be lost. He would remember who he was kissing. Instead she focused her energy on making it last as long as she could.

When his lips left hers and stuttered across her jaw and to her neck, she moaned, unable to remain silent. She shivered and quaked, her senses awakening after a long winter.

Never had she felt anything like his lips, whisper soft, across the delicate skin beneath her ear.

Her knees buckled, and she clutched frantically at him. Suddenly his mouth left her, and he cursed. She closed her eyes, knowing the moment was over.

He yanked her away, his hands tight around her arms. His eyes blazed, equal parts anger, self-condemnation and…hunger. She stared helplessly back at him, unable to say anything.

He cursed again in Greek and then shook his head before shoving her out of the elevator. He ushered her to the door where he jammed the card into the lock.

He held the door open with one hand, and she slowly entered. When she turned around to say something, he was already letting the door close. Before it clicked shut, she heard his footsteps hurrying away.

Turning until her back rested against the door, she closed her eyes and hugged her body as she relived those precious moments in Theron’s arms.

Their passion had been immediate. The chemistry between them was positively combustible. The last unknown was unveiled. In every other aspect, Theron had proved himself to be her perfect match. All she hadn’t known is if they were sexually compatible, not that she’d harbored any doubts, and now in the space of a few heated moments in the elevator, the last piece had fallen neatly into place.

Now all she had to do was make him see it.

Five

T heron pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers and cursed long and hard. His head felt like someone had taken a hammer to it, he was tired, and he hadn’t slept more than an hour the entire night.

Madeline kept staring at him throughout the morning as though he’d lost his mind, and maybe he had. He’d forgotten two meetings and had waved off three phone calls, one of which was from his brother Piers.

All that occupied his thoughts was a dark-haired minx with sultry green eyes. Theos mou, but he couldn’t forget her kiss, the feel of her mouth on his, her body molded to his as though she were made for him.

He was her guardian. He was responsible for her well-being, and yet he’d damn near hauled her into the bedroom of her suite and made love to her. His body still ached to do just that.

He shook his head for what seemed like the hundredth time since he’d gotten to his office this morning. No matter what he did, though, he couldn’t rid himself of her image. Her scent. She was destined to drive him crazy.

Impatient and more than a little agitated, he slapped the intercom. Madeline’s calm voice filtered through as she asked what he needed.

“Do you have that list drawn up for me yet?”

“Which list would that be?”

“The list of eligible men I asked for. The men I intend to introduce Bella to.”

“Ah, that one. Yes, I have it.”

“Bring it in then,” he demanded.

A few moments later, Madeline walked through his door holding a piece of paper.

He motioned for her to sit down in front of his desk. “Read them off to me,” he said as he leaned back in his chair.

“Did you sleep at all last night?” Madeline asked, her eyes narrowing perceptively.

He grunted and closed his eyes as he waited for her to give up and do as he asked.

“Reginald Hollister.”

Theron shook his head immediately. “He’s an immature little twerp. Spoiled endlessly by his parents. Bella needs someone…more independent.”

Madeline made a show of scratching him off. “Okay then, what about Charles McFadden?”

Theron scowled. “There’s rumor that he abused his first wife.”

“Bradley Covington?”

“He’s an ass,” Theron said.

Madeline sighed and quickly crossed him off.

“Tad Whitley.”

“Not wealthy enough.”

“Garth Moser?”

“I don’t like him.”

“Paul Hedgeworth.”

Theron frowned as he tried to think of a reason why he shouldn’t consider Paul.

“Aha,” Madeline said when nothing was forthcoming. She drew a large circle around his name. “Shall I invite him to your cocktail party Thursday night?”

“He’s too handsome and charming,” Theron muttered.

Madeline smiled. “Good, then Isabella should be well pleased.”

She glanced down her list then looked back up at Theron. “I think we should include Marcus Atwater and Colby Danforth, as well. They’re both single, very good-looking and aren’t currently in a relationship.”

Theron waved his hand in a gesture of surrender. This was probably best left to Madeline anyway. She’d know better what Isabella would like than he would.

They were interrupted when the door burst open and Isabella hurried in, a bright smile on her face.

“Sorry to just barge in,” she said in an out-of-breath voice. “I didn’t see Madeline…oh, there you are,” she said when she caught sight of his secretary.

Madeline rose and smiled in Isabella’s direction. “Quite all right, my dear. I was just on my way out. I’m sure Mr. Anetakis has time for you. He appears to have canceled all his morning meetings.”

He scowled at Madeline, not that she seemed particularly intimidated. She patted Isabella on the arm as she passed and then she turned as she reached the door. “I’ll hold your calls and take messages.”

“That won’t be—”

But Madeline was gone, and he was left with Isabella. His gaze drifted over her to see that she was wearing shorts. Really short shorts that bared her long, tan legs.

A dainty ankle bracelet hung loosely at her foot. She wore sandals that showed off bright pink toenails. As his gaze drifted upward again, he saw that the T-shirt she wore was cut off so as to bare her midriff, and the belly ring she wore, and it molded to her breasts like she was planning to enter a wet T-shirt contest.

He wasn’t going to survive this.

He cleared his throat and gestured toward the seat that Madeline had vacated. “I’m glad you’re here, Bella. We need to talk.”

She turned for a moment, and he caught a glimpse of the tattoo on her back. It sparkled almost. It was either a fairy or a butterfly. He couldn’t tell and it was making him nuts. He wanted to go over and shove her shorts down so that he could see it.

A tattoo. He caught himself just short of shaking his head again. What had she been thinking? If she was his, she would have never done something so foolish. There was no reason to take such a risk with her body.

Theos, now he was sitting here considering what he would and wouldn’t allow her to do if she was his. She wasn’t his. Would never be his. He mustn’t even entertain such a thought.

She settled into the seat in front of him which put her breasts right in his line of vision. He certainly couldn’t accuse her of baring too much cleavage. The shirt covered her very well, but the shirt clung to the globes, outlining every curve and swell. It was far more enticing than the lowest cut neckline.

“What did you want to talk about?” she asked.

By now he was hanging onto his temper and control by a thread. And yet she stared calmly at him as though they were about to discuss the weather. He wanted to beat his head on the desk.

He rubbed his hand tiredly over his face and then focused his attention on the matter at hand.

“About last night…” he began.

She held up her hand, startling him into silence.

“Don’t ruin it, Theron,” she said huskily.

He blinked in surprise. “Ruin what?”

“The kiss. Don’t ruin it by apologizing.”

“It shouldn’t have happened,” he said tightly.

She sighed. “You’re ruining it. I

asked you not to.”

He stared at her open-mouthed. How the hell was he supposed to hand her the lecture he’d carefully planned when she looked positively disgruntled over the fact that he’d brought it up?

“If you positively must regret it, I’d appreciate it if you did so quietly,” she said before he could offer anything further. “You’re allowed to forget it ever happened, you’re allowed to regret it, you’re allowed to swear on all that’s holy that it’ll never happen again. Just don’t expect me to do the same, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t patronize me by making light of it. As kisses go, I thought it was damn near perfect. You saying differently doesn’t make it any less in my mind.”

He was speechless. A first for him. He who always had something to say. He was the diplomat in the family, always the level-headed one, and yet he’d been reduced to a mindless, gaping idiot by this infuriating woman.

She crossed one leg over the other and pressed her hands together in her lap. “Now, if that’s all you had on your mind, I thought we could finalize the arrangements for the apartment and plan our shopping trip? I arranged for the papers I need to sign for the apartment to be faxed here since I was sure you’d want to look over everything first.”

That was it? She could so easily shove what happened the night before out of her mind when he’d been consumed the entire morning? The memory didn’t just consume him, it tortured him endlessly.

Even now he looked at her lips and remembered the lush fullness against his mouth. He could remember her taste and scent. The throb in his groin intensified as he imagined how she’d look, spread naked on the bed as he moved over her.

He cursed again and ripped his mind to present matters.

“Check with Madeline and see if she has the agreement. I’ll have my lawyer look it over if you like. As for shopping, Madeline will know my appointments for the week. Stop on your way out and have her schedule a few hours for us to pick out your furniture.”

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