The tingling sensation was her first clue that something was off.
Glancing around, Shantra tried to figure out what was causing the strange sensation. Walking towards her brother’s office was a normal occurrence. She did it every day. So why was it weird now…what felt so wrong today? Something must be going on, she thought and looked around, trying to determine what could be causing the sudden tension.
But as she passed by, the servants were walking about their business as usual, the administrative staff hurried from office to office or clicked away at their computers, always busy, always looking as if a crisis were about to erupt. As far as she could tell, everything seemed normal.
So why did she feel as if…as if…
Shantra shook her head, thinking she was being ridiculous. Nothing was wrong. She was simply imagining a tension because…well, perhaps because she was lonely. Her sister, Ciala, had left the palace after marrying a few months ago. Her sisters-in-law, Mia and Raven, were wonderful, but nothing could really take the place of a sister. She and Ciala had gone through so much together, but Ciala was in her own home now, even expecting her first child!
She forced her feet to move forward, dismissing the imagined tension. Nothing was wrong and she was just being silly, trying to find something to worry about since everything was going so well lately. She smiled as she thought of her spring line of dresses. She’d been working on the designs for months now, wanting to get them right, needing to top last season’s incredible success. This season would have to be better, more amazing than the last, she told herself. Maybe she should adjust the collar on the silver dress. And the green pants that matched that green silk, perhaps if she heightened the waist slightly, it would look more elegant. Thinking of the black cocktail dress, the way it draped over….
Shantra almost stumbled, catching the handle of the door only moments before she made a fool of herself and fell flat on her face.
He couldn’t be real, she told herself. Impossible! No man could look that…whew! The muscles and brawn. The man was packed with muscles!
Shantra couldn’t say that the enormous looking man was handsome. Nope, with a jaw that hard and eyes flashing like the razor edge of a blade in her direction, this man was definitely not handsome. Harsh. Rugged. Brutal even. All perfectly good adjectives to describe the man staring back at her.
The man standing in her brother’s office was possibly the most…appealing man she’d ever seen in her life. The scar on his cheek and the chiseled facial features could only be described as raw, powerful – terrifying! Compelling, she thought as her body froze. And melted. Heat! Those sharp eyes captured her and froze her in place but there was a heat that flared out from that look that she’d never experienced before.
Her trembling hand gripped the doorknob to balance herself and she had a short reprieve as the man’s eyes moved from hers down to her hand, which was holding on the knob as if her life depended on it. Her own eyes moved down to her hand, pulled by the force of his look, then back up and she was once more a prisoner of those dark, compelling eyes.
He was perhaps ten feet away from her but he had her under his power even from that distance. She wanted to step back, to retreat, but his eyes wouldn’t allow that.
She breathed a sigh of relief when his eyes moved, but that reprieve was short lived. His eyes only moved lower, shifting down her body. She couldn’t believe what was happening to her! Men did not affect her in this way! Men were the annoying gnats that buzzed through her life, trying to get her attention, only to be thwarted because they were pointless and annoying, getting in the way of her concentration.