‘For the record, being a model doesn’t mean I’m part of some seedy subculture. I’m used to people making assumptions—the odd male who thinks that because I’ve advertised underwear I have no problem with being looked at as though I’m a piece of meat on a slab...’ She left a significant pause and had the pleasure of seeing a muscle in his lean cheek clench. ‘Not one of the perks of the job,’ she conceded. ‘However, you have taken insults to a new low. For the record, if I want advice on the clean life I wouldn’t come to you, Mr Arlov. You’re a...a... Not a nice man.’ Not nice? You’re so hard core, Angel. ‘You’re a rodent!’
As she finished on a breathless note of quivering contempt a memory surfaced as strong as it was unbidden: the ferociously strong lines of his face relaxed in sleep, the long eyelashes softening the angle of his carved cheekbones. Not vulnerable and not soft but more... She had never been able to put a name to the quivering sensation in the pit of her stomach. No more could she now, though she felt it again.
Alex’s nostrils flared as he sucked in an outraged breath. He liked feisty but there were limits. ‘And you base this opinion on what?’
‘That you’re a rodent?’ She was already regretting the rather limp animal analogy. If there was an animal she would have likened him to it would have been a wolf, with its piercing eyes, sleek, lean body and dangerous bearing. An illicit little shiver slipped slowly like a cold finger down her spine.
‘I’ve always thought rats got a bad press, but not nice? I’m hurt,’ he mocked. Alex could live without being thought nice.
‘Rodent works for me, but what would you call a married man who sleeps around? For the record, and to save you the effort, these days it takes more than being told someone needs me to get me into bed!’
Even if the person saying the words had a voice that was sin itself.
Six years was a long time and people change but this...! ‘Thanks for the heads up,’ he murmured, adding without missing a beat, ‘What does it take?’
She shook her head, playing dumb because it was on the tip of her tongue to admit not much. It was true, and she was ashamed she had recognised him as her moral Achilles the second he had touched her. It had shocked her so deeply it had triggered the... Whatever it had been, Angel remained reluctant to assign a name to what had happened. She was perfectly willing to accept that panic attacks existed; they simply didn’t happen to her.
‘What does it take to get you into bed these days?’ Whatever it was it would definitely be worth the effort. He had not been this hungry for a woman in a long time—if ever.
‘I’m curious—do you work at being offensive or are you naturally gifted that way?’
‘You didn’t answer my question. On second thought, don’t. Let me get there by myself. It will be more satisfying than being fed the answer.’
The colour flew to her face. The effects of his purred remark on other parts of her anatomy were too mortifying to think about. ‘You’re not getting anywhere with me.’
‘Oh, well, you know what they say—it’s all about the journey not the destination...’ A saying that had always struck Alex as particularly ridiculous, never more so than in this context. He had every intention of reaching, enjoying and extracting every atom of pleasure from his destination. The anticipation of sinking into her warm body and losing himself was strong enough to taste.
She shot him a look of utter disdain. ‘Do you ever listen to anything anyone says?’
He elevated a dark brow and gave a slow smile. Without a word he hooked his hand behind her head and dragged her face up to his. The action was deceptive, the kiss druggingly deep, his tongue sliding between her parted lips while his firm mouth fitted perfectly over hers. Angel registered the heat that was everywhere; she heard the almost feral low moan but didn’t connect the sound with herself.
When it stopped and she managed to prise her heavy eyelids open she found herself looking up into a pair of blazing cosmic-blue eyes. So dizzy she staggered, she gave a choked gasp of horror and stepped backwards, once, twice and amazingly stayed on her feet.
As if she were emerging from a nightmare—one she had shamefully fully cooperated with and not struggled to escape—Angel fixed her blazing eyes on his face, swallowed a bolus of acrid self-disgust and wiped her hand across her pumped-up plump lips. Where was her self-respect? Where was her pride? When this man touched her she stopped being... She stopped being herself and became someone that scared her, someone whose actions she couldn’t predict.