Claimed(9)

By: Tracy Wolff


“Everything going okay with the new campaign?” Marc asked. He was the CEO of Bijoux, the guy who handled all the business stuff—governmental contracts, mining, employees, distribution. But his brother was the creative genius in the family. He handled marketing, public relations and sales. Anything that had to do with Bijoux’s public image. And he did it brilliantly, something Marc appreciated because it gave him time to concentrate on what he loved best—growing his family’s gem company into the largest socially and environmentally responsible diamond company in the business.

“It’s going great,” Nic said dismissively. “I just like to be at all the meetings to hear the ideas, see what’s going around. Get a sense of the zeitgeist, I guess you could say.”

“And they call me the control freak in the family?”

“Because you are. While I am merely conscientious.” Nic crumpled up his empty soda can and shot it toward the recycle bin in the back corner of Marc’s office. “Yeah, baby, nothing but net.”

Marc bit his tongue to keep from telling Nic that there was no net. God forbid he get another lecture on not being the “fun” brother.

Nic made his way toward the exit, then stopped at the doorway and turned back to Marc.

“Seriously, bro. Fate’s given you another chance with Isa. You should take it.”

“I don’t believe in fate. And I don’t want another chance with her.”

“You sure about that?”

“Positive.” After everything that had gone down between them? The last thing he wanted was to give Isa another shot at screwing up his business...or his heart.

Did he want to sleep with her again? Hell, yeah. What man wouldn’t? She was beautiful when she was aroused. Not to mention sexy as hell—especially when she screamed his name while she came. Being with her had been the best sex he’d ever had.

Then again, she’d always been more the type to make love than have sex. He’d loved that about her when they’d been together. Now, however, it was nothing but a pain in his ass—not to mention other, more notable parts of his anatomy. He didn’t do the whole tenderness thing anymore.

“Well, then, forget about her,” Nic told him practically. “The past is dead. You’ve both moved on. Keep it that way.”

“I intend to.”

And yet, Marc couldn’t help thinking about Isa—and about her date to the party that night. Gideon. Just the name set his teeth on edge. What kind of name was Gideon, anyway? Who the hell was he? And what the hell did he want with Isa?

An image of her standing in front of her classroom flashed through Marc’s mind. Her eyes alight with the thrill of talking about her favorite subject, her skin flushed and glowing. Her miles of red hair locked down in that ridiculous braid, her gorgeous body hidden, and yet revealed, by the tailored pants and turtleneck sweater she’d been wearing.

When he’d known her, she’d been all warm, sweet passion—for life, for gems, for him. Now she was a contradiction, a bunch of stopping-and-going that, combined, made for an even more intriguing woman. One that he couldn’t help wanting despite his anger, and her betrayal.

No, Isa hadn’t been eager to renew their acquaintance that afternoon. But he’d seen the way she looked at him, the way she swayed toward him when he touched her. Maybe getting her into bed again wouldn’t be nearly as challenging as it once had been. The thought made him smile. Because once he got her there, he would take her—over and over and over again. Every way a man could take a woman.

He’d get her out of his system once and then, finally, he’d be able to put her—and all their unfinished business—behind him once and for all.





Three

He was there. Marc. Though she hadn’t run into him yet, Isa had felt him watching her from the moment she and Gideon had walked in the door of the faculty mixer. It had always been that way with them—she couldn’t help but sense Marc whenever he was anywhere close to her.

“Can I get you a drink?” Gideon asked, his mouth inches from her ear. She knew he did it because it was hard to hear in the gallery—overlaying the soft music was the sound of a hundred voices, all vying to be heard—but still, feeling his warm breath so close to her cheek and neck unnerved her. Made her feel a little uncomfortable.

Which was stupid. Gideon was her friend and occasional movie/mixer date. It had been that way since they’d met three years before and never once had he given any indication that he wanted more. They were buddies, pals, each other’s port in a storm. So why was she suddenly feeling so awkward around him?

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