“Is that what you call it? An experiment?” she asked crisply.

“I could come up with a more accurate description, but I’m not sure you’d like it.”

She laughed softly, glancing around when Victor set a glass of claret on the bar in front of her, along with some ice water. She thanked Victor and took a sip of wine, glancing sideways at Kam as she set down her glass. “I hope you don’t mind Ian suggesting that we meet. Work together.”

His gaze dropped slowly over her face, neck, and lower. “Now that I see you, I’m kind of warming up to the idea.”

She chuckled and shook her head, trying to shake off the spell again. Flirtation, she was used to. But who would have thought the alleged “wild man” of the French forest’s subtle sexual advances would be so appealing? Who would have thought she’d respond to him on such a basic level? The way Francesca and Ian had described Kam, she thought he’d be some kind of brilliant social misfit. True, he was raw and primal, but he was hardly illiterate.

And those eyes packed a precise, powerful sexual wallop.

Of course there had never been any doubt that Kam was a genius. What he’d pulled off in that makeshift, underground lab in northern France was nothing short of revolutionary. The question at hand was whether Kam would do middling well with his brilliant invention or sow the seeds to create an empire. Ian believed he had the potential to do the latter. Ian’s concern was that Kam would alienate every potential opportunity for capital and expansion on his climb up the ladder.

“Ian explained to me that you were doubtful about the idea of selling your biofeedback timepiece to the luxury watch industry. He thought I might be of some help in . . .”

“Making this whole ridiculous thing more palatable?” he murmured when she hesitated. She’d been trying to carefully choose her words. The truth was, Ian had taken her into his confidence, explaining that he hoped Lin could alleviate his brother’s doubts about the advisability of selling his revolutionary medical timepiece to the high-end watch industry. Kam had already sold his patent to one of the pharmaceutical giants for millions of dollars, the contract calling for an exclusivity clause that prevented him from selling to other pharmaceutical companies. But there was no prohibition from selling to unrelated industries. Ian thought that one of the sophisticated, groundbreaking mechanisms Kam had invented—a biofeedback timepiece that could do everything from tell time, to send warnings for an impending heart attack, to signaling to a woman when she was likely ovulating—would also be a smash hit in the luxury watch business. Lin and Lucien happened to agree. It would give him the cash he needed to begin a groundbreaking company at some future date. The problem was Kam’s condescending attitude about the industry.

To say the least.

Pair Kam’s scorn about cutting a deal with one of the luxury watch companies along with his rough manners, and it was a recipe for a business disaster. Thus the reason Ian had called in Lin to smooth over Kam’s jagged edges and present him in the best light possible to the interested buyers gathering in Chicago for a series of business dinners, presentations, and meetings.

Problem was, according to Ian, Kam would likely be insulted if he knew Ian had sent Lin to polish up a man who had once been considered an intimidating vagrant.

“Why do you find the idea of selling your invention to a high-end watch company ridiculous?” she asked.

“Look at me. I’m not interested in that world. I don’t cater to fashion or rich bastards,” he responded coldly, holding her stare. “It’s a waste. At least in my dealings with the pharmaceutical companies, I shared the commonality of science. Medicine.”

She considered him somberly before she responded.

“It makes sense. You hold degrees in both biology and engineering as well as a medical degree from the Imperial College London. You received a highly esteemed scholarship to attend medical school there. I can understand how the world of luxury fashion might seem beneath your scholarly interests, but—”

She paused when he gave a harsh bark of laughter. “I’m no academic, either. I never finished my residency, and I don’t have a license to practice. I’m not being highbrow by saying I don’t want to work with the fashion industry.” He took a swig of his beer and set the glass back on the counter with a thud. “I just think the whole business is a waste of time, no pun intended. No offense intended, either,” he tagged on sheepishly with a flashing glance in her direction.

“None taken,” Lin replied evenly. “Of course you have to feel comfortable with such a large business venture. I think you might be underestimating the business savvy and brilliance of some of the leaders of these companies. Watchmaking is an ancient art that has also been a forerunner in miraculous advances in technology.”

“There isn’t a damn thing those suits can teach me about watchmaking.”

She absorbed his disdainful yet supremely confident manner. From what she’d learned from Ian, Kam wasn’t bluffing. When it came to both mechanical devices and the biological rhythms of the human body, Kam Reardon was a veritable da Vinci.

“This could be a very lucrative venture for you,” she reasoned.

He gave her a gleaming sideways glance, his eyes going warm as they wandered over her face. “How lucrative?”

“A hundred, possibly two hundred times more than the deal you cut with the pharmaceutical company for your device. Ian believes your invention deserves all the acknowledgment it can get. He wants you to have as much security as possible. This sale could give you even more working capital, a solid base for a future company.”

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