A Ruthless Proposition - Page 2

A Ruthless Proposition - Page 2

She padded over to the huge floor-to-ceiling window that overlooked Tokyo in all its sparkling glory. She had never seen anything remotely close to this spectacular view. The city was vast, and its lights sprawled as far as the eye could see. Despite being forty floors removed from the heaving excitement of the city, Cleo could feel it calling to her like a seductive siren.

She turned away from the allure and found herself inadvertently appreciating a spectacular view of a different kind. Big, s.e.x.y Dante Damaso as she had never seen him before, ruffled, stubbled, and completely disheveled. The look suited him and gave him an edge that the normally smooth, urbane man kept hidden beneath layers of intimidating sophistication and flawless tailoring. It was an image of the man she really preferred not to have in her head, because it made him seem a lot more human—more approachable—than he usually was.

He looked up and happened to catch her eye, and even from across the room, she could see something spark and smolder in his gaze. It was gone in a flash, and she wondered if her tired brain had tricked her into seeing things. She wandered over to the exquisite coffee table where she had left her cell phone to charge and checked her messages. A couple from her brother, Luc, and her best friend, Cal, and one informing her that she could very well have won five hundred grand already! Fantastic. She allowed herself a moment of pure whimsy—with her “winnings” there’d be no further need to spend her mornings making coffee, watering Dante Damaso’s precious ficus, or sending the polite equivalent of “Thanks for the sex. Let’s never see each other again” notes with flowers to her boss’s random lady friends. In the nearly four months that she’d been working for him, she’d already sent five notes accompanying equally polite, pretty floral tributes. It was sickening.

Her nose wrinkled at the thought, and she jumped guiltily when the object of her thoughts called her name curtly.

“Yes, sir?”

“Ready to get back to work?”

Not really.

“Of course, sir,” she said, proud that she managed to keep her voice relatively emotionless.

She sat down at the antique secretary that she had claimed as her workstation and tried to hide her wince when her b.u.t.t and back hit the hard, unforgiving surface of the ornate high-back chair. She rolled her shoulders and sighed quietly as she closed her eyes and kneaded the tightly knotted muscles in the back of her neck.

“Tired?”

She jumped when Damaso’s voice came from behind her, and she looked up over her shoulder to meet his dark, enigmatic gaze. He’d come up to within half a yard of the back of her chair and had his hands shoved into his trouser pockets. He was staring down at her, his eyes narrowed and intent.

“A little,” she admitted.

He nodded, never taking his eyes off hers, and seemed to weigh his next words before speaking.

“Would you like a neck rub?”

Cleo blinked, shocked by both the question and the heat that flared in his eyes. She knew very well what that neck rub would entail, where it would lead, and he meant for her to know that. Until that very moment, she would never have guessed that the man had even noticed her as a female, yet the way he was looking at her right now told her that he very much appreciated what he was seeing. He kept his hands to himself and his expression—despite everything going on in his eyes—impassive. If she refused his offer and all it entailed, she imagined he would simply shrug it off, and they would carry on as if this crazy moment had never happened.

The question was . . . did she want to refuse him? She was tired, frustrated, and his offer could be a fantastic way to let off steam and unwind after a hard day. Who would it harm? They were both consenting adults. There was no romance or love or hearts and flowers here. She might dislike him, but she’d be lying to herself if she didn’t admit to feeling sexually curious about him. Maybe just this once? Just a taste. This was sex, plain and simple, and sometimes that’s really all anybody needed.

Dante Damaso watched the play of emotions on his assistant’s ridiculously expressive face. Shock and confusion, followed by intrigue, trepidation, and definite interest. He couldn’t have surprised himself more with that d.a.m.n.e.d question. She was a tempting little thing, which he’d been trying d.a.m.n.e.d hard to overlook in light of their personal connection through her brother. To that end, he limited the amount of time he spent with her as much as possible. But right now he was as human as the next guy. He was irritated by the way his day had gone, and his frustration built as the hours wore on with little progress being made. Now, after seeing this woman in her distracting blue dress, he was also h.o.r.n.y as hell. He could do something about at least one of those things, but if she wasn’t interested, they’d move on. It would probably be for the best anyway, considering the spur-of-the-moment nature of his proposition. He should withdraw his offer and leave it at that. After all, he couldn’t think of a more inappropriate—

“Yes, thank you.” Her whispered words brought his commonsense train of thought to a screeching halt, and his jaw dropped as he watched her dip her head, allowing the sharply defined points of her sleek bob to swing forward and hide her face. His throat went bone-dry, and all sound judgment fled as he watched his hands reach for that vulnerable nape. He hesitated just shy of touching her and inhaled deeply, catching a whiff of the fresh, floral scent that had tantalized his senses all evening. When his fingers finally made contact with her soft, exposed flesh, his breath shuddered out of his chest in tandem with hers.

He was instantly, painfully, and immutably hard, and he allowed himself to deepen his touch, even though every instinct in him was screaming that this was a mistake.

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