Authors: Maggie Casper
Alexandra opened the folder lying front and center on her desk in hopes that getting back to work would take her mind off the man himself. In it were pictures and descriptions of properties for sale. Ones she thought might fit his needs. She turned the folder to face him then began regaling the specifications of each. When she finally looked up it was to find him looking at her and not the information she’d been addressing.
“Do any of them catch your interest, Mr. Alden?”
His lip kicked up at one corner giving him a rakish appearance which made her heart flip flop then skitter before once again settling on a rhythm much faster than normal for her.
“Please call me Raith, Alexandra.” He said her name as if testing its weight on his tongue.
Her skin prickled with the need to escape. If she didn’t need the business there was a good chance she might have turned him over to a colleague with more experience in business properties. But that wasn’t the case so she was just going to have to keep her distance.
“Much has caught my interests, but right now we’ll stick to business.”
Alexandra thought she had misheard him, but the slight glimmer of amusement in his gaze warned she had not. She wasn’t sure whether she was going to faint or giggle but was absolutely positive neither would be very professional.
She was relieved when he once again spoke, this time in his no-nonsense, business-only tone. “I don’t make final decisions on property based on statistics. I need to see the places myself.”
She could arrange for him to see the list of places. And the sooner the better as far as she was concerned. “Completely understandable, Mr. Ald…er…Raith. How would tomorrow work for you?”
His brows had drawn together in displeasure at her blunder. For the life of her, Alexandra couldn’t figure out why it mattered to her that she might displease him. He was a client. Either she could help him find the right property or she couldn’t. Scampering around on egg shells, wondering if she had offended him or not wouldn’t change things. Once again rock steady in her desire to just be herself, she met his gaze and smiled.
His next words completely obliterated her few seconds of calm. “Was there something wrong with now? Maybe you had other appointments set up already?”
His gaze bore into hers, daring her to lie. How he knew she didn’t have any other plans she couldn’t figure out, but he knew and was waiting to see how she played the cards. Of that she had no doubt.
“Now would be fine. I just assumed you would like time to settle into the timeshare and rest a bit.” It was the truth and yet didn’t directly answer his question.
“Do you have other appointments this afternoon, Alexandra?”
Why did his tone not only make her want to answer in a prompt manner but also turn her on? It should have irritated her and would have coming from anyone else.
“No, I don’t have any other clients this afternoon.” God, how she wished she did because she somehow knew what he was going to suggest before he even said the words.
“Good. You can take me by the timeshare and show me around while we plan which places to see first.”
He’d already uncoiled himself from the chair and was hustling her out the door, his large hand resting on the small of her back, before she had even considered protesting.
To the outside observer Alexandra was completely at ease in his company. She stood tall, her willowy frame held strength having nothing to do with muscle. She was confident and intelligent and completely skittish as hell around him. Raith liked knowing he had her on pins and needles.
She had kept up a continual dialogue on the short trip over and even now, as they walked toward the appropriate townhouse, she continued to talk. Her words seemed forced, as if she wasn’t used to wasting so much energy or breath on talk. The numerous bangle bracelets she wore chimed with each movement of her hand. She definitely had an earthy feel about her, he thought as he watched the sway of her hips beneath the thin fabric of the long flowing skirt she wore.
There was nothing fake about this woman. From the riotous auburn curls fanning across her shoulders to the low-heeled sandals hugging her feet, she was more natural than any woman he’d ever met. Her breasts were small and pert thrust against the fabric of her tunic-style top. If he wasn’t mistaken, she didn’t have a bra on. Her face was nearly devoid of make-up. No more than mascara and lip gloss added to her beauty. Raith was utterly intrigued.
They entered the timeshare townhouse he had swapped for his NYC high-rise apartment and he immediately thought how cozy it was. There was no black granite or gleaming metal. It had a decisively country feel to it. Not his usual style but only because he’d left the decorating up to others. He couldn’t help but wonder what the inside of Alexandra’s home looked like. In that instant, Raith promised himself he would find out before the trip was over.
Larry rolled a cart full of luggage through the front door. “Where do you want your things, boss?”
Raith turned his gaze on Alexandra. “The master bedroom?” he inquired.
“Oh, right this way.”
She had yet to meet his assistant and so he took the time to introduce them. Within a matter of minutes Larry and Raith had their luggage divvied into their respective rooms. He’d seen Alexandra eye his three bags versus Larry’s one with amusement. She probably figured he packed like a woman and had a suitcase just for his toiletries.
“If you don’t need anything else today I’m going to head out for a little sightseeing.”
Raith’s gaze met that of his assistant. The man was a mind reader. His assumption that Raith wanted to be alone with the beautiful Alexandra was spot on. “That’s fine. Miss Aimon and I will look at properties today. Tomorrow we’ll discuss our findings.”
Larry turned away from them and promptly headed out the door. When Raith turned back to see what his lovely companion was up to, it was only to find she had moved closer to the door. He couldn’t help but smile.
“I promise not to ravage you, Alexandra.”
She snorted, but the look on her face said she wasn’t so sure.
“I can see you’re curious,” he said as he hefted one of the larger suitcases onto the surface of the bed. “Only one of these holds my essentials such as clothes and toiletries.”
As he’d hoped, she took a tentative step closer. Her movements were flowing and graceful. Efficient. She didn’t seem to be the fluttery type. Every step she took had a goal in mind, even if that goal was nothing more than to appease her curiosity.
“What is in the others?”
“Ahh, how I was hoping you would ask that.” Raith turned toward her, watching her face as he slowly began unzipping the piece of luggage. “In this one are the tools of the trade.”
A frown creased the area between her brows. He wanted to rub the spot with his fingers, soothing the lines away. When the zipper reached the end of its road he lifted the top, revealing what lay inside. Alexandra gasped then choked. The husky sound of her laughter that followed surprised him. Raith wasn’t sure of her reaction.
“I was expecting a computer or something.” Her eyes danced merrily. “Guess I wasn’t thinking about the right
.” She said the last with just a bit of inflection, causing him to chuckle.
“The tools for my other trade, laptop and paperwork, are in the suitcase over there.” He motioned with his hand in the direction of an overstuffed chair.
She inched another step forward, her hand out as if to touch before evidently realizing what she was about to do. A look of horror crossed over her face and then she snatched her hand back, her gaze meeting his.
Her cheeks were pink with embarrassment.
“Good girl,” Raith praised aloud. “It isn’t a good idea to touch another’s property without permission.”
Raith watched the green of her eyes deepen at his words even as her chin tilted at an angle he could only describe as defiant. He’d not really reprimanded her actions and yet it appeared as if she’d taken his words as such. Or maybe she didn’t care for his way of praising her actions.
Like a woman hungry, she stared at the open suitcase. Her hands were now bound tightly together at her waist. She all but vibrated with excitement and interest over his collection of toys.
“You may touch if you like.”
Her head snapped up. Diverted from studying the contents in his luggage, she pondered him instead.
“Feel free to ask any questions you might have as well.”
As much as Raith wanted to hover over her, watching her every movement and facial expression, he decided to move away and allow her some room. He settled into the chair on the opposite side of the bed so he could still see her and she him.
It was hard to keep his mouth shut as he watched her fondle the falls on first one flogger and then another. When she lifted the leather to her nose and inhaled, his cock surged to life. Shock coursed through his veins. Raith couldn’t think of the last time he’d become erect without allowing himself to do so. He always had control over his body.
As if handling the most precious of gems, she held, studied and laid aside each item. A few she held for longer, and once she even looked up as if to ask a question or make a comment before blushing and looking down again.
After going through everything, she placed each item back in the bag, leaving only one out. It was a wide leather collar and cuff set attached by a long strip of leather. It could be worn either in back or front, effectively immobilizing the arms in a way that they were of no use. If the person locked into the contraption struggled against the cuffs the collar would cause discomfort as well. It was a beautiful piece of equipment that had been handmade by him. A favorite.
Raith rose from his seated position, never once taking his eyes off Alexander who was still touching the collar and cuff set in her hands. He moved across the room until he was standing directly behind her. When he leaned in, over her shoulder, she jumped as if she had no idea who he was.
“You would look stunning in that, whether clothed or not.” He didn’t want to scare her away, but seeing how intrigued she was by the small collection of toys he’d brought with him, Raith couldn’t help but push just a little.
The scent of his cologne tickled her nose. Along with the smell of leather now permeating the room, it was a heady combination. She could feel his warm breath along her neck and face as he spoke. He aroused her even without a suitcase full of naughtiness, and with all of that Alexandra was having an exceedingly hard time keeping her hands off him.
She turned so they were facing one another. Her hands shook slightly at his nearness. He was tall enough she didn’t have to crane her neck to peer up at him but not so tall they stood eye to eye. She liked his size, the width of his shoulders, the sheer breadth of his body. He wasn’t lean by today’s standards but he wasn’t fat either. His build was husky. He had meat on his bones and carried it well.
“Would you like to try it?”
Oh God, how she would like to try it. Her breath stopped in her lungs, burning for release as she pondered the thought. It wasn’t something she could do though. If she did, it would go against her rule of not mixing business with pleasure.
Something clawed at Alexandra’s insides. It was a sensation warning that to give up the opportunity could very well end up being something she regretted. If it wasn’t for her need of him as a client, she would pass him on to another agent and give herself up to anything he wanted to teach her, but that wasn’t the case.
Falling back on that train of thought, Alexandra put the collar and cuff set back in the bag then stepped away from Raith. “Thank you, but no.” She added a touch of indignation to her tone.
“Why, when it’s so obvious you want to?”
Leave it to him to question her. “It wouldn’t be very professional to mix business with pleasure, Mr. Aldan.” Alexandra moved across the room, putting distance between them even though she feared it would do nothing to help.
She was completely correct in her assumption when she turned around only to find him almost directly behind her and looking none too happy.
He grasped her chin and stared her straight in the eye. “It is good to have business ethics and morals, Alexandra. Just don’t let them keep you behind a wall too high to climb over.” His face was so close to hers she could feel the warmth of his breath across her mouth. All she would need to do is lean closer, to touch her lips to his, and she knew he would take over. That was all it would take, and yet she couldn’t allow herself to do it.
She also couldn’t bring herself to break his hold, the touch of his fingers on her face. His eyes were unblinking as they studied her. He finally nodded as if coming to a decision then dropped his hand and backed away. “I’ve asked you to call me Raith.” His voice was whip-sharp. He may have asked, but from her side of things Alexandra thought command was a much more apt term.
Words seemed to evade her, so Alexandra nodded and said nothing, only watched as he walked across the room to zip the bag closed and drop it into the bottom of the closet. When he finished the task he turned toward her. “Shall we go check out the places on your list?”
This time she had a hard time not laughing. He phrased things as questions and yet she knew beyond the shadow of a doubt he did not expect an answer that differed from his own wishes. Something in her made Alexandra want to answer in the negative just to see what he would do.
Instead, she swallowed her laughter and strode past him to the front door. Being in the close quarters of her car was not ideal, but it beat being in the master bedroom with a king-sized bed taunting her any day of the week.
Raith locked the front door and then, as if it was something he did without thought, he placed his hand on her lower back and ushered her to the car. He walked with her around to the driver’s side of the car. There, they both reached for the door handle at the same time. Alexandra dropped her hand, allowing him to open the door for her, although the word
was one she used in her head to make herself feel better about everything going on.