Wondering why, she looked down and saw that a small trickle of milk had escaped her left breast. She felt a squirm of embarrassment, then defiance. She was a nursing mother. She wouldn’t, couldn’t, be ashamed of it. But still…
He raised a dark eyebrow at her, then lowered his head and slowly licked the other breast with his rough tongue. She sighed with pleasure. She gasped as he lowered his head between her legs.
He worked his tongue with agonizing slowness, spreading her wide to taste the very heart of her. The full thickness of his tongue seemed to touch every nerve-ending of her body, leaving her quivering and taut with longing.
Gripping his hair with her hands, she stared up at the ceiling, knowing she should make him stop, that she should pull away, but she couldn’t. She was naked in his office, her thighs spread wide on his mahogany desk, and her boss—the playboy desired by women far more beautiful than she—was lapping her with his tongue until she thought she would explode.
And then she did. She heard a loud cry and realized it had come from her own mouth. For a few seconds afterward all she could do was breathe, and Nikos took her in his arms, holding her close as he whispered endearments. Anna realized that he wasn’t even all the way naked. But he was all the way hard. She could feel that through his tailored pants, pressing against her. And yet he wasn’t trying to make love to her.
She started to stroke him through the fabric, but he caught her hands. His eyes, looking down at her, were vulnerable. “Marry me, Anna. Be my wife.”
“I can’t.” It felt horrible to say. Ungenerous and so, so wrong. And it wasn’t what she wanted. Especially when it made him abruptly pull away. “We can raise our son together, but I can’t marry you, Nikos. It would never work.”
“So you say.” He pulled away from her and without even looking in her direction started to put on his shirt.
She sat up, still naked, feeling dizzy. “Don’t you understand? We’d never be happy together.”
“No, I don’t understand. I see only a spoiled woman who is determined to toss away happiness with both hands.”
“You don’t love me—” she started, praying he would argue.
Instead, he cut her off with, “And you don’t love me.” His face, so warm and loving just moments before, now expressed icy contempt. “But we both love our son. I am trying to do what’s best for him. I wish you would do the same.”
“I am!” she said, stung.
“Right.” He rapidly buttoned up his shirt. “What have I done to make you hate me, Anna? What did I do that was so horrible? What have I ever done except try to take care of all of us? One of us has to take responsibility for the family we’ve created. Especially since you obviously don’t give a damn.”
“Wait—that’s not true—you know it’s not true!”
His lip curled as he turned to go. “I’m going to go find Sinistyn and handle him once and for all. Before he talks his way into becoming Michael’s stepfather. Because apparently you have a problem telling him no. Unlike me.”
“I’m not trying to hurt you. I just don’t want you to get involved.”
“It’s not your problem, it’s mine. I should be the one to—”
“My God, you really don’t trust me at all, do you? No matter what I do or say, you won’t accept my help. You’d rather fight me. You’d rather put both yourself and our son in danger.” He stopped in the doorway. “I always admired you, Anna. A pity the good sense you have as a secretary is lacking in you as a woman.”
His words struck her to the bone. His face was in shadow as he added quietly, “Look through the résumés, Anna. Find me a new secretary. When I come back, give me a name. I’m done fighting with you.”
Nikos was grim as he rode in the back of his limo, poring through documents about the last-minute details of the Singapore land lease bid as his chauffeur drove him back to the casino.
He’d lost his temper.
He never lost his temper.
Damn it, Anna was really starting to get to him. He’d accused her of letting her emotions run her reason, but he had just done the same.
The way he’d shouted at her. It made him wince now. It had not gone according to plan. Yelling at her was no way to make her fall in love. Even he knew that.
He sighed, leaning his head against the darkened glass and staring out at the empty, barren landscape as the Nevada desert flew by. He’d felt so close. His soul had soared when he’d felt her tremble beneath his tongue. He’d felt sure that she would say yes to his proposal. Why else had he restrained himself, when he could think of nothing but having her in his bed? He’d said that he wanted to make love to her only as his wife, and that was still true.
He ground his teeth. Forget those stupid scruples. He only had twenty-four hours to close the deal. Next time he wouldn’t hesitate. He wouldn’t relent. He’d seduce her, and he’d get both his satisfaction and her agreement to his proposal. And before she had a chance to change her mind he’d take her straight to one of the all-night wedding chapels and get it all nailed down.
He glanced at the document still in his briefcase. His lawyers had already drawn up the standard prenuptial agreement: if the marriage should end, both parties would end up with what they’d started with. Leaving Anna virtually penniless.
He didn’t intend for her to suffer. On the contrary, he meant for her to live in luxury. He’d even keep her snooty mother in Hermès handbags. Anything to make Anna happy. The prenup was for one reason only—to make sure that Anna would never have any incentive to walk away from their marriage.
He twisted his neck, cracking the joints to relieve the stress, and revised his tattered gameplan. Tonight was his last night to close the deal. After he’d finished with Sinistyn he’d go straight home, make love to Anna until she couldn’t see straight, and then she’d sign the prenup. Then they’d go to the courthouse for a license and, from there, a drive-thru chapel.
He flexed his hands, trying to make himself relax. Anna was getting under his skin—probably because they were spending so much time together, blending home and work. It had been wonderful, in a way, having her back in the office. Best damn secretary he’d ever had. Together they were the perfect team. Unbeatable.
No. He pushed the thought away. He’d already made up his mind, and tonight it would be done. He’d get a new secretary, take Anna as his wife, and keep his home and work life separate—the way they were supposed to be. He’d enjoy Anna at night, see his son every day, and go back to putting in eighteen-hour days at the office. That was the life that made sense to him. That was a life he could control.
But Anna had to marry him. Without that everything else fell apart.
Rubbing his hand against his forehead, he sighed. It was time for him to play his last card. He had no choice. He was leaving for Singapore tomorrow, to meet with government officials and make sure Stavrakis Resorts’ land lease bid was successful. The new casino resort would be an important asset in his son’s fortune.
But first he had to close the deal with Anna.
He would tell her he loved her.
He’d never said the words before—to anyone. And even tonight it would be a lie. He would lie to make her capitulate, to make her love him in return. He’d told himself that he’d never say those three words to anyone, but he’d give up that tiny slice of honor now. He’d do far more than that to protect his family.
He’d tell her he loved her, and make her believe it. He had to convince her he meant it. Convince her he’d make a good husband. Convince her he was worthy of her love, even if it all was a lie…
He had a sudden memory of Anna in his bed, naked, with tousled hair and a sweetly seductive smile, looking up at him with honest, trusting eyes.
He shook the disturbing image away. As his chauffeur pulled up to the private garage on the third level parking deck of L’Hermitage, he focused instead on his meeting with Victor Sinistyn, whom he’d called on the drive into town.
He couldn’t blame the man for wanting Anna for himself. Nikos ground his teeth as he strode into his private elevator. Any man would want Anna. But Sinistyn had gone too far, trying to force her into a marriage against her will. Trying to buy her through trickery and putting pressure on her family.
Images of Anna went through his mind: laughing in the pool last week, splashing with their child, smiling up at Nikos in the bright sunlight. She was so beautiful, so vibrant, so warm and alive. How dare Sinistyn try to imprison her? How dare he try to seize by manipulation and force something he had no right to call his own?
“It’s time you picked on someone your own size,” Nikos muttered under his breath as he entered his private office.
“What was that, sir?” Margaret, the senior administrative assistant for the casino, was filling in on some rudimentary duties as his executive secretary. She temporarily sat in Anna’s old desk outside his office.