All for love 3 series.., p.34
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       All for Love - 3 Series Starters, p.34

           Kris Pearson
 

  “No—we need to eat or we’ll die from exhaustion.”

  “Not me,” she assured him.

  “Is that a challenge?”

  “Take it how you like.”

  “I’ll take you how I like.”

  “I thought you already had.”

  He smiled and handed her a slice of toast. “To build up your strength for bed,” he suggested.

  “An actual bed? That’ll make a change from the spa room and the sofa and this lovely rug...” She stretched like a cat, watching as his eyes roamed over her nude body. “I like this rug,” she murmured. “I like what you did to me on this rug...” Vivid pictures and sharp sensations flooded her mind.

  “I’m not out of ideas yet,” he said. “For instance I could—” and his fingers and tongue roamed over her again, summoning a squeak and a blush and eventual capitulation to his wishes. And there was still bed, she thought, as her body responded to him and the pleasure came flooding back again.

  Kate had never experienced sensations as intense as those Matthew created for her. She fell deeper and deeper into a web of fantastic feathery nerve-thrills, a sleek musical instrument awaiting his skilful touch. As his warm mouth and clever hands whispered over her; as his husky voice encouraged and suggested; as she took him deep within her, she soared and trembled until he tipped her over to shatter in yet another exquisite soft explosion of heat and near-pain. Then she found herself gently rocked in the languorous warmth of his arms as his eyes approved of her reaction to him, and his lips again found hers.

  ~♥~

  “I need to send an e-mail,” she said, near eleven o’clock. “It’s too late to phone them now, and my phone’s in my room, anyway. Can I use one of your computers?”

  Matthew’s euphoria deflated just a little as his former doubts returned to niggle and tease at him. Surely she hadn’t given herself to him with such apparent passion to disguise the fact she wanted access to his secrets?

  He thought bitterly of Martine, who’d downloaded some of his most sensitive files as they were arranging their divorce. A wonderfully creative piece of blackmail, he had to admit. Another two million please or I’ll hand these on to someone who’d really appreciate them.

  He hadn’t let her get away with it. Had brought the full force of the law down on her, but the fact that she’d tried and nearly succeeded still stung like hell.

  But surely not Kate too? He was now more impatient than ever to know what Sy Karlsen could trace about her.

  “I’ll make some fresh toast,” he said, inspecting the cold and curling slices they’d abandoned for each other. “And get my iPad. That do you?”

  “Great.”

  So she didn’t seem worried about not getting into his office? And she’d never be able to access anything without knowing his passwords. Unless she was very, very clever. He relaxed slightly as he padded off, naked, to grab it. Tomorrow he’d check out whatever she’d sent.

  By the time he returned, Kate had wrapped the huge possum-fur throw from the end of the sofa around herself.

  “Cavewoman,” he said. “With all mod cons.” He handed her the iPad.

  She grinned. “Including caveman.”

  “You know the address you want?”

  “Just my Dad. I should have thought about this much earlier. He doesn’t know where I am, or for how long.”

  Matthew’s buoyant mood evaporated further. “Thought you were a free agent?”

  “Free as a bird,” she said, still smiling at him.

  Was it a smile of treachery or innocence he saw on her pretty lips?

  “It’s only a celebration I said I’d try and attend tomorrow,” she added. “I need to let them know I won’t be there after all.”

  Only a celebration? He wouldn’t feel too bad about snooping on that.

  She settled the iPad on her lap. “Any chance of something to drink with that toast?”

  He dropped a kiss on her shoulder. “Coffee? Juice?” His fingers glided down her arm in a soft caress.

  “Juice would be great.”

  ~♥~

  Kate’s eyes roved over him as walked away. Long legs, strong and sinewy. That fantastic tattoo, looking almost like shorts in back view—except his cute butt-wiggle gave away the fact that it was sensational skin. His strong back. Even stronger shoulders. No wonder he’d been able to lift her with ease and wrap her around his waist like a sinuous vine.

  Surely, surely, she could make something good of this situation? Had the on-again off-again possibility of the job now switched in her favour? Matthew’s initial cool reception had definitely thawed. Her own flip comment after they’d returned from the movie—about the job being ‘not quite what she’d been expecting’—seemed a long way in the past. She hoped he’d quietly forgotten it so they could move forward together and see where things led.

  Sighing, she turned her eyes down to the screen. ‘[email protected]’ she keyed in. She hesitated. Perhaps she should phone him in the morning instead. Oh, to hang with it—do it now. She completed the address.

  ‘Dad—needed to let you know things are not running quite according to plan. I can’t be with you tomorrow because I was asked to stay on—too good an opportunity to miss, and the extra time is proving interesting, to say the least. You and Terry will hardly miss me. There are complications here I hadn’t foreseen, but compensations, too. Good luck for your big merger announcement. I still think you’re going to stun people, but we must all look to the future instead of the past. Back Sunday evening. Kate xx.’

  She sent the message just as Matthew arrived with two tall glasses and set them on the low table by the sofa. “Done,” she said.

  He reached for the iPad and turned for his office. “Nearly ready for bed?” he threw over his shoulder.

  “Right after this.” She raised her glass in a small salute. “If I have the energy for it,” she added. She smiled as the man who’d been a mysterious, out-of-reach stranger just two days ago gave her another spectacular eye-full.

  A few minutes later, he said, “Stay just like that. I want to draw you.”

  “Not again.” She glanced down. “At least I’m covered this time.” She reached out to put her half-empty glass on the table.

  ‘No. Just as you were. Holding the glass. Link your fingers like you had them before.”

  Kate obeyed, albeit with an enquiring expression. Matthew collected a pencil and some sheets of computer paper from his office and tossed them onto the table. He sat on the floor, fixed his glittering gaze on her hands, and started to sketch. The pencil raced across the paper in a complicated pattern. He regarded his handiwork, grimaced, and crumpled the sheet into a ball. “Next time,” he muttered, starting again.

  She watched his face. The corners of his mobile mouth curled up into the slightest of grins as the drawing started to take shape again.

  “What are you up to? I can’t work it out.”

  “I’ll show you in a minute.” He continued to sketch, flicking his eyes up occasionally. The slight grin became a wide and wicked smile. Finally, he laid down his pencil, rolled the paper into a tube, and held it up for her to see just as she took another sip of juice. It was her hands, beautifully drawn, clutching not a glass, but an erect penis.

  “In your dreams!” she exclaimed, coughing through her giggles as the juice went down the wrong way. Once she’d recovered, she said, “Did you know Leonardo da Vinci is quoted as saying, ‘The function of muscle is to pull, not push, except in the case of the genitals and the tongue?’”

  Matthew tossed the drawing onto the table. “I gather he knew a good bit about both. Led an interesting life, old Leonardo. Can you picture this as the final piece of my tattoo?”

  Kate’s eyes grew wide, imagining the pain. “You can’t. You’d have to go without sex for weeks.”

  “And that bothers you?”

  “Not as much as it’ll bother you. You’re not serious?”

  Matthew gave a shout of laughter. “
You should see your face,” he said.

  She had no idea if he really planned to do it. Her mouth grew dry at the thought.

  ~♥~

  They walked, embracing, through the huge warm house, and Matthew drew her down onto his bed.

  “Lie still,” Kate said. “I want to explore you.”

  She angled one of the bedside lights down and traced around the curving black Celtic panels with the pad of her index finger. She moved lower. “There’s a fish!”

  “There are several fish,” he said, raising his head to watch her. Her cloud of hair brushed across his belly in exquisite torture.

  “And flowers,” she discovered.

  “Renga lilies. Kowhai. And fern fronds to lead into the Maori panel. There’s a tiny jokey windmill for Lottie somewhere there, too.”

  “I like the little fish,” she said. “And this big fish is just wonderful.” She’d closed her fingers around him before he could protest. He flexed in her hand.

  “That fish can’t wait to get caught,” he murmured. “He’d like to be swimming in the dark soft sea of your hair.”

  She pushed herself up and knelt astride his thighs. Swept her tumble of waves over his chest... down his torso... and then luxuriantly back and forth across his hips.

  Matthew heaved a huge gusty sigh.

  Hidden beneath her hair, Kate’s tongue started to tease him. The fish jerked helplessly on her silken line.

  Chapter Sixteen — Caught!

  She woke with a start. Something was different.

  The bedroom curtains were open—Matthew had never made it as far as the windows to close them the night before. She turned toward the light and gasped. There was nothing outside except soft white snow forever. Any noises were hushed by the muffling blanket. It was like being afloat on a sea of foam.

  Her beautiful man was still deep asleep—his broad chest rising and falling with each slow breath. He looked younger, more relaxed. Or maybe a night of great sex had done that for him?

  She stretched. Her body felt about three hundred percent alive—thoroughly used, thoroughly pleasured. She’d never been so receptive, so inventive, so entirely wakened to her senses. Her plane ticket to Auckland was booked for four o’clock the next afternoon. She couldn’t wait to tidy up her life there and fly back south to Matthew.

  Her mother’s stylish townhouse in Herne Bay was now hers. She’d rent it out until she knew what her longer term plans might be.

  But snow right outside! To a girl from the north, this was a novelty. She slid from the bed and crept to the window to look. White forever. And the view would be even more spectacular from the front of the house. She let herself out of his room, collected her robe and slippers from her own, and went exploring. It was only just light, but every window she peered through brought a vista of untrodden, uninterrupted snow. The mountains and foothills were pristine. The big expanse of tussock garden bulged and dipped under a lumpy white coverlet. The driveway had disappeared.

  She leaned close to Matthew’s study window, admiring the jagged mountains, now sifted with even more snow. As she turned away, her gaze landed on a long ribbed cylinder. Inspiration struck. She’d been searching for big flat sketches the day before, but of course they could be rolled and concealed in a tube like this. She reached for it and started to wrestle the end off.

  “What do you think you’ll find in there?”

  His voice was cold, flat and hard.

  She was horribly disconcerted. “I...well, nothing maybe...but...it doesn’t matter now anyway.”

  “It matters to me. What are you looking for?”

  She put down the cylinder and crossed the room to him. He backed away, avoiding her touch.

  “No, it really doesn’t matter now,” she insisted. “I’ve been wondering where you hid those sketches of me. I wanted to find them and get them... out of your ownership.” She dropped her gaze. His eyes were so frigid and accusing she could no longer look at them.

  “Those are the house plans, Kate. Nothing to do with you.”

  “No. Fine. Sorry.” She stood like a chastened child. Matthew moved deliberately further away. When she glanced up again she saw his mouth had twisted into a savage grimace. All his warmth from the night before had evaporated.

  She remained stock-still and shaken. He jerked his head toward the hallway to indicate she was to leave his office. Why was he so upset? It made no sense. She’d told him the truth, and agreed it didn’t matter now whether she found the sketches or not. He’d seen a lot more of her last night than his drawings had revealed! “What the hell’s wrong, Matthew? I only want those sketches. I’ve already asked you twice where they are and you’ve avoided answering.”

  “So you thought you’d come and do a sneaky search on your own?”

  “I was looking at the snow. It’s amazing.”

  “Feeble excuse, Kate. You’re in my office while you thought I was safely asleep. I saw what you were doing.”

  His expression and tone of voice, and swift withdrawal of warmth, made it somehow impossible to argue further. Once she’d slunk out, he slammed the office door and stalked off, leaving her to return in confusion to her own bedroom. Why did the house plans matter so much to him? She crawled into her bed. The sheets were cold and unwelcoming against her skin. She retrieved her robe and wrapped it around her for comfort. But there was little comfort to be found.

  ~♥~

  Matthew controlled his breathing with a will of steel as Kate turned her innocent eyes on him. What an actress. What had she really been looking for? And what was the message she’d sent last night while he’d been out of the way? He strode back to the office as soon as she disappeared to her room, and retrieved the email she’d been so keen to send.

  His blood ran cold. There it was—as clear and cruel as it could be.

  To Rob Pleasance. Her father. At least she hadn’t lied about that.

  Dad—needed to let you know things are not running quite according to plan.

  Not now, anyway, Matthew vowed.

  I can’t be with you tomorrow because I was asked to say on—too good an opportunity to miss, and the extra time is proving interesting, to say the least.

  Yeah. Right. He slowly sat.

  You and Terry will hardly know I am missing.

  Terry Halstead of Geni-Tel? Or Sir Terrence Quaid, one of the Brits sniffing around the industry? Matthew’s imagination ran riot as he considered possibilities... probabilities... as he computed the known facts and extrapolated them into myriad distasteful scenarios. What the hell was the opposition up to? And how was Kate involved?

  There are complications here I hadn’t foreseen, but compensations, too.

  Was he the compensation? He didn’t like being described as that. Only minutes after he’d slipped from her body, she’d thought of him just as ‘compensation’? Evil bitch. She’d fooled him absolutely. Had him almost begging on his knees.

  Good luck for your big merger announcement.

  Now he was truly troubled. He’d heard no talk of a takeover. No whiff of a merger on the rumour mill.

  I still think you’re going to stun people.

  And he was certainly one of them. He sat welded to his chair, staring at her words, wondering what he’d missed, bitterly regretting his night of incredible passion with the woman who would now have to be somehow wrenched from his heart.

  ~♥~

  Kate stood under the stinging shower for long, numbing minutes. Matthew had been furious—far more vicious than a couple of sketches warranted. Okay, it had been cheeky of her to look for them, but he hadn’t handed them over when she asked for them earlier. And she’d asked for them more than once.

  It seemed she’d now lost any chance of getting them back.

  She dried herself and dressed, still wondering about his reaction. Their extreme intimacy had evaporated in a few seconds. She was heartsick and confused. What would the rest of the day bring?

  Clad as warmly as possible,
she ventured outside. The tearing winds of the night before had piled snow along the southern side of the house. But the north was much more accessible. Now it was eerily fine and calm. The storm had been swift to arrive and swift to depart. She hoped Matthew’s foul mood passed as rapidly.

  She looked back at her footprints in the snow and then forward to the smooth blank carpet. There was her life—laid out behind her in safe regular steps, but stretching ahead full of possibilities. An hour ago, she’d been sure he was one of those possibilities.

  As of now, no way.

  She saw movement through the kitchen window, and deserted the snow. After stomping her boots clean on the bristle mat by the back door, she walked inside. He pointedly left the room.

  “Get whatever you want to eat,” he snarled from the hallway. “Lottie will be back about ten-thirty. I’m going across to the vineyard. The office is locked, in case you’re tempted to try again.” He stormed away.

  She heard the low throb of the SUV, the shudder of the garage door opening—and soon after, closing again. And she was alone.

  Any other day, she’d have been famished. Yesterday’s dinner had been a couple of slices of toast and pate, and they’d certainly worked off those calories. But now she was unable to eat. She picked at a boiled egg. Pushed a muffin around her plate. Sat there brooding until the painting cavalcade arrived with cheerful toots.

  Lottie hopped heavily through the shallow snow, clutching at two friends.

  “Katie—what a time we have had. The views are fantastic. The light is amazing.” A third friend retrieved the wheelchair from the following vehicle. Together, they got her organised.

  “Ya—a good thing we took the chains for the wheels, or we would have been totally stranded,” she added with wide eyes and a dramatic flourish.

  From the amused look on the face of one of the friends, Kate surmised it had been far from an emergency.

  “Wonderful that you’re home then,” she said. “Shall I make coffee? Tea? What would anyone like?”

  But the other painters were keen to get home, and departed as soon as they knew Lottie was in good hands.

  “Matthew is here?”

 
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