The Billionaire's Seduction(7)

By: Kristi Avalon


“Say nothing incriminating,” he hissed under his breath. “Don’t make this harder than it already is for you.”

She blinked. Okay, sold on not making my life harder, she thought.

“I’m here to question you, but I’m not the bad guy,” he said, his expression insistent. “My name is Liam Soren. I can help you.”

Wait.

Was this complete stranger actually on her side?





CHAPTER TWO



At least someone was on her side, Sophia thought, a little bitter Todd hadn’t rushed to offer help, calling the office to learn what had happened. If he had learned what had taken place in the last half hour, would he fly in that night? He hadn’t even touched base to tell her how things were going with his estranged family. Or his mother.

Then she pictured leaving this room, just to find her phone devoid of voice mails or text messages from the person who was supposed to have her back. She felt a little bleak, thinking the only man she could count was the stranger who sat across from her.

She reconsidered demanding a lawyer, or some kind of legal representation. Knowing Mr. Atlas, this all would stop if she insisted the law interfere on her behalf. Still, she knew the best way to clear herself was to stay here and answer questions.

Because she’d done nothing wrong.

“Sophia.”

Her attention snapped back to her interrogator. For the first time, she noticed him as a man, not as just an investigator.

Up close he was alarmingly handsome. His fine, charcoal-gray silk suit, perfectly tailored to fit his long limbs and broad chest, reflected wealth and status. The way he carried himself radiated pure confidence.

Was this his actual job? Or did he hold a much higher position than that of an interrogator? He had to, dressed as he was. Except, his hair gave her pause along that train of thought.

The high ranking businessmen she knew spent as much time at barbershops as some women did in a salon, clipped and trimmed to regal perfection. This man wore his hair a little too long, the dark blond length reaching just past his collar but stopping before it reached his shoulders, the strands streaked with natural gold highlights from the sun. The front pieces framed his striking cheekbones, and the rest of the length softening the chiseled square of his jaw, dusted with day-old beard growth. He was sheik, but in a laid-back beachy sort of way. Like a country boy who’d made it big in the city. The type who despised sitting behind a desk for long. She wasn’t sure how to interpret the unusual combinations that made up him.

When he cleared his throat, the movement brought her attention there. The top button of his navy dress shirt was casually undone, laying open to reveal a lean column of tanned muscle.

As she pulled up her gaze to meet his again, she found him watching at her patiently, as if waiting for her to finish her assessment.

Those tropical eyes threw a rush of heat over her. Not what she should be focused on, given the tenseness of the situation.

“Sophia Melano,” he began with the somber voice of a judge.

“Yes?” She steadied the trembling in her lips.

“Do you like working here?” His tone had softened a touch.

“Absolutely,” she said without hesitation. “I couldn’t have found a better casino to work for, and Mr. Atlas has been a great boss. He’s given me so many opportunities to prove myself. And I have. I think I have. I hope I have.”

He arched a warning eyebrow over a squint. The effect came across as cautionary. Had she said something questionable? Something an examiner could pick apart for deeper meaning? Ah, she’d hesitated, doubted herself, by using words like “think” and “hope.”

Okay, she was getting the hang of this interrogation thing.

Thanks to his cues.

Relaxing deeper into the chair across from her, he let his wrists drape casually over the chair arms, then he crossed an ankle over his knee. He wore a pair of cracked leather cowboy boots, well broken in—the choice of footwear at odds with the rest of his sleek polish. But they did go with the hair. She kind of liked the nontraditional elements of his style. They made him more likeable, approachable. Less like a nerve-wracking inquisitor, more like a regular guy she could go have a beer with.

Or was his relatability something he used as a tactic, to get the object of his inquisition to trust him, feel at ease? Reveal things she wouldn’t otherwise share?

He was still too mysterious to trust completely. To trust at all?

Then she noticed a smile lingering at the corners of his lips, almost imperceptible. It wasn’t snarky, or cruel, or condescending. It was…encouraging. Like he approved of her observation about his boots, and the rest of him. As if he was silently applauding her for noticing he didn’t fit into a mold.