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       Seduced, p.8

         Part #3 of Surrender series by Melody Anne
slower 1  faster

  Should he let her go?

  Yes, most likely. He was broken in so many ways. He’d mistreated her, broken her heart, and shattered her innocence. A better man would let her live her life free of him.

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  He couldn’t be that better man.

  Rafe slowly moved through his house and into the master bedroom, where his massive bed didn’t even dominate the room.

  There was so much space in his home, and he had been living there alone for so long. He hoped that wouldn’t be the case for too much longer. With luck and extreme effort on his part, Ari would soon share every night with him, and the days, too.

  Laying her down on his bed, he looked at the sight she made, her golden hair spread out on his pillow, her mouth turned up in a slight smile.

  Being careful not to wake her, he undid her pants and slid them from her slender legs. Because he hadn’t had enough torture, he leaned down and pressed his lips to hers, just a brief touch, a chaste kiss.

  “Rafe…” she sighed, but didn’t wake.

  Yes, they would make it through. Even in her dreams, she called for him. He wondered what she was dreaming at that moment. Most likely she was somewhere in the South while waiting for her hero to find her. Rafe could picture himself as that man.

  Wanting nothing more than to crawl into bed with her, it took every ounce of willpower he possessed to cover her up and then turn away.

  “You’re in this for the long haul, Rafe, the long haul. If you blow this now, she will run away scared and another couple of years may pass. ” As much pain as it caused him, he turned off the lights and left the room. There wouldn’t be much sleep for him that night.

  Chapter Twelve

  Rachel

  As Rachel arrived at the hotel, she realized she didn’t have a last name for Ian or any way to let the maître d’ know the person she was looking for. Stepping from the taxi, she was less than a second away from turning back and forgetting the entire evening.

  It was foolish, after all. What would her parents say? What would Rafe say! Her parents, she could handle; her big brother, not so much. He’d come unglued if he knew what she was planning to do. She and Lia would never be adults in Rafe’s eyes. They’d continue to be pigtailed little girls whom no man was allowed to touch — not as long as that man wanted to live.

  Hypocrite!

  “Good evening, Ms. Rachel. If you will follow me, I’ll show you where your date is waiting. ”

  Rachel jumped, her hand still on the door of the cab. Turning around, she spotted a very large man who looked more suited to guard the president than escort women to a one-night stand. Well, hopefully a one-week stand.

  When she looked up at him, the man didn’t show a single expression on his face. Was she a fool to follow through on this? No. She didn’t think so. What could happen in a nice hotel where people could see her enter? OK, so maybe she was as naïve as Rafe thought she was.

  The thought caused her shoulders to stiffen in defiance. It was her life, and if she wanted to be a fool, that was her choice. She wasn’t a little girl anymore, and soon she’d be working, earning her own way in the world without the help of her parents or her big brother.

  “Thank you,” she replied after the silence had stretched on for an awkward amount of time. Her nerves fluttered in her stomach as she walked by the giant man’s side through the elegant lobby of the Mandarin Oriental.

  It didn’t take long to reach the bank of elevators, and soon she was riding to the top floor. She’d expected that they’d eat in the dining room, but wasn’t this better? If she wanted to act like a woman of the world, she certainly needed to arrive at his room eventually.

  The thought entered her mind that she should be offended he was presuming so much, but she brushed it away. It was time she took her own pleasure into her hands, and that meant a night with the very sexy man who’d “rescued” her from the sea.

  “Right this way. ”

  They stepped up to a door, where the man inserted a key card, then held the door open for her. Walking through the entrance, she was well pleased by the elegant foyer. She didn’t notice the door closing behind her with a soft click, locking her securely inside.

  Approaching the spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows, she smiled at the splendid view of the Biscayne Bay and Miami’s impressive skyline. Not far out was the deceptively peaceful Atlantic Ocean. She knew how violent those seas could become, but at the moment, everything was quiet and…romantic, as if Ian had commanded the perfect setting.

  “I’m glad you came. ”

  For the second time in a short span, Rachel jumped as a man’s voice startled her from her thoughts. Turning slowly, her heart picked up speed at the sight of Ian standing before her in a crisp white shirt and dark slacks.

  She couldn’t decide whether the man was better looking with or without clothes on. No. His chest dripping with water in the hot sun was certainly a sight she wouldn’t mind seeing more of. However, he looked quite debonair in his evening clothes.

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  “Of course I came. I couldn’t resist a dinner here. I’ve heard they have a wonderful wine selection,” she said, surprised by her smooth tone of voice. Her nerves weren’t showing at all though she was shaking like a fall leaf on the inside.

  “I have a table on the balcony. You’ll like the view. ” He offered his arm, and Rachel accepted it, allowing him to lead her to the open French doors.

  A native of the West Coast, she doubted she could ever adapt to the humidity of Florida, but it was more bearable in the evening. A slight breeze was blowing in off the bay, making the balcony the perfect place to dine.

  Her tall, dark stranger was quite adept at seduction. A beautifully presented table was before her with a bottle of wine chilling and candles emitting a soft glow. When he held out her chair, she sat and watched his sure moves as he rounded the table.

  As they sat down, he gazed at her with his dark eyes, and her nerves left her. She wanted this man too much to let them get the best of her. Maybe she’d come to regret her impulsive act, but it wouldn’t be tonight — that was certain.

  A man quietly approached and set down a plate for each of them before retreating. Rachel was glad to have a waiter there. One more witness to her presence couldn’t hurt. At least Ian wouldn’t be able to murder her without some serious questions being asked.

  The thought made her smile. If she’d truly been afraid of being hacked to pieces and fed to the sharks, she never would have set foot inside the hotel. No. She was just used to her parents’ fears. She wouldn’t allow any of that to ruin her night.

  Their first course of Aleppo Stained Swordfish was accompanied by a beautiful French Chardonnay. The man certainly had good taste in food, and she took a bite of the fish, relishing the flavors dancing on her tongue.

  “Where are you from, Rachel?”

  “I thought we agreed to be strangers,” she replied, not sure whether she wanted them to know much about each other. If she got to know this man, there was a chance of getting attached, and that wasn’t in her game plan.

  “Ah, keep the mystery alive,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

  “Yes. It’s not every day I get rescued from certain death. I have created my own version of who you are. ”

  He looked at her for a stunned moment before bursting into laughter. “You are quite the treat, my lady. ”

  “As are you. ”

  “What would you think about this? We could play a game — make guesses about each other’s lives. ”

  Rachel considered his proposal, looking for anything that would end up biting her in the behind. She didn’t see how it could.

  “I think certain games can be quite fun,” she responded with a wink. Rachel was shocked with herself at her boldness. She could almost picture Lia in the corner with her mouth gaping open. Rachel had never been a w
allflower, but she’d also never been so forward with a man, either.

  Watching as Ian’s eyes flared with delight, she couldn’t help but to glow inside. He wanted her, and it was great for her ego.

  As they moved on to their next course of D’Artagnan NY Striploin, with green and white asparagus, pickled mushroom, short rib ragout and béarnaise sauce, and served with a cabernet sauvignon, she looked into his eyes as she tried to guess his story.

  “With your slight accent, you are obviously not a native Floridian. The golden complexion of your skin possibly makes you Italian, my mother’s home country. You are obviously educated, confident, and used to getting your own way…” she began.

  His eyebrows rose, as if surprised by her perception. She would have to be a bit careful, she told herself. A ditzy college student wouldn’t know quite so much. Plus, she’d given a little too much information about herself by telling him where her mother was from.

  “Please go on. You have my curiosity piqued as to who you think I am,” he said as he took a bite of the succulent steak and waited.

  “Well, you are staying on the top floor of a nice hotel, having a fairly pricey dinner catered, and your clothes are hand-tailored, or bespoke, so you aren’t poor by any means. I say you are an international banker who travels to different countries, fattening your wallet and rescuing damsels in distress before seducing them — and then jetting away. ”

  Her words could have sounded harsh if not for the laughter in her tone. Ian gazed at her with deep, assessing eyes for a moment before leaning back and picking up his glass of wine.

  The waiter cleared their plates before coming back a few moments later with a glass of Château D’Yquem Sauternes. As Rachel took a sip, she knew she was drinking only the best. He was pulling out all the stops.

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  Their dessert of Pistachio and Lavender Honey Panna Cotta was placed before her, and she didn’t hesitate to take a bite. There were no complaints from her about the delicious meal.

  “Sadly, you are wrong, so I have to admit nothing of my true identity,” he said as he began eating his dessert.

  “Ah, well, my next guess is that you’re a top-secret superhero commissioned by the government to rescue damsels and fight crime. ”

  “I’m afraid that you have caught me. They call me Aquahero, and I fight crime only along the oceanfront, my true nemesis being the Great White Shark. ”

  Oh, Rachel liked him — liked him a bit too much for someone she intended only to sleep with and then never see again. There would be no exchanging of phone numbers. She had plans, and they didn’t include Mr. Sexy and his dark-as-night eyes.

  “It’s my turn. You are obviously educated and well-traveled. You know fine wine and good food. Confidence oozes from you, and I would wager that you’re very used to getting your way. Yet as much as you want me to believe you’re a woman of the world, I see a hint of vulnerability beneath your impressive act. That leads me to believe that you’re from a good family, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a coming-out season. Since you’ve already told me your mother is from Italy, you most likely spend a lot of time doing international travel… I say you are a shipping heiress who flits from country to country trying to win new customers. ”

  Rachel was impressed even more. He was doing very well, though she didn’t appreciate his vulnerability comment. She wasn’t a weak little girl who needed protecting. And she was sick of people thinking she was such an innocent, the Palazzo daughter who would never do wrong. She’d always been aware of what people thought and had been careful to maintain a good reputation. But sometimes a girl just needed to be a little bit bad to have a whole lot of fun.

  “Will there be anything else, sir?”

  She’d forgotten that the waiter was even there, but as he brought a bottle of rare Rémy Martin cognac to the table and poured some into two snifters, she looked up, impressed by the man’s professionalism. How hard it must be for him not to laugh at their ridiculous conversation.

  “No. Thank you very much. The meal has been quite pleasant,” Ian said, and the waiter disappeared, leaving them alone.

  Rachel picked up her snifter and sipped the smooth liquid, feeling just the slightest effect from the evening’s alcohol. She in no way wanted to become drunk. She wouldn’t allow herself to blame her decision to sleep with the man on alcohol. She wanted to remember every second and have no regrets about it.

  “You have guessed wrong. It seems that neither of us has a gift for reading other people,” Rachel said as Ian stood from the table and held out a hand to her.

  “I think we will be much better at other things,” he replied as he slowly pulled her into his arms.

  Here was the moment of truth. Was she really going to follow through on her plan? He was giving her plenty of time to change her mind as he looked into her eyes. She either lifted her mouth to him, or turned and walked away. She could do that.

  The night could be about nothing more than a great dinner and some amusing conversation, or she could take what she wanted.

  The moment seemed to stretch on forever as he waited for her cue on what to do next. She respected that he was a man of honor — that he wasn’t going to just take what he felt he deserved.

  To stay or not to stay, that was the decision.

  Chapter Thirteen

  Lia

  Shane’s perfected dive barely left a ripple in the crystal-clear water as he surfaced, droplets pouring down his face as he pulled Lia tightly to him. The only thing on his mind was the fact that they were both in this cool paradise, and they were both naked. He grabbed hold of her tightly — no hesitation on his part as his mouth met hers.

  His lips coaxed Lia’s open and devoured her. This was no chaste meeting of mouths; it was a possession of the highest, and she was powerless to stop it. Who did she think she was fooling, anyway? He left her breathless.

  She wanted him, even after all this time. She had tried dating other men, had even tried to sleep with one of them, only to find herself feeling absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. She’d called a halt.

  Only one man turned her blood to lava, made her desire him from deep within her soul, and that man was Shane.

  His hands slid slowly around her back, and she didn’t even feel the movement as he led them toward the surrounding land, where he could stand and then use his hands to glide across her body. She should at least try to stop this, but why?

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  They both wanted it more than they wanted rescuing, so what was the use in pretending otherwise?

  “You are mine, Lia. I have given you room, I have been patient, but you want me just as much as I want you, and my patience is finished,” he growled low in his throat before his lips covered hers once again.

  She should protest his high-handedness, and she would — in just a few minutes…

  Shane’s hands slid from her waist and gripped her round behind, pulling her up his body so his straining erection was pressed just outside of her core.

  She wanted to wrap her legs around him and feel the sweet bliss of him deep inside her. She was a fool to deny both him and herself. The real world would still be there tomorrow, but right at this moment, she was with him, with the man she’d wanted for so long, and hadn’t had nearly long enough in their brief fling in Vegas two-odd years ago.

  “Tell me you want me, Lia!” he demanded of her.

  No. She wouldn’t go that far. She was still waging war within herself and she wouldn’t give Shane the satisfaction of submitting to his will. She did want him — wanted him so much that she ached all over — but she wouldn’t tell him that.

  “I won’t sink inside you until you admit that you want me,” he said, leaning back, his intense gaze not relenting.

  “No. ” The word tore through her. Why did she have to be so stubborn? Why couldn’t she give in just one small inch? W
as there no reason for it? Did she want to see how far she could push him and still have him come back for more? So many people who knew her would think she was that frivolous and self-absorbed. No, it wasn’t that. She was simply trying to protect herself from another devil-may-care lothario who couldn’t see beyond her looks and her spirit.

  “What?” his expression was unreadable as he gazed at her, his hands still gripping her backside tightly, her body still pulled flush against his. One little word and he’d sink inside her.

  She couldn’t make herself say it. She stubbornly looked back at him as she rocked her hips. She was saying yes with her body; wasn’t that enough?

  “You would rather suffer than admit you still want me?” he asked incredulously.

  She kept silent.

  When he let her go, she couldn’t stop the whimper from escaping her throat. She wanted him so much, her body felt like it was going to go up in flames. Just tell him, she screamed at herself.

  But she couldn’t.

  “You will cave, Lia. I have no doubt,” he said, using a practiced confident grin to mask his disappointment.

  The tip of his finger moved from her throat to down between her br**sts, and then disappeared in the water while it circled her stomach. She couldn’t breathe as she waited for him to touch her where she most needed it.

  Instead of lowering, his hand rose again and skimmed her br**sts, barely running over her achingly hard ni**les before lifting and rubbing along her bottom lip.

  “When you finally come to me and admit what we have, I will lay you down and nibble every inch of your skin. I will suck those taut ni**les into my mouth until you scream, and then I will sink inside you and make you come over and over again. ”

  Lia felt herself sinking at his words. She was grateful to be in the water because her knees would no longer lock together. One word and she could have all of that. Shane smiled at her, knowing the torment she was going through.

  Without another word he dived into the water and swam to the other side of the natural pool, swimming beneath the breathtaking waterfall and disappearing from her view.

  Anger filled her as he left her trembling and unfulfilled. Who in the hell did he think he was?

  “I hope you’re having a great time pleasing yourself!” she yelled before climbing from the water.

 
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MELODY ANNE SERIES:

Surrender

 

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