Seduction by Design - Page 41

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She sat stiffly by his side and they didn’t speak during the short drive to his sprawling house. Walking toward the front door, he clasped her hand in his and swung them back and forth. “A harvest moon. Look at the reflection on the lake.”

The moon’s image on the lake was indeed beautiful, but Hailey didn’t want to see it. She didn’t want the night to lend itself to romance. Faith’s presence had kept them apart last night. Faith wasn’t here tonight. Who would protect her from his seduction? Would she have to rely on herself to resist him? If that were the case, God help her.

Tyler hung his corduroy sport coat on a hall tree after closing the front door behind them. “I stacked the fire while I was waiting for you and Faith to get dressed. I only need to light it.”

“Good.”

“Do you want some coffee? Wine? Anything?”

“No.”

“Are you sure? There’s still some of that delicious Chablis left. One small glass?”

“No.”

From his squatting position in front of the fireplace he turned around and looked up at her. “Cat got your tongue?”

“No.”

He laughed then and pushed himself up. Flames were curling around the kindling he had piled under the logs. “All your words put together since we left the restaurant wouldn’t make a simple sentence.” He came to her and squeezed her shoulders gently. “You shouldn’t worry about it, you know.”

Her dark lashes lifted from her anguished green eyes as she looked up at him. “Shouldn’t worry about what?”

“That Mrs. Harper mistook you for my wife. It was a natural mistake, Hailey.”

“Yes. And she will reach a natural conclusion about me when she finds out I’m not.”

“When are you going to stop letting what other people think dictate what you do, and let your own instincts guide you?”

She pulled away from him and went to stand at the wide windows. The tears in her eyes made the silver reflection on the water even more ethereal. The cool October wind bent the trees to graceful angles. The stars were spectacular jewels undimmed by city lights. It was a beautiful night, a display of nature in its most primitive and basic state. She wanted to belong to it.

Tyler had asked her the question she had asked herself.

Why should she care what anyone thought of her affair with him? What did she have to lose? Loneliness. Boredom. A life without depth or color or love. Any kind of love.

She turned back to him slowly. The tears dried before they could be shed, but not before they made her eyes luminescent. Moonlight shone on her hair while firelight danced across her face.

He was what she wanted. Tall, hard, powerful, intelligent, humorous. His hair lay in dark, sculpted waves. From under thick brows, his gray eyes glowed as he looked at her. His pose was casual—one shoulder leaning against the mantel—but Hailey knew the latent strength beneath the tanned skin.

“I think maybe I will have some wine,” she said.

“I’ll have some, too. Will you pour? I want to get something out of the bedroom.”

When she came back into the living room carrying a tray with two glasses and a carafe of wine, he was spreading a quilt on the carpet in front of the fireplace. When he was done, he went around the room turning off lights until the only illumination was the moonlight from the windows and the firelight from the hearth.

She had set the tray on the coffee table and poured the wine. He picked up both glasses and extended one to her. Her fingers were trembling so that she could barely hold the fragile crystal. He clinked their glasses together and then sipped from his while he watched her over the rim.

“Will you do me a favor?” he asked quietly. He took her glass and returned it with his to the tray.

“A favor?”

“I have a trick muscle in my back that bothers me now and then. Today when I was starting the motor on the boat, I aggravated it.”

“Tyler,” she exclaimed softly. “Is it serious?”

“Nothing a good backrub won’t cure.” He reached for her hand and pulled her to him. “You can start by helping me out of my clothes.”

She swallowed a lump of self-consciousness but kept her hand where he had placed it at the open collar of his shirt. Putting aside her last remnant of caution, she undid the buttons of his shirt. She pulled it out of the waistband of his trousers and pushed it off his shoulders. The shirt was negligently dropped onto the sofa. A mere piece of cloth couldn’t compete with the sight of his chest for her attention. Her eyes took in each nuance of his rugged build.


Tags: Sandra Brown Erotic
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