Striping Hot - Page 3

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Bored to tears, Rex stared at the air above Voren’s head. He knew that the guy was talking about profit margins, new ventures, and company growth, but none of it was getting through to him. It was just part of the noise of the party, easy to tune out.

Lucy took a sip of wine, glaring at Voren over the rim of her glass. She had greeted him politely only to have him completely ignore her to talk to Rex. It was beyond rude, as well as stupid. Lucy controlled a significant number of shares at Titus International. Voren could be sucking up to her just as easily.

Rex wondered how he could walk away from this gracefully ... or maybe just walk away. Even over the past few years, as his temper had shortened while his heart withered, he’d managed to maintain his basic business connections and stay on amicable terms. If Rex simply walked away from Voren, he’d piss him off.

Rex began to calculate the odds of how pissed off Voren would be and if the odds of him potentially taking revenge on the investment front would be worth it. He decided it was and got ready to simply turn and wander off, leaving Lucy to handle the guy.

Rex saw a movement in the crowd. He couldn’t understand what had caught his attention. All he knew was that his gaze was focused on the shifting waves of people as if he were crouched in the grass, waiting for a tender deer on the other side, completely unaware a fierce predator tracked it.

The crowd parted just a little. Voren’s voice droned on in the background. Rex saw Gerri literally part the way in front of her so she could take her companion by the hand and walk up to them. She had a huge smile on her face, an expectant glow that Rex didn’t quite understand.

Rex looked past Gerri, his eyes taken immediately by the woman behind her. Her pale skin shone like satin. She had magnificent curves beautifully hugged by a long, sleek, black dress. Her pure black hair had been pulled back behind her head and spilled down her back in cascading waves.

When she looked up at Rex, he saw her eyes were such a dark blue, they appeared almost violet.

Mesmerized, Rex stepped forward, pushing Voren out of the way without even noticing. He held his hand out to her. He felt a jolt run through him when she took it as if his skeleton had been jabbed with an electric probe.

He was so mesmerized by her skin on his that he didn’t speak. He couldn’t. He had fallen into her eyes, and there was no shore; there was no salvation. There was only this sublime, incredible feeling of coming home.

I’ll float in the waters of your soul for eternity. I’ll make your eyes my home, and there I’ll stay under the stars of your glittering thoughts, soothed by the eternal love in your heart.

What the fuck?

Rex was as disorientated by the poetry appearing in his head as he was by the scent of the woman standing before him in the black dress.

It had been years since he’d read or written poetry, but he had written for a literary course he’d taken to break up the more boring, business-based classes he’d had to take to become the head of the company.

“Hello.” The woman giggled. He thought it was the most wonderful sound he had ever heard. He smiled, pleased to have her attention and even more pleased that he’d made her laugh. He was so caught up in the moment that he didn’t realize he’d completely forgotten the basics of social etiquette.

He had also forgotten to be miserable about Melissa. For the first time in many, many years, her smiling face was not haunting the dark corners of his mind. There was only this curvy, magnificent goddess before him.

The world had shifted so violently that he felt he might have been transported to an alternate universe, and he didn’t even care.

“I’m Gianna,” she said. “Gianna Lee. It’s nice to meet you …” She let her voice trail off with an upward lilt. He nodded enthusiastically, not letting go of her hand.

“It’s lovely to meet you, too,” he said, nodding. “Absolutely wonderful.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Voren folding his arms and backing up a step. His sister had covered her mouth, and she was giggling under her breath. Gerri stood nearby, sipping champagne as she watched the exchange.

“You’re Rex, aren’t you?” Gianna prompted. His complete lack of manners hit him in the back of the skull, and he nodded, trying to recover his breath.

“Yes, Rex Titus. I apologize for my rudeness. I forgot myself for a moment.”

I sure did. I forgot everything. The room, the guests, my own goddamn head …

“So, Rex, what brings you here?” Gianna asked, sipping some champagne. Rex noticed Voren leaving but didn’t pay too much attention. Whatever Voren wanted, surely, he could take it up with the business directors.

“My sister,” he said without thinking. Lucy laughed.

“Hi,” she said. “I’m Lucretia. Everyone calls me Lucy.”

“So, tell me,” Gianna said mischievously. “Did you have to drag your brother here, or is he a relentless party animal?”

Lucy looked away, her face falling. It reminded Rex sharply of how he’d just been chewing Lucy out for making him come. Now he was so happy to be here that he could have twirled his baby sister around the dance floor.

“I’m definitely not a party animal,” he said. “I was just telling my sister I regretted coming, so forgive her reaction. I’ve changed my mind, though.”

He smiled, angling himself so he could face Gianna head-on. He wanted to look directly into her eyes and try to really engage with her. He was almost close enough to get a good dose of her scent that had so far been hidden by her delicate perfume.

“Oh?” Gianna said, tilting her head for a sip of champagne. “Any particular reason for the change of heart?”

Change of heart is right.

“Let’s just say that the party got a lot more interesting once I saw you.”

He knew he was being bold, but he didn’t care. Emotions were charging through him, and he could feel his adrenaline rising. He wanted to know if she felt the same way about him, and he didn’t think he could stand it if she walked away from him now.

Dimly, he was aware of Lucy and Gerri moving away. He was captivated by Gianna’s bright eyes, round face, and sultry curves. Before, he had been trying to shut out the room. Now it had simply fallen into another realm.

My world is Gianna.

Her gorgeous red lips curved in a smile, and she took a step closer to him, resting her fingertips on his lapel. She grinned up at him, mischief dancing in her deep eyes.

“I have to say, I think the party just got a whole lot better, too,” she said softly.

Every word that left her lips made his skin tremble for her touch. He couldn’t stop looking at her red mouth and wondering what it would be like to touch her, to kiss her.

Now that she was very close, he could smell the warm heat coming from between her breasts. Beneath the vanilla and bergamot, she was musky and sweet, a mouthwatering combination of sweat and soap. There could be no mistake with that scent rising right into his face.

I’m standing in front of my mate!

She is mine.

The tiger within him was growling, lashing its tail, ready to prowl. He held the energy in as best he could, but he knew his eyes had grown fierce, and his body was hardening in response to the adrenaline.

His only clear thought was that he needed to touch her, take her into his arms, kiss her, and never stop.

He realized she was talking about her coverage of the event, chatting idly about the important people here and how she would represent them in the media. He nodded and smiled, wanting to move back so he could regain control of himself but too intoxicated by her scent to take a single step.

“So, what about you?” she asked. “What do you do with your time? I think I’ve spilled all my vital information.” She giggled, making fun of herself.

“Oh, my days are quite boring,” he said. “I sit at a desk, I take calls, and I send emails. Mostly, I move funds around through investment corporations. It’s an endless shifting of numbers.”

“But what do you do for fun?” she asked, shocked. “Surely it isn’t your burning passion to crunch numbers all day every day?”

He shook his head. “I don’t really know what my burning passion is … I haven’t felt excited about anything for a very long time.”

Except you. Right now.

“What do you do to relax?” he asked. “All you’ve done is talk about your work.”

“That is how I relax.” She laughed. “If I want to win the Pulitzer like my mom did, I can’t take a single day off. The second I leave work, I’m back on my computer, researching new angles, working my contacts, finding out all the little dirty secrets in the world.”

She laughed again softly. Her lashes fluttered as if she were suddenly embarrassed.

“I don’t know if I even do it for the writing or for the news anymore. I’m just looking for the big story that I can crack to make my name really known.”

“That sounds … exhausting,” he said, disappointed. “When did you last take time off?”

“I could ask you the same question,” she replied, putting a hand on his shoulder. He grinned, shivering a little at her touch.

He’d never been one for downtime, and obviously, neither was she, but suddenly he was imagining all sorts of comfortable scenarios. Eating chocolate with Gianna, snuggled on the couch. Wrapping her in his arms in front of a roaring fire. Stroking her hair back from her cheek while his yacht sailed slowly past a sunset-drenched shore.

She smiled as she looked into his eyes, and he felt like she could see right into his mind. It was as if she knew he wanted to be close to her, to share himself with her, and she was being drawn to do the same.

He raised a hand to stroke her cheek, to bring her closer, to kiss her …

“Ladies and Gentleman,” a voice boomed through the room. “I’d like to call your attention here, yes, over here, please.”

“Oh, damnation,” he muttered, turning to face the stage. He’d forgotten about the bachelor auction!

“What’s this?” Gianna asked, amused. She stepped away from him to see the stage, and he felt a powerful bolt of resentment stab through him. He couldn’t believe his courtship had been interrupted by something so meaningless. His tiger was hissing as if it wanted to tear up every person in the room.

“It’s a bachelor auction,” he groaned. “And I’m in it.”

She giggled, covering her mouth. “Really? That’s so cute.”

“Oh, don’t,” he muttered. “My sister put me up to it. She said it was good for the charity.”

“Oh, it is,” she assured him. “This is one of the best in the city. The money will be very well spent.”

“Well, if you say so.” He sighed, dragging a hand through his black hair. “I’ve got to get up there.”

He grinned, touching her hand as he moved away.

“You’ll bid on me, won’t you?” he asked. He gave her a wink.

“I don’t know,” she said with a mischievous grin on her face. “Maybe.”

He felt his heart leap with joy. She liked him; he could tell.

She’s going to bid on me. She’s going to win me and make me hers … Just like I want to make her mine.

Tags: Milly Taiden Paranormal