Christian snapped the device off. “I’ll take care of it.”
“How? We look like two people ready to jump into bed.”
“I’ll take care of it,” he repeated in a firmer voice. “Or rather, my lawyers will. I have Griffin, Hyde, and Pierce on retainer. Anna Burkhart loves to go to court on my behalf, and she hasn’t lost a case yet.”
His confidence drove away her doubts. If Christian said he’d deal with it, then he would deal with it. She settled back in the seat and enjoyed the view. She couldn’t wait to get to work. Nothing and nobody would stop her from making their magazine the best-selling woman’s magazine in the world. Not even the gorgeous distraction sitting beside her.
The rumble of Christian’s deep baritone soothed Bianca’s nerves even as he barked orders at his employees. The second they hit the lobby of Christinos Inc., the company’s main offices, she saw a different side of Christian. He was in his element, cold and decisive and in control. At least ten people brought problems to him between the main entrance and the row of golden elevators. Her heels clicked a steady rhythm across the marble floor as she followed him. He told employees what to do without hesitation. The men who approached him seemed intimidated; the women were attracted to him, both young and old alike. A couple of them sent envious looks Bianca’s way. They must have already heard the nasty rumors and believed them.
Without giving her a chance to protest, Christian snatched Baby from her arms and handed the cat to a well-dressed, middle-aged woman. “Take this beast up to my penthouse. Give him some tuna and water, and make sure he has somewhere to do his business other than my expensive carpet.”
The woman went straight to an elevator markedPrivate.
Christian took Bianca’s arm and steered her to a different elevator. No one dared join them. Who wanted to ride up with the boss? Once inside, he released her long enough to press a button, barely glancing at it. Then he was facing her instead of watching the numbers above the door light up.
“We need to do something about that damaging story concerning our relationship.” He raked a hand through his dark hair, pushing it straight back. The hair seemed to have a mind of its own. Longish strands fell partly over his ears with some threatening to obscure the vision in one eye. “I need you to go along with everything I say to the media.”
She blinked. “What are you planning to tell them?”
Instead of answering the question, he took her by the shoulders and spoke in a voice that sounded scraped raw. “Do you trust me?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied and instantly realized it was true. Even though they had only met that morning in London, she trusted him, at least when it came to fixing the publicity mess. He probably had an entire team to spin the facts and make the public believe whatever he wanted.
“Good.” He grinned, and dimples formed in his tanned cheeks, making her heart flutter. “Go along with everything I say at the meeting.”
“The focus needs to be on Christinos right now. If the media and public become too concerned about your social life, especially if they think you were my father’s mistress—”
“I wasn’t,” she protested. “I swear.”
“I believe you,” he said, stroking his thumb across her heated cheek.
Eyes wide, she heard her breathless voice and marveled at how oddly sexy it sounded. “You do?”
“You are not the type of girl who has sex with a man nearly three times her age just to improve her living situation. That much is obvious to me now.”
“Did my crummy flat in London convince you?”
“Among other things,” he admitted. “And we call them apartments here. You’ll have to learn the lingo if you don’t want to sound like a fish out of water.”
His hands returned to her upper arms, and his gaze dropped to her parted lips. She knew he was thinking about kissing her because she was thinking the same thing. Curiosity, she assured herself. That’s all it was, just curiosity. She simply wanted to know what it would feel like to be in Christian’s arms. Afterward, she’d make it clear they had a business-only relationship.
“There is something I’ve wanted to do since I looked up and saw you glaring down at me in my father’s office.”
He lowered his head slowly, and she realized he was giving her time to rebuff him. She tilted her chin instead, lifting her lips in total compliance. He kissed her tentatively at first as if testing how far she was willing to go. Her arms went up of their own volition and encircled his neck.
The kiss deepened.
Her passion instantly rose to a fever pitch, and she pulled him closer, as close as he could get without occupying the same space. His hands delved beneath her hair. He was simultaneously gentle and forceful, taking and giving in equal parts. New sensations threatened to overwhelm her senses.
His strong hands slid down the length of her body to grasp her bottom hidden beneath the long dress. He lifted her against him as he explored her mouth with his skillful tongue, velvet over steel. In a moment they would reach the point of no return. Then what?
A crisp dinging in her ears reached through the hazy fog surrounding her brain, but she continued to kiss Christian with wild abandon. The sound of multiple clicks replaced the ding. Christian tore his mouth from hers. His hands were glued to her bottom, and her hands were on his muscular arms. They both turned their heads at the same time.
The elevator door had opened, and a multitude of photographers snapped pictures just like at the airport. Bianca jumped away from Christian. The questions started, loud and intrusive. She tried to melt into the background.