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‘Why not?’ She could handle it. She could handle him too.

As he crossed the room she noticed that his movements were fluid like the big cat she had first thought him. Moving on silent feet, he reached her side before she even had time to hold out her glass.

He left her alone after that, and they ate in silence seated at opposite ends of the room, which should have been a relief. But Lisa’s sensory self had taken over from the rational side of her being. The delicious food and wine slithered down her throat with dizzying speed, and the alcohol loosened her inhibitions. Some very primitive thoughts were entering her mind… just watching his mouth work as he ate was compulsive viewing; his teeth were so white and strong, his lips so firm, and mobile—

‘Lisa?’ He picked up on her stare. ‘Would you like something more?’

As Lisa’s eyes cleared she waved the bread basket away and she shook her head. ‘No, thank you… that was absolutely delicious, but I couldn’t eat another thing.’

‘Then I think it’s time we got to know each other a little better, don’t you?’


TINO took her plate, stacking it with his on a side table. Lisa watched warily as he came towards her, and almost flinched when he was close enough to touch. But then, instead of grabbing her, he snatched hold of his briefcase and dipped inside. Bringing out some financial reports, he spread them across the low table between them.

‘I think we both know you’ve got a few problems, Lisa—’

For a moment when his glance flicked up Lisa thought he was talking about something other than business, and blushed violently.

‘I’ve noticed a few discrepancies here and there,’ he continued. ‘All easily explained, I’m sure. No doubt our respective bean-counters will soon iron things out.’

It was a relief for her mind to click back into business mode.

‘Take a look at these.’ He passed her some sheets. ‘It’s only fair that you should have sight of all my findings.’

Fair? Tino was pointing up the fact that he had uncovered a whole clutch of Bond Steel skeletons in the shortest time imaginable, in order to prepare her for a much reduced offer price, Lisa suspected. ‘That’s very good of you, Tino.’

She was careful to sound noncommittal. She wanted to see exactly what he had found out before showing any reaction to it.

‘I’ll leave the rest of these for you.’ He closed his briefcase.

‘You’re going?’

‘Not if you don’t want me to.’

He had changed in a heartbeat from cold-blooded businessman to someone very different. Her pulse rate quickened in response. But this was wrong. Worse than wrong, it was dangerous.

Her gaze was drawn to his hand resting on the door… his strong, supple hand resting on the door. ‘I’ll see you out.’ Her voice sounded distant and undecided. It was as if she were looking down at herself, or rather at the woman she might have been if her life had been different. She didn’t want him to leave. The apartment would be so empty without him… She would be lonely again. Lonely but safe.

Tino had tossed a pebble into the pond and waited to see how far the ripples would travel. He had to admit he was surprised. She had capitulated rather sooner than he had imagined. Mixing business and pleasure was new to him, but for Lisa he would make an exception. He wanted Bond Steel, and he wanted Lisa Bond. Business was a game he always won, and she had become part of that game.

She thought herself strong and controlling. How strong? How controlling? He would test her boundaries and find out. His body ached for release. The thought of dominating Lisa held real appeal. It would be to her benefit too, of course. If she had the good sense to surrender he would give her the ride of her life.

As Tino caught hold of her arm Lisa snapped out of the trance. ‘That’s the second time you’ve done that,’ she told him angrily, ‘and I don’t like it.’

‘Really? Then you must forgive me,’ he said in a voice that managed to be both penitent and amused.

But he didn’t let her go.

And now they were close, too close, and their breath was mingling. There was no sound other than the two of them breathing. And then, perhaps by accident, the joint of his thumb brushed the side of her breast, and she sighed.