At the Brazilian's Command(9)

By: Susan Stephens

‘Of course you,’ he said.

How could she refuse when Tiago was giving her a look she couldn’t misinterpret—a look she had to act on immediately? Chico was hovering, and she had taken up quite enough of the bride’s time.

Why make a fuss? she concluded. This was a party. It was no big deal if she had one dance with Tiago Santos.

‘Seems I have to thank you again,’ she said.

‘Why?’ He was frowning.

She couldn’t speak for a moment as Tiago drew her into his arms, swamping her with many emotions, chief amongst which was an intense awareness of him. This was more than she had expected to experience in one night. He was so much more. It was hard to breathe, or to register anything beyond Tiago’s masculinity, and it took all she’d got to concentrate long enough to answer him.

‘I’m glad you teased me away from Lizzie. I guess old habits die hard. We’ve practically been welded to each other since we were children.’

‘And then Chico came along?’ he guessed.

‘That’s right,’ she admitted, smiling wryly.

‘So you and Lizzie have been friends for a long time?’

‘Yes, but I should have taken the hint faster that Chico wanted to be with his bride—so thanks for that.’

‘Is that why you were in the stables earlier, Danny? Were you wondering how your life would go forward from now on, without Lizzie to confide in?’

‘You’re too smart,’ she said. His intuition was unsettling.

‘It’s understandable,’ he argued, drawing her into his hard-muscled frame so they could dance as one. ‘You’re bound to consider how this will change things between you, and we all need quiet times to sort out our heads. Did you come to a conclusion?’

She was coming to a few conclusions now. She wished she wasn’t wearing such a provocative dress—it was giving Tiago all the wrong signals. He was making her wonder if she had come downstairs too soon.

Her body was rioting at the touch of Tiago’s hands and the warmth of his breath on her skin. Having her hand in his was electrifying. Having him direct her movements, even in this harmless dance, was equally disturbing. She had to remind herself that dance was the lifeblood of Brazil, and that it was a means of expression that very few nations could use to such good effect. Right now Tiago and dance had combined to stunning effect.

And she had to keep it up for a little while longer, Danny reasoned, if only because Lizzie was watching them with concern. One dance with the most dangerous man in the room. She could handle that. She wasn’t going to allow herself to be intimidated ever again—not by life, and not by Tiago.

They fitted together perfectly, considering Tiago was twice her size. He moved so well he made it easy for her. She found herself moving rhythmically with him in a way that was sexy, even suggestive, but it was just one dance, she reassured herself.

They were close enough to the top table for Lizzie to flash anxious glances their way, and she smiled back to confirm that everything was all right.

And it might have been had she not been moving closer and closer to Tiago. He didn’t force her to. His touch remained frustratingly light. But the music was compelling her to do this. It was intoxicating, and the pulse of South America was soon running through her veins. She could feel his muscles flexing as he teased all her senses at once. If she moved away he brought her back.

There weren’t many men who looked good dancing, but Tiago was one of them. Maybe because he was an athlete. His body was supple and strong. And he was Brazilian—dark and mysterious and sexy, with a passion he carried everywhere with him. She trembled as he dipped his head and his warm, minty breath brushed her face.

‘I didn’t know you were such a good dancer, Danny.’

‘Neither did I,’ she admitted.

His firm lips slanted in a sexy smile. ‘It must be because you’re dancing with me.’

She laughed at his engaging self-assurance.

‘You were such a tomboy in Brazil.’

‘I’m still a tomboy, Senhor Santos.’

‘Tiago, please,’ he murmured, in a husky whisper that raised every tiny hair on the back of her neck.

She couldn’t deny she was disappointed to learn that Tiago still thought of her as a tomboy. She was a woman—a woman with needs. She was a confused woman, still recovering from the shock of an attack, but sufficiently recovered to know how deeply this man affected her. And dance was the perfect outlet for her emotions. Dance was a means of expression when words wouldn’t come.

When the music faded and the band took a break she felt awkward suddenly, and glanced longingly towards the exit, where the double doors were open wide.