Secrets of the Playboy's Bride(10)

By: Leanne Banks

After Leo led Calista to the guest bedroom, he prowled his balcony, still aroused from the way she’d tasted, smelled and felt in his arms. He couldn’t remember a time when a woman had turned him away from her bed. Although she’d done it without malice, it didn’t diminish his sexual frustration. In fact, her desire not to manipulate him aroused him even more.Many women had tried to trick him into marriage. A few had even feigned signs of pregnancy, but Leo had been very careful. He had no interest in binding himself to just any woman. At least, he hadn’t until now. But he saw the advantage of linking himself with Calista. She was pure. She represented a fresh start.

Glancing out at the still lake, he considered taking a dip in the frigid water to quiet the heat Calista had generated in him and the longings he’d buried long ago. Did he really want a family? Was such a thing possible for him? His upbringing had been one move after another. He’d never known when his guardian father would take out his rage on him. He’d spent so many years braced for something horrible to happen to him. And it had, several times until he’d run away.

Leo wondered what it would be like to be loved by a woman like Calista. He sensed she was the kind of woman who would marry forever. Look at her commitment to her sisters. She possessed a strength that drew him like a light in the darkness.

Was he considering marrying her? The notion shocked him. He barely knew her. Yet, he knew she was different. She’d known what it was like to be raised in a loving family—with relationships and ties she still worked to keep strong. She possessed the core of something he’d been searching for, for years.

He raked his hand through his hair. It wasn’t just sex. He suspected he could seduce her into his bed despite her lofty goal. The sexual animal in him roared at the urge to take her, to make her his. He could and he suspected they would bring each other amazing pleasure.

For some strange, insane reason, however, he hesitated seducing her for the pure purpose of his gratification. It wasn’t out of consideration for her principles. No. Her reticence called to his competitive nature. He wanted her to be convinced that he was the man she wanted. The man she couldn’t turn down. He wanted her to come to him.

The next morning after breakfast, Leo took Calista out on his boat.“The water is beautiful,” she told him when they stopped near another pier.

“Want to swim?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, giving the lake a skeptical glance. “How cold is it?”

“Depends on whether you’re cold-blooded or warm-blooded,” he said and stripped off his shirt. “Let’s go in.”

He felt her gaze linger on his chest then she seemed to force her gaze away from him. “If you’re sure,” she said. “If I freeze, you have to promise to pull me out. Okay?”

“Promise,” he said and watched her remove her shirt to reveal a bikini top that encased her full, creamy breasts. He could easily imagine them bare and wondered about the color and size of her nipples.

She kicked off her shoes to reveal slender feet with vixen-red toenails. He liked that touch of wildness she kept hidden from the rest of the world. He’d like to take care of all her wild urges. She pushed down her jeans, wiggling as she stepped out of them.

He fixated on the inviting curves of her waist and hips, feeling himself respond to the sight of her feminine figure. He took action to cool his arousal immediately. Diving into the water, he felt the cold wetness sink into his skin. Rising to the surface, he caught sight of her looking down at him from the boat.

“How cold is it?”

“Not cold enough to make icebergs,” he said.

“That’s not very encouraging,” she said.

“Are you afraid?” he asked.

She immediately pursed her lips and lifted her chin. “Absolutely not,” she said and jumped off the side of the boat. Seconds later, she bobbed to the ladder, gasping. “Omigod, you lied. This water is frigid.”

“Well, it’s not as warm as my pool at the house,” he said, swimming toward her. “But it could be worse.”

“When?” she asked. “In January?”

He laughed.

A wake from a boat riding past caused a wave and she reached for him with fear in her eyes. Concern rushed through him. “You’re okay,” he said, pulling her body against his. “I wouldn’t let you drown. Damn, I should have asked if you’re a swimmer.”

“Of course I am,” she said, her wide green eyes meeting his. Another wave rolled toward them and she clung to him more tightly.

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