Seduction by Design - Page 51

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“I picked the lock.”

Hailey cleared her throat and asked, “Faith? How is she?”

“She’s fine,” Tyler said, smiling for the first time. “In fact, she’s a terrific person.”

Hailey felt tears pricking her eyelids, thankful that their relationship hadn’t been jeopardized by her bungling. “Did you spank her?”

“Yes,” he answered slowly. “I also made her call the police and apologize to them for causing such a ruckus. And then we talked. She told me that she wished I had been around to spank her a long time ago.” He laughed ruefully. “She didn’t know I loved her, Hailey. I can’t understand that, but she swears she didn’t.

“From the viewpoint of a child whose mother was more interested in her social calendar, whose father was absorbed in his business, who has never been on a picnic, I guess I can see how she might think she was not loved. Time and again I assured her she was and that I intend never to let her forget it. She won’t be perfect from now on, but I think we reached the crisis point last night.”

Nodding her head, Hailey smiled. He continued to stare at her, making her nervously aware of his dominating presence in the room. She gnawed her bottom lip and looked away from him. “What do you want?”

He ignored the question and asked one of his own. “Did you mean what you said last night just before Faith came in?”

For a fleeting instant she allowed her eyes to lock with his, then she concentrated on the ribbon-edged blanket as she said offhandedly, “It doesn’t matter anymore.”

He came out of the chair with a lunge to grab her by the shoulders. His knee dug a giant crater in the mattress. Grabbing a fistful of hair, he pulled her head back and leaned over her. Hailey stared up at him in fearful fascination.

“You have the most annoying habit of saying something doesn’t matter when it matters a helluva lot.” She had come under that same intimidating force of will earlier in the infirmary when he had wanted to know what happened to Faith. His whole countenance demanded an answer when he repeated, “Did you mean what you said?”


His mouth came down on hers, insistent and provocative. He parted her lips with a probing tongue. It swept her mouth with an ardency that left her breathless. When he raised his head, she fell back against the pillows, taking in great gulps of air.

One arm bridged her stomach as he leaned over her. “When we came out of her bedroom last night, Faith couldn’t wait to apologize to you. She wanted you to know that she hadn’t meant anything she’d said. We found you asleep and decided you needed that more than explanations. Later today she intends to tell you just how much you mean to her.”

Hailey shook her head, staring unseeingly down at the pleats she had made on the sheets with nervous fingers. “I’m leaving, Tyler. I think that would be best.”

“For whom?” he asked, tilting her chin up, forcing her to meet his steady gray eyes.

“For all of us.”

“No. Not for Faith. Not for me.”

“I think—”

“You think too much, Miss Ashton. That’s your main problem.” He kissed her again. This kiss lacked the ferocity of the former one, but was far sweeter. Lifting his head, he impaled her with his eyes. The intensity with which he had looked at her last night when she told him she loved him was there again.

“Our timing was off, Hailey, when you spoke of love. I never got to tell you how much I love you. At least not verbally. You do know, don’t you, that I love you?”

Speech was beyond her, so she simply shook her head. “How could you not, Hailey?” he asked, genuinely perplexed. “Why do you think I pursued you so relentlessly? Why do you think I couldn’t bear to have you out of my sight for more than a few hours at a time?”

“You led me to believe that your interest was in physical conquest and nothing else,” she said, toying with the buttons of his shirt. One by one they began to slip free of the buttonholes.

“Maybe initially, but not after that business trip when I learned that having met you, I couldn’t live without you. I knew then that you were no passing fancy in my life. Actually, I knew it the first time I saw you when you gave me such a hard time.” He smiled tenderly and took her chin between his thumb and index finger. “I love you, Hailey. Say you’ll marry me.”

“Tyler,” she breathed, reaching up to encircle his neck with her arms. She kissed him fervently, daringly, aggressively. “I love you, I love you, I love you. For so long I’ve wanted to tell you that.”

“Since when?” he asked against the soft, satiny flesh of her neck.

“I think since I first saw you.”

“How could you fall in love with a rude boor like that?”

She laughed, ruffling his hair with her fingers. “I don’t know, but the ruder and more boorish you became, the more I loved you.”

“You’re going to help me in my business, aren’t you? You’ve done so well at Serendipity, I can’t wait to turn you loose on the few kinks within the corporation.”

Tags: Sandra Brown Erotic