His gaze fixed on her lips, pink and inviting.
'Asim,' she said finally in a throaty murmur that sounded more like invitation than capitulation and made his blood rush hot and hard.
'That's better.' His voice was a low growl and he heard her gasp.
He wanted to hear her gasp like that while she lay beneath him and he took them both to Paradise.
Jacqueline Fletcher invaded his peace. Every day she visited his office to report progress. She was businesslike and brisk but those stunning slanted eyes would flare amber fire when something fascinated her. Then she'd forget her formality and her whole being would come alive with an enthusiasm Asim wanted to capture and taste.
Each day it grew harder to concentrate on her words or remember the need to be suspicious. He wanted to strip away her shapeless trousers and loose shirts and touch the pearly skin he remembered. His body tightened as he imagined her writhing in pleasure against him.
Except he was in the process of selecting a bride. He had no time for sexual diversions. Besides, honour dictated he shouldn't seek a mistress and a wife at the same time.
His brain said that. His body refused to listen. It told him a few hours diversion was exactly what he needed.
Her teeth snagged on her bottom lip and he lifted one hand, pressing his thumb there, feeling her swift intake of breath.
'Don't. You'll draw blood.'
'Then let me go. I don't want this.'
Asim was tempted to demonstrate how much she wanted precisely this. It would be easy to kiss her till she surrendered. He'd carry her to a bed and relieve them both of the pressure that had built inexorably since the night he found her naked in the harem.
Whether it was the fact she pleaded, this prickly, opinionated woman, or the way she said his name, in a voice barely concealing distress, Asim felt a fist lodge in his chest. Reluctantly he opened his hands and stepped back.
She looked up, those feline eyes gleaming with a slumberous heat that made a mockery of her protest and his caution. Then he read the tension in her mouth. She'd paled, the tiny smattering of freckles across her creamy skin standing out like blood on parchment.
'I'm sorry I intruded.' She ducked her head and spun away. 'I should have realised you might want the pool.'
The fist in his chest twisted.
Alarmed, she stared back over her shoulder.
'Don't apologise.' He breathed deep, filling the void in his lungs. 'I don't like it when you're...meek.' The words surprised him as much as her. He felt the shock of that admission reverberate through him, even as he saw it ripple across her face.
He didn't approve of the way she argued with him, refusing to be silenced after he'd made a decision. It happened daily when she tried to wheedle access to records or palace staff or ancient pavilions that had been locked up as unsafe generations ago. Yet seeing her hesitant and downcast was like watching a bright light dim.
For long seconds their eyes locked. Long enough for him to notice that in the syrupy late afternoon light her eyes flashed with shards of old gold.
Slowly her mouth eased into a crooked smile.
'In that case, Asim,' she paused over his name as if savouring it, 'I promise not to be meek with you again.'
She scooped up her towel and wrapped it around herself, hurrying towards her room. But her chin was up and her shoulders back and, despite his body's howl of protest at her departure, Asim found himself smiling.Reviews Return