Russian's Ruthless Demand(5)

By: Michelle Conder


‘But I have only just arrived.’

Was she supposed to care about that?

‘Can I get you a drink, sir?’ Lulu asked in her most deferential bartender voice, and Eleanore wondered absently if he had ever come across a woman who didn’t want him. Probably not with his looks and money, and she decided that she quite enjoyed the thought of being the first.

‘A Stoli if you have it. Neat.’

‘Coming right up,’ Lulu chirped.

Eleanore nearly rolled her eyes. She wanted to tell Lulu to dial it down a little but settled for thinking of a polite way to extricate herself from his presence instead.

‘Would you like a refill?’

It took a moment for her to realise he was talking to her and Eleanore shook her head and felt slightly dizzy. Damned that ‘Don’t Poke the Bear’ drink. ‘No, thanks.’

About to slide her now completely numb bottom off the sheepskin-covered ice stool she sensed him move beside her and glanced up.

The look he settled on her made that strange sensation return and his thick brows drew together when she shivered.

‘You are cold. You should be wearing a jacket in here. It must be minus six at least.’ His voice was a low murmur and before Eleanore could protest he’d whisked his heavy black cloak from his wide shoulders and dwarfed her in its warmth.

For a moment she couldn’t move. The heady scent of clean, spicy male saturated her senses and robbed her of breath. Which made her feel downright foolish because she wasn’t the kind of woman to be taken in by a smooth talker like this. It had to be Lulu’s comments about flirting and sex making her feel so unlike herself. And the silly cocktails she’d consumed, of course.

Mr Smooth-Talking Kuznetskov leant his elbow against the bar and drew her attention to the thin cotton shirt that moulded itself to his impressive chest and tapered down to a lean waist before tucking into custom-tailored black pants. He wore highly polished dress shoes she knew hadn’t come from any High Street trader, elevating his aura of brute male elegance.

He shifted under the weight of her sizzling gaze and when Eleanore raised her eyes to his she was glad of the strobe lighting that hopefully hid the blush that crept into her cheeks. Pop music blared from the speaker system and she focused in on it as if she’d been absorbed by that and not his masculinity for the past couple of minutes.

A small smile played around the edges of his mouth as if she hadn’t fooled him one bit and it was all the impetus she needed to pull the cloak from her shoulders and push off the ice stool to stand beside him. With his slouched position and her high-heeled boots they were at eye level and Eleanore thrust the cloak out in front of her. ‘I don’t need this.’ No, she needed a hit around the head for being such a dunce!

His eyes narrowed, his gaze assessing. ‘That dress can’t be keeping you very warm.’

Eleanore arched a brow, determined not to fall prey to his deadly good looks. He was right, of course; her thin woollen dress was completely inappropriate for the low temperature inside the bar but she’d been running on adrenaline all night and hadn’t noticed. And she had a jacket. She just couldn’t remember where she had put it. ‘Whether it is or not is hardly any business of yours.’

His own brow arched. ‘Indeed.’

‘Yes.’ The smile she gave him was brittle at best because she wanted him to know that he was wasting his time trying to pick her up—if that was his intention—and why else would he bother with the compliments and inane chitchat if it wasn’t? ‘I hope you enjoy the ice bar. We’d love to see you here again sometime but...’

She frowned when he threw his head back and laughed. ‘You find something amusing?’

‘Only that you’re frostier than the bar top I’m leaning on.’ He raised his arm and they both glanced at the wet circle around his elbow. Eleanore was about to say something pithy about not leaning on frozen water when she realised how tall and broad he was compared to her own five feet four—or seven in her ankle boots.

‘And somehow I seem to have offended you without even trying,’ he continued charmingly. ‘But perhaps that is because I have forgotten to introduce myself. I am Lukas Kuznetskov.’

‘I know who you are.’ The words were out before Eleanore could recall them and they sank between them like rocks thrown into a murky pond.

Lukas remained completely still as he registered the insult implicit in her tone. Perhaps that comment he’d overheard earlier between her and Miss Gothic had been about him after all.

Eleanore’s eyes flashed tiny green and amber sparks at him and he realised absently that they were hazel, not brown as he’d first thought. Alluring eyes that tilted a little at the edges in line with her cheekbones.