Her hands went to her slender hips as she tried to stare him down. “I will not accept a new wardrobe from you. Is that clear? If you don’t like the way I dress, if it isn’t stylish enough for you, then find another fake fiancé.”
So that was it? She thought he was unhappy with her appearance. She couldn’t have been more wrong if she tried. Her choice of modest dresses fueled his desire by covering everything except her lower arms and legs beneath the knee, making him want to slowly unwrap her like the lovely gift she represented.
He raised an eyebrow. “I think most women would jump at the chance of designer couture.”
“I am not most women.”
That made him smile. There was no way Bianca knew about his father’s Will, no way she’d manipulated John into leaving her everything. She didn’t like charity. If they’d been straight with her about the Will from the start, she probably would have refused to accept more than the magazine. In fact, he would bet his last dime she would have returned the stock immediately.
But he hadn’t told her the truth. If he did it now, she would disappear from his life. He was sure of it. Her pride mixed with the fact she hated being controlled by others would force her to walk away. That was the last thing he wanted. In a short time, Bianca had become important to him.
He pointed out, “You are the publisher of a successful magazine, and you need to dress the part. Now that my father is gone, you will be the face ofLove Life. Like it or not, people are going to want to know you, and the media will continue to intrude on your personal life. They will be taking pictures of you everywhere you go, digging into your past, and trying to learn what makes you tick.”
She visibly swallowed.
His eyes narrowed. “Is there something you don’t want them to discover? If there is, you should tell me now.”
Up until a moment ago, he would have bet money Bianca had nothing to hide. The fear in her eyes worried him. Did she have a deep, dark secret that would negatively affect his company?
Bianca slowly shook her head. “I’m a private person is all, and I don’t relish the thought of snoopy people poking their noses into my business.”
“You are still incredibly naive.”
“I’d rather be naive than jaded like you.”
His lips twitched, wanting to smile, but knowing it would only fuel the fire. She’d been talking to Sullivan about him. That was obvious. Sully often referred to him as jaded. He preferred to think of himself as a realist, someone who had opened their eyes long ago. “I didn’t mean it as an insult. It must be nice to still see the good in people and to be optimistic about your future.”
He went back to his chair, putting much-needed distance between himself and the thing he wanted most. Having an affair with an employee, especially this particular employee would cause problems he did not need.
However, she was so tempting that he wasn’t sure how long he could hold out.
She began, “The clothes—”
“You need to represent your brand, the magazine, not to mention Christinos. A professional wardrobe is a must.” He waved a hand at her bargain-basement attire. “You may wear whatever you like in your private time, but when you are at work, you will look the part. Allow the stylist I hired to pick a few smart pantsuits and some classy dresses for you.”
She sighed, and he knew he’d won the argument.
“Fine,” she said. “But I insist on paying for the clothes myself. You can take it out of my salary.”
He nodded in agreement, and his respect for her grew. If he had ever met a woman of such strong character in the past, he couldn’t remember her. The women in his social circle always had a price. He pursed his lips as he studied the beauty standing opposite his desk. Perhaps Bianca had a price and he simply hadn’t found it yet. That was an interesting theory. To prove it, he’d have to spend more time with her.
Christian stood and circled the desk to stand in front of the woman he was starting to care for in a strange way that bewildered him. He placed a finger beneath her chin and tilted it up far enough so he could look into her captivating blue eyes. “Dinner tonight?” he asked. “I mean, if you can stop avoiding me long enough to share a meal.”
“You’re the one who doesn’t return home until nearly midnight every night.”
“And you’re the one who sneaks out before breakfast every morning.”
Her delicate facial features relaxed in a soft smile. “I suppose one dinner won’t hurt. There are some things I want to run past you, work stuff that I want to get your opinion on.”
Her eyes widened. “Then what will we—”
“I want to know more about you.”
“Didn’t you get a report from your investigator?” she asked with a tinge of accusation.
“Mymother’sinvestigator just took pictures. At least that’s the only thing I was shown. If my mother has a file on you, she didn’t share it with me.”