“A bright and happy Monday morning to you, Heather.” Lindsay beamed at the receptionist as she entered the building of Haskell, Haskell, and Palmer, where she was currently employed as a junior lawyer. “Did you have a good weekend—”
“He’s waiting for you in your office, Lindsay!”
Lindsay came to an abrupt halt and the happy smile began to fade from her peach-glossed lips as she heard the apology in Heather’s tone.
“I did try to stop him, explained you hadn’t come in yet,” the older woman continued agitatedly. “But he just said he would wait, and kept on walking into your office before closing the door behind him, and—I know I should have followed him and insisted he wait out here, but—he’s just so damned imposing, Lindsay.”
There was only one man Lindsay could think of who could send the highly efficient and unflappable receptionist into this sort of tailspin.
The ruthless and panty-melting Russian billionaire Mikhail Lysenko…
Lindsay gave a hounded glance towards her closed office door. Now that she knew Mikhail Lysenko was on the other side of that varnished piece of oak, she was sure she could actually feel his brooding presence in there.
The weekend had been a good one too, completely free of annoying telephone calls from her ex-boyfriend Roger, trying to persuade her into taking him back.
As if. When Lindsay visited his office two weeks ago to collect and take him out for a surprise birthday lunch, and instead she’d been the one to be surprised when she found him with his face buried between the fleshy thighs of his secretary, as she lay spread-eagle on top of his desk like an all-you-can-eat buffet.
But if Lindsay was right about the identity of the man waiting for her in her office, then he was far more trouble than Roger had been or ever could be.
“I really am so sorry, Lindsay.” Heather looked totally disgusted at her failure to stop the man.
“Don’t worry about it.” Lindsay gave the older woman a reassuring smile; no point in them both having their morning ruined. “I’ll deal with it.” Him. She would deal with him.
You and what army, Lindsay, she inwardly mocked.
She gave Heather another wry smile. “If I’m correct in thinking we’re talking about Mikhail Lysenko, then I very much doubt an armored tank could stop that man from going anywhere he decided he wanted to go!”
“I don’t believe an armored tank has ever tried, but you could be right,” drawled an amused voice.
A honey-over-gravel voice.
As if the man didn’t have enough going for him already, Mikhail Lysenko’s voice was sexy as sin: low and husky, it was enough to make a woman instantly think of black silk sheets, naked bodies, and hot and sweaty sex. It made Lindsay think of black silk sheets, Mikhail Lysenko’s naked body against hers, and hot and sweaty sex.
And, oh yes, there it was, right on cue: her nipples had just gone hard and tingly and her panties were now uncomfortably damp, just from thinking about sex and Mikhail Lysenko at the same time.
So not a good thing to happen at eight-thirty on a Monday morning and in the middle of her workplace.
Lindsay inwardly steeled herself, drew in a slow and calming breath, and counted to ten, before turning to face him.
Lysenko’s suit was dark grey today, with an ivory-colored shirt and a beautiful silver-grey silk tie. His shoes looked like the softest black leather—which they probably were—and no doubt they had been made in Italy, arguably the home of the premier shoemakers in the world.
Arctic blue eyes looked even paler against the warmest bronze-toned skin Lindsay had ever seen, a sharp blade of a nose set between equally sharp cheekbones, above a sculptured mouth perfectly shaped for—and to—sin.
So much so that Lindsay had a sudden vision of herself spread-eagled over her desk with Mikhail’s face buried between her naked thighs, as he gave her orgasm after orgasm.
Her stomach gave a lurch as he raised a dark brow over those mocking, pale eyes.
As if he was well aware of Lindsay’s thoughts.
Of how much she wanted to walk over there and touch him right now.
How much she wanted him to touch her with those long and elegant hands she was sure would know exactly how to give a woman pleasure. As would his lips and tongue, and that impressive package between his—
“Shall we, Miss Carlisle?” He stepped aside to indicate she should enter her office ahead of him.
Get a grip, Lindsay, she instructed herself firmly. Go into that office—and leave the door open so that there could be no claims later in regard to her lack of professionalism—and just—
When did she start talking to herself?
Since meeting Mikhail Lysenko three weeks ago, came the immediate answer.
“I have another appointment in fifteen minutes,” she insisted determinedly.
“Fifteen minutes should be long enough for what I have in mind,” he assured throatily.
Lindsay heard Heather give a breathy gasp behind her, and she had to admit to feeling a wave of heat suffusing her own body as she tried not to imagine what Mikhail ‘had in mind’ for the next fifteen minutes.
Her shoulders straightened and her chin tipped challengingly high as she walked purposefully across the reception area and into her office, managing the latter without so much as brushing against or touching a single button on that perfectly tailored suit.
Only for Mikhail to then follow her into the room and quietly close the door behind him.
Lindsay placed her briefcase down on top of her desk—don’t let your thoughts even go there, she instructed herself firmly—before turning to lean back against it, rather than sitting in the high-backed leather chair behind it. “As your lawyer would have told you.” If this arrogant man had bothered to consult his lawyer, which Lindsay was pretty he wouldn’t have. “Under the circumstances, you shouldn’t have come here without also having him present.”
“What circumstances would those be, Miss Carlisle?” Mikhail eyed Lindsay like a predator with its prey.
Which, as far as he was concerned, he was and she was.
Mikhail had wanted this woman from the first moment he looked at her, felt something awaken deep inside him, unfurl, stretch, and then open its eyes and look at Lindsay before growling mine.
Mischa growled mine.
The affectionate name his mother always called him.
In Russian it meant ‘the bear’.
Three weeks ago the bear inside Mikhail had taken one look at Lindsay Carlisle and woken up with a roar.
Not the cute and cuddly kind of bear that children took to bed with them, the kind that teenage girls were excited to receive from their equally young boyfriends.
This bear was well over six feet tall and lethal, with teeth bared and claws extended, ready to rip the throat out of anyone or anything that tried to take what it considered his.
Lindsay Carlisle was his.
Mischa wanted her.
To claim her.
These past weeks he’d imagined many times how perfectly the slender curves of Lindsay’s body would fit against the hardness of his own. Just as he wanted those long legs wrapped about his waist as he fucked her until neither of them could move or speak.
When he woke this morning after another restless night’s sleep, Mikhail decided he was tired of waiting, and so was the beast inside him. What they both wanted was Lindsay, and they wanted her now.
She lifted her stubborn little chin. “The correct way to go about things would have been for you to talk to your lawyer, he would then have contacted me, and then the two of us would have made an appointment to meet and discuss whatever proposals you have for my client.”
Mikhail gave an amused smile. “I don’t think so.”
A frown appeared on her creamy brow. “Why not?”
“Because I don’t have any proposals for your client,” he drawled. “My dinner invitation is for you, not my lawyer and certainly not David Barbour.” His voice hardened over the latter.
Over the past few weeks, Mikhail had discovered he didn’t have a lot of time for the owner of Barbour Industries. From a business point of view or personally. He wanted to buy the man’s ailing company, but he didn’t have to like the man. Nor did he approve of the way Barbour, a man aged in his late fifties, looked at Lindsay when he thought no one else was looking.
“Dinner invitation?” she all but spluttered now, eyes wide. “I can’t go out to dinner with you!”
“Why not?” Mikhail scowled; he didn’t appreciate her reaction to his dinner invitation, not when he had spent so many long nights imagining her in bed beside him, along with the many things he wanted to do with her. To her.
He knew when a woman wanted him, damn it, and he knew with certainty that Lindsay Carlisle was as attracted to him as he was to her.
He could see that desire now in the heat of her gaze, the flush to her cheeks, and those slightly swollen lips—as swollen as he hoped the ones between her thighs were. The hard berries of her aroused nipples, pressing so temptingly against that silk blouse, told him they were.
Nor was there any denying the temperature went up several degrees in the room every time the two of them met; this morning was no exception.
“Stop playing hard to get, Lindsay,” he murmured throatily as he strode purposefully and silently across the room towards her.
Lindsay narrowed her eyes at this man’s sheer bloody arrogance. “I am not playing at anything, Mr. Lysenko. Firstly, it would be completely unprofessional for me to pursue any sort of personal relationship with you. Secondly, I’m not interested, in you or your dinner invitation,” she bit out determinedly as she refused to move from her defensive position in front of her desk, despite the fact that he was coming closer with each passing second. “Now if you’ll excuse me? As I said, I have another appointment—”
Her breath caught in her throat when Mikhail came to a halt just inches in front of her. So close she could smell his no doubt expensive cologne; citrus and sandalwood, and something else.
She had a feeling that ‘something else’ was Mikhail himself: an earthy, totally male smell that curled itself about her senses, and instantly caused her nipples to throb and another gush of dampening heat between her thighs.
She could see it now in the depths of those eyes, holding hers captive. Deep, hard, grinding sex such as she had never known or imagined—even in her wildest fantasies.
In that moment of intense awareness she could almost feel that hard body above hers, her hands held captive above her head, her body writhing beneath his as he thrust between her thighs in long, deep, and possessing strokes.
She wasn’t Mikhail’s, and she never would be.
“What do you mean, no…” she said softly, totally unable to look away from that compelling gaze.
“Exactly what I said, Lindsay—no,” he repeated huskily.
She swallowed before speaking. “I don’t understand you…”
He gave a hard smile. “I meant no, I don’t excuse you. And no, I don’t believe you aren’t interested in me.”
She was a single, twenty-eight-year-old, professionally and financially independent woman, and she believed that entitled her to know what she did and didn’t want. And right now—maybe never—she didn’t want to be involved with any man, let alone one as arrogantly self-assured and dangerously attractive as Mikhail—
Protesting a bit much there, aren’t you, Lindsay?
Whatever that voice was that had taken up residence inside her head these past few weeks—frustrated libido, conscience—she wished it would just fuck off.
She was fighting both herself and Mikhail here, she didn’t need to fight some mocking voice inside her head, too.
Or be taunted with what she may or may not be able to see in his eyes and feel between her thighs.
She gave a scathing snort. “Well, I suppose we’re all entitled to our little fantasies, Mr. Lysenko,” she dismissed tauntingly.
“What makes you think I have little fantasies where you’re concerned, Lindsay?” he came back mockingly.
A blush burned in her cheeks. “Look, I really do have another appointment in…” She glanced down at her wrist watch. “Ten minutes time, and I have some notes to go through before my client arrives.” He was now standing so close Lindsay had to tilt her head back in order to look up at him.
“Do you take that to bed with you?” he purred.
Just when had this conversation moved to the bedroom? “Do I take what to bed with me?”
“The fire and passion,” Mikhail murmured softly, lids half closed as he studied the seductive pout of Lindsay’s lips.
They were so soft and full, the lower lip fuller than the top, with its perfect dip in the middle—as an indication, perhaps, of that passion he had just mentioned?
Lord, Mikhail hoped so, because when he spotted his quarry, be it a business deal or a woman, he became totally focused and didn’t stop until he’d acquired it.
The predator Lindsay had awakened inside him was even more determined, wanted to feel this woman’s moist heat wrapped around him rather than his right hand.
“Tell me your fantasies, Lindsay?” he pushed softly.
She looked totally flustered now, the vein throbbing in her neck showing that her heart was beating faster than it had a few seconds ago. “I don’t have any fantasies—”
“I—you—this is so inappropriate!” she groaned.
“Your fantasies can be as ‘inappropriate’ as you like, Lindsay, I’m more than willing to fulfill every one of them.” Mikhail stepped in even closer, deliberately leaving barely a breath of air between the two of them. “As long as they only involve the two of us, of course. I don’t share,” he growled softly.
“Neither do I!” she burst out vehemently.
Mikhail studied her closely: the fire glittering in her eyes, her lips thinned, jaw clenched. “Whoever he was, he was a fool,” he finally said derisively.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about!”
He ignored her protest. “Why would anyone bother with zircon when they already have the diamond?” he murmured disgustedly.
“You’re talking in riddles, Mr. Lysenko. Now, will you please accept that I’m simply not interested in you on a personal level and just leave,” she insisted firmly.
Mikhail lifted his hand and gently touched that telltale vein in her neck with just his fingertips, feeling her pulse flutter and then increase in speed beneath the velvety softness of her skin. “The beat of your heart says otherwise,” he said in satisfaction.
As far as Lindsay was concerned, ‘the beat of her heart’ was behaving as traitorously as the rest of her body, pounding away at double speed, and telling this man exactly the effect his close proximity and the touch of his fingers against her skin were both having on her.
Mikhail was overwhelming at the best of times, but right now she felt as if she was melting from the heat and the barely leashed power being given off by his muscled body. As for the expression in those pale eyes! The way he looked at her was—he looked as if he wanted to devour every inch of her. And she did mean every inch.
“Have dinner with me this evening,” he invited again softly.
If Lindsay didn’t put a stop to this—now—her knees were going to give way and she was going to collapse at this man’s feet—and God knew how that would look.
Well…Lindsay knew exactly how it would look.
Damn it, she couldn’t do this. She was the lawyer currently acting on behalf of David Barbour, the man opposing this man’s attempt to buyout his company.
Mikhail Lysenko was a corporate shark of the worst kind, buying up ailing companies—and the long years of recession had assured there were plenty of those—before picking the bones out of them and then selling off the rest. The Russian had been sinfully rich before the recession, he was now obscenely so.
He obviously believed that gave him some sort of superiority over lesser, poorer mortals—which pretty much covered everyone else on the planet.
Inwardly, Lindsay might admit Mikhail Lysenko was all of her fantasies come true, and just that low growling voice was enough to send shivers of pleasure and want—need—down the length of her spine. As for what it did for other parts of her body!
She knew she was tempted by his dinner invitation, professional etiquette be damned.
Except Lindsay questioned the why of the invitation.
She was passably attractive, and her career as a lawyer said she was reasonably intelligent, but there was nothing special about the way she looked. In fact, compared to the beautiful movie stars and models this man usually dated, she was ordinary, bordering on homely.
She simply didn’t believe a man like Mikhail, a man who could have any woman he wanted, was so overcome with lust for her that he now felt compelled to pursue her.
No, a more likely explanation for his interest in her had to be because he believed that by seducing David Barbour’s female lawyer, she would then no longer be acting in her client’s best interests.
Not very flattering. In fact, Lindsay was insulted that Lysenko had ever thought she would be stupid enough to be taken in by such an obvious tactic.
She jerked her head back from those caressing fingers, stepping away before briskly crossing the room to open the door. “I hope you have a pleasant morning, Mr. Lysenko,” she said pointedly when he didn’t take the hint and just leave.
“There you are, Lindsay!” someone greeted warmly from the reception area behind her. “Heather just informed me that—what the hell is going on here?”
Lindsay spun round to see David Barbour, her nine o’clock appointment—a few minutes early—his gaze accusing as he looked first at Lindsay and then at the man standing behind her.
End of Excerpt