“Pardon?” Sullivan feigned innocence, but he wasn’t fooling her for a second.
Her hands went to her hips. “Christian knows what I did and why, obviously. He’s trying to get even with me, isn’t he? Did you tell him why I redecorated his home? You did, didn’t you? I thought you were on my side.”
“The two of you have so much in common.” Sullivan shrugged. “I was wrong when I said he could never love you. I think the two of you would make the perfect match, if only you’d both get out of your own way.”
Bianca spun on one foot, returned to the rows of dresses, and grabbed one off the rack closest to her. She went straight into her office, closed the blinds, and struggled into it. If Christian wanted to see her in a wedding gown, then he would see her in a wedding gown.
The dress she’d chosen on impulse fit like a dream. The halter had thick straps that rested on her upper arms, baring her shoulders, collarbone, and neck. The bodice hugged her bosom, forming the top half of a heart. Down below, her skirt went from cream to blush pink in a hombre effect that brought a glow to her cheeks.
She caught her reflection in the shaded glass between her office and the lobby. Gorgeous. It was a shame to waste the gown on a trivial moment. For a second, she almost wished she was getting married for real. Her mind drifted to a fantasy image. She caught a glimpse of her groom waiting at the end of a long, rose-petal-covered aisle. The dream-Christian’s eyes locked onto hers.
Sullivan cleared his throat, knocking her off balance and back to the present. He stood on the threshold of her office. After clearing his throat he said, “I knocked.”
She resisted the urge to hide, feeling like an ugly duckling pretending to be a swan. “What do you think?”
“Mr. Sabatino won’t know what hit him.”
She blushed. “I did not put this on to impress Christian. I did it to teach him a lesson.”
Despite her denials, Sullivan’s words put butterflies in her stomach and brought a tiny thrill to her senses. Sure, she wanted to stay one step ahead of Christian to show him she was a worthy opponent... and perhaps a worthy lover. Men like Christian enjoyed the hunt more than the kill. If she wanted to keep him interested, she would have to keep him guessing.
Bianca rushed to the elevator, afraid she’d lose her nerve. She went to the penthouse she currently shared with Christian to wait for him. Hopefully, he wouldn’t work too late.
The elevator door slid open, and she got another surprise. Christian was waiting forher. Her plan went down the drain. She’d wanted to light some candles, set up a romantic atmosphere, and tell him she had an ordained minister on his way up to marry them in the penthouse. That would have rocked his world and possibly taught him not to play games with her.
Improvising, she opened her mouth to tell him she wanted to go straight to the courthouse to get married. The look on his face stopped her cold. She’d expected to see fear, not the deep hunger that resided in his intense gaze.
He crossed the room as if drawn by an invisible magnet.
“You look incredible.” He stood behind her, grasped her bare shoulders, and kissed his way up her neck to her ear. His voice dropped to a husky pitch. “But you look even better in nothing.” The zipper whispered down her back, and cool air hit her warm flesh. “Come to bed with me.”
The last was more of a command than a request, spoken from a place of power. But she knew if she told him no, he would let her go to her own room, untouched. The only problem was her flesh ached for him. Her heart told her not to do it, not until they had a solid understanding, but her body refused to be denied.
The dress slid down her length and made a puddle around her feet. He took her hand and helped her step free of the material. The two-inch heels she’d put on that morning were not easy to walk in. Since she had to remove her bra to put the dress on she was naked from the waist up. Her arms automatically crossed over her exposed chest. He gave her a look that reminded her he’d already seen and touched everything. That didn’t matter. She didn’t like feeling vulnerable.
“I promised myself I wouldn’t do this again.” His husky voice mimicked what she was feeling. Neither of them could resist the other. “You really complicate my life. Do you know that?”
Without another word, he swept her into his arms and carried her to the master bedroom. She expected him to spread her out on the floral surface, but he set her on her feet next to the bed instead. He seemed determined to take things slow and savor every moment. That was fine with her. Their first time together was a total blur. She’d spent most of it in a blissful fog, lost in a whirlpool of passion.
Rueful expression, he said, “I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage.”
She blinked. “You aren’t.”
“Sometimes people get lost in the moment.” He tucked hair behind her ear and caressed her cheek. “They regret it later. I don’t want to be one of your regrets.”
Feeling shy, she looked at the wall instead of meeting his searching gaze. “I don’t regret the night we spent together.”
“Neither do I.”
“I want this as much as you do.” She lifted herself high on the tips of her toes and placed a kiss directly on his mouth. “Sorry I redecorated your home without permission. I only did it because you think I’m trying to trap you into a marriage you don’t want. It was frustrating. I told you marriage is the last thing I want, and I meant it.”
“Good to hear.” He kissed his way down her throat to her shoulder.
“I don’t need marriage, but I do wantsomething. You can’t take me to bed one day and ignore me the next. We are either two adults in a physical relationship or we go back to strictly business.”
He stiffened. “Relationship?”
She corrected him. “I said a physical relationship. No strings. We will agree to be exclusive, and I will share your bed every night until one of us decides to end things.” She rushed on with, “But if you want to end it, you have to tell me to my face. You can’t parade models around the office to make me break up with you.”