She was going to boil Blake Hawthorne in oil and serve him up as the deep fried turkey for Thanksgiving.
“He’d better have his life insurance paid up,” she muttered.
Ed...darn it. Ed had to be dealt with before she could turn her arrogant jerk of a boss into fricassee.
She met his rainwater gaze straight on. “I can’t marry you, Ed. I’m sorry.”
“I kind of figured that out when
“What has that got to do with anything?”
Ed shook his head. “I’m not as boring as you think I am, but when you’re in love with someone else, any other man is just going to be a poor substitute.”
She stared at him, her heart twisting in her chest, her breath coming in shallow, desperate pants. “I’m not in love with someone else.”
She couldn’t be. Loving Blake Hawthorne would be criminally stupid. She could get ten years in Singh Singh for that kind of thing.
“But you do find me boring.”
“You’re an actuary...I don’t get numbers the way you do,” she said lamely in an attempt not to hurt him or have to lie.
“I hope he knows what an incredible woman he’s getting.” Ed leaned down and kissed her temple before moving to cover her lips with his own.
He drew the kiss out, even teasing her lips with his tongue and if she hadn’t been so shocked by the move, she would have jerked back. His mouth on hers did not feel right. It didn’t belong there. Though he wasn’t a bad kisser, she had to admit.
When he lifted his head, there was an unholy gleam in his eye and he nodded at something...or someone...over her shoulder. “Goodbye, sweetheart.”
A strange noise from behind her said the kiss Ed had just given her had definitely been for someone else’s benefit.
A strong hand landed on her shoulder a second after Ed walked out the door. Blake spun her to face him.
“You’re quitting?” he gritted.
“Yes.” She had no choice.
His mouth slammed down on hers with the power of a conquering army and her brain short-circuited in a blaze of sparks and hissing nerve endings.
Firm, warm lips devoured hers and she devoured them right back, tangling with his tongue and savoring the taste of a mouth that had been created for kissing. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her body against hot, hard muscles not even remotely disguised by his conservative business attire.
A growl emanated from his throat, a sound so primitive, it sent shivers down her spine and her thighs. Maybe not Superman. Blake Hawthorne was more like Conan the Barbarian.
His hands cupped her bottom and lifted, pressing her into awe-inspiring proof of his desire.
Heat radiated between her thighs, making her aware of dampness there as well.
“Um...Mr. Hawthorne...” from somewhere behind them.
He squeezed her butt and she groaned, sucking on his tongue.
“Ivy!” a high pitched, woman’s voice near her ear, but it still didn’t register as something she had to respond to.
Blake broke his mouth from hers and she buried her face against his neck, licking and sucking salty, utterly deliciously masculine tasting skin.
“What?” rumbled up from his chest.
Was he talking to her? She lifted her head to look, dazed and needy in a way she’d never been before.
“Mr. Hawthorne, there’s a call for you.” Trudy’s voice saying something that didn’t make sense to Ivy’s sensually drugged brain.
“Damn it.” Blake dropped her and pushed her away.
Ivy tottered on legs wobbly from her brush with a wild barbarian and looked around her.
Horror was clawing at her insides before her gaze even reached Trudy’s shocked and clearly appalled countenance. Ivy, Trudy’s boss and manager of this inn, had stood necking like a horny teenager right in front of the reception desk. Anyone could have seen her. Probably lots of people had.
Close to lunchtime, the restaurant was filling up and Ivy could not help wondering in appalled fascination how many patrons had walked past the passion locked couple in the lobby.
“I’ll take the call in Ivy’s office,” Blake said, sounding entirely too self-controlled and unaffected for the man who had been squeezing her bottom and pressing her against his erection only moments before.
“Okay,” Trudy said, her eyes still fixed on Ivy as if she’d sprouted tentacles and a third eyeball.
Ivy didn’t even try for unaffected detachment. She turned tail and ran. Right up the stairs, both flights to the top floor where she slammed into her small apartment with less relief than a sense of desperation.
The small window air conditioner was on maximum cool, but her living-slash-dining room was still uncomfortably warm. Darn it. Blake was right. The inn needed central air and of course it made sense to cater to the guest’s needs by installing individually controlled systems.
She flopped down glumly on her white whicker sofa and it creaked alarmingly. She shifted and a twang between her thighs reminded her that though she was doing her best to block the memory of the past fifteen minutes, they had indeed happened.
How could she have lost all decorum and her sense of self-preservation in one go like that?
No way was she in the big city business mogul’s league, but now he had to know she wanted to be. And why the heck had he kissed her? He’d been acting possessive and territorial since Trudy announced Ed was there. Ivy had thought at first it was all about her being a good corporate employee, but she didn’t think bosses usually used kissing to keep their employees in line. Wasn’t that sexual harassment, or something? She certainly felt harassed, but as hot as that kiss had been she didn’t feel threatened by Blake. After all, she was the one who had told him she planned to quit.
The kiss had been no threat. To her career anyway. Her heart was another matter.
Ed had accused her of loving Blake Hawthorne.
Remembering the way she had responded to him the first time they met, and every time since...the fantasies she’d had about him, the way she felt in his company - she feared Ed might be right.
Blake was smart, and funny too when he wanted to be. He could also be a shark and that gave her an atavistic thrill she didn’t want to admit to, but was there all the same.
Oh, gosh...was she in love? Forget criminal stupidity, she was right on her way to total insanity.