Page 19 of The Shy Bride

“You know it’s not.”

“Cassandra—”


“I’ll see you next week. Let me know if you wish to meet at the studio or your penthouse.”

He said her name again, but she simply said, “Goodbye,” at the same time.

She hung the phone up without another word.

Cass wished she was surprised when the doorbell rang the next morning before she’d even had her first cup of coffee, but she wasn’t. She was even less surprised to look out the window in the bedroom that overlooked the drive and see Neo’s Mercedes parked there.

He was not the type of man to let someone else set terms. Besides, no matter what she thought, he was convinced she needed to upgrade her house’s security.

She was less than halfway down the stairs when the doorbell rang. Impatient and quick, Neo didn’t linger on the doorstop dithering about whether or not to bother her so early in the morning as she would have done. She didn’t even consider trying to ignore the bell, or the man ringing it.

Neo would not be deterred by a mere refusal to answer the door. Besides, as much as she hated confrontation, she did not hide from it when necessary. And it was necessary to make Neo understand she wasn’t transforming her home on his whim.

All words along that vein and any others dried up when she swung the door wide to be confronted by the man in person. He was so darn gorgeous in today’s business suit, each dark hair perfectly in place, his green gaze locked on her with laserlike intensity.

She went hot all over and stopped breathing. For just a few seconds, but it was enough to remind her how out of control she felt in his presence.

Why did he affect her this way?

It was like the anxiety she felt at being in a crowd of strangers, only not. Because as unsettling as this feeling was, she liked it. She liked him.

Even when he was trying to boss her around.

He’d opened his mouth to speak, but shut it when he saw her. “What are you wearing?” he demanded after several seconds of silence.

Not sure what had him so confused, she looked down at herself. Yes, she had remembered to don her robe. The teal blue silk covered her from neck to ankle in more than adequate modesty. Her feet were bare, but she was in her own home, surely that wasn’t a crime?

She lifted her head and met his bright blue gaze, which was fixed on her with far too much intensity for this early in the morning.

“It’s not polite to stare.” Especially when the look felt so much like a physical touch. It just wasn’t right. “I haven’t even had my morning caffeine yet,” she grumbled.

He seemed less than impressed. “I have been up for two hours.”

“Good for you.” So, he’d gotten up at five-thirty? What a masochist. “Only, normal people wait to visit others, especially when they neglect to call ahead, until after eight, sometimes even nine.”

His brow quirked in that sexy way he had. “We have already established I am no average man.”

“Being extraordinary in no way gives you leave to be rude.” But she had to admit that this man would probably get away with a lot more than she would allow anyone else in her life.

And that did not bode well for the outcome of the discussion coming.

“This from the woman who hung up on me yesterday.”

“I said goodbye.”

“You refused to discuss Cole’s proposal in any way resembling a rational manner.”

“Maybe I’m not rational, but then I live alone with no personal obligation to anyone. I can insist on keeping my home as it is for no other reason than because I want to.”

“Are you going to offer me coffee?” It was a clear tactic to change the subject, but she was not fooled.

Neo wasn’t convinced. Not by a long shot. The man didn’t know what it meant to give up. His nature wouldn’t allow it.

Foreboding skittered along her nerves as she spun on her heel without a word. He could follow her to the kitchen, or not. His choice.

He followed. The sound of his confident tread behind her further emphasized her certainty that he expected to get his way.

She poured two mugs of coffee from the pot that she had set up on the timer the night before. “Cream or sugar?” she asked.

“No.”

She handed him his mug and then doctored her own with a liberal dollop of half-and-half and two teaspoons of sugar.

He was frowning at her when she looked up.

“What? I have no need to prove my masculinity by drinking black coffee.”

“That is good, since you are entirely feminine.” His frown deepened. “Do you often answer the door wearing nothing but a silky robe that clings to your every curve?”

She stared at him in shock for a full minute before gathering her thoughts enough to answer. “One, I am wearing pajamas under my robe.”

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