Propositioned Into A Foreign Affair(8)

By: Catherine Mann

“I hardly know you.” Yet her face dipped toward his touch. “You’re polite and this dinner was lovely, but I’m not even sure I like you.”

“Ah, but do you want me?”


Bella gripped the edge of the winter-cool window-sill to keep from falling straight into Sam’s muscular arms. Even the romantic Marseille skyline twinkling beyond the pane seemed to be special-ordered for seduction. With the power of his kiss still zinging through her veins, she couldn’t deny the obvious to him, much less to herself.

She wasn’t sure why he affected her so much, so quickly. She didn’t like to think of herself as shallow, falling into bed with a man because of his looks. But then hadn’t she done just that with Ridley?

God, even thinking of how easily he’d tossed her aside still hurt. Ridley had said he loved her. He’d even discussed getting married. All lies, lies she hadn’t seen through because she’d been too caught in the romantic air of filming her grandparents’ story. She’d been ripe for the picking when Ridley showered her with his flowery charm.

Apparently he was an even better actor than she’d given him credit for.

She scrubbed memories of him from her brain. Thoughts of him now, while she was with Sam, felt disloyal somehow. For tonight, in this moment, she would be totally with this man, a man who issued bold, blunt statements of fact rather than fake, empty, flattery.

Yes, she wanted Sam. Yes, she needed something to ease the pain inside her and it seemed being with him might help her forget for at least a night. But no way could she let him think she was a total pushover.

She tipped her chin, the heat of his touch still tingling. “You’re certainly not lacking in the ego department.”

He trailed a finger along the lapel of her bathrobe. “I’m only stating facts here. You’re a gorgeous woman. I would have to be dead not to notice.”

His words soothed her wounded ego. People complimented her often enough, but so many of them were sycophants and suck-ups, she discounted much of what they said. She couldn’t miss the straightforward sincerity in Sam’s eyes.

Still, a wounded part of her needed to push. “A person’s worth is about more than looks.”

“Of course.” He stepped closer, the tangy scent of his aftershave tempting her to breathe deeper. “But initial, animal attraction shouldn’t be discounted.”

“Is that what’s happening here?” she asked, even when she already knew the answer to that one.

She was completely out of her depth, wavering on weak-kneed hunger for him, and it was a feeling unlike any she’d ever experienced. Animal attraction sounded just about right for her instinctual need to touch him.

“What do you think?” He rested his hands lightly on her shoulders, broad palms gently massaging away her tension.

And self-control.

“I’m thinking that maybe you believe sleeping with me might make for good publicity, or that you want the novelty of sleeping with an actress.” Had she actually said that? She hadn’t even known the fear existed until the words fell out of her mouth.

“Damn, lady, that’s a hefty load of insecurities.” He gave her shoulders a final squeeze before pulling his hands back. “Let’s unpack that one issue at a time.” He held up one finger. “First, I don’t need you or the damn press in order to be successful. I’m managing quite fine on my own. In fact, I could buy your family business twice over.” He ticked off a second finger. “Second, if I wanted novelty, there are other women I could turn to who wouldn’t accuse me of chasing them for their money.”

Her eyebrows shot upward. “You really aren’t lacking in ego.”

“Women chase me for my money. That’s nothing to be proud of.”

A hesitant smile tipped her mouth. “I really don’t have anything you need.”

“Now, there you’re wrong.” He stepped closer, his body totally flush against hers, his hard muscles a sweet temptation against her.

“I am?” she gasped, the musky scent of him swirling through her with that one breath.