Mistress By Blackmail(13)

By: Caro LaFever


A man she despised would foot the bill for something she adored.

My, my, how she loved irony.

Now she was downright cheerful. Giving her window reflection a jaunty grin, she promised herself she’d find a way to make this new situation work to her benefit and Matt’s.

“What is so funny?”

His dark growl rolled across the seat and straight up her spine. It reminded her there was a big bad wolf in her plot line and she was going to have to use all her skills to charm him if she wanted to succeed in bending him to her will. She hadn’t handled it well in his office, true. For the last few hours, she’d sunk into a numb zombie state, also true. Maybe he thought this was how she usually acted—either screeching like a banshee or stumbling behind him like a dumb animal.

Well, he was about to get a dose of the real Darcy Moran.

She gave him her best smile. The one that always got her anything she wanted from anybody she dealt with. “I’m excited to be here.”

“Is that so?” His only reaction was a slight lift of one satanic brow. “I was under the impression you wanted nothing to do with me. I’m glad to hear you’re excited to be with me.”

Darcy stared at him with shock. The man hadn’t even blinked when she’d used one of her best weapons on him. What if her lures didn’t work? What was she going to do then? Swinging her head away from his penetrating stare, she looked out the window again.

Come on. You’ve conquered a lot worse than this man.

She pushed past her worries. She was capable of winning this contest of wills. More than capable. After all, she had many more weapons to use. She had a wily, sharp brain. She’d survived the worst as a child by cunning and fast talking. She’d escaped danger many times using myriad tricks to protect herself. Somehow, she would dazzle and manipulate this man into submission.

Brushing a wisp of hair from her forehead, she tried to ignore the shaking of her hand. A little voice in her head screeched a warning she couldn’t ignore, though. How would she lure and enchant him without falling under his spell?

Impossible, another voice inside her tutted. The man had blackmailed her. There was no way she’d ever feel attracted again to this man.

No, she was completely safe. But he wasn’t.

She peeked at him, through her long lashes, which she knew she used to excellent effect. His eyes narrowed and his big body stiffened.

Ha!

She would win this battle. She would prove her mettle. He might have won the first clash. The war was only beginning, though.

“I’m excited to be in New York for the first time.” Purposefully, she lowered her voice, putting a touch of husk in her tone.

“With me,” he added. He observed her as if he were about to pounce, yet he wouldn’t. The man had too much pride. Maybe even as much as she had.

Easy-peasy, another voice chimed in her head. She was safe. Very, very safe. She could tease and play and provoke all she wanted. Because of his pride, he’d wait until she made the first move simply to prove a point.

He’d be waiting forever.

She threw her best smile at him once more. This time, she noticed the slight tensing of his jaw. The man was going to be eating out of her hand in short order. “The city is what excites me. All the places and happenings will provide me many hours of enjoyment, I’m sure.”

“And I am sure I’ll provide you many more hours of enjoyment than any city could.” He lounged on the leather seat, a male filled with supreme confidence. “But only after you admit I excite you.”

“My, that ego of yours is quite impressive,” she drawled.

“I have other impressive qualities.” His deep voice curled around her, his gaze promising sultry sin.

She succeeded in stopping the quiver threatening to run through her blood. Still, for the life of her, she couldn’t think of what to say in response.

Where was her quick tongue? Her quick wit?

The beep of his phone caused him to looked away, releasing her from his scrutiny. Releasing her from any need to rebut him. His face turned from wicked teasing to grim determination. The Italian words rolled out of his mouth, staccato with tension and rapid force.

Exactly as Matt had indicated, his older brother lived for his work, lived and breathed his company. Although he had made himself her enemy, she struggled with a faint welling of compassion for the guy. He didn’t have a clue what was important in life. Friends. Family, if you were lucky enough to have one. Finding something you did with your heart, like her painting. Instead, it appeared from the hours she’d spent with him, he buried himself in work every time it called. Yet this didn’t make him happy. The expression on his face, whenever he worked, made it clear. He wasn’t doing this for the love of the work.