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The Mating Game: Big Bad Wolf(10)

By´╝ÜGeorgette St. Clair

“Oh, it’s fancy all right.” So fancy that there were metal detectors in the doorways and bars on the windows. It was a culture shock that Daisy still struggled to adjust to every day.

Daisy walked down a hallway into Ryker’s massive living room and looked around. The floor plan was open concept. The furniture was shiny black leather and chrome. There were moody black-and-white photos of cityscapes in silver frames, and floor lamps that looked like movie spotlights. The floor was tinted concrete, scattered with black-and-white rugs in abstract patterns. The room was beautifully decorated but it gave off a cold, hard feeling.

She glanced over at the chrome bookshelves. There were artfully arranged stacks of hardcovers and giant art books that she doubted he’d ever read, mixed in with abstract granite statuettes and black and silver candles. No personal mementoes or family photos.

Same thing with the kitchen. It was a showroom kitchen. Giant, shiny refrigerator big enough to feed an army, no pictures or knick-knacks anywhere.

So, this was a man who valued style over substance, and didn’t have close family ties.

She felt an odd sense of disappointment as she looked around. It was hard to imagine ever getting truly close to the owner of this place.

Funny, she’d gotten such a different feel from him this evening. He’d been boisterous and crude and, she had to admit, kind of funny even while he was being a jerk. And she thought she’d felt the closeness between him and his uncle. Apparently she’d been wrong. His public image was the real him. Flashy and with zero substance.

So why was her body reacting like this? Just being near him was sending her into full arousal mode. All of her senses felt heightened, with her skin exquisitely sensitive to the sensation of fabric sliding across it. Her panties were damp and she could feel sweat beading on her forehead. She kept wanting to lean in and sniff him.

She shed her jacket and draped it over a chair back, then stood there uncertainly in the center of the room, clutching her purse.

“Have a seat,” Ryker said, gesturing at the couch. “I’ll get you a drink. Are you hungry? Can I order in some food?”

“Oh, no thanks,” she said. “I’m full from the hot dogs.” She’d actually only had one, so she was still hungry, but this wasn’t the kind of house she would feel comfortable eating in. It was so gleaming-clean and sterile that she’d be petrified of spilling a single crumb.

“What would you like to drink?” He gestured at an enormous bar on a nearby wall. There were glass shelves stocked with expensive liquor, and exquisite cocktail glasses and margarita glasses and shot glasses, rimmed in silver. Of course. This was the ultimate bachelor pad, designed to impress and seduce.

“I’ll have a blood orange cosmopolitan,” she said, just to be cantankerous.

He went over to the bar, poured two drinks, and came back.

He set the drinks down in front of them.

“I made you rum and Coke,” he said. “I don’t even know what a cosmopolitan is.” He took a sip of his; some kind of whiskey.

With him sitting so close to her, she could smell his earthy, masculine scent, mixing with the smell of the stables, which actually wasn’t so unpleasant after all. She’d just carped about it because of him showing up late and being so damn smug, as if she were going to roll right into bed with him just because he flashed a smile at her.

But damn it, his scent and his grin and the gleam in his eyes were all making her think of doing just that.

She could feel her nipples pebbling with desire, rubbing against the filmy fabric of her blouse. He was a shifter; he’d be able to smell her arousal, just as she could scent the musky aroma of his desire for her.

She grabbed the drink and drained half of it, then stifled a yawn.

“I’m sorry,” she said, covering her mouth with her hand. “It’s not you. I was up almost all night writing grant applications.” She took another big sip to calm her jangled nerves.

She drained the rest of the drink and set it down on the chrome cube that served as a side table. “All right, what exactly is the plan?” she asked him. “How are we going to fool your investors into thinking that you actually like me?”

“What makes you think I don’t?” he rumbled, his voice low and sexy with that hint of backwoods twang. His eyes bored into her, and she felt sweat trickling down the back of her neck, despite the fans circling overhead and the icy air pumping from the air conditioner.

“Well, aside from you showing up late, you called me a snob and a stuck-up princess and said you didn’t know if you even wanted to sleep with me.”

He glanced at her empty drink, picked it up and walked back to the bar. “You called me rude and dirty and a jerkwad,” he pointed out as he mixed another drink. “And I only showed up late because I thought I was meeting my Uncle Walt, and he knows I hate fancy restaurants.”