‘What?’ I know my expression must be without intelligence, like those worn by beasts of burden, at the very least slow, but I cannot stop the slackness.
‘I’m here to process your loan application,’ he repeats patiently.
Sounds logical, but his words are rocks in my brain. Process my loan application? I shake my head to dislodge the rocks. ‘You don’t work here. You don’t process tiny little loans.’
‘I’m here to process yours.’
‘Why?’ And then a stupid thought occurs to me. Later I will think back and slap my forehead at my own naivety, but at that moment it fires me into action. ‘So you can turn me down? Don’t bother. I’ll show myself out,’ I say hotly, and begin to turn.
He stands. ‘Lana, wait.’
I look all the way up at him. Strange! He even seems bigger, taller.
‘I am the one in the entire banking industry most likely to extend you this loan.’
I continue to stare dully at him. How I have longed to set eyes again on this man. And how I have missed the sight of him. How truly beautiful he is.
‘Please take a seat.’
Dazed I look at the two chairs facing him, but I do not move. My thoughts trawl through treacle. Nothing makes sense.
‘How did you know I would be here today?’
‘A nifty little software that flags your name if it matches your date of birth whenever it comes up in the banking system, and, of course, the fact that you began using your account again less than a week ago.’
I can’t think straight.
‘Is all money in the Swiss account gone?’
I nod. ‘But why are you here?’ I ask, even though I already know the answer to that.
‘Same reason as before.’
‘Sex?’ he hisses. ‘God, you have no idea, have you?’
He is angry. Angrier than I have ever seen him. I stare at the transformation in disbelief. What shocks me the most is the expression on his face, drawn, hard, his jaw clenched so tight the muscles in his neck stand out. His eyebrows are two straight lines. The urbane man who fed me caviar and quietly upgraded my mother to first class is gone, vanished, replaced by this stranger with furious, mistrustful eyes. His breathing seems to grow harsher as he advances towards me. He stops a foot in front of me.
At that moment he emits tremendous power. Electricity crackles between us. He holds my gaze steadily for heart stopping moments and I see the battle in his eyes. The emotions that wage for control. I flinch as he draws even closer. Until we are inches apart and the scent of him invades my senses. Nobody else I know smells like him. The smell of old money, Rupert called it. For one unguarded instant carnal lust glitters in his eyes. Then he lowers his lids and masks it. But I have already seen it, the potency of his desire for me. It heightens my perceptions. Drenches me with wanting and lust.
I feel my skin tingle in response. My lips go numb and my throat becomes so dry words would scratch it. What could I have said anyway? Oh, Blake, I’m so sorry? I reach out a trembling hand to him.
His reaction is instant. ‘Don’t,’ he rasps, stiffening.
Shocked, I retract my hand. I have damaged him. The knowledge spreads like a dull ache in my chest. ‘Please,’ I whisper, stupidly, helplessly.
He bends his head towards my face. My eyes are riveted on those sinfully sexy lips. I remember their taste, their passion.
‘Dishonest little Lana,’ he murmurs, his breath hot against my skin. He runs his hands down the smoothness of my neck into the collar of my blouse.
I begin to tremble. He watches his own fingers slip a button out of its hole and then another. He spreads apart the joined material so my throat, chest and the lacy tops of my bra are exposed. His cold furious eyes return to mine. The breaths that escape my lips are suddenly shallow and quick. He smiles possessively. He knows the effect he has on me.
‘You were by far more when you squeezed into that little orange dress and your f**k-me shoes and went looking for money. Look at you now; you’re flapping around inside a man’s jacket. Two hundred thousand and you don’t even buy yourself a nice suit.’
He tuts. ‘And this…’ He raises his hand to my hair. ‘This ugly bun. What were you thinking of?’ he asks softly, as he plucks the pins out of my hair and drops them on the blue carpet. Bit by bit my hair falls around my shoulders. Without moving his feet he reaches back to a box of tissues on the table. Takes one and starts wiping away my lipstick. Meticulously. From the outside in. He throws the stained tissue on the ground.
‘That’s better,’ he pronounces.
I stare wordlessly up at him. He looks as if he wants to devour me. All the time we have been apart is wiped away. It is like we have never been away from each other. This is the man I belong to heart and soul. Without him I have been an empty shell going through the motions.
‘Lick your lips,’ he orders.
‘What?’ I am horrified by the cold command, and yet electrified by the sexual heat his order arouses in me. My nerves scream.
His jaw hardens; his eyes are steely. ‘You heard me.’
The tension in his body communicates itself to me. It simmers between us. Desire ripples through me. My thighs clench tight with excitement and my heart flutters like a crazy thing. This is how he is in my recurring fantasies. Demanding, possessive, taking, raging with sexual need. But the sane logical part of me doesn’t want to comply. The argument between my brain and body is pure torture. In the end, yeah right, as if there was ever any doubt, my body wins. So what if I slip and fall on that slick road. It is only for a moment.
I lick my lips slowly.
He eyes the journey my tongue undertakes avidly. ‘That’s more like it. That’s the mercenary bitch I know.’
One moment he is standing there cold and insulting, and the next he has thrust a rough hand into my hair and pulled my head back. I gasp with shock, my eyes wide, his dark. Like a desert storm he descends on my parted mouth. There is no time even to pull one’s cloak about oneself. So sudden. So unexpected. He tastes wild, the way the first drops of rain in the desert taste. Full of minerals. Bringing life to all it touches.
He kisses me, as he has never done. Roughly, painfully, violently, purposely bruising my lips, his mouth so savage that I utter a strangled, soundless cry. The change, the extent of his anger, is impossible to comprehend. He is different. There is no longing. Only an intense desire to hurt and have his revenge. This is not the same man. My actions have unleashed something uncontrollable. Something that wants to hurt me. Alarm bells go off in my head. It occurs to my fevered brain that he is ravenous, starving. Then for some strange reason an image of him eating thin, almost transparent slices of cheese on biscuits flashes into my mind. How civilized he was. Then. Before I betrayed him.