Sliding them over my just shaved legs, I had to admit how smooth the material felt against my skin. Pulling the dress from the closet I shook my head removing the outrageous price tag. The bright red silk shimmered in my hands and I felt it couldn’t be a more appropriate color for the feat I was attempting tonight.
I stepped into the garment and almost sighed at how it hugged my waist perfectly then slid to my ankles in soft folds. The back of the dress was non-existent and not wearing a bra was making me a little nervous. Since the front of the dress was halter type and showed off more cleavage than I thought legal, I almost changed my mind about choosing it.
Glancing into a full length mirror inside the closet I bit my lip nervously. If I wanted to seduce a man this was definitely the outfit to do it in. Inhaling deeply I made the decision to wear it. Sliding into three inch, black heels I hoped I didn’t bust my ass tonight and completely ruin the effect I hoped the dress would have.
Trying not to do just that I walked into the living room and waited for Taylor to join me. The look in his eyes was almost worth the embarrassment I felt at being so exposed.
“Miss Burns you don’t play fair.” Why the hell was he smirking at me again? When his eyes moved toward my breasts I wanted to safety-pin the all too provocative straps together that showed off entirely too much cleavage. That lingering gaze of his made me tremble and that was enough to get my head back in the game. Taking a deep breath my eyes aimed for my feet as I attempted to gain control over the heat pooling in my belly that his perusal created.
The evident arousal that met my eyes as my head lowered was shocking. Instead of embarrassing me, it gave a heady sense of power. For a moment I wondered if he stuffed his pants and then my cheeks did turn bright red. Needing to gain back some ground I allowed my smart ass mouth to come to the rescue.
“Judging from your reaction getting Mr. Morale’s to give in should be no problem.” I turned my back on him knowing I’d never be able to look him in the eye after my bold put down.
“Little girl I think I might have to increase the stakes.”
Another challenge? I was barely holding on as it was. “Just be ready to hand over five grand when this night is done.” Then all this would be over, I told myself. Why the thought left me feeling bereft I’d consider later. Much later, I thought as his arm entwined with mine leading me out of the room.
His deep, low chuckle didn’t help my nerves in the least and I still had some old man to seduce. He waited until we stepped into the elevator to speak again. Pressing the button for the ground floor he turned back with a shit-eating grin on his face. “I hope you’re ready to please me when this farce is over. I think we both know you’re longing for it.”
As if on cue my body betrayed me and I felt the dampness flood my core. Why his words turned me on so much was a mystery but one that I was damn sure unwilling to explore. Taylor Ross was dangerous to my well-being and if there was one thing I valued above all things, it was self-preservation.
We didn’t speak at all during the drive to our location and not knowing where he was taking me was almost as unnerving as sitting in such close proximity to him. The man didn’t follow any rules, instead of putting on his own seatbelt he crowded my space and pressed his thigh against mine.
Instead of calling him out on his outrageous tactics I tensed and prepared for the longest ride of my life. My body felt so tightly strung I was ready to scream by the time we pulled up in front of a high-rise similar to the one we’d just left.
The name on this building was very familiar to me and thoughts of his reality business show played through my memories. I was so far out of my league that what little confidence I did have took a nose dive and I ached to remain firmly attached to the expensive leather seat as the door was opened.
It dawned on me that Taylor was leading me into a world of power and games that were played with more money than I’d ever hope to dream about. It was a far cry from socializing with customers at the coffee shop and I doubted I would be anything but an enigma to these kinds of people. I nibbled on my lip nervously feeling an insecurity that had my head bowed.
“While your lips are lovely and I’m sure the red carpet is interesting, I do believe we have a little wager to consider.” His mocking humor pulled me out of my self-pity and filled me with a fire I wasn’t aware I possessed.
So what if these assholes had money, they probably never worked a day in their life for anything. Lifting my chin I stared ahead and pulled my shoulders back. They still got out of bed and put their clothes on the same way I did, and screw them if they didn’t think I was worthy enough to be in their company.
“Good girl.” Was that respect I heard in his voice? I didn’t have time to think about that as I was led into a room full of faces that I’d only seen before in the tabloids.
With a smile pasted on my face I nodded and spoke politely while being introduced to some of the most important people in the business world. Champagne was being handed out by uniformed servers and Taylor snagged two glasses, passing one over to me.
For a moment I worried about getting in trouble for underage drinking but then I remembered where I was. I took the glass and drank deeply, knowing I’d need the liquid courage to go through with my plans tonight. Glancing around at the beautiful women surrounding me I wasn’t sure I had a chance anymore.
Accepting defeat was not an option though, and when I recognized the face of Mr. Morale’s I knew I couldn’t back down. “Introduce me to him.” My voice sounded demanding but it was really nerves pushing me to get this deed done.
“So eager, Miss Burns.” Even Taylor’s mocking laugh wasn’t going to pull me away from my endeavor. I gave a brief nod of my head and he gave that all too familiar smirk, leading me toward my conquest.
Mr. Morales’ fit his photo to a tee and I smiled warmly as introductions were made, trying to fight off the nervousness that I felt inwardly. His moist, meaty palm clasped my hand a little too tightly and I had to mentally force myself not to recoil.
“Resorting to bribery now Mr. Ross?” Mr. Morales’ still hadn’t released my hand and the look in his sinister almond eyes made me nauseous as he stared at Taylor.
“I wouldn’t dream of that, but perhaps you and my lovely assistant would like to get better acquainted.” If I didn’t know better I would swear that Taylor was trying to help me win this bet. If that wasn’t encouragement then what was?
“I’d be delighted to get to know her better.” His stubby finger rubbed over the top of my hand and his eyes seemed to tell me that seducing him would be one of the easiest things I’d ever done. The whole situation made me feel dirty but remembering my role I batted my eyelashes at him and smiled suggestively.
“Then I’ll leave you in her more than capable hands.” Taylor spoke the words with a sensual undertone and lowered his lips to my cheek to plant a soft kiss. “Enjoy yourself.”
My cheek still burned from the impersonal gesture and I forced my eyes to Mr. Morale’s face instead of following the man that left my heart racing with such a simple gesture. “Are you enjoying your evening?” I needed to get my head back with the plan and simple conversation seemed a good place to start.
“My dear I must say that boredom was overwhelming me until this very moment.” Oh my freaking hell, the old man was flirting with me! Swallowing down the bile in my throat I grinned broadly acting as if my IQ had slipped a couple dozen places.
“You are such a flatterer. How did a man as handsome as you manage to be here all alone.” That was like putting the cheese in cheesiness but obviously Mr. Morales’ didn’t mind at all since his chubby face broke into a huge smile.
“A man in my position rarely has time to worry about his social calendar my dear. But for once I’m glad I don’t have a date. Now I have a beautiful young woman by my side.” Maybe I wasn’t giving the cheesiest lines because Mr. Morales’ seemed to be well versed in his own.
I racked my mind with conversation ideas, having no idea what a man like him would want to discuss. I decided to focus on his business. “I’m new to the world of business what exactly is it you do?” I acted as if my entire life hung on the expectation of his next words when I really wanted to pull away as his arm gripped my waist leading me around the crowded room.
For the next half hour he explained, and might I say in great detail, the background of his company. I knew more about real estate properties overseas than I’d ever cared to know but I forced myself to act as if he were the most interesting man on the planet.
Several glasses of champagne were imbibed and my head was feeling light with the sensation. Fanning my face as it heated all I could think about was taking a breath of fresh air. The room was filled with a hundred different fragrances that seemed to be overwhelming now that I’d allowed myself to drink a little too much.
“Would you mind stepping out for some air?” I glanced toward the balcony in longing hoping that a few minutes of the cool night air might clear my head.