‘You’re having a terrible night, aren’t you?’ He had to stoop to meet her ear, and as he did he held her closer. His hot breath tickled her earlobes, and despite the heat of the room Tabitha broke out in goosebumps as she felt his hands tighten around the small of her back.
‘Of course I’m not. Everyone’s been charming,’ she lied, in what she hoped was a convincing voice.
But Zavier begged to differ. ‘You’ve been sitting on your own most of the night, trying to pretend you don’t mind. I’ve been watching you.’
That he’d noticed Tabitha found strangely touching; that he’d been watching her she found pleasantly disturbing. But she didn’t answer at first. His hands on her back were having the strangest effect. All she wanted to do was rest her head on his chest, to let the heavy beat of the music fill her, to lose herself in the moment.
‘So this is a sympathy dance?’
‘No, I don’t do anything out of sympathy.’
She wanted so badly to believe him, wanted to believe it was her stunning good looks that had brought him over—hell, she’d even settle for her witty personality—but the facts spoke for themselves: Marjory had commandeered the whole thing. ‘I’m sorry.’ Her voice was high and slightly breathless.
Dragging her eyes up, she was stunned to see the change in him; the icy stare had melted, replaced by the moist sheen of lust, but his dilated pupils in no way softened the intensity of his gaze. Running a tongue over her lips, she forced a reply, confused at the sudden shift in his demeanour. ‘For you being forced to dance with me.’
He didn’t say anything at first; then he bent his head and she felt the brush of his face against her hair. All her senses seemed to be standing rigid to attention.
‘Don’t be sorry,’ he said huskily. ‘After all, it’s only a dance.’
This was the man who thought she was a conniving gold-digger—the man who had blatantly told her he was suspicious of her motives. But he was also the man holding her now, making her feel more of a woman than she had ever felt in her life. Everything about him forced her senses into overdrive: the exotic heady scent of him, the expensive cut of his suit beneath her fingers, the quiet strength of the arms holding her, the scratch of his cheek against hers. She gave up fighting it then. Nestling against his chest, she swayed slowly against him, relaxed under his skilful touch. Closing her eyes she inhaled deeply, every sense in her body attuned to the perfection of the moment.
It wasn’t only a dance.
To describe it as such was a travesty.
‘LET’S get you upstairs.’ Aiden was slumped over the table but still managing to cling on to his half-empty glass. Shaking him on the shoulder, Tabitha whispered loudly in his ear. ‘Come on, Aiden. People are starting to look—you really ought to be in bed.’
‘Having trouble?’ She could hear the derisive tone in Zavier’s voice as he took in the situation.
‘We’re fine,’ Tabitha said through gritted teeth, unable to meet his eyes after the dance they had shared, confused at the response he had so easily evoked in her and determined not to let him see.
‘You don’t look it,’ he said knowingly.
‘Well, we are. Aiden and I are just about to head off upstairs to bed.’
‘Have you already called for a forklift or did you want me to ring for you?’ His biting sarcasm only inflamed her taut nerves.
‘He’s just tired.’ Tabitha said defensively, but she knew she wasn’t fooling anyone—least of all Zavier.