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The heat swelled within him until he thought he'd explode with lust. This wasn't what he'd expected, wasn't what he'd planned on. Her nipple stiffened under the gentle abrasion of his rough fingertips and Virginia groaned, thrilling him, turning him inside out with need. She twined her fingers in his hair and said with a touch of desperation, "Please."
Dillon felt the silky smooth, pliant flesh of her breast, heard her choppy breathing and soft plea, and he forgot his purpose. He forgot that he had ulterior motives, that he wasn't actually attracted to this woman.
"Shh. It's all right, honey." And it was, better than all right. It was incredible.
He pushed her coat farther out of his way and shoved her blouse higher. Her breast, full and firm and heavy, nestled against his palm, and more than anything, he wanted her naked. He wanted to see the color of her nipples by the scant moonlight coming through the windshield, to see the pleasure in her exotic hazel eyes, eyes that were usually hard with determination and arrogance but now were soft with pleasure and desire. For him.
He pressed open-mouth kisses to the smooth skin of her throat and breathed in her unique scent. He'd never noticed before that she had a unique scent. He'd never noticed how sexy she was, or imagined how hotly she would respond to his touch. She gasped and he whispered to her, soothing her as his fingers plucked at her nipple, rolling and teasing. As her entire body trembled with need, she moaned and he wanted to moan, too. This wasn't right, but it felt too damned right.
What had started out as necessary seduction now seemed amazingly like blind sexual need. There was no way he could deny his enjoyment of this little rendezvous, or the way his blood surged through his body to settle into an insistent throb in his groin. He was as hard as a stone, hurting with it, and Virginia was far too astute not to notice.
The car was cramped, but it didn't matter, and even though it was a miserably cold night, they were cozy, sharing the warmth of the heater and their combined sexual heat as the wind whistled around them. He knew that inside the mansion, the party was still going full blast. Lights shone from every window, sparkling across the snow-covered lawn, and the rumble of music drifted on the air. What he was doing, and where he was doing it, was dangerous, but he finally had her alone and he wasn't about to lose ground. He needed to push forward; too much time had been lost already.
For thirty-six years he'd been a mean, determined bastard—traits his father had instilled in him, insisted upon.
He never forgot his purpose, never wavered from his course. Tonight, though, right this minute, he couldn't seem to force the plan to remain uppermost in his mind.
He wanted Virginia lying naked on the narrow seat, wanted to fit himself between her soft plump thighs and slide deep, deep inside her. He wanted to ride her hard until she made those sweet little sounds again, until she begged him to give her what she needed.
Her tone wasn't authoritative now. It didn't carry the sharp cut of command it normally did. Instead, her voice was low, overcome with need, and purely feminine. As a man, he relished the thought of proper balance with this particular woman who didn't act the way he expected a woman to act, the way he needed her to act.
She whispered his name again, and when he ignored her, she tightened her strong fingers in his hair. Taking her reaction as one of encouragement, he worked her bra aside, nuzzling with his lips. Her breasts were extremely sensitive, and he liked that. He imagined how it would be to make love to her, to find all her sensitive places with his hands, his mouth, his tongue and teeth. He wanted to taste her, to draw her deep into the heat of his mouth, to suck her gently and then, not so gently, devour her.
He smoothed a hand over her soft, slightly rounded belly and heard her sharp groan. He needed to touch her, all of her. His fingers pressed lower, slipping between her thighs, seeking, probing, feeling the throbbing heat.
Suddenly, she jerked away. "Dillon, no."
He heard her gasping, heard the trembling in her tone. She pressed her head back against the seat and closed her eyes.
"I'm sorry. I can't do this."
Reality started to nudge his lust-fogged brain. She couldn't do this? He was the one who'd been forcing himself for the sake of his plan—at first. His sole purpose in coming to Delaport City, Ohio, had been to seduce her, and in the process gain answers. Reluctance was in no way the proper response from her to his lovemaking. In fact, it was so far out of line with his original intention that he scowled. "Virginia "
"No," she said, shaking her head. "No, this isn't right. Hiding out here with you as if I'm ashamed. I shouldn't treat you so shabbily. Just because you work for the company and I have the authority to fire you doesn't give me the right to treat you with less than full respect."
As she spoke, her voice gathered strength and she straightened her silk blouse, pulling it down over her breasts. He tried his damnedest to catch a glimpse of that taunting nipple he'd wanted so badly to taste.
Then it sank in. She thought she was treating him badly because they were sneaking? They had to sneak, or his plan would never work.
He cupped her cheek. Long curls of titian hair had escaped their pins and now hung over her rounded shoulders. Those curls surprised him. Usually her hair was pulled up and tidy and he'd had no idea how long it was. Loose, it made her look almost vulnerable—not that anyone would ever think of VirginiaJohnson in such human terms. It also made her seem very feminine. He toyed with a loose strand and it was incredibly soft against his fingertips. He wondered what she'd look like with it completely undone. That red hair of hers would frame her white body perfectly, maybe curl around her lush breasts, giving her an earthy, pagan appearance.
He shook his head at his meandering thoughts. He must have been too long without a woman, but then, he'd had other priorities lately. Namely, saving his brother's ass. He had to get a grip, had to remember the purpose of this little seduction.
He summoned up his most bland tone, the one he knew she wanted and expected from subordinates. "It's all right, Virginia. You can't be seen with me and we both know it. Cliff would be outraged and your reputation might be ruined."
She shook that stubborn head of hers. In the two weeks he'd spent cautiously wooing her, he'd learned Virginia Johnson had stubbornness down to a fine, irritating art, along with arrogance and a complete lack of business modesty. She knew she was good at making corporate decisions and she wanted everyone else to know it, too, even if she had to shove the fact down people's throats.
"I don't care what my brother thinks. He's a snob and we seldom get along anyway. He doesn't own me and he has no say over how I live my life."
"That's not the impression he gives." Dillon knew he had to speak carefully so he didn't give himself away. Deferring to anyone wasn't customary for him. He led his life in a unique fashion, following rules of his own making. He lived by a code of honor that was independent of the strictures of society. Except for his father and his brother, Dillon owed nothing to anyone. But Virginia was a bossy, powerful woman, damn her, and as used to calling the shots as he. He cleared his throat. "Your brother is very protective."
"Ha! He's a bully and I'm the only one with the guts to stand up to him, because I control the majority of the money. Cliff knows that without me, he'd destroy the company in a matter of weeks."
Even in the darkness he could see the ire on her face. She wasn't exactly pretty—at least, he'd never thought so before—and she was entirely too headstrong and self-contained. She enjoyed giving orders to everyone in her realm. She was also a bit too plump. Only, she hadn't felt too plump against him a minute ago. She'd felt soft and warm and comfortably rounded. He frowned at himself. "Virginia, I can't let you—"
"Can't let me?" she interrupted, one thin auburn brow climbing high as she met his gaze. "You can't stop me, Dillon. I always do as I please—you know that." With efficient movements, she rebuttoned her coat and started to open the door.
He caught her arm. From the minute he'd first forced an introduction, he'd damn near bitten holes in his tongue to keep from revealing his true nature. Sometimes the urge to put her in her place, wherever that might be, almost overwhelmed him.
She glared down at where his hand circled her arm, then slowly raised those incredible eyes to his in a look that plainly said, You dare?
The little witch might have the hots for him, but she didn't want anyone telling her what to do, which probably accounted as much for her matronly status as did her excess weight and unremarkable features. Most of the men who worked for her steered clear because she frightened them half to death and they weren't willing to put their careers on the line. The rest simply weren't interested.
Dillon wasn't worried about his career. Working for the company was only a temporary sham, his way of getting close to her so that he could ultimately ruin her brother's destructive plans. But even if that hadn't been true, he would never have let a woman, any woman, dictate to him. There were easier ways to make a living than bowing under to the tyrannical rule of an iron maiden.
"Sweetheart, listen to me." He turned his secure hold into a caress to pacify her, and to some degree it worked. The only way he'd been able to get close to her had been to seduce her into wanting him. And seducing an iron maiden was no easy feat. He'd nearly depleted his store of ploys with her and he wasn't used to that. Women usually came to him easily enough, but Virginia had been so damn elusive his ego had taken a beating. Now the plan was more than a necessity; it was a personal challenge.
He'd finally been making headway, and then this. "Virginia, if you won't think of your own reputation, think of mine. If Cliff finds out about us, he'll fire me in a heartbeat. Is that what you want?" He had to keep their relationship secret so that later no one would suspect him.
She patted his hand in her condescending fashion. "Don't worry. I won't let him fire you. I hold controlling interest in the company. I have ultimate say over who goes and who stays."
He sighed, deliberately appearing put-upon. "I'm sorry, honey, but I won't have it. I'd look like a fool if I let a woman, any woman, defend me. People would start saying I was only after your money and—"
She waved a hand. "Nonsense. Everyone knows I'm never marrying, and that's the only way you could possibly get your hands on my money. We'd just be having an affair."
"Which is nobody's business but our own."
She frowned and he quickly retrenched, pulling together his frayed temper and gathering the remnants of his control. Why did she have to be so damn argumentative?
"I'm sorry," he said through gritted teeth, then managed to summon a calmer tone. "I didn't mean to yell at you. But what's between us is private. I want to keep it that way."
She still looked skeptical and he silently cursed her, while on the outside he did his best to appear hopeful. The damn shrew. What was it with this woman that she thought she had to control everyone and everything? Of course, he felt the same way, but it was different for him. He'd been raised to be cautious, to take control and guide the events in his life. His father's renegade life-style had carried over into parenting, and every survival value had been passed on. Dillon accepted his right to control as a means to protect those around him. It was what he was used to, the way he understood life.
Virginia had led a pampered existence, so she had no excuse.
Finally, she nodded. "Oh, all right, if you're going to be that sensitive about it, I'll keep our association private. But I'm not going to make love in a car. It's ridiculous."
"Of course not." This was the opening he'd been waiting for, a culmination of two weeks' work and endless, nerve-stretching patience. "But we could take a day off, go somewhere private and indulge ourselves." He swallowed, then forced himself to say, "I want you so bad, honey."
Now that he wasn't kissing and touching her, only listening to the grating, overbearing tone of her voice, all lust had died and he was once again filled with cold deliberation. She would be a pawn in the scheme of things, used and deceived so he could accomplish his goals, but he had no intention of making Virginia a victim. Though she might end up slightly humiliated, he wouldn't hurt her. He would go only as far as necessary to stop her brother and save his own.
True to her nature, she was already shaking her head no. "I can't take any time off right now. Too much to do. Just come to my home tonight. We'll leave separately so no one will know, seeing as how your reputation is so important to you."
He wanted to smack her for using that sneering tone. Obviously, she wanted just an hour or two with him, a quick toss in the hay, not the commitment of an entire evening. Although it was foolish, he felt very insulted; she might as well have labeled him a stud for hire. His male dignity was sorely tried.
He needed enough time to gain her trust and find the clues to the deception that threatened to destroy his brother. But he couldn't do that if Virginia's brother found out they were seeing each other. He answered her honestly. "No. It's too risky. Someone might see me at your place."
She heaved a dramatic sigh and glared at him, her hazel eyes appearing gold in the dark night. "Are you sure you really want to do this? I mean, for a man who only a few moments ago was in the throes of lust, you're setting up an awful lot of obstacles. I've never known anyone so ridiculously sensitive or so overly cautious."
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