Seduction And The CEO - Page 38

She forced herself to move. “Right. It’s on the counter.” What had she missed? What had just happened?

She heard him moving behind her as she opened a wooden drawer. “I think I saw a corkscrew in here.”

“It’s a screw top.”

“Oh.” Classy. She was willing to bet he didn’t often drink wine from a screw-top bottle. “One of the cowboys picked it up in town,” she explained.

“Did you have to flirt with him?”

“For screw-top wine? Please.”

Jared grinned. “I forgot. I’m talking to the master.”

“I gave him ten bucks and told him to do the best he could.” She hunted through the cupboard, but gave up on wineglasses. “These do?” At least they weren’t plastic.

“You sure you should be spending your hard-earned money on wine?” he asked. He poured while she held the glasses.

“You tripled my wages, remember?”

“Did we agree on that?”

“We sure did.”

He set down the bottle, taking one of the short water glasses from her hand. “Get it in writing?”

“Didn’t have to.” She gave him a mock toast. “I know your secret.”

“No, you don’t,” he responded dryly, downing a good measure of the wine.

She watched his stark expression with a whole lot of curiosity. Jared had a secret? Something other than playacting for his sister?

Okay, it couldn’t be as big as Melissa’s secret. But it might be interesting. And it could be exactly the hook she was looking for to get the story started.

Jared hadn’t meant his words to sound like a challenge. But he realized they did. And if the expression on Melissa’s face was anything to go by, she’d reacted the same way.

“So?” She sidled up to him, green eyes dancing with mischief.

“None of your business.”

“Then why’d you bring it up?”

Fair question. Better question, why was he even here? It had been one roller coaster of an emotional day. He’d been half blind with anger at the cemetery, holding on to his temper by a thread, knowing he couldn’t let Stephanie or Royce catch on.

He could tell Royce was suspicious. So when Stephanie went upstairs to bed, Jared had escaped from the house. Then he’d seen Melissa’s light, and his feet had carried him to her door.

He thought he knew why. He needed to spend time with someone completely separate from his family. Melissa didn’t know any of the players in their little drama. She knew nothing about his family but what he’d told her. She might annoy him or argue with him or frustrate the hell out of him with her approach to life, but she wouldn’t threaten his composure.

She grazed her knuckles along his biceps. “You said you had a secret?” she prompted.

Here was another reason to darken her doorway. Her musical voice soothed him. Her scent enticed him. And when he gazed at her lips, all he could think about was capturing them with his own, tasting her all over again and letting the softness of her body pull him, once more, into oblivion.

And maybe it was as simple as that. He’d come to her because he needed to forget for a while.

He captured her hand, holding it tight against his sleeve, the warmth of her palm seeping through to his skin.

“I want you,” he told her honestly.

Her voice went husky, stoking his desire. “That’s not exactly a secret.”

He smiled at her open acceptance of his declaration. He liked it that she wasn’t coy. She was confident and feisty. She flouted convention, ignored advice. There was something to be said for a woman who marched to her own drummer.

“I was expecting something more interesting,” she said.

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. A secret takeover of a multinational corporation. News that Ryder International was sending a manned mission to Mars. Maybe that you were really a CIA agent masquerading as a businessman.”

Jared couldn’t help but laugh at the last one. The knot of tension in his gut broke free. “The CIA?”

“Didn’t you read the article?”

“What article?”

“In the Chicago Daily. Two years ago. Well, they outed you as a spy in the lifestyle section. Though, I suppose if they’d had any real evidence, it would have made the front page.”

“You remember what you read in the Chicago Daily two years ago, yet you can’t remember how to tie a quick-release knot?”

“Are we still talking about sex?”

“You’re amazing.” He’d never met anyone remotely like Melissa. She was smart, sassy and stunningly gorgeous. How had the men of Gary, Indiana, let her get away?

“So you’re not in the CIA?” she pressed with a pretty pout.

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