Awakened by Her Desert Captor(2)

By: Abby Green

  The dress really belonged to her flatmate, the far more glamorous Giselle, who was a couple of bra sizes smaller than her. Sylvie had borrowed it, knowing full well the effect it would have. She knew it was childish to feel this urge to shock constantly, but right now it was worth it.

  Just then there was movement nearby, and Sylvie followed her stepmother’s look to see her father standing outside his office, which was just off the main entrance hall. She barely registered him, though. He was with a man—a tall, very broad, very dark man. The most arresting-looking man she’d ever seen. His face was all sculpted lean lines, not a hint of softness anywhere. Dark slashing brows. Grim indeed, if this was who Sophie had been talking about.

  Power and charisma was a tangible force around him. And a very sexual magnetism. He was dressed in a light grey three-piece suit. Dark tie. Pristine. The white of his shirt made the darkness of his skin stand out even more. His hair was inky black, and short. His eyes were equally dark, and totally unreadable. She shivered slightly.

  The two men were looking at her, and Sylvie didn’t even have to see her father’s face to know what his expression would be: a mix of old grief, disappointment and wariness.

  ‘Ah, Sylvie, glad you could make it.’

  She finally managed to drag her mesmerised gaze from the stranger to look at her father. She forced a bright smile and moved forward. ‘Father—good to see you.’

  His welcome was only slightly warmer than her stepmother’s. A dry kiss on her cheek, avoiding her eyes. Old wounds smarted again, but Sylvie pushed them all down to erect the don’t care façade she’d honed over years.

  She looked up at the man and fluttered her eyelashes, flirting shamelessly. ‘And who do we have here?’

  With evident reluctance, Grant Lewis said, ‘I’d like you to meet Arkim Al-Sahid. We’re discussing a mutual business venture.’

  The name rang a dim bell, but Sylvie couldn’t focus on how she knew it. She put out her hand. ‘Pleasure, I’m sure. But don’t you find discussing business at a party so dull?’

  She could almost feel the snap of her stepmother’s censure from behind her, and heard something that sounded like a strangled snort from her sister. The man’s expression had a faint sneer of disapproval now, and suddenly something deep inside Sylvie erupted to life.

  It goaded her into moving even closer to the man, when every instinct urged her to turn and run fast. Her hand was still held out and his nostrils flared as he finally deigned to acknowledge her. His much bigger hand swallowed hers, and she was surprised to feel that his skin was slightly calloused as long fingers wrapped around hers.

  Everything suddenly became muffled. As if a membrane had been dropped around the two of them. A pulse throbbed violently between her legs and a series of out-of-control reactions gripped her so fast she couldn’t make sense of them. Heat, and a weakness in her lower belly and limbs. A melting sensation. An urge to move even closer and wind her arms around his neck, press herself against him, along with that urge to run, which was even stronger now.

  Then he broke the connection with an abrupt move, extricating his hand from hers. Sylvie almost stumbled backwards, confused by what had happened. Not liking it at all.

  ‘Pleasure, indeed.’

  The man’s voice was deep, with a slight American accent, and his tone said that it was anything but a pleasure. The sensual lines of his mouth were flat. That dark gaze glanced over her, dismissing her.

  Immediately Sylvie felt cheaper than she’d ever felt in her life. She was very aware of how short her gold dress was—skimming the tops of her thighs. Her light jacket didn’t provide much coverage. She was too voluptuous for the dress, and she felt every exposed inch of it now. She was also aware of the fall of her unruly hair, its natural red hue effortlessly loud and attention-seeking.

  She made a living from wearing not much at all. And she’d grown a thick skin to hide her innate shyness. Yet right now this man’s dismissal had blasted away that carefully built-up wall. Within mere seconds of meeting him—a total stranger.

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