‘I didn’t mean—’ To mentally undress you.
‘To issue a challenge?’
She opened her mouth to protest but before she could offer a hasty placatory reply he added, ‘Or cast a slur on my masculinity…’ There was something mingled with the sardonic amusement that sent a shivery surge of sensation along her nerve endings. In her eagerness to deny the suggestion Nell almost fell off her perch as she shook her head vigorously in horrified denial.
His sharp warning echoed the voice in her own head, though the voice in her head was not so worried about falling off the ladder as the knot of excitement pulsing low in her belly!
Good God, Nell, get a grip, girl! This is what happens when you don’t have a life. You step outside your comfort zone and the first OK male you see makes your hormones go haywire.
Nell’s darting eyes connected for a split second with the dark gleaming gaze of the man below and a small sigh of alarm left her lips as adrenaline and desire surged through her. She drew back, her brows knitting in consternation as she shuffled her bottom back along the top step until she could feel the spines of the books dig into her back.
All right, better than OK.
She took a couple of calming deep breaths and injected a note of amusement into her voice as she leaned forward, her hair swinging like a bell around her face.
‘Truth told, I’m more interested in finding Lucy than exploring your male insecurities.’
‘Don’t worry, I’m not that insecure.’
That was the problem, she thought.
‘Are you planning on coming down from there any time soon?’
In response to the question Nell gave a small shriek, drawn from her lips as her foot slipped. ‘Oops,’ she said as she grabbed at the rail to steady herself.
Below her she heard him growl something in husky Spanish that didn’t sound polite—not polite but very sexy. She made the rest of her descent more carefully until three steps from the ground a pair of big hands spanned her waist.
‘What do you think you’re doing?’ Set safely on the floor, she spun around pink-cheeked and indignant.
‘Preventing a potential accident.’
The cool explanation drew a derisive snort from Nell, or it would have if her choppy breathing had allowed anything but a faint sigh to emerge from her parted lips.
‘You shouldn’t climb ladders, Miss Frost, if you have no head for heights.’
Very conscious that his hands were still resting lightly on her waist, Nell lifted her chin and brushed a shiny skein of hair from her face.
To her intense relief Luiz’s hands fell away, but he was still standing close enough for her to feel the heat from his lean body.
‘Actually I have no problem with heights.’ Tall Spaniards with fallen angel faces were another matter.
She struggled to tear her eyes from the sternly sensual outline of his wide mobile mouth and cleared her throat as she recalled his kiss.
‘It’s these shoes.’ She glanced down at her sensible shoes and Luiz followed the direction of her gaze. ‘The soles have no grip.’
More of a grip than she had, she reflected with a small grimace of self-disgust. It was a struggle to keep focused and concentrate. Her mind kept drifting off on dangerous tangents.
And you’re not the sort of girl who has sexual fantasies, she reminded herself as she felt his steadying hand on her arm.
‘You have very small feet.’ Luiz’s glance lifted, the distracted expression she saw in his eyes vanishing as he scanned her face and added in an accusing manner, ‘Are you all right?’
She kept her eyes trained on the floor and lied through her teeth. ‘Fine.’ So the man was sexy—it wasn’t as if she had some sort of uncontrollable sex drive.
Luiz watched as a warm tide of colour rose up her slender neck until her face was aglow with colour. Moments earlier she had been deadly pale. ‘You don’t look fine.’
Her chin came up, though she continued to dodge his gaze, studying a point over his left shoulder.
‘I can’t help the way I look.’
And he, Luiz realised with a sense of shock, could not help liking the ways she looked—a lot. He had not wanted more than sex from a woman in a long time, to do so now with a woman he barely knew felt like a betrayal to Rosa’s memory. Not that there could be a comparison with his feelings now. Rosa had known him inside out and he her, they had grown up together and their bond had grown and blossomed.
‘Well, are you ready?’
Nell responded to the grouchy enquiry with a robust reminder that she was the one who had been waiting.
THE big off-roader, unlike the car Nell had arrived in, was equipped with air-conditioning. She got in and Luiz immediately irritated her by telling her to fasten her seat belt as though, she reflected crankily, she were an imbecile or a small child.