Russian's Ruthless Demand(10)

By: Michelle Conder

‘It’s very clever,’ she conceded reluctantly.

‘A compliment, Eleanore?’

‘Don’t take it to heart, Mr Kuznetskov.’ She didn’t like the way he said her name. It sounded too familiar on his lips. Too sexy coming from that deeply accented voice.

He smiled as if he could read her like an open book. ‘It is clever, but I need someone to turn it from a concept into a reality. Can you do it?’

Could she do it? Yes, she had no doubt she could—or at least she hoped she could. Would she give him the upper hand by revealing that? Never.

‘You might want to think about moving the restaurant so that it’s more central to the design,’ she said before she could stop herself.

His brows drew together. ‘I already thought of that but I was told it wasn’t possible due to the positioning of the kitchen.’

Eleanore stifled a yawn as her creative side warred with her need to get up and leave. ‘It is. You just have to know how to do it.’

‘And you know how.’

‘Yes, actually, I do. I was fascinated by the concept of living in an igloo as a child and incorporated ice buildings as one of my electives during my final year of study.’ She frowned at the screen. ‘The guest bedrooms are also a little...’


His straightforwardness was refreshing, she thought. Too often people tried to cover up inadequacies or mistakes with excuses. ‘Yes, that word works. These rooms are basically designed all the same. If you want to be truly innovative you need to have them themed.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean, give your guests a reason to visit other than for a night sleeping in a fridge. Which is essentially what they’re getting.’

‘This hotel will be pure luxury. Whatever guests want they’ll have.’

‘To make it pure luxury on ice you’ll need designer rooms and a warm bathroom to be attached to each one.’

‘I was told that couldn’t be done either.’

She shook her head when she realised how far she had been drawn in by him. ‘Why do I feel like I’m being manipulated?’

He smiled and it belonged to a movie star. ‘What about the atrium in the reception area? I know there’s something wrong with it but I can’t pick it.’

Eleanore knew she shouldn’t look. ‘It needs to be larger. The way it is now the spacing is all wrong and the reception desk is too close to the entrance.’

‘That’s it.’ He shot her an admiring glance. ‘I do believe you might be the genius.’

About to tell him that compliments didn’t work on her, his phone rang and he pulled it out of his pocket and glanced at the screen. ‘Excuse me, I have to take this.’

Releasing a pent-up breath, Eleanore’s eyes followed the long line of his body as he strode to the windows and looked out as he talked; legs planted wide apart, his gaze high as if he was a general surveying a battlefield he was about to conquer.

A wave of tiredness hit her like a brick wall and she yawned and rested her head back against the soft cushion behind her. She would tell him she was leaving as soon as he finished up on his call and talk to him after she’d spoken to Isabelle.

And she’d also find out the name of the company that supplied the hotel’s soft furnishings because this was possibly the most comfortable sofa she had ever sat on.

* * *

When Lukas ended his phone call he turned back to find Eleanore Harrington had fallen asleep. He stood over her, watching the slow rise and fall of her chest as she breathed deeply. His eyes travelled lower to where her dress had risen to just above mid-thigh. She had fabulous legs. Shorter than he was used to because he didn’t date petite women, but no less shapely. And she still had on her brightly coloured ankle boots that somehow didn’t make her ankles look fat at all.

He almost felt like a voyeur watching her in her unconscious state. Or maybe it was that in sleep her face looked strangely innocent. Strangely...pure.

An odd sensation constricted his chest. Pure? He was surprised he even remembered the term, let alone recognised the quality. Pure and innocent hadn’t been part of his life since conception probably and he wondered how he could attribute the term to a woman who had gone toe to toe with him earlier over the slight he had caused to her family’s company.

He briefly considered waking her but she looked so peaceful he didn’t have the heart.

Instead he let his eyes drift back over her slender torso to her breasts that were well hidden by her plain dress and up to the quirky chopsticks she had in her caramel-brown hair. They couldn’t be comfortable and he had an impulsive urge to pull them out to see how long her hair was. To see it tumble down her back and spread out over the cream-coloured sofa.