother didn’t see through them, most of them staying around for a couple of months, taking what they could, before moving on to another lovely woman in need of friendship and a little love.
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