She whirled around, her hands thrown into the air. “How can I trust you when there’s no emotion?”

“It didn’t seem to get in your way last night. And this morning.” She trusted him enough to shatter in his arms, crying his name as he shuddered inside her.

She flushed. “Yes, the sex is great. I admit it. But sex is a, what did you call it? ‘Chemical reaction caused by hormones and preprogrammed neurological responses’?” She quoted his words from the taqueria back at him. “When there’s no lo—caring,” she corrected herself, “there can’t be trust.”

“People trust each other every day without being emotionally involved,” he pointed out with perfect logic. “Trust is what allows society to function. If we didn’t trust firemen to show up when called or banks to hold our money—”

“Or Nestor to hold up his end of the deal?” Her direct stare challenged him.

“Yes,” he agreed. “Or business deals.”

“And there’s the rub. I don’t trust Nestor or Irene either.”

He shook his head. “There’s a difference between blind trust and expecting someone to hold up their end of the deal—”

“Which you can’t trust Nestor and Irene to do, because they don’t care about you. They want something from you instead.”

On the contrary, they did care. About winning. About getting the upper hand in the game of one-upmanship their families had played for decades.

He was still furious with Irene for telling his parents about his marriage. That was underhanded, even for her. His parents always looked down on his efforts to be his own man, build his own legacy. It was the twenty-first century, but they held Victorian notions that working for a living would degrade their social position. They would have been the first to urge him to take the offered money and give up his company, even to Nestor, if it meant he would join them in spending the family trust jetting from golf course to ski slope.

Irene knew that. Siccing his parents on him while wrestling control of his company was just an added bonus for her. “That’s not precisely true—”

“You know what I think?” Her words tumbled out quickly, as if a dam holding back a swollen river had finally burst. “You don’t want to believe in caring—in love—because it would mean giving up control. And you can’t stand not being in control. You want to corral the entire world, turn it into nice neat equations. But the world doesn’t work that way.”

What? No. He didn’t believe in love because it wasn’t real. Oxytocin and other hormones tricked the brain into attachment, and smart humans learned how to manipulate that to get what they wanted. Trust, on the other hand, was a cerebral choice, born of rationality and logic. It was the most powerful covenant possible between two people.

And he trusted her. Not just with the deal, but with his real self. The self who bought his own computer by gambling online while still in middle school. The man who no longer needed his parents’ approval but wouldn’t mind having it, on his terms.

She’d learn to place her trust in him. They still had time before their prenup came to its conclusion. And he was confident they could make an even more advantageous deal when this agreement came to its end.

The sun outside the windows started its descent, casting a golden glow over the room. It lit her curls, turning them into a halo that framed her heart-shaped face. Hazy rays outlined the curves of her hips and waist, reminding him how well he knew her unique geography but still had more to explore. His gaze dropped to her lips, pursed into an eminently kissable shape. Her cheeks were rosy, her gaze dark and wide.

His groin tightened. He and Danica may disagree on emotion, but when it came to physical activities, they came together. Many times. Each explosion more mind-shattering than the last.

“I thought you liked my control,” he said, moving toward her until only inches separated them. He brushed a loose curl off her cheek, allowing his fingers to linger on the soft smoothness of her skin. “A lot,” he breathed into her ear.

She blinked. Her crossed arms relaxed, her body tilting toward his. Several emotions, few of which he could identify, came and went on her face. She settled on a half smile, her closed lips softly curving. “You’re trying to change the subject.”


Tags: Susannah Erwin Billionaire Romance
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