|Название||Wedding His Takeover Target / Inheriting His Secret Christmas Baby|
|Автор произведения||Emilie Rose|
|Серия||Mills & Boon Desire|
“I never wanted to do anything else.”
“Then I can see why being grounded here for a year must be hard.” He had the world waiting for him.
“I’ll survive it.” He sandwiched a gooey semi-melted marshmallow and a piece of chocolate between two crackers and offered it to her.
She took it, bit into the crisp crackers and chewed, savoring the rush of memories the sweet treat brought back. She and her grandmother had made s’mores often. “Okay, I have to admit, I was skeptical about your picnic, but this was a good idea. It’s beautiful up here.”
“It’s better at night when you can see the stars.” He took a bite of his dessert.
“It’s a little late in the season for that with the night temperatures in the single digits.” She licked a sticky bit from her lip. “You still haven’t told me what my grandfather has that you want.”
“This.” His gesture encompassed the area around them.
A tiny dot of chocolate clung to the corner of his mouth. She had a weird urge to reach out and wipe it away with a fingertip. Or her tongue. Shocked by the errant thought, she averted her gaze and rescanned the setting rather than focus on that strangely tempting spot. “And what is ‘this’ exactly?”
“Five acres surrounded by Jarrod territory and a defunct silver mine started by one of my ancestors before Aspen was founded.”
When she looked back, the tempting daub of chocolate was gone, thank goodness. “Pops owns this land? But you said something about a poker bet.”
“Henry won the plot and the mineral rights from my grandfather fifty years ago. I want both back.”
“That’s all? Just this land? If he sells it to you, you’ll leave him alone?”
He picked up a stick and poked the fire, avoiding her gaze—exactly the way her grandfather had. “Yes.”
She didn’t believe him. Cradling the now-empty mug of coffee in her hands she searched his tense face. “And what do you want from me? Do you expect me to convince Pops to sell it to you?”
“We’ve already agreed on the terms.”
Something didn’t add up. “If Pops has already promised to give you what you want, then why am I here, Gavin?”
Silent seconds stretched between them. “Because I want you, Sabrina Taylor. And you want me, too.”
Her stomach swooped and burned in a way that had nothing to do with the spicy chili or the gooey, yummy dessert. Denial galloped in, making her heart pound like stampeding horses. “You’re mistaken.”
His teeth flashed in a brief, but predatory smile. “One of these days you’ll learn I rarely refuse a challenge. Looks like I’m going to have to prove you wrong.”
He hooked a hand behind her nape and pulled her forward, covering her mouth with his.
Gavin took advantage of Sabrina’s surprise-parted lips to sweep his tongue across the slick surface of hers. Her squeak of protest filled his mouth, but before he could force himself to let her go, her shocked stiffness eased and the hands she’d planted on his chest flexed into his coat, anchoring him. His heart pounded approval.
He hadn’t expected a deal with the devil to taste this good, but the combination of sweet dessert, spicy chili and hot woman hit him like a prizefighter’s right hook, making his head spin.
God help him, he wanted Sabrina in a way he shouldn’t want a woman being forced down his throat as part of a business deal, but they had something between them, and while the chemistry might be temporary, it was damned impressive and worth exploring.
She returned his kiss, tentatively at first, with soft flutters of her lips against his, then with increasing pressure and hunger. Her hand slid upward until her short nails teased the underside of his jaw. Her fingertips were cool against his overheated skin, but her kisses burned hot. He snaked an arm around her waist and tugged her forward onto her knees. She leaned against him, her weight supported on his chest, her hands braced on his shoulders, digging into his muscles.
Cursing the insulating layers between them as their tongues tangled and their breaths mingled, he deepened the kiss, tunneling his fingers into her curls, surprised to find the coils soft instead of wiry. He couldn’t get enough. Air or her. His body steamed inside his coat. Skin against skin would be good right about now. He reached for the zipper tab under her chin.
She gasped, pushed his hand away and jerked back, falling onto her butt. Eyes wide with horror, her breath panting as rapidly as his made clouds in the air between them. She scooted away on the blanket and pressed her fingertips to her mouth. “What was that?”
“Proof,” was all he could force out. Her taste lingered on his damp lips, making him ache to tug her down on the blanket and cover her body with his.
Her dazed expression morphed into disbelief. “Proof of what?”
His blood slowly drifted north, reviving brain cells her kiss had decimated. “That you want me. And trust me, Sabrina, the feeling is mutual.”
Shaking her head, she shot to her feet. “No. You’re wrong. I’m not interested in getting involved with you. Or anyone. Take me home, Gavin.”
He could argue that her actions contradicted her words, that even now the flush on her cheeks and the rapid rise and fall of her breasts gave away her arousal. But he didn’t want to scare her off. Instead, he rose slowly, being careful not to jar the lingering ridge behind his zipper. “Not yet.”
“Then I’ll walk.”
He couldn’t let her go. Not with the bargain he’d made. If he did she’d never agree to see him again let alone marry him. And at the moment, marriage wasn’t looking like the death sentence it once had.
He caught her elbow. “I don’t recommend walking out. It’s a long way and it’s cold. I brought you up here to show you the mine. Take a look, then I’ll drive you back.”
She scanned the area as if searching for the mine portal. Or the path to freedom.
Cupping her shoulders, he steered her to the left and pointed. She stiffened in his hold. “The entrance is behind that line of firs. I planted them when I was a teenager to conceal my hideaway.”
She shrugged off his hands. “I’ve seen old mines before. The area is littered with them. I don’t need to see another one.”
“Even though your grandparents spent time spelunking in this one?”
She bit her lip, curiosity invading her blue eyes, then stomped her feet and shoved her hands into her pockets. “Did Pops tell you that? I mean, I know you said he owned it, but how do you know he or my grandmother were ever here?”
“After I discovered Henry owned the mine I realized the initials I’d found carved into one of the beams were his, and when he told me your grandmother’s name was Colleen I guessed the set beside his might be hers.”
“Maybe he carved both.”
“Come and see. Judge for yourself.”
“I could just call him and ask.” She pulled out her cell phone.
“You get poor, if any, reception up here.”
She checked the phone, frowned, then shoved it back into her pocket. Her eyes clouded with suspicion. “Is this your version of showing me your etchings?”
Her accusation surprised a bark of laughter out of him. Sabrina was a tough case, and she really didn’t like him. He had his work cut out for him to win her over. “I confess I used that trick when I was a dumb kid, but I don’t need a cold, dark tunnel and a repertoire of ghost stories to get women these days.”