Married for the Tycoon's Empire - Page 10

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Something skated over Lia’s skin. Excitement. She couldn’t see his eyes, they were obscured, so she didn’t know what colour they were. The realisation that she didn’t even know where his eyes rested on her, or if he liked what he saw, made her skin heat with awareness. Before, she’d felt exposed, violated. Now she felt...aware of herself in a way that was very unlike her.

She almost had to suppress a slightly hysterical urge to giggle—maybe there was something in the water here in New York that was having an adverse effect on her?

‘You could have chosen a less restrictive mask,’ she pointed out to the stranger.

‘I could have,’ he agreed, leaving the words But I didn’t hanging silently between them.

Bizarrely, she got the distinct impression that this stranger would bend for no one. A crazy thought to have about someone she’d only met for mere seconds. Someone whose face she couldn’t even see. And crazy that it should send another shiver of excitement down her spine.

A hum of electricity infused her blood. Yesterday evening, when Benjamin Carter had precipitated similar sensations, she’d escaped as fast as she could. And now she was feeling all those things again. It was almost a relief—proof that his effect on her wasn’t exclusive.

The crowd seemed to be pressing in around them, pushing them closer together. Heat prickled over Lia’s skin in earnest now. A little panicked by her strong reactions, she said, ‘It’s getting claustrophobic in here, don’t you think?’

‘Would you like to get some air?’

Lia nodded, heart hammering. He expertly divested her of her half-empty glass and put a hand under her elbow. She found herself trying to assess if his palms were smooth or callused, but the crowd was jostling them too much. Then he was opening the French doors and leading her outside. It was late autumn, not quite yet winter, and the air was fresh. She moved away from him and gulped in deep breaths, her head feeling light. She put it down to the sparkling wine and the sudden rush of oxygen.

She went and put her hands on the stone wall, aware of the man coming to stand beside her, but keeping a distance that she appreciated. The lights of Manhattan sparkled around them, and Central Park was a dark shadow in the distance. There was silence between them for a moment, but it wasn’t awkward. This unexpected encounter was taking on an unreal quality.


I could never get tired of this view even if I lived here,’ Lia said.

The man turned towards her. ‘Where do you live?’

She glanced at him, finding the mask disconcerting but also a little...thrilling. Not knowing who she was speaking to was freeing, in some way. As if the normal social niceties could be ignored. The sheer breadth of his chest under his shirt made her hands itch. She felt very feminine next to his tall, broad body.

‘I live just outside London, in Richmond.’

The man made an appreciative sound.

Lia smiled. ‘You know it?’

She heard an answering smile in his voice. ‘It’s a nice place. Expensive.’

Lia commented dryly, ‘The tickets for this event start at a cool six thousand dollars, so I’m guessing that you’re no stranger to the more salubrious end of the property scale.’

Now he shrugged lightly. ‘I can’t deny that.’

Lia thought she saw the glitter of light eyes behind the mask and her heart beat a little faster. This felt risky...dangerous. But still thrilling.

She had never felt comfortable flirting, not having had her mother to guide her. She’d been so young when her mother had left them, and the all-girls weekly boarding school she’d attended hadn’t done much to help her grow more comfortable around boys and men.

But at least by the time she’d left school the acute shyness that had blighted her earlier years had been largely a thing of the past. Although even now that awkward stuttering girl still lurked deep within Lia, reminding her of the fact that a lot of what she projected was an elaborate act.

It was an act so effective that her ex-fiancé had been incredulous to discover that she was a virgin when they’d had sex for the first time, which had only added to the mortification she’d felt when the experience had proved to be painful and generally underwhelming.

But now she felt confident, and a little reckless. ‘So, is your role tonight to be as enigmatic and unrecognisable as possible?’

‘Is it working?’

His tone was light, but Lia could sense an edge. It added to the air of illicit danger and excitement.

‘Well, you’ve got the unrecognisable part down to a T.’

‘Ouch,’ he said softly. ‘Clearly I have to work on being an enigma.’

Once again Lia had the distinct impression that being enigmatic came all too easily to this stranger. And he knew it. Even without seeing his face she could sense his sheer command and charisma. He was somebody.


Tags: Abby Green Billionaire Romance
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