Page 20 of The Secret Father

Throat dry and her body racked with weak longing, she shook her head defiantly.

‘Well, if it’s any comfort, I feel as if I’m exactly where you verbally confined me. To be frank…’

‘I’m not sure I can take frank,’ she admitted quickly. Why on earth couldn’t this man avoid delicate subjects and fudge the issue like anyone normal? It was her own response to the whole question of sex being reopened that she wanted to avoid. Painful though this frustration was, she at least had her self-respect and pride. That was very important to Lindy; she’d lost both once and had vowed never to be in that situation again.

‘I’m not sure I can take much more of this situation,’ he said abruptly. The raw quality that throbbed in his deep voice made her fingers curl into tight fists. ‘I don’t know what it is about you.’ He frowned deeply as he examined her upturned features, as if fascinated by the pale purity of her delicate bone structure. She saw the muscles in his brown neck ripple as he swallowed hard.

‘As I’m not your type…’

‘I don’t have a type,’ he said impatiently.

‘You said…’ she persisted huffily.

‘I talk garbage.’

She was going to remember he’d said that, but right now the urgency in his voice was holding her complete attention.

‘Will you just listen for a second? Sexual attraction isn’t something you can analyse, but whatever the formula is—we have it,’ he said bluntly.

‘You take an awful lot for granted.’ It would have been much easier to sound scathing if she could have believed this was all an act, one he’d used before, but there was nothing polished about his delivery. It looked suspiciously as if he really was finding the situation as hard as she was.

‘I’m expending a hell of a lot of energy keeping you at arm’s length. I don’t think it’s one of my better ideas. I think my original plan is counter-productive.’

‘Refresh my memory. Is this the one where we don’t have sex?’

‘Not one of my more realistic ideas.’

Lindy gaped at him. He really was unbelievably arrogant. ‘It worked for me.’

He regarded her with an amused expression of affection in his hot, midsummer-blue eyes. ‘Are you trying to tell me you don’t find me attractive?’

‘It must be your modesty that turned my head.’ There was soul-stealing devilment in his eyes and she sensed her struggle to resist was doomed.

‘Cut it out, Rosalind, I’m trying to be straight with you. I’ve never confused genuine emotion with the sort of fixations some women get about men who have high-profile jobs. I know what I do cuts no ice with you—and I like that.’

‘You do?’ Better to be a fraud, she decided, than admit to him how often she’d walked away from one of his movies happily fantasising like most of the female audience.

‘Of course I do.’ He suddenly let go of her and rubbed his fingers distractedly through his dark hair. ‘I’m not suggesting we leap into bed.’

Lindy swayed slightly. She’d wanted him to let her go yet now he had she felt oddly bereft. ‘You’re not?’ She’d been under the impression that that was exactly what he’d been suggesting. Her delinquent mind had already examined several ways he might achieve this object. ‘Why not? What’s wrong with me?’ Her hands went up to cover her mouth. ‘I don’t believe I said that!’

Sam’s eyes sparkled with laughter and some of the tension seemed to drain from his body. ‘Quite a lot, but nothing terminal,’ he soothed. ‘I thought we might get to know one another.’

‘Fine,’ she said tightly.

I’m ready to take a leap blindly into the dark and he wants to talk sport, hobbies and politics! she thought. It was mortifying to realise that she’d been his for the taking but he hadn’t bothered. This puts things painfully in perspective, she thought bitterly.

‘You want me now.’ His heavily lashed eyes were watching her closely. ‘Because you want the decision taken out of your hands.’

She shot him a startled look. ‘That’s not…’ she began in a choked voice, wishing she didn’t have to listen to the voice of caution in her head, but could allow the strong sexual chemistry to drown out her fears. His observation had a painful element of truth in it.

‘You were saying?’ he drawled slowly as the denial shrivelled on her tongue. ‘In the morning you’d be able to decide, quite comfortably, that this was all some momentary aberration. That I’d taken advantage of you at a vulnerable moment. After all, I’m a shallow, film-star stud. Isn’t that what we do?’ he drawled sarcastically.