Sold into Marriage(6)

By: Ann Major


Fleetingly, forbidden memories of his brother Ethan, and then Celia, swamped him, filling him with self-loathing. He shoved his hands into his pockets and strode away from the window. From her.

Why did this girl, whom he didn’t even know, make him think of them? He began to pace back and forth like a caged animal.

Since those long-ago, fatally linked tragedies, Adam had controlled his memories, his ambition and his heart. Sexual desire was dangerous. He told himself that because he had such control, his life was a success.

Now, suddenly, because of Miss Navarre’s stricken expression and sexy body, he felt a stranger to himself.

He’d come here to rid the family of her. Why then did he suddenly feel that the bedrock upon which his boots had been firmly planted for years was shifting? Why did looking at her make him feel that he was caught by a force as cataclysmic as an earthquake?

How could he save Lucas, when he couldn’t even save himself?

He was tired. He should shut the shade and go to bed. Tomorrow was soon enough to deal with her.

Hardly realizing what he was doing, he snagged the little armchair at the desk and pushed it up to his window. His eyes never left her as he slowly sank down onto its plump cushion.

Her green eyes were wild and lost. She said something in French, which he didn’t understand. Then with a smile, she switched to English.

“Watch me,” she whispered as she leaned even farther out the window.

Suddenly her eyes lost their bravado.

He remembered Madame Picard’s sad expression when she’d said, “Keeps to herself. One man. Lucas. Not a…”

Somewhere a siren blared. Then a cloud covered the moon.

She ran a hand through her hair and then down her sides.

Did she moan aloud? Or did he only imagine the husky sound?

She ran her hands lower, lower. At the last moment before she touched herself, she stopped, as if she realized what she was doing. With a stranger.

Her eyes widened. He told himself to look away, but something low and base and mysterious held them both in thrall.

He couldn’t move or even breathe until she finally gasped and flew from the window and turned out her light.

He sucked in a choppy breath. And then another.

Suddenly he knew what he had to do.

And it wouldn’t wait until tomorrow.



Three



S he’d almost been tempted to touch herself.Almost.

Josie’s heels clattered on the stone steps as she ran recklessly down them. She shouldn’t leave the apartment. She knew that, but something in the stranger’s eyes had felt familiar and had made her feel compellingly connected to him on some deep, inexplicable level. At the same time, she’d felt larger and grander than her usual self, aware of exciting new possibilities. And yet lower, truer, too. Sex wasn’t all sweetness and light. With her it could be a dark, all-consuming force.

Breathless, terrified in the cold darkness, scared of herself, of the handsome stranger who’d evoked such powerful responses, she stopped to catch her breath at the bottom of the stairwell.

Her eyes darted everywhere until he whistled, the same wolf whistle as before, piercing her and the biting cold like a knife that burned straight to her heart.

Very tall, broad-shouldered, too, and dressed totally in black, the rugged stranger from the window leaned against the wrought-iron gate as if he owned it, as if he owned her, his big, powerful body blocking the only exit to the street.

He seemed feral and dangerous.

Watch me. Her words hummed in the icy haze between them.

The intensity of his heavily lidded, long-lashed dark eyes swallowed her, burned her, stripped her even. Only now, she felt shier than she had in her apartment when the gap of the courtyard had protected her.

She stared down at the innocent, white snow, afraid to meet his too-knowing, too-dangerous eyes.

With every second that passed, he seemed to grow taller and become more masculine, more threatening. Her heart sped up. She could feel her warm, naked skin under her clothing.

Suddenly the lifelong emptiness inside her made her feel too raw and needy. Thinking to escape him and the hungers he evoked, she gave a cry and began to back toward the stairs she’d just descended.

When he simply stood there and she realized he would not chase her, she felt safer. Her footsteps stilled on the cobblestones.

He whistled softly, admiringly. She clutched her jacket, shivering now, her breaths spurting like little puffs of smoke from her lips and nose into the still, cold air.

“I don’t want to disappoint you, but…I—I’m not…that girl in the window…that bold girl.”

He stopped whistling and stood perfectly motionless, his insolent gaze drifting up and down her body carelessly, as if she were already his property.

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