She smelled like sunshine.
She tasted like a tart cherry.
She felt like warm silk.
All of it mixed with sweetness and spice. And nothing very nice.
Grazie a Dio.
He liked her spunk, liked her feisty spirit. Her fiery temperament would add zest to their bedroom adventures. He relished the thought of taming her. His body hardened as he pulled her toward him. Dio, he was really looking forward to it.
Slipping his tongue across her mouth, he tasted her, sipped her. “Open your mouth, carita,” he whispered on her lips. “Let me in.”
Her lashes lifted. Her night-blue eyes met his, glazed with the passion he’d created inside her. The sight filled him with a fierce delight. This next month would be no chore at all and she would derive as much pleasure during this time as he. He would drive every memory of his brother out of her head and her body. The thought of her with Matteo burned in him. He relished the thought of claiming his prize and vowed she would never think of any other man except for him for at least this next month.
“Open for me,” he commanded, his words harsher than he’d meant them to be. But he suddenly had a driving need for her to acknowledge his claim on her.
Her eyes cleared and sharpened. Two small hands slapped his chest. “Let me go.”
Startled at her sudden change, he stared at her piquant face. His hands tightened on her waist. “You were with me all the way.”
“You grabbed me.” She pushed him, and the feel of her hands on his chest drove his blood into a frenzy.
“You kissed me.” His temper, his well-controlled temper, roared to life once more.
“No.” Blue lasers of rejection met his gaze. “You kissed me.”
“Maledizione.” He gripped her tighter.
“You can bellow in Italian at me all you like, Mr. La Rocca.” Her chin thrust out with her words. “But you will release me or I’ll scream.”
The determination in her voice finally speared through his throbbing need to pin her to the floor and teach her what she honestly wanted. It also cut right through his temper—the temper he never allowed himself to lose.
Irritated surprise flashed through him.
He stepped away from her, lifting his hands up in a sign of compliance. “Perdono.”
“If that means you’re apologizing, apology not accepted.” Tugging on the edge of her ugly brown suit jacket, she pretended to ignore him.
His temper bubbled behind the steel wall he always contained it with. This woman had a knack for cracking through his control. Which he didn’t appreciate. “Then I will retract the word. It was not needed anyway. I did nothing to you that you did not want.”
“That’s not true—”
“Nothing you weren’t a full participant in.”
Her gasp of outrage fed his growing ire. He itched to grab her, shake her into compliance. Rather than making that strategic mistake, he stalked to the window and scowled down at the seething traffic. “Let us get to the bottom line,” he snarled. “I don’t have any more time to waste on you.”
“Fine. Give me what I came for—your commitment to release Matt from this marriage—and I’ll be gone from here in a flash.”
Turning, he glared at her. Her hair was mussed by his hands. Her eyes were huge and blue in her delicate face. Her lips were plump and puffed from his brief kiss. His burning anger mixed with an aching lust. She forced him to use his last cruel card. So be it. Why was there some primal part of him taking delight in breaking her to his will? “You leave me no choice.”
Her dainty eyebrows frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I am done trying to reason with you.”
“This is your idea of reasoning with me?” She huffed. “Issuing commands I’m supposed to follow? Stealing a kiss when I don’t want anything to do with you?”
“I am afraid I will have to disappoint you on your wish to have nothing to do with me.” He stepped behind his desk and lifted the folder. Slapping it down, he pinned her with an icy glare. “For the near future you will be with me all the time.”
“I will not.” Her pointed chin jutted.
A harsh laugh escaped him. “From this point on, Ms. Moran, you will do exactly as I say.”
“I will take great pleasure in seeing this happen.” He shoved the folder towards her. “Some light reading for you.”
She eyed it with distrust. “What is it?”
“You wish me to translate once more?” He sat down in his leather chair, his eyes never leaving her. “The report is about your father.”
Her lithe body froze. “How do you know my father?”
“I don’t know him. I know of him.”
She gave him a nonchalant wave of her petite hand. But he was not deceived. She vibrated with unease and she no longer met his gaze. “So?”
“Sooo.” He drawled out the word. “He is in trouble.”
“Oh, no.” Her head jerked up from her contemplation of his carpet.
“This is not the first time, is it, Ms. Moran?”
She stared at him as if he were a rattlesnake ready to strike.
He obliged her.
“My security team has determined your father is neck deep in a heroin ring.”
“Bloody hell. I told him I would give him some money—”
He snorted in disgust. “You are naïve if you think the tiny amount of money a starving artist can give is going to be enough to feed a heroin addiction. Your father is dealing to feed his habit.”
“I thought he’d finally made a decision—”
“Don’t be a fool.” His tone was overly harsh yet he couldn’t seem to help himself. Frustration and anger still simmered in his blood. He craved her submission, her defeat, with a ferocity that surprised and stunned him. Yet the craving compelled him forward. “Your father has two destinations. The one he takes will be determined by you.”
“Me?” she squeaked.
“Si.” Lust and fury roared in his head, in his heart, in his body. The passionate mix drove him to conquer. “My security team will either turn your father over to the police—”
“Or deliver him to a recovery facility.”
Dead silence answered his words.
“A very expensive, successful recovery facility.”
She stood rigid: her face white, blue eyes stark in contrast to her skin. He had a sudden desire to pace to her, sweep her in his arms, tell her he would protect her.
However, this was not his goal or his duty. His duty was to his business, his family, his brother. She was merely an object of his fleeting desire.
And his adversary.
“Well, Ms. Moran? Which will it be?”