They’d been in the shelter for six hours. The time was really stretching now, and so was the tension brewing between them. She could feel it with every breath. And what made it worse was that she knew he felt it too.
She didn’t know much about leukaemia other than that survival rates had improved dramatically in recent years. How old was he? Thirty-four? When he’d had it, the survival rates had been dire. The battle would have been immense. She kept imagining the small child he’d been and the desperate worry of his parents. She wanted to travel back to the past and hug that small child.
It explained so much about him.
For the first time, she tried to think from his point of view. There he was, pouring all his energy into buying the firm his adored adopted father had founded, having to do it amidst the highest secrecy, when he’d learned a sum of money had gone missing on a senior executive’s watch. He hardly knew this employee. The sum was significant by any normal person’s standards, but to a billionaire it wasn’t significant enough to warrant an immediate investigation, not when priorities lay elsewhere.
Twirling a curl absently around her finger, Emily sighed. However much she might disagree with his methods, she understood the reasons.
If only she wasn’t so aware of him. Her attention might be firmly fixed on what was going on outside but still she sensed every move he made.
He was back on the sofa, his nose buried in his book.
Even if there had been a book in English she wouldn’t have been able to concentrate. There was too much energy racing through her veins. More than that, she was too consumed with him to concentrate properly on anything.
She heard every page he turned. She knew every time he ran his fingers through his hair. She knew when he stretched his long legs out.
After another hour of silence had passed, during which the storm hadn’t abated at all, she heard him close his book.
‘I need to get some sleep,’ he said. ‘You can have the bed. I’ll take the sofa.’
‘Don’t worry about it—I’m a night owl. You take the bed. I’m happy watching the storm.’ Before he could open his mouth to argue, she turned her head and threw him a wry smile. ‘I’m half your size and probably need half the sleep you do. It’s more logical for me to take the sofa.’
Pascha wanted to argue with her but, studying Emily’s expression, he could see she didn’t look remotely tired.
He wasn’t tired either.
His body clock, usually so good at regulating his sleeping patterns, appeared to have gone on strike.
But he had to sleep—at least had to try to—even if Emily was sitting mere feet away from him.
‘If the sofa is too uncomfortable, feel free to join me in the bed,’ he said in as casual a tone as he could muster. ‘You have nothing to fear from me.’
His veins thickened anew at the thought of her climbing in beside him, her sweet scent inches from him, close enough for him to reach a hand out, touch her skin and discover for himself if it was as silky as it seemed. Close enough to discover for himself exactly what her glorious hair smelled like.
With iron will, he forced the torrent of desire away.
‘I know.’ She turned her face back to the window before he could read what was written on it.
After brushing his teeth, he poured himself a glass of water and padded around the shelter turning off all the lights bar the small lamp near where Emily sat curled like a cat.
Her concentration was firmly focussed on the storm outside, yet he could feel her awareness of him as keenly as he felt his own awareness of her.
Did she realise she’d been twirling that same curl round her finger for the past hour?
He stripped to his boxers and slid under the covers. Usually he slept nude but tonight he felt it more appropriate to wear something. He didn’t want her feeling uncomfortable with him. ‘Goodnight, Emily.’
She didn’t look at him. ‘Night.’
His eyes wouldn’t close. Try as he might, he couldn’t stop his mind drifting into what would happen if she did join him in the bed. He didn’t think he’d ever felt the blood running through his veins so keenly, a thick desire that, if he’d been alone, he’d be able to do something about. If he’d been with any other woman, he’d have been able to do something about it too. Since making his fortune, he’d never been rebuffed by a woman. But he’d never felt a woman’s disinterest in his money as keenly as he did with Emily. His wealth meant nothing to her.
She was only here on Aliana Island with him, in a storm shelter, out of sufferance.
No, he corrected himself. She was here out of love. Love for her father.