Dante's Temporary Fiancée(10)

By: Day Leclaire

How was it possible that a simple kiss—or even a not-so-simple kiss—could have such a profound effect on her? She’d kissed any number of men. Had contemplated sleeping with a few of them. Had allowed them to touch her and had satisfied her curiosity by touching them in return. But they’d never affected her the way Rafe Dante did with just a single kiss.

Is this how it had been for Leigh?

The stray thought brought Larkin to her senses with painful swiftness. With an inarticulate murmur, she yanked free of Rafe’s arms and put half the distance of the room between them. Unable to help herself, she lifted trembling fingers to her lips. They were full and damp from his kisses and seemed to pulse in tempo with the odd beat centered in her palm. She stared at Rafe. If it hadn’t been for the rapid give and take of his breath, she’d have believed him unaffected.

“I think we can safely say that we’re attracted to one another,” she informed him.

“Hell, yes.”

His voice sounded rougher than normal, low and edged with an emotion that was reflected in his eyes like green fire. He crossed to the wet bar and removed the stopper on a cut-glass decanter. Splashing some of the amber liquid into a tumbler, he glanced over his shoulder and raised an eyebrow. “Want some?”

She shook her head. She didn’t dare. She’d always been a frank person. Alcohol tended to remove all caution and strip her of the ability to control her tongue. There was no telling what she’d say if she had a drink right now.

He downed the liquor in a single swallow, then turned to face her. “That was…unexpected.”

“Blame it on The Inferno,” she attempted to joke.

“Oh, I intend to.”

She stared at him, not quite certain of his mood. She couldn’t tell if he was annoyed by what had happened, or relieved. Or maybe he just didn’t give a damn. Perhaps a little of all three. Annoyed because their reaction to one another was a complication and he’d been as close to losing control of the situation as she had. Possibly even more so, since she’d been the one to finally end their embrace. Relieved because that same attraction would allow him to execute his plan. As for not giving a damn…

No. She was wrong about that. He might hide the fact he cared, bury it deep, but she was willing to bet the Dante passion ran hotter in him than all the others.

She had a decision to make. She could turn around and walk out of the room and never return. She could tell him who she was and what she wanted. Or she could go along with his plan and see how matters developed. Every instinct warned her to get out while the going was good, or at the very least explain why this insane idea of his would never work. Maybe she’d have made the smart choice, the far less dangerous choice…if only he hadn’t kissed her.

“I gather we just became engaged?” she asked lightly.

He hesitated. “Something like that.”

“And will your family believe that you’ve gone from a total nonbeliever to an Inferno fanatic after one simple kiss?”

“Considering it happened just that way with each and every one of the Dante men in my family, yes.”

“None of them believed?”

Rafe shrugged. “My cousin Marco did. He’s probably the most romantic of all the Dantes.”

“But not the rest of you.”

“It isn’t logical,” he stated simply. “It’s far-fetched at best and bordering on ludicrous when you look at it from a serious, rational point of view.”

“I think it’s sort of sweet.”

His mouth curved upward. “Most women do.”

A distinct awkwardness settled over her. “So, what now?”

“Now I take you home. First thing in the morning we’ll get together and plan our strategy.”

“Strategy.” She couldn’t help but laugh. “Let me guess. You’re one of those organized, I-need-to-mold-the-world types, aren’t you?”

“Somebody has to.” He released a sigh and returned his glass to the wet bar. “Let me guess. You’re one of those seat-of-the-pants, take-life-as-it-happens types, aren’t you?”

She wrinkled her nose. “This might be a case of opposites attract.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll organize everything and you just go with the flow.”

Her amusement grew. “Control is an illusion, you know.”

He appeared every bit as amused. “Whatever you say. How about if I control us out of here and you let it happen?”

“I think I can handle that.”

Larkin gathered up her purse and circled the couch toward the door. Rafe joined her, his hand coming to rest on the base of her spine in a gesture that should have been casual. Instead, it was as though he’d given her another jolt of electricity. She stumbled and her purse dropped from her hand. Turning, she could only stare helplessly at him.

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