Secrets of the Playboy's Bride(9)

By: Leanne Banks

“Have I frightened you?” he asked. “There’s no need as long as you’re honest with me,” he said, drawing her against him as he leaned against the small building at the far end of the pier. “Now let me make you forget about that unpleasant phone call.”

His warmth surrounded her as he slid his hands down her back to her bottom and slid one of his hard thighs between her legs. A stab of sensual shock raced through her. “Leo,” she began.

He dipped his head to her throat, rubbing his lips over her skin. “I bet every inch of you tastes delicious,” he muttered, sliding his tongue over a sensitive spot. “I knew you would from the first minute I met you. Give me your mouth,” he said and coaxed her lips into meeting his. Skimming one of his hands upward, he touched the side of her breast.

He emanated pure masculine strength and sexuality and gave her the unmistakable message that he wanted to possess her. The primitive drive seemed to throb just beneath his clothes. Despite every reason she had to detest him, she was drawn to him like no other man. Here, she sensed, was a man with a will to match her own. Without conscious thought, she responded to him, sliding her arms up behind his neck, arching against him.

He took her mouth and she took his, drawing his tongue into the recesses. Heat scored her from the inside out, and her body called to his. His touch was tender, edged with roughness that only turned her on more.

He gave a low, carnal growl. “Let’s go back to the house. I want you in my bed.”

His words threw her into a maelstrom of confusion. She drew back from him catching her breath, trying to catch her sanity. She wanted to be with him intimately. She wanted him. But she had a plan. This relationship wasn’t for her pleasure. It was for something far more important.

She inhaled another deep breath, reaching down deep for her conviction. “I want—” She broke off when she looked into his dark needy gaze and her mouth went dry. She couldn’t look into his eyes at this close range. His gaze reflected the ache she felt inside her. She bit her lip and closed her eyes. “I’m afraid you’re not going to understand this.”

“Understand what?” he asked.

She forced her eyes open, but turned her gaze to his right shoulder. His strong, broad shoulder. “I want to go to bed with you.”

“Good, let’s—”

“But I can’t,” she quickly added.

Silence, so clear she could hear the water lapping against the dock, followed.

“Why?” he asked.

Summoning her courage, she met his gaze. “It’s going to sound terribly old-fashioned, but I want to keep that for the man I marry. I don’t think I’m cut out to be intimate with a lot of men. I don’t want to make the mistake of giving my heart, myself, to a man and then being crushed because he isn’t the right one.”

He shot her a considering look then wiped his hand over his face. “You’re telling me that you’re saving yourself for marriage? That’s the oldest trick in the book.”

“I told you that you wouldn’t understand. I’ll leave in the morning,” she said and turned away from him to walk back to the house. She crossed her arms over her chest, feeling the impending crush of defeat. Holding off on sex had been a calculated risk, but Calista had suspected that it would be difficult to motivate Leo to marry her quickly unless she waited.

Three seconds later, she felt her hand caught by his. “Not so fast,” he said.

She stopped in surprise, searching his face.

“The least you can do is give me a chance to change your mind. Or see if you can change mine,” he said.

Her heart racing a mile a minute, she shook her head. “I don’t want to deceive you. I heard you talking earlier. You hate to be tricked. Again, it’s best if I leave in the morning.”

He lifted her hand to his mouth. “I’m not disappointed, or feeling tricked. I’m just surprised. Your outlook is unusual.”

“I know, but I’ve watched so many of my friends make poor choices and wish they could take everything back. It’s about more than the physical intimacy. I just think I’m one of those women who jumps all the way into the pool of commitment. I totally understand if you’re not looking for that. Most men aren’t.” She added that last statement to spur his competitive nature. Leo wouldn’t want to be compared to another man.

“I’m not most men,” he said. “I’ll show you to your guest room and we’ll see how it goes.”

She opened her mouth to tell him she had judged him correctly, but he covered her mouth with his finger. “I insist,” he said in the sexiest voice she’d ever heard.

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