“What are you saying? What do you mean you were in charge?”
“Didn’t you ever wonder how the company stayed afloat when my father did nothing but entertain clients?” He looked to his assistant for help. “Sully?”
Sullivan nodded. “It’s true. John Sabatino was CEO in name only. The average employee thought he was the boss, but the executives knew better. That’s why they never came to him for anything. He had no real power.”
“My father didn’t have a head for business, so I took over the company shortly after my grandfathers retired. To keep from humiliating him, we pretended he was at the helm. It was a win-win situation.”
“Are you saying you took your father’s job and just left him a failing magazine to keep him out of everyone’s way?”
Christian nodded briefly. “That is correct.”
“I’m leaving,” she announced.
He tightened his grip on her arm. “You’ll leave when I say you can leave.”
She slapped him.
Then the offending hand flew to her mouth and caught a gasp.
Sullivan hurried from the room to follow his instructions, ordering the car and putting the jet on standby. The usually cool young man could be heard on the phone talking in a brisk tone instead of his normal voice. Bianca Dawson could rattle a saint.
Christian’s grip tightened again on her elbow, and he moved to the door with her in tow. “You are coming with me to New York. Like it or not.”
His cheek stung where she’d slapped him, and the pain fueled his desire for vengeance. Not only had the woman gotten under his father’s skin enough to be added to his Will, but she’d had the nerve to strikehim. He wouldn’t let the impulsive move go unpunished. Somehow he’d get his pound of flesh before they parted company.
“I am not going anywhere with you,” she said.
“How badly do you want the magazine?”
She stopped struggling, and her eyes narrowed as if she smelled a trap. “What do you mean?”
“I will put you in charge with no interference from me if you come to New York and make a statement to the press. You will tell the media my father worked on the magazine and I handled the rest. Got it?”
She nodded slowly, and his body relaxed for the first time since meeting her. He continued on to the elevators with her tethered to his side. The pretty little gold-digger had taken the bait. Soon, she’d wish she had never heard the Sabatino name.
Dark and intimate, the limo’s interior fueled Bianca’s fears. The car was wide, but so was the man sitting beside her. Christian’s broad shoulders stretched across the backseat, nearly touching her, and his legs spread apart so far that she could reach out and touch his powerful thigh if she felt the urge. She wasn’t afraid of the man. She was frightened of her attraction to him. In her entire life she hadn’t experienced such a palpable chemistry. The feeling was mutual. She was sure of it. Every time he looked at her, she saw a matching heat in his eyes
But she was determined not to give in to the desire.
Bianca slid her shaking hands beneath her bottom so he wouldn’t see the tell-tale sign. The heartache of losing John coupled with the excitement of still having the magazine, the shocking sexual awareness of her body’s response to Christian, confusion over the situation, and worry over losing her home had her teetering on the edge. She had no idea what to deal with first. Her dueling emotions physically drained her. She felt on the verge of a physical, mental, and emotional collapse.
His silence filled her with dread.
Christian hadn’t said a word since climbing in beside her. The driver had his orders. They were to stop at her place long enough for her to grab a few things. She’d already given him the address. Then the driver was taking them to the airport so they could get on Christian’s private jet. In nine to ten hours they would be in New York City.
The limo smoothly slid into traffic.
She took a shaky breath, placed her hands on her knees, and focused straight ahead. “Where will I be staying once we reach New York?”
She didn’t want him to get the wrong idea. Although she wasn’t a virgin, she also wasn’t in the market for a lover. After her divorce, she’d vowed to steer clear of wealthy, arrogant men.
Heart pounding, she waited for a response that didn’t come. When the silence continued, she turned in his direction to find he had fallen asleep. Instant annoyance turned to relief. Now she could study him without return scrutiny from those fabulous green eyes that nothing seemed to escape notice.
With his eyes closed, Christian appeared less formidable. The hard, angular planes of his face that appeared carved in granite at first looked more relaxed now. Long lashes underlined his eyes along with purple shadows. He must not have slept any better than she had the past two nights. Compassion made her rethink her original opinion of him. Perhaps he wasn’t as bad as she thought.
Her gaze lingered on his full lips, and she wondered about his kissing technique. Did he initiate a slow teasing kiss, or did he ravage a woman until she couldn’t think straight?