|What The Millionaire Wants
Silhouette Desire #1846
She was insane to have dared the man the way she had, Laura admitted. But blast him, he had been so smug, so sure of himself. The fact that he had been standing so close to her hadn't helped either. She had hoped those moments of heightened awareness between them in her office a few nights ago had been a fluke, that stress and thoughts of spending the Thanksgiving holiday without any of her family had caused her sexual chemistry radar to go askew. But if it had, then her radar still wasn't working because she felt those same ripples of awareness when he entered the room, that same quickening of her pulse each time her drew closer.
"So what are the stakes?"
"The stakes?" she repeated, doing her best to shake off his effect on her nervous system.
"Yes. You know, the prize that you're going to fork over to me when you lose our bet and I foreclose on The Contessa."
Laura sobered at his cocky remark. Taking a step back, she said, "You mean the prize that you're going to fork over to me when I beat you at your own game."
His lips twitched. "So what are the stakes?"
"Dinner," she suggested. "The loser pays for a seven-course meal at the restaurant of the winner's choice."
"Dinner?" he scoffed. "That's your idea of a bet?"
"What do you expect me to offer? My car? My condo?" she tossed back at him, and suddenly felt queasy at the thought of losing either.
"I don't have any use for a three-year-old BMW and you don't have enough equity in your condo to make it worth my trouble."
Anger bulldozed right over any misgivings she'd had about challenging the man as she realized he had had her investigated. Temper driving her, she put her hands on her hips and looked him square in the eyes. "And just what are you going to give up when you lose and I win?"
"I have a Jaguar that you'd look good in," he said with a smile that lit up his eyes and made his face go from handsome to dangerously sexy.
"Far be it for me to take away your little toy and force you to be driven around in a limo."
"And I'd hate to have to see you hoof it to work in those high heels or be forced to sleep on the couch in your office," he countered.
He didn't think she could do it, Laura realized. He honestly didn't believe she could outmaneuver him and save the hotel. She could see it in those blue eyes, sense it in the way his muscles had tightened when she'd challenged him. She could feel it in the way he was watching her nowlike a hawk with a helpless mouse in his sights. The realization that he thought she'd already lost only fed her temper. And, it was her temper that had the words falling off her tongue as she declared, "Believe me, I won't be the one hoofing it to work or sleeping on a couch, Hawke."
"You won't have to. After all, it really wouldn't be fair of me to foreclose on your hotel, then take your car and home, too."
Suspecting that he was trying to bait her, Laura kept a rein on her temper, determined not to let it get her into anymore hot water. With a nonchalance she was far from feeling, she said, "Well, since you ruled out dinner, I guess the bet's off."
"Not necessarily," he said.
"We can't agree on the stakes," she pointed out.
He stared at her for a long moment, long enough for Laura to see his enjoyment in sparring with her turn to something else. Something hot. Something sexual. "I have another idea on what the stakes could be," he said finally. "But I've got a feeling you're not going to like it."
Laura knew at once what those stakes were. She'd seen it in his eyes the very first time he had looked at her, felt it the other night when he had almost kissed her. He wanted to have sex with her. That he would even suggest such a thing infuriated her. It also made her stomach tighten, her skin heat. "You're right. I don't like it. And despite what you might think, going to bed with you just isn't my idea of a prize."
He laughed. "That's a pretty big assumption you've made."
Laura could feel the color rush to her cheeks and cursed her fair skin. Refusing to back down, she said, "All right. So what did you have in mind?"
"Never mind my idea," he said, his amusement fading. He inched a step closer. That dark and hungry look was back in his eyes. I like your idea better. A lot better."
"The bet was a stupid idea in the first place. Let's just forget the whole thing," she told him, hating the fact that just having him move closer made her heart start racing again.
"Why? Don't think you can pull it off after all?"
Pride had her spine stiffening and the words firing from her lips, "I know I can pull it off."
"Then the bet stands. When I win, you spend the night in my bed."
Laura's pulse scattered. "And what do I get when I win?" she demanded, wishing she had never started this thing, wishing she could figure a way to get out of it without losing face . . . or something more.
"Your mother's promissory notefree and clearand you get to keep or return the money you borrowed."
Laura blinked. "You can't be serious. That would mean you'd lose the $15 million you paid for the note."
"I won't lose," he assured her.
His words set her competitive juices stirring once again. She so wanted to wipe that smug look off of his face. "Like I said, there's a first time for everything."
He grinned. "If you're right, then you have nothing to worry about. But if you're wrong and you can't come up with the money in time, then I foreclose on the hotel and I get youin my bed for an entire night."
It was crazy. No, it was beyond crazy, she thought. It was insane. He was insane. Because only a mad man would make such a bet. "Not that I'm complaining, mind you. But don't you think the stakes are a bit lopsided? At least for you. I mean, it hardly seems fair that I stand to have a $15 million loan wiped out where as all you stand to gain is a night of sex."
He ran his eyes down the length of her in a way that made her skin feel as though he had touched her. "I'm satisfied with the stakes."
"I should think a man with your ego could satisfy his sexual needs for a lot less money," she tossed back, annoyed by her reaction to him.
"Oh, but I'd much prefer to have those needs satisfied by you, Ms. Spencer," he said, his voice dropping to a seductive whisper that sent a shiver along her nerve endings. "So, do we have a bet?"
For a moment, Laura said nothing. She was every bit as crazy as he was to even consider such an outrageous thing, she reasoned. The man was a corporate shark. Every article and interview she had been able to dig up on him all proclaimed his genius as a businessman. He hadn't lied. He seldom lost. When it came to doing businessor in The Contessa's case, engineering a hostile takeoverJackson Hawke would be a lethal opponent. And regardless of how good she was at her job, she'd be lying to herself if she thought that finding the money she needed to cure the defaulted loan would be easy. At best it was a longshot. But if she could pull it off, somehow raise enough money in time, she would win the bet, get The Contessa and be able to pay back the loans. "You're really serious? You'd risk $15 million against a night . . . a night of sex?"
"A night of sex with you," he amended. "And, yes, I'd risk it."
Still, she hesitated. She'd be a fool to not accept the deal he was offering her. And if she lost?
"Of course, if you're ready to concede that you can't come up with the money and dispense with the thirty days so I can foreclose, we can call off the bet."
Laura yanked up her chin. "I'll do no such thing. You've got yourself a bet. And if I were you, Hawke, I'd get ready to lose $15 million."
He smiled, a knowing smile that made the air in her lungs grow shallow. "And if I were you, Spencer, I'd get ready to spend a night in my bedwithout the benefit of sleep."
Order a copy
|© 2008Metsy HingleAll rights reserved