Russian's Ruthless Demand(7)

By: Michelle Conder

Well, it had been that and the way he had swanned through the world as if he owned it, Eleanore thought acidly. The way she had wished that she had been the one on his arm at the fashion show instead of that stunning model. ‘I’m entitled to my opinion,’ she said, and nearly winced at how much she sounded like a schoolmarm from a bad nineteen-fifties sitcom.

‘Yes, you are. And fortunately for you I’m sufficiently impressed with your ice bar to continue this conversation.’

What did that mean?

‘Can I get that on record?’ she asked archly.

He smiled. ‘Like I said, it’s nice to know you think my opinion is so powerful.’

Oh, he knew his opinion was powerful. He spoke and the press behaved like pathetic lapdogs. As did his women, no doubt. ‘Why should how you feel about Glaciers make any difference to me?’

‘Because I have an opportunity to offer you.’

An opportunity? Eleanore nearly laughed. Only he could call picking up a woman in a bar an opportunity. ‘Not interested,’ she said flatly.

He paused and shook his head. ‘My, how you do like to jump to conclusions, Miss Harrington. But I didn’t mean that kind of opportunity.’ His gaze raked her over and sent hot rivulets of sensation sparking through her. ‘Although I could be persuaded to consider the other if you were so inclined.’

Irritation, she thought sourly, that was what had caused the strange sensation to suffuse her body, that and the fact that she had somehow amused him without intending to. ‘I’m not. And nor am I interested in any opportunity you might have for me, Mr Kuznetskov. Is that clear enough for you?’ She smiled with false sweetness, extricating her wrist from his firm grip.

Lukas laughed again. He hadn’t expected to enjoy himself quite so much when he’d arrived in Singapore. He hadn’t expected to find the Harrington heiress so alluring either. ‘You know it’s very—how do you say?—gender specific to let your emotions make your decisions for you,’ he drawled, admiring the way her eyes sparkled and her cheeks grew a little flushed as he challenged her.

‘And it’s very—how do you say?—gender specific for you to not take no for an answer,’ she retorted.

His grin widened at her heated comeback. ‘Touché, Miss Harrington.’ He held out his hand. ‘Shall we start over?’

‘I don’t see why we should.’

‘Because as I said I have an opportunity—a possible job opportunity—to discuss with you.’

‘A job? Are you joking?’

‘I never joke about business.’

‘Well, I already have a job.’

‘One where you are currently underutilised.’

‘How would you know that?’

Lukas nearly shook his head at her shocked outburst. Did the woman not know how to hide any of her emotions? ‘Tomaso Coraletti.’

She tilted her head to the side. ‘How do you know Tomaso?’

‘He builds ships for me.’

‘Well, that’s a relief,’ she scorned. ‘For a moment I thought his taste in friends had plummeted.’

Lukas smiled. If she was trying to put him off by being contrary it wasn’t working. In fact, the more riled she became, the more her interesting eyes sparkled and the more his body stirred. A realisation that surprised him. Perhaps Maria was right and he needed to go find himself some biscotti. Some very temporary biscotti. ‘He said you were one of the most talented students he’s ever taught and that you would be perfect for the project I am working on.’

‘Well, that’s very nice of him but it doesn’t change the fact that you’ve wasted your time coming here because...’

‘Look, Miss Harrington,’ Lukas interrupted, short of patience and time and not a little put out by his unexpected physical reaction to her. ‘You’ve voiced your unhappiness at my comments about your hotels and it’s been duly noted but business is business. It would be a mistake to confuse it with anything personal.’

‘Excuse me?’ Her chin came up. ‘Are you implying that I am?’

Clearly he’d hit a nerve.

She stood up quickly, nearly overbalancing her stool, and would have stumbled if he hadn’t reached out and grabbed her elbow.

‘What are you doing?’ she grated at him. ‘Let me go.’

He could feel the delicate bones of her arm through his gloves and slowly pulled his hand away. ‘My apologies,’ he drawled, somewhat disconcerted by the thought that he’d like to remove his glove and touch her bare skin with his own. ‘Should I have let you fall?’ he mocked. ‘I’m never sure with you card-carrying feminists.’