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He felt her tense as he accidentally touched her when he shifted position, but that sigh was sending out a very different message. She didn’t try to pull away, and now he felt the tremor running through her. He could feel it coursing right up his arm.

She wasn’t jaded, and that pleased him. Her experience in the commune had only prepared her for him, heightened her capacity for pleasure… He allowed his gaze to slip to her breasts, to the full swell pressing urgently against her chaste white business shirt. He centred his attention on the taut nipples straining against the lace of her bra, and was gratified to see them harden still more beneath his interest. Lifting his head, he saw the pulse fluttering in her neck and the pink flush of desire tinting her skin. He understood her torment. He understood it and therefore would prolong it.

He was rewarded when the tip of her tongue crept out to moisten her lips. She fully expected him to kiss her. But instead he stared into her eyes, gauging her level of arousal. As he had anticipated they were almost black with desire, with just a faint rim of green remaining. She was breathing fast and the tiny gasps were making the fabric pull against the buttons on the front of her shirt. He longed to rip it off—but he wouldn’t do that, because he knew she would like it too much.

She was quivering with frustration. She had never been so aroused. She had never been aroused by a man before… She could control most things, all things—so why not this? And why wouldn’t he kiss her? One kiss was all she wanted, and then she would kick him out. She licked her lips, and saw his attention drawn to the full swell of her bottom lip.

Her lips were moist where she had touched them with her tongue… swollen with desire. He recognised all the signs, and, though he planned it to be this way, the sight was nearly too much for him. Dragging her close, he held her so their lips were almost touching, raising the danger level for them both.

She responded, and white-hot passion flared between them, but at the very point when he intended to pull back and teach her a lesson she stiffened and made an angry sound low in her throat. She strained against him—not with passion now, but with absolute determination to break free. He released her at once.

‘Get out.’ Her voice was barely above a whisper, but it contained more venom than he had ever heard. She didn’t look at him. She remained frozen in place, with the back of her hand covering her mouth as if she wanted to hide it from him, wanted to hide the signs of her arousal from him. And she had been aroused, but then so had he.

‘Get out,’ she repeated, snapping the words at him.

In place of his surprise, Tino felt his anger beginning to rise. ‘Why?’ he said. ‘Because I almost kissed you before you could kiss me?’

‘Is that what you think?’ She looked at him incredulously.

His pride was all over the place. He had never misjudged a situation so badly. ‘Don’t tell me you didn’t want that?’

She rallied then, straightening up to confront him, her face drained of colour. ‘You’ll be telling me I deserved it next.’

‘What? You think passion between a man and a woman is some form of punishment?’ He grasped the back of his neck with his hand, and the look on his face told Lisa she was wrong about him—horribly wrong.

Straightening up, he stared at her coldly. ‘I don’t need these mind games, Lisa.’

‘Then get out!’ She made an angry gesture. ‘What are you waiting for?’

‘When are you going to learn that not everyone wants to dance to your tune?’

‘Or yours?’ Her eyes were blazing. She thought she heard him murmur something more. ‘What did you say?’

‘I said, you’re nothing but a control freak, Lisa.’ He stared straight at her so there could be no mistake.

Lisa didn’t show by even a flicker that he had come closer than any man alive to proving that a lie. ‘I think you’d better leave now.’

‘That’s the first thing you’ve said this evening that makes any sense.’

‘What do you mean, she didn’t make the meeting?’

Shifting the satellite phone to his other shoulder, Tino stared out at the clouds above Stellamaris, his private island, barely seeing the beloved contours of lush greenery, sugar sand and rock as he listened to what his right hand man was trying to tell him.

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