Her thumb found its way to her mouth and she nibbled on the soft pad.
This was the behaviour of a callous mercenary? Really? No, of course it wasn’t—she must be missing something. He had to have an agenda. Other than his ridiculous chest-thumping caveman routine, that was.
Problem was, when he fixated on the way she sucked her thumb, with wicked heat smouldering in his dark eyes, she couldn’t think what day it was—never mind decipher his ulterior motives.
Maybe he wants you for you. Maybe your father was wrong about him. Maybe his reputation isn’t as bad as it seems.
Luciana shook her head vehemently. No. That would mean she’d run when she shouldn’t have. Made a mistake. And she refused to believe that. After all, proof of his pitiless, ruthless nature wasn’t hard to descry, was it? Look where she was, for heaven’s sake—atop the highest asphalted runway in Europe, about to be manhandled onto a plane!
On the verge of a panic attack, or at the very least an undignified fainting spell, she yanked at the door handle and—yes!—it gave way under the pressure of her grip and she flung it wide.
A second later she launched herself from the car, almost breaking her neck as her heels hit a dusty sheet of new-fallen snow and she slipped…swayed…then skidded to a stop.
Adrenaline spiked her pulse and she glanced left and right, back and forth, wildly searching for a way out. Even as her legs turned to lead at the very thought.
Stupid legs. Stupid heart.
Inhaling swift and deep, she slowly refocused her vision on the mountainous white peaks looming from all angles. Dangerous. Breathtaking. Much like the man who now strode around the back of the limousine, moving towards her with a warrior’s effortless grace. And yet she felt every step like a seismic rumble.
Instinctively she staggered backwards and pushed out her hand in a stop sign. ‘Don’t come any closer!’
Snow drizzled from the sky in fat, puffy white flakes and swirled around his tall, commanding body in eddies and whirls as if drawn to his magnetism. The braver ones dared to touch, settle on his ebony hair, kiss his broad shoulders, tease the lapels of his jacket—only to be annihilated in an instant by his unfathomable heat.
‘Luciana. Don’t fight me,’ he cajoled, in that sinful voice that made her shudder.
Translation—Roll over and take it. Be a good girl and do as you’re told.
His hands fisted before he stretched the kinks from his fingers and lifted them to spear into his hair; brushing the damp glossy strands back from his forehead, bringing his face into sharp relief.
Her insides panged on a swift stab of anguish. Natanael… The resemblance was spooky. Surreal. Bittersweet and oddly wonderful at the same time.
Arms plunging to his sides, he tipped his head and gave her a crooked smile. ‘We need to leave. Come with me.’
Fighting the sting at the back of her eyes, she wrapped her arms around herself, hugging her body. ‘No. I can’t go with you, Thane. I’m sorry. And I can’t marry you. I have to take my throne in two months. I have responsibilities of my own.’
But more than that—much more—I have a son at home: one you can never find, because I’m frightened of what will become of him. I have to protect him. You keep confusing me and I can’t trust my instincts with you.
Fact was, she had no idea who this man truly was.
So find out, Luce. Go with him. Find out.
It was a risk she couldn’t possibly take. Something told her that if she left with him she’d never return home. Thane would never let her go. His formidable dominance would wrap her up tighter than any other person ever could. Including her father. Loath as she was to admit it, at least if she married Augustus Nate would be safe—and so would she. Her emotions would never engage with him.
All that swarthy, sexy maleness took on a blistering intensity as Thane dipped his chin and locked his fierce gaze on her.
‘That throne will not be yours if you marry that man, Luciana. You know it. And maybe your responsibilities now lie with me.’
Temper igniting inside her, she balled her fists. ‘No, they really don’t.’
He hitched one shoulder, as if to say he wasn’t going to argue about it, that she should just take his word and accept it. Talk about déjà vu. It was like standing in front of her father’s desk, listening to the latest of his twenty commandments.