‘I’d like to say I got the brains and they got the good looks, but actually they’re quite smart.’ It was a joke that had worked before; it did not now.
Luiz shook his head, exasperation and annoyance flickering in his eyes.
‘Who put it into your head that you are not attractive?’
Nell regarded him with a baffled frown. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’
‘I know you don’t—that’s what makes it so incredible.’ Before Nell had an inkling of his intention he cupped her chin in one hand, his long fingers curling around her cheek as he turned her face first in one direction and then the other.
Nell almost tipped over into open panic as she endured his searching scrutiny. The brush of his fingers on the downy skin of her cheek made her tremble and intensified the string-dragging sensation low in her pelvis.
‘You are and, with those bones, always will be a beautiful woman.’
‘Shut up!’ To ensure his growled command was obeyed he bent his head and fitted his mouth to her lips.
Nell opened her mouth and felt his tongue move against hers. She moaned into his mouth as desire, hot and thick, exploded in her veins. Her arms around his neck, she kissed him back with all the need and passion that had been locked inside her over the last weeks.
When they broke apart Luiz stayed close, his forehead resting on hers, their noses almost grazing, his breath warm on her cheek. She wanted the moment of intimacy to last for ever.
‘I do not wish to hear any more about your beautiful family. They bore me.’
NELL couldn’t help but smile to hear her family called boring. ‘I do feel beautiful now.’ She felt wild, abandoned and totally irresistible, but then that was what Luiz’s kiss could do.
The admission drew a husky laugh from Luiz as he straightened up.
Nell’s smile evaporated as he began to shrug off his jacket. She could see that some men might construe a kiss as an invitation, especially that kiss, but this was not something she could allow to happen.
‘What do you think you’re doing?’ Nell asked, feeling things shift inside her as she stared. The fabric of his pale-coloured shirt was fine, suggesting at the defined ridges of his flat belly.
Luiz smoothed down the fabric of the jacket he had draped over the back of a chair and looked unperturbed by the aggressive hostility in her manner. ‘My clothes are wet.’
Nell was aware she ought to be feeling relief that she had misread his intentions, but disturbingly that emotion was not uppermost.
It was insane, but part of her had actually wanted to stop thinking, wanted to stop being level-headed; part of her had wanted to be carried away by the blind driving passion of the moment. Part of her had wanted him to take his clothes off.
Part of her still did.
At the tone of her voice Luiz turned his head; the furrow of puzzlement vanished and he laughed.
Nell was too embarrassed that he could read her thoughts so well to notice the strained, forced quality in his laugh.
‘Relax, I won’t take anything else off. Unless you ask me to.’
Nell’s startled gaze flew to his, connected with the bold, suggestive heat in his smouldering stare. Her heart thudding, she looked away. ‘In your dreams.’
The calculated insolence of his smile guttered at her words.
His jaw clenched as his lashes came down over his glittering gaze.
‘I prefer reality to dreams.’
Luiz had become used to waking from the dreams that tormented him nightly, desire and arousal pumping through his veins, choking with the grinding, aching frustration that stayed with him all through the day, left him edgy, shorttempered and not enthused by the idea of going to sleep.
‘The weather is terrible today.’
‘Good choice—as classic safe subjects go the weather is always right up there. Though while we’re on the subject I’m not sure you’d be any drier in your flat than outside.’
Luiz had been appalled to see the condition of the one-bedroom apartment on the top floor of the building that faced a busy main road. Anything less suitable for a baby would have been difficult to find.
‘The landlord has promised to fix the roof before…’ Nell heard herself say defensively. She stopped and looked at him. ‘You have seen my flat?’ she added sharply.
‘Well, obviously I went there first.’
Her mind raced with hysterical conspiracy theories. ‘How did you know where I was living?’
‘I picked up a phone and asked someone to find out,’ he explained, his calm manner making her feel slightly foolish.
‘Delegation,’ he observed with a humourless smile, ‘is a marvellous thing. It did not require the services of the FBI. You can, of course, not stay there.’