Authors: Sloane Taylor
She nodded, the words stuffed somewhere in her throat instead of oxygen.
“You are safer here.”
His dark eyes scorched hers.
“The streets of Prague and the police are not kind to a lady without a residence.”
“Despite my stellar first impression, I’m really not a prostitute.”
“So what do I have to do to pay for all this?” She swept her arm out as she skipped along, a meager attempt to keep pace with his long strides. “Clean the toilets? Fluff your pillow? Or better coordinate your hallway? Chippendale does not blend with French Rococo.”
He glanced at the delicate cabriole legs on the writing desk positioned next to the overpowering heavy chairs and shrugged. “Nothing you do not want to do. I am a simple man with simple pleasures.”
His rugged profile reflected in a gilded mirror and her knees buckled.
Did his proposition make her feel cheap? Dirty?
. She felt beautiful and enjoyed being treated like a lady for a change. He was hot and she was available, way too available.
Nothing like a fuckfest for a girl to get the most out of an unpaid vacation.
So why the hell not? After almost thirty years on the planet, the time had come for her to do something for herself. Besides, simple had to be easier than Stripper Nurse. All those bumps and grinds in four-inch spikes had scared her. The last thing she needed was to hobble around on another broken ankle.
“You’re not into kinky, are you?” She shuddered, remembering Brad’s painful attempt with nipple clamps. She slid her fingers across her abdomen and traced the scar where he’d gone crazy with hot wax. “I don’t like kinky, weird, and definitely not painful.”
His lips twitched. “Do you think I will strip you naked and tie you to my bed for the week?”
One can only hope
ou are most likely tired from your long flight. Follow me.” Dragan had no idea what prompted his snap decision. Unless that pink feathery thing dangling around her neck or her unusual aroma of honey and fruit had more pull on his senses than he realized. He made a slight movement to readjust himself again with little success. After another lapse of sanity, he crushed her keycard in his pocket, then turned right and headed for his suite.
An image of her wearing just the pink feathers surfaced in his mind. He ran a slow glance down her long legs barely covered by her short black skirt. His gaze ended at her slim feet and his cock strained against his trousers. He inched his eyes upward. Without a doubt she would have to wear those sexy black-and-white dotted shoes with the straps caressing her slender ankles. His eyes continued to her breasts, his favorite part of a woman. Her nipples pressed hard against the thin red knit shirt. She didn’t wear a bra. His balls tightened.
When she had bent over in the elevator and that miniscule skirt skimmed the cheeks of her naked ass, he squinted and leaned down to see better. Actually to see if he was accurate. And yes, he was. No panties. Just a shiny red strip nestled between her two firm butt cheeks.
For the first time that he could recall, Dragan regretted not wearing undershorts. If he had broken his rule, then his cashmere trousers would not be teasing the head of his already beaded cock. He casually whisked the top of his hand across the cloth and hoped she thought he was brushing away a strand of lint, not checking for wet spots. Unfortunately the stroke made his cock harder. Walking down the hallway was not only impossible, but torturous.
“Which broom closet am I to inhabit?” She laughed with the crystal ring of champagne flutes, a warm sound of which he could never tire.
“I believe we are able to accommodate you in a slightly more spacious environment.” He pushed open his suite door and gestured for her to enter.
Her sharp intake of breath filled the living room as her handbag spilled onto the thick carpet.
“Holy shitta, Vic! I can’t afford this.”
“Vic? Who is this Vic?” A sharp pang shot through him. He made a mental note to speak with the chef about the manner in which the luncheon had been prepared. The strange sensation in his stomach was from the fish. He refused to acknowledge any other explanation.
“You know, your last name, Petro
.” She waved her hand as if to erase his confusion. “Look at this place.” She spun around in a tight circle with her arms spread wide. A gasp filled the air. “Holy cats! You supply your guests with Jacuzzis in every bathroom?”
Dragan nodded, pleased at her reaction, and switched on a table lamp.
“Man, you’ve got the best of everything here.” She skimmed her fingertips along the arm of his striped sofa. “This little number had to have set you back a few bucks.”
“Sorry. In your case that would be
That’s what your money’s called right?”
He nodded, surprised at this strange and knowledgeable woman with a child’s enthusiasm on Christmas morning.
“You know this won’t last very long. Your designer made a bad choice for couch fabric. This silk isn’t strong enough for daily use,” she called over her shoulder as she walked to the guest closet. “Spaness velvet in either all polyester or the poly and cotton blend. Definitely go with the blend for a hotel. It has the appearance of a silk, but much more durable. Resists stains, too. Your cleaning crew will love you.”
He frowned as he picked at the loose threads on the seat cushion. Was this sexy magpie correct?
She hung her bedraggled coat on a padded hanger and straightened the imitation fur as if it were ermine.
“Mind you, I’m not telling you what to do. I’m just giving you an opinion.” She glanced at the window. “Another thing is those drapes. They shouldn’t be thick twill. Doesn’t go with the elegance of the sofa. That’s where you should have the silk, if you must. A lined Dupioni silk is elegant and luxury to the max. A beautiful fabric that’s normally woven from two different colors of thread and thicknesses. That allows the material to shimmer or change color with the light and creating a subtle luminescence. It’s a slubbed finish—kind of rough, with a slight sheen. You get the visual?” She looked up at him with a furrowed brow. “But don’t use it on furniture. The fabric has a tendency to wrinkle, even stretch, and you’ll never regain the proper shape.”
He rubbed his head, confused by her rapid dissertation on fabrics and their correct usage. Now, if she were discussing computers…
“Oops, I see I’m going over the edge here.” Her cheeks took on a rich red tone, and she dipped her head.
“A designer friend suggested the furnishings.” He had the intense urge to comfort her and return the smile to her sweet face. “I accepted her advice and gave her carte blanch to do whatever was necessary.”
Lacey cocked an eyebrow. “Really?”
Dragan swallowed hard, confused again. “It seemed like the correct thing to do at the time.”
“Are all your rooms done in this same mode?”
He thought for a moment. “Yes, I believe so. I have not examined the others.”
Disapproval curled her lip. Guilt streaked through him, followed by heat flashing up his neck.
She stooped to collect the items that had fallen from her handbag. He knelt and scooped up lipsticks, pens, and things he had no idea about, along with her passport. A light flipped on in his brain. He had not checked if the document was in order.
Hotel owners can never be too secure, no matter how sexy the guest
He snatched the blue booklet off the carpet.
“May I?” He leafed through the pages before she could protest and stopped when he came to her photograph. Her smiling face, alive in the small picture, held the hope and promise of the future. He glanced up, pleased to see her happy look had returned. “You are from Chicago?”
She nodded. “Yup, been there all my life. You should come sometime.”
“I plan to.” His cock stiffened again at the unintended double entendre. “And soon.”
Reality time check
. How the hell could she ever pay for a room in this hotel? Crap, she couldn’t even afford the broom closet. She squared her shoulders—time to hear the game plan.
“Okay, big boy, lay it on me.”
He blinked several times, a mask of confusion pasted across his broad face. She bit hard on the inside of her cheeks to hold back the laughter ready to bubble out.
“What I mean is, how am I to pay you for all this?” She waved a hand at the décor Paris Hilton would love. “My credit card limit wouldn’t withstand a night’s stay here, even if I didn’t have a permanent ongoing balance.”
“Do you have an evening gown with you?”
She slammed her hands on her hips.
“Are you serious? I pour out my heart, explain what a financial fuck-up I am, and you’re worried about
?” The workings of a man’s mind would always be a mystery to her. Her cheeks burned. “To answer you, no, but there’s this nurse outfit in my lost bag you might enjoy.”
He snorted and moved closer. His spicy aroma floated around her and created an ache she needed to control. She stepped back and walked to the window. Space was important until he set the parameters of his bargain. Staring down at the people below, she wondered if anyone else lived as screwed up a life. He must think she was lower than ant dirt.
“The only thing required, and only if you wish, in return for the hotel services and room is to be my companion at a formal dinner this evening.” He laid a hand on her shoulder. His heat burned though her knit top. “Lacey, I am not a dirty old man as you Americans say. I would never exchange lodging or money for sex. That would make you a prostitute.”
He spun her around in his arms. Warmth and kindness shone in his black eyes.
“Vic, I don’t know what to say.” No one had ever been so considerate.
“Nod if you are in agreement with my offer.”
She bobbed her head until he caught her chin in his massive palm.
“You should stop before you disconnect such a lovely part of you.” His eyes twinkled. “A neck collar is not considered formal.”
“Oh, Vic, I…” Her heart swelled with warmth and tenderness. She rose on her tiptoes, bracing herself on his broad shoulders, and laid a soft kiss on his firm mouth.
A new degree of heat spread through her as he wrapped her in his arms and pulled her tight against his hard chest. She ran her hands through his hair. Electricity arced up her arms as the thick coarse strands slipped through her fingers. He deepened their kiss. His moist tongue pried her lips apart and he explored deep within. Marvelous tingles started in her abdomen, then traveled lower until they settled in her aching clit. She pressed her pelvis flush to his erection, but just as things were getting good, he pulled away.
“Lacey, the dress.” His hands fell to his side.
Her brain took a moment to catch up to his words. “Oh, yeah… Nope, nothing like what you have in mind.” She tugged him closer, missing his heat and intimacy.
His left eyebrow shot up. “What is in my mind requires no clothing.”
Her heart thudded.
“Now behave. This is important. I will make arrangements with a friend to supply you with a gown. What is the size?”
“An eight, but when the airline finally gets my other bag here, there’s a decent slacks and jacket combo that should work.”
He shook his head. “This number you say means nothing to me. I must determine your dimensions to fit our European sizes for myself.”
The prospect of him eyeing her body sent a jolt of electricity zinging through her.
Get a grip.
“Wait a minute.” Lacey sashayed to the suite foyer and toted her battered suitcase back to the living room. “Before you borrow an outfit for me, let’s see what I can piece together.”
“The dinner is formal—tuxedos, gowns, no slacks for the ladies or pieced together anything.”
He folded his arms across his chest, looking every inch formidable, yet sexy as hell.
She sucked in a sharp breath and forced herself to concentrate. “I’d like to know what this event is and why you’re taking me instead of your girlfriend.” Maybe she was being sneaky to learn if he had a permanent bed partner, but Lacey didn’t need some irate Czech chick gunning for her.
His grin spread, full and wide.
“Most important, there is no
who, for a man of my age, would be referred to as a companion.”
She prayed a black hole would open and swallow her. “Sorry, I didn’t mean—”
He held up his hand, palm out.
“Now that that is out of the way, this dinner is hosted by the International Technological Association of Scientists. They are the convention held in Prague for this week. I am invited simply because their work interests me.” He looked everywhere but at her.
Pretty strange reason to warrant an invitation.
She unzipped her bag.
“Since you are adamant, what is in your valise?” He pointed a thick finger toward her travel case as he walked closer.