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November Harlequin Presents 2(9)

By:Susan Stephens

Somewhere along the line he’d relaxed the tone of his voice. It was less strident, more persuasive. And somewhere along the line he’d also relaxed his hold on her wrist, so that his thumb stroked the underside of her wrist, making lazy circles on her skin. Lazy circles, to counteract a frantic pulse. It was hypnotising, so gentle in comparison to his cast-iron grip of before, but no less bone-sappingly heat generating. Warmth bloomed like soft sunlight throughout her body, warming her breasts to tingling, before pooling heavy and insistent between her thighs.

She swallowed, not sure she could trust herself to speak. ‘I had an apple.’

The corners of his mouth curled while his body hovered too close, too hard and too hot.

‘Tempting,’ he acknowledged, still stroking her arm, the circles larger now. ‘But hardly enough.’

‘I’ll eat when I get home.’

‘I’ll take you home after we’ve eaten.’

‘I told you, it’s not a good idea.’

‘Why not?’

Because I’m not who you think I am, she wanted to shout. Because it will only complicate things when Morgan returns.

She sighed, struggling to find the right answer, because things were far, far too complicated already.

‘Because I don’t want to!’ she finally settled for. ‘And you can’t make me.’

His eyes narrowed. ‘It’s only a meal.’

Was it? The words themselves sounded perfectly logical, and yet when did ‘only a meal’ invitations come with a heated massage of her wrist and her senses? When did they come with dark eyes that simmered like melted chocolate, looking like they were ready to suck her down into so much molten bliss, so much so that the concept of eating a meal morphed into visions of much more carnal delights? And, if he could make her burn with just one look, with just one touch, then what more was possible?

Oh God, she had to get out of here, before she started wanting to find out.

‘I want to go,’ she stated as emphatically as she could, hoping her voice sounded convincing when every other part of her was insanely drawn to him, insanely drawn to what she knew would be more dangerous than stepping into quicksand. Somehow she knew that once those eyes had sucked her in there would be no escape.

It couldn’t be allowed to happen!

As if on cue, the lift pinged, announcing its arrival, the doors sliding open alongside her. Escape! She turned away from him, turned away from his heat and towards the welcoming cave of the lift where the air already seemed cooler. Safer.

She wrenched her arm away, assuming she would meet with resistance to her dash for freedom, but there was none, and the momentum of jerking her arm caught her wrong-footed and sent her tripping sideways towards the lift door-frame.

She cried out, trying simultaneously to regain her footing and brace herself for the impact to come, when he caught her in a tangle of feet and arms and spun her into his arms. Her chest collided with his, which sent the air in her lungs whooshing out of her. But she was saved. She dragged in air, content for the moment to rest in the circle of his arms, his lean body lending her strength while she caught her breath.

‘Okay now?’ he murmured in her ear, his cheek pressed against her hair and his warm breath a silken caress.

She drew in another long breath, feeling the beat of her heart slow and regulate before she felt steady enough to respond.

‘Th…thank you,’ she whispered, finally feeling confident enough to try to push herself away. She raised her hands to his chest and felt the answering thud of his own heartbeat. And in the space of just a second or two she felt it kick up a notch, a double-barrelled call to arms.

The relief that she hadn’t crash-landed gave way to a fear that she’d been saved into circumstances much more dangerous indeed.

She edged back and looked up at him, and felt the connection with his eyes like a bolt of electricity. They were so dark, so heavy with desire—desire for her.

No, she registered from some far-off place. Not for her.

He thought she was Morgan.

It was Morgan he took her for. It was Morgan he wanted.

But right now that didn’t seem to matter, not with the way his eyes focused on her mouth, not with the way his lips hovered so tantalisingly close to her own.

He might think she was Morgan, but it was Tegan he was going to kiss.

And it was Tegan who was going to let him.

With one hand he lifted her chin, and her lips parted on a sigh.

His answering growl fed into her senses like a rolling wave of desire, and she barely registered the lift doors sliding closed behind her, cutting off her escape route.

Except escape was now the furthest thing from her mind, and, just when she thought it wasn’t possible to feel any more, he kissed her. One brief touch at first, then a second that was more an intermingling of breath, a sampling, an introduction, and then he came back, increasing the pressure as he pressed his lips to her own. His were a revelation—firm and yet gentle, masterful without dominating. Instead they gave generously, inviting her to participate in the dance of lips, and then, as he deepened the kiss, tongues.