He gave her a sexually charged look that only a man who is confident and experienced with women could give. How could she live in a charged, lustful environment like this? The sexual tension and chemistry between them was practically exploding.
She licked her lips. “Last bite. Do you want it?”
“Sure,” he said, and let her feed him the final forkful of exquisite lemon cake. There was something about it, the chill that went through her, the frisson of attraction, even lust that she felt when she fed him again. She’d wanted to see if it was a fluke or if he inspired that sort of reaction every time. Unfortunately, he still caused those sparks across her skin. Her boss, of all impossible people. Not the chef or stablehand or anyone else she might reasonably have dated.
Bella took the plate to the sink and rinsed the fork off. She didn’t want to leave him there, didn’t want to go back to the solitude of her room just yet. “Did you have a good week?”
“Yes, I did. I got the red tape cleared away to buy a factory in Indonesia to expand the business and stock prices went up.”
“That’s good, then,” she said, “Was your dinner good? When you went out last night?”
“I suppose. The food was good. My dinner companion was a little moody, though.”
“Oh,” she said.
“I thought it was business, but I guess it was pleasure.”
“Yes, I was on a date.”
“Oh,” she said again, trying to hide her foolish disappointment. Of course a man who looked like that who had had his own compound and a factory in Indonesia would have a date. Why would she have thought he was single? Because he was waiting for a babbling maid from Arkansas to show up with a high school diploma and a pair of flip flops and clean his sinks? It was stupid.
“She’s a lucky woman,” Bella said.
“She won’t be for long if she continues to pout through dinner,” he said. “I have very little leisure time, and I don’t choose to spend it with mercurial women.”
“Moody. Up and down. A pain in the ass, to put it in the vernacular.”
“Yes. I know people like that. Lots of them.”
“So do I. It doesn’t seem to be a problem that confines itself to one region of the country. They’re everywhere.”
“I’m sorry your girlfriend’s a pain in the ass,” she said.
“I’m sorry, too. Especially since I had a better time eating cake with my employee than I did feasting on salmon with an heiress.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Bella said. She playfully held her nightshirt on either side and bobbed a curtsey. She realized too late that her nightshirt was already halfway up her thighs, so it went up way too high when she did that. Flustered, she told him good night and ran out.
Harvey was a gentleman and a professional. He would never take advantage of his employees. He would never harass the staff. Bella almost undid his iron control when she curtsied to him and innocently slid the hem of her t-shirt up to the tops of her smooth, strong thighs. In the breathless moment between heartbeats, he had been ready to drop to his knees before her, put his mouth to that soft flesh. He could feel the heat coming off of her body, both her embarrassment and her arousal. It had been a heady cocktail of pheromones drifting in the still air between them.
He could have had her so easily, he knew. But he held himself back in an attempt to be honorable, to act like a decent person. Plenty of women who worked for him had propositioned him, had offered him anything he wanted with no strings attached. And he used to jump at the offer. But he had turned over a new leaf. At least he was trying. He would not sleep with the female staff under any circumstances. He’d been down that road before and it didn’t end well for him. Especially after an affair with a maid that ended in complete disaster. The wounds from that relationship never stopped bleeding. Jenny Harrison was paid by his father to do something very hurtful behind his back that he’d never forget. It still tormented him to this very day. No matter how much he tried to forget about it, he knew the scars would never heal.
He enjoyed dating women, and it was a pleasant distraction. It took his mind off all the pain he felt, off the resentment he felt toward his parents and brother, off the stress of work. So he’d continue to have fun and be carefree, but his office staff and his staff here at the house were off limits. No dating employees. He had to abide by that rule.
He had been following the rules. It didn’t bear thinking about. Until now, until pale freckled thighs showed beneath her t-shirt and left him wanting her, longing to taste her, to open her body to every kind of pleasure he could give. It was insanity. She was the self-proclaimed girl who cleaned the toilets and sinks in his multi-million dollar mansion. The only pleasures he could provide ethically involved a good health plan with dental and use of the employee pool. Nothing personal, nothing intimate.
As soon as she left, he charged up to the library and poured himself a double. His hand shook, and he sloshed some of the Scotch onto the rug. He cursed, then thought she would probably have to clean it up. Should he call her? Did this constitute a cleaning emergency? He entertained the thought for a moment. Bella would rush in, barefoot and in nothing but her t-shirt, ready to serve. Ready to clean up the mess he made because he was so distracted by what was at the juncture of her smooth thighs that he couldn’t pour a damned drink reliably. He would tell her so, in the rawest of terms, and she would flush and stammer, and then take a few steps toward him, tentative but drawn magnetically closer.
She would lean down to see where the amber liquid had dissolved into the Turkish carpet, and he would join her on the floor. He would overwhelm her, kissing her mouth, his hand on the lush curve of her bottom as he reached under the hem of her shirt.
Soon she would be on her back, all eagerness for his touch, and he would shock her, would make her scream rise high and shrill to the ceiling as he put his mouth on her, lapping her with his tongue. A possessive thrill moved in his blood as he thought of it. The mere idea of going down on the new maid was enough to make his trousers uncomfortably tight and his hands shaky. He wanted her. It was obvious that she wanted him. The only question that remained was whether he would allow himself to have her.
That night a few of his buddies came over for a cookout. One brought over his four young children, ages five, six, eight, and nine. Bella had volunteered to watch them so the guys could hang out. She played with them in the yard, and he watched her laugh. She had the most adorable laugh. He knew one day she’d make a great mother. She was so sweet, patient, and understanding.