His lips stretched into a smile. “Deal. But you have to be honest with me, too. If something freaks you out, you have to tell me. If you want to end things, you have to tell me. Don’t do that woman thing where you think I should know what you want without you saying the actual words.”
“And you can’t interfere with the magazine to prove a point or to make me angry.” She moaned as the tip of his tongue teased the tender spot behind her ear. It grew more difficult to think. “We can have a strictly business relationship if that’s what you want. Just say the word.”
“That isn’t what I want.”
“What do you want then?” she asked in a breathy voice. “Spell it out for me.”
“This.” He kissed her full on the mouth. “And this.” He moved his lips to her throat. “And this.” He stepped behind her and kissed the nape of her neck.
“Aren’t you the one that thought sleeping with me would complicate your life?”
He smiled. “I’ve never enjoyed simple.”
“Is that it? Is there anything else you want out of this no-strings relationship?”
She tried to think. It wasn’t easy with him in such close proximity. Her pulse raced, and her nerve endings begged for stimulation. She wanted to feel his hands anywhere and everywhere. For a moment she closed her eyes, forcing herself to think about the future. What did she need to have to feel good about them being together?
His mouth covered hers in a kiss that left her breathless. They made love, but it was different from the first time. He set the pace nice and slow as she rested against a sea of pillows. It took several minutes and a few appreciative moans from him for her confidence to build again. Then she grew brazen. Her hands and mouth didn’t leave an inch of his skin untested. By the time they became one flesh she was an equal partner.
Later, he kissed the top of her head before saying, “I found your saboteur.”
“Really? Who was it?”
“Ava. She convinced one of your worker bees to mess with you on her behalf. I fired him and threatened her with a lawsuit.”
News that his former lover was behind everything didn’t surprise her. Ava had struck her as a spiteful person who would get even with Christian however she could. At least it was over.
He asked a question then that made her forget all about Ava and her problems with the magazine. “Are you sure you never want to get married?”
She sighed. “Yes. For the millionth time, I do not want to get married. Ever. Okay?”
“What if I decide I want to marry you?”
She bolted upright and turned to look at his face. Was he serious? Or was he playing another game with her, trying to see if she was lying? “You mean when hell freezes over?”
“I’ve never met anyone like you. You had me laughing this week, trying to out-prank you, and I felt happier than I have in years.” He pulled her back down beside him and wrapped her in his arms. “You’re good for me, Dawson. Maybe weshouldget married. Someday.”
She couldn’t breathe. Panic set in. Her brain knew the difference between Christian and Thomas. Although they shared some things in common like wealth and arrogance, they were polar opposites. When he’d gotten a little drunk at their first dinner, he’d been a gentleman. She couldn’t imagine him ever treating her with the disrespect Thomas had.
Still, the idea of trapping herself in another marriage made her sick to her stomach. She just couldn’t do it. Hopefully, Christian was kidding. “Let’s just enjoy what we have and not rock the boat.”
He frowned. “Are you honestly telling me you wouldn’t consider marrying me if I asked you?”
“Why do we need a piece of paper?” She forced a laugh, trying to lighten the mood. “I can’t have children, and that’s the only sane reason I can see for needing a marriage license.”
“Wow. I had no idea you were so cynical. That’s supposed to be my job.”
Tears pricked the backs of her eyes. “I am not cynical. I’m a realist.” She got out of bed, grabbed his black silk robe, and put it on with her back to him. She only turned around after she was modestly covered. “Do you know how many marriages end in divorce? It’s so much easier to leave a relationship if you don’t sign on the dotted line.”
She crossed her arms and dared him to disagree. If anyone should get it, it should be him. After all, Christian Sabatino was a lady-killer with a long list of exes. Imagine if he’d married those women. He’d be broke.
He stared at her in dumbfounded silence.
Normally Christian would agree with every word Bianca had said. In fact, the words would have come from his mouth, but something about today felt different. Bianca’s statement left him feeling cold. For the first time in his life, he could picture himself waiting for his bride at the end of a church aisle without hyperventilating. Seeing her walk to him in that beautiful gown she’d been wearing earlier made his breath catch.