* * *
It was rare that Alex felt the need to rationalise his own actions, and why should he now? Looking at the situation objectively, all he had done was agree to Nico’s request. He’d helped out his nephew, which was what families did. Plus, he had business here. It was called multitasking, he told himself.
He was curious, no crime. It wasn’t as if he had engineered the situation solely for the purpose of meeting with the woman who had spent the night in his bed six years ago.
Sure you didn’t, Alex—you were just passing.
Of course, if he took advantage of a situation that had fallen into his lap, who could blame him?
The last time she had not fallen in his lap, she had jumped!
Alex, who believed contrary to popular belief very few people were capable of learning from past mistakes, was an advocate of living in the present. But as a pulse of hot lust slammed through his body he found his thoughts being dragged back to a moment six years ago, when, driven by the need he’d had then to fill his every waking moment with action, he had left his car and driver stuck in rush-hour traffic and walked instead along a crowded London street.
If he hadn’t been...?
She had stepped off the pavement into the moving traffic and he had literally dragged the young woman from underneath the wheels of a bus.
The memory, a moment frozen in time etched on his brain, was so vivid he could smell the exhaust fumes in the air now, hear the tortured squeal of brakes and the cry of a solitary onlooker who, alone among those busily going about their own business, had witnessed the moment of near disaster.
Alex’s reaction had been pure reflex, not related in any way to bravery, and his body’s response had been equally involuntary when he’d turned the figure around and looked down into the face turned up to him...and carried on looking.
His anger had melted.
She was stunning!
He could remember thinking what a crime it would have been for that face to be marked. A delicate, slightly tip-tilted nose; wide, full, luscious lips; a natural pout even in repose and incredible deep green, heavily lashed, almond-shaped eyes set beneath thick, darkly defined, arched brows, and all that general gorgeousness set against flawless satiny skin that had glowed pale gold in the grey city street.
He’d found himself holding the breathing embodiment of sensuality and his body had responded accordingly and instantaneously.
Fighting the impulse to keep her plastered against his body for longer—there was no way she couldn’t have picked up on how hard he was—he’d released her, but retained a steadying hold of her elbows as he’d pushed her a little away. His nostrils had flared as the scent of her shampoo had drifted his way.
She had been breathing hard and blinking in a dazed way. Even in the flat, unattractive boots she’d been wearing she’d been tall for a woman, reaching a little past his shoulder. Her slim but voluptuous curves had made the generic jeans and T-shirt she wore look anything but common.
‘Are you all right?’
She’d nodded, sending the magnificent waist-length curtain of hair that shone like polished ebony silk swishing around her face. He’d watched as, head tilted forward, she did a sweep of her feet upwards.
‘It’s all still there and in one piece,’ she’d murmured, sounding dazed. Her voice had had a delicious throaty rasp. ‘You really do see your life pass before your eyes.’ She’d tilted her head back and looked at him, breathing a soft ‘Wow!’ as her eyes widened.
He had found himself grinning, amused by her total lack of artifice, then watched in fascination as a visible wave of heat travelled up the long graceful curve of her neck, adding an extra tinge of colour to her smooth cheeks. He could not remember ever encountering a woman who wore her emotions so close to the surface. Yet despite the blush, the glowing, gorgeous young creature had held his gaze steadily.
‘I think you saved my life.’
He’d given the faintest of shrugs. ‘Do you make a habit of throwing yourself under moving vehicles?’
She’d then been staring as hard at him as he was at her. ‘It was a first for me.’
When not breathless, the throaty, sexy quality of her voice had intensified.
He’d felt her trembling. Post-trauma or was she feeling the same clutch of lust he was...?
There’d been more than a hint of provocative challenge in her attitude as she’d lifted her chin and asked, ‘Can I... Let me buy you a coffee, to thank you...? It seems the least I can do, unless you’re...?’