Taming Natasha Page 14

“All right.” His eyes were very cool, not like those of the man who had played such sad and passionate music. “Would you like to sit down?”

“No.” She said it too quickly, then reminded herself that it was better if they were both stiffly polite. “It won’t take long. I only want to apologize.”

“Oh? For something specific?”

Fire blazed in her eyes. He enjoyed seeing it, particularly since he’d spent most of the night cursing her. “When I make a mistake, I make a point of admitting it. But since you behaved so—” Oh, why did she always lose her English when she was angry?

“Unconscionably?” he suggested.

Her brow shot up into her fall of hair. “So you admit it.”

“I thought you were the one who was here to admit something.” Enjoying himself, he sat on the arm of a wing chair in pale blue damask. “Don’t let me interrupt.”

She was tempted, very tempted, to turn on her heel and stalk out. Pride was equally as strong as temper. She would do what she had come to do, then forget it.

“What I said about you—about you and your daughter was unfair and untrue. Even when I was…mistaken about other things, I knew it was untrue. And I’m very sorry I said it.”

“I can see that.” Out of the corner of his eye he caught a movement. He turned his head in time to see Freddie make her sprinter’s rush for the swings. “We’ll forget it.”

Natasha followed his gaze and softened. “She really is a beautiful child. I hope you let her come into the shop from time to time.”

The tone of her voice had him studying Natasha more carefully. Was it longing, sorrow? “I doubt I could keep her away. You’re very fond of children.”

Natasha brought her emotions under control with a quick jerk. “Yes, of course. In my business it’s a requirement. I won’t keep you, Dr. Kimball.”

He rose to accept the hand she had formally held out. “Spence,” he corrected, gently tightening his fingers on hers. “What else was it you were mistaken about?”

So it wasn’t going to be easy. Then again, Natasha thought she deserved a dose of humiliation. “I thought you were married, and was very angry and insulted when you asked me out.”

“You’re taking my word now that I’m not married.”

“No. I looked it up in the library in Who’s Who.”

He stared at her for a moment longer, then threw back his head and laughed. “God, what a trusting soul. Find anything else that interested you?”

“Only things that would fill your ego. You still have my hand.”

“I know. Tell me, Natasha, did you dislike me on general principles, or only because you thought I was a married man and had no business flirting with you?”

“Flirting?” She nearly choked on the word. “There was nothing so innocent in the way you looked at me. As if…”

“As if—?” he prompted.

As if we were already lovers, she thought, and felt her skin heat. “I didn’t like it,” she said shortly.

“Because you thought I was married?”

“Yes. No,” she said, correcting herself when she realized where that could lead. “I just didn’t like it.” He brought her hand to his lips. “Don’t,” she managed.

“How would you like me to look at you?”

“It isn’t necessary for you to look at all.”

“But it is.” He could feel it again, that high-strung passion, just waiting to burst free from whatever cell she had locked it in. “You’ll be sitting right in front of me tomorrow night in class.”

“I’m going to transfer.”

“No, you won’t.” He brushed a finger over the small gold hoop in her ear. “You enjoyed it too much. I could see the wheels turning in that fabulous head of yours. And if you did,” he continued before she could sputter out a response, “I’d just make a nuisance of myself in your shop.”


“Because you’re the first woman I’ve wanted in longer than I can remember.”

Excitement rippled up her spine like chain lightning. Before she could prevent it, the memory of that stormy kiss curved back to weaken her. Yes, that had been a man who had wanted. And had, no matter how she had resisted, made her want, too.

But that had only been one kiss, fueled by lust despite the moonlight and soft air. She knew heartbreakingly well where such desires could lead.

“That’s nonsense.”

“Simple honesty,” he murmured, fascinated by the emotions that came and went in her dark eyes. “I thought it best, since we’d gotten off to such a shaky beginning. Since you’ve determined for yourself that I’m not married, knowing I’m attracted to you shouldn’t insult you.”

“I’m not insulted,” she said carefully. “I’m just not interested.”

“Do you always kiss men you’re not interested in?”

“I didn’t kiss you.” She jerked her hand free. “You kissed me.”

“We can fix that.” He gathered her close. “This time kiss me back.”

She could have pulled away. His arms weren’t banding her as they had before, but were wrapped loosely, coaxingly around her. His lips were soft this time, soft, persuasive, patient. She could feel the warmth seep into her bloodstream like a drug. With a little moan, she slipped her hands up his back and held on.

It was like holding a candle and feeling the wax slowly melt as the fire burned at its center. He could feel her yield degree by degree until her lips parted for his own, accepting, inviting. But even as she gave, he could sense some strong, hard core that resisted, held back. She didn’t want to feel whatever he was making her feel.

Impatient, he dragged her closer. Though her body molded itself to his and her head fell back in erotic surrender, there was still a part of her standing just out of his reach. What she gave him only stirred his appetite for more.

She was breathless when he released her. It took an effort, too much of an effort, Natasha thought, to level herself. But once she had, her voice was steady.

“I don’t want to be involved.”

“With me, or with anyone?”

“With anyone.”

“Good.” He brushed a hand over her hair. “It’ll be simpler to change your mind.”

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