Mike could hear the fear in her voice, and he didn’t want her to be afraid of him—that was the last thing he wanted from her. Slowly getting up from the bed—no sudden movements—he went to her, but she continued facing the door. Very gently, he put his hands on her shoulders, then frowned when she drew her body together, as though to fight off the coming blows. As gently as though she were a wounded animal, he led her to the bed, pulled the cover back, and directed her into it, smiling at her in a way that he hoped was reassuring.
“No,” she whispered, her voice almost quivering with fear.
It was obvious that she thought he wanted her in bed so he could more easily attack her—or worse. Never before had any woman thought Mike was a rapist. Never had a woman been afraid of him and he didn’t like it, but more importantly, he damned well didn’t deserve her fear.
“Oh hell!” Mike said as he pushed her down on the bed where she landed in a tumble of bedclothes. He was sick of being thought of as some sexual deviant who regularly attacked his tenants. Walking away from the bed, he turned back to glare at her. “Okay, Sam, let’s get some things straight between us. So I kissed you. Maybe according to your rules I should be hanged for that, or at the very least castrated, but we live in a permissive society. What can I say? We have people selling drugs to children, serial killers, child molesters, and me. I kiss pretty girls who look at me like they want me to kiss them. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t punish sickies like me.”
Crossing her arms protectively under her breasts, Samantha set her mouth in a tight line. “What’s your point?”
“The point is, you and I have work to do and I’m tired of waiting for you to come up for air.”
“Work? I don’t know what you?
?re talking about.”
It took him a minute to realize that she was telling the truth. “Did you read your father’s will?”
Anger as well as pain surged through her, but she stamped the pain down. “Of course I read it. I know its contents anyway.”
“Then you didn’t read it.” His sense of frustration was building.
“I really wish you would go away.”
“I’m not going away, so you can save your breath. I’m tired of seeing you skulk about, not eating, not taking an interest in anything. How long has it been since you left this house?”
“What I do or do not do is none of your business. I don’t even know you.”
“Maybe not, but I’m your guardian.”
Samantha looked at him, opened her mouth to speak, closed it, opened it, closed it again. This man was insane. Guardians were something out of Gothic novels, not real life, and even in novels, guardians were not given to twenty-eight-year-old divorced women. If she could get him out of this room, she was going to pack a bag and leave this house forever.
It was easy for Mike to see in her eyes what she was thinking, and it made him angry. She was going to listen to him if he had to tie her to the bed. Instead of tying her up—she’d no doubt take him to court for that—he picked up the tray of food and set it on her lap. “Eat,” he commanded.
Samantha wanted to refuse, but she was too afraid of him not to obey. When she hesitated, he spread something on a piece of toast and held it in front of her mouth. He had an expression on his face that made her think he was capable of holding her nose and forcing her to eat, so Samantha reluctantly opened her mouth. It was pâté de foie gras, one of the most heavenly things she had ever tasted in her life. As she chewed, she relaxed a bit and took the second piece of toast he offered from his hand.
“Now,” Mike said, “I’m going to talk and you’re going to listen.”
“Do I have a choice?” She was on her third piece of toast. Maybe she was a bit hungry after all.
“No. No choice at all. You’re not very good at listening, are you? You obviously didn’t listen to your attorney when he told you to read your father’s will.”
“I am an excellent listener and I meant to read it.” He was spreading pâté on warm toast nearly as fast as she could eat it.
“Like you meant to take a bath?” He wanted to insult her and make himself believe that she wasn’t the sexiest female he’d ever seen. But even when she should have been so unappealing, he had several thoughts about what he’d like to do to her delicious—perhaps that wasn’t the right word just now—little body. If she could read his mind, she really would be afraid. He’d like to see that tongue of hers on something besides the piece of pâté that had fallen to her wrist.
“If you don’t want to be around me, you could always leave. You have my permission,” she said. Now that she was fully awake, now that her fear of him was lessening, she was looking at him. He had on a soft, dark brown cotton shirt and jeans, and he should have looked respectable, but she could see the outline of his chest muscles under the shirt. While he was slathering pâté on bread and handing pieces to her, he was eating just as much as she was, and when he chewed, his lower lip—that beautiful full lower lip—moved. She looked away.
“I’m not going to leave until you’ve heard everything. When were you planning to start looking for your grandmother?”
That startled Samantha into looking back at him. How did he know about that? “I am an adult and I—”
Mike grunted. “That’s what I thought. You had no intention of looking for her, did you?”
“It’s not any of your business, is it?”
“It’s entirely my business. Did it ever occur to you to wonder who was to check your research? Who was to approve what you’d done and say you’d done enough searching so you’d get the money your father left you?”
Samantha paused with a piece of toast on the way to her mouth and stared at him. No, not one of those questions had entered her mind.