As marriage proposals go, Carter’s offer to Daisy Jackson lacks romance: Marry me and I’ll give you a half-a-million dollars. To fulfill the requirements of his father’s lucrative will, he needs a wife, and Daisy needs the money. But after a wedding night of absolutely explosive sensuality, Carter wants more than an arrangement. He wants Daisy, to have, to hold, and everything else…
Originally published March 2005 within the 3 Brides For 3 Bad Boys trade paperback anthology and February 2008 in mass market paperback for Kensington Brava.
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Anticipation thrummed through Carter Sloane’s body.
Soon he would know the answer to a very important question, a question that had been plaguing him for over four years.
Would Daisy Jackson’s lips taste as good as they looked?
Impatiently, he increased his pace as he approached her office. The building was pretty much deserted and he’d made sure it was so. He’d even sent security off the floor. He didn’t want any witnesses for what he was hoping would take place. A kiss that would prove the desire went both ways.
Sweat broke out at his temples, and he tugged at the collar of his custom-tailored shirt that suddenly felt too tight. Thinking about Daisy made his blood so hot, it boiled in his veins.
His torment had been working for Sloane Electronics since she was eighteen. Not that he’d met her that early on. If he had, he wondered if he would ever have ended up engaged to Phoebe. Starting in clerical, Daisy had worked her way to an important behind the scenes position in marketing.
She was much too shy to thrive on the sales team, or even in a position where she had to present her ideas to upper management. He found that endearing.
He’d met her over four years ago when she’d first moved into the marketing department, and he had fallen into instant lust. She was the main reason he’d left Phoebe practically standing at the altar. If he could feel such strong sexual attraction to another woman, he had no business marrying Phoebe. He had been convinced he carried his father’s curse when it came to relationships and women.
But four long years of wanting the same woman, dreaming about her and finally getting to the point where he wasn’t even interested in sex with other women, had taught him something about himself.
He had a helluva a lot more staying power than his father. He might not be any more capable of real love, but he could do the fidelity thing.
Now he just had to convince Daisy she wanted to do it with him.
He was almost positive that her hormones were as affected as his. She blushed when their eyes met, and whenever he came close, her breathing got erratic. All definite signs the attraction was mutual, but he had to find out for sure.
Right now. He couldn’t wait any longer.
It was after six p.m., but he knew she’d still be in her office. She had no social life. He’d asked around and discovered she never dated. Which shocked the hell out of him. Were the men around her blind or just stupid? His little Daisy was ripe for the plucking and he was the lucky guy that was going to savor her sweet fruit.
He stepped into her office and sure enough she was busy typing away at the computer. His nostrils flared just like an animal in heat scenting his mate as her vanilla perfume reached out and surrounded him.
“Don’t you ever go home?”
She jumped and spun her chair around to face him.
Her black hair flew like a silk cloud around her face and her almond shaped brown eyes went wide like a Japanese anime cartoon. “Mr. Sloane.”
He took a step further into the room and noticed with interest how she scooted back in her chair even though the desk was an effective barrier between them. “Call me Carter.”
He couldn’t picture himself coming inside her as she screamed Mr. Sloane in his ear.
“I-I don’t feel comfortable calling the owner of the company by his first name.”
He watched her luscious lips move and form the words. Their natural raspberry fullness just begged to be kissed. Why didn’t other men react to the sensuality she exuded? Her lack of a social life was inexplicable to him, even taking into account her shyness. But he’d been in the room when she was exuding subtle mating signals, of which he was sure she was oblivious, and so were the men working with her.
He’d noticed though and they made him nuts.
She made a nervous movement with her hands as his silence stretched and his libido went into attack and conquer mode. It had been way too long. If his experiment failed, he didn’t know what he was going to do.
It could not fail.
She had to want him too.
No way could this much desire be one-sided.
“I’m the owner aren’t I?”
She nodded, her pink tongue darting out to lick her lips and then retreating in a game of erotic peek-a-boo he was positive she did not intend and he had to stifle a groan.
“I don’t mind you calling me Carter. In fact, I prefer it.”
“Daisy, even your admin calls me Carter. I think you’re the only person in the company besides old Mrs. Berger in the cafeteria that calls me Mr. Sloane.”
She sighed, as if it really mattered. “All right…Carter.”
He didn’t know why, but he felt like he’d won a major concession. “Good. Now, I have a question for you.”
She sat up straighter, scooting her chair forward and clasped her hands on top of her desk. “Yes?”
“Have you ever felt sexually harassed here?”
Her dark brown eyes opened wide and her lips parted, but nothing came out, not even a huff of air.
She was taking so long to answer, he was beginning to wonder if there was some guy working for him that he was going to have to fire. “Have you?”
Finally, she shook her head. “Uh…no.”
She knocked some papers off her desk and bent to pick them up, sending a CD-Rom in its case flying to the floor as well. She gathered the papers and dropped them in an untidy heap on her desk with the CD-Rom on top. Her cheeks were now as berry-pink as her lips.
“Mr. Slo– I mean, Carter, why did you ask me that?”
He moved around her desk, stalking her and hoping like hell her nerves were due to reciprocal attraction to the boss and not fear. “It’s important.”
She leaned back in her chair, away from him. “But why?”
“If you don’t want to do anything, you don’t have to.”
“That’s good.” She was looking at him like he’d gone nuts and the truth was, he had.
His nuts were controlling his brain and it wasn’t doing his powers of conversation any good. While he could schmooze company presidents, man-woman communication was not his thing and right now he felt like a rookie manager giving his first presentation to the board of directors.
He gave up on the subtle approach and decided on blunt honesty. “Daisy, I want to kiss you, but I don’t want you to feel pressured into letting me because I own the company you work for.”
She squeaked like a startled mouse, and then shook her head sending that gorgeous black silk cloud into motion again.
Disappointment took his heart in its grip and squeezed. Had he been wrong about her reaction to him? Or was she afraid of it and how far could he push it without going into the realms of harassment. Not very damned far.
She gaped at him. “What?”
He took another step toward her, finding it more and more difficult to rein in the primitive urges she brought out in him. “I want to kiss you.”
That was definitely better than no. “Yes.”
He forced down the desire to just pick her right up out of that small black office chair and devour her lips. “You don’t have to let me if you don’t want to. Your job is not on the line. I won’t hold it against you if you say no.” But his balls were going to turn blue and fall off if that happened.
“I promise,” he said for good measure. This had to be absolutely voluntary on her part, or it wasn’t happening.
She tucked her shiny black hair behind one ear in a nervous gesture. It rippled over her shoulder and he wanted to touch it. Bad.
“You really want to kiss me?”
“Now?” she repeated and it was all he could do not to shout the affirmative.
“Yes, now.” His voice came out like some kind of animal growl and he hoped like Hades he hadn’t scared her.
She stood up and closed all but two feet of the distance left between them.
He had long arms and they were itching to reach out so he could grab her. It took more concentration than he felt he could spare to stop from doing it.
“My job doesn’t depend on this?”
“No.” More growling. In a minute he was going to start howling like a wolf at a full moon.
Moons made him think of backsides, naked backsides. Carter came closer to losing it than he had since he was fifteen and necking with his girlfriend when she let him cop a feel under her blouse for the first time.
“Is that why you asked me about the um… the sexual harassment thing? Did you think I felt pressured sexually by you?”
“Not yet.” He hadn’t pressured her at all. He’d been extremely careful not to.
“But now you want to kiss me.” She seemed to be having a really hard time taking it in.
He closed the distance between them and laid his hands on her shoulders. Her small bones felt fragile under his fingers. “I want to kiss you and I need you to either say yes or tell me to take a hike in something like two seconds.”
Her head tilted back so she could see him. She didn’t look scared. She didn’t look intimidated. She just looked confused and at that very moment that wasn’t a whole lot better than the other two. He needed to have his lips on hers in the worst way.
“Do you want to use your tongue?” She asked it like she’d ask if he wanted a mint and it took him a second to grasp the meaning of the words.
When he did, his knees about buckled. “Yes. I’m going to want to use my tongue.”
She bit her lip and stared at him for a second. “Oh.”
“Is that a problem?”
“I don’t like using tongues.”
It was his turn to stare. Not like tongues? No. She couldn’t possibly have said that. He wanted to use his tongue in a lot more places than her mouth.
“I’ll make you like it.”
“If I don’t, will you stop?”
“Stop kissing you?”
“Stop putting your tongue in my mouth.”
His knees did buckle and he pivoted to fall back against her desk. He leaned on the edge and pulled her between his legs, so her body was one inch from rubbing up against the biggest, baddest erection he’d ever had.
“I’ll stop if you don’t like it.”
“How will you know? I can’t talk with—”
He couldn’t bear to hear her say it again. “Hit my shoulder. I’ll stop if you hit my shoulder.”
His hands gripped convulsively on her shoulders. “Did you just say I could kiss you?”
“Only if you stop using your tongue if I tap your shoulder.”
“I promise.” But he was going to do everything in his power to make her like it.
She clasped her hands in front of her, closed her eyes, lifted her face and pursed her lips like she’d just taken a bite out of a crab apple.
He didn’t laugh. He couldn’t. His sex hurt too much, but man, it was funny.
Hadn’t she ever been soul-kissed, or didn’t she think he could do it? Either way, she was in for a shock.
He lowered his head and stopped to savor her scent. Vanilla and pheromones mixed together in a cocktail that went straight to his head, and not the one attached to his neck. He kissed her, once, softly, and savored the feel of lips he’d been wanting for four interminable years. Then he broke contact and waited with his mouth poised just above her own.
Two seconds went by. Three. Four. Five. Her eyes opened and looked straight into his. The disappointment there was food for his starving libido.
“Is that all?”
He closed his mouth over hers before she finished speaking, catching her lips apart. He kissed her with all the finesse twenty-nine years of living had given him.
Her lips were soft and so sweet, he would gladly eat them every night after dinner for dessert. Heck, he’d be happy to have them instead of dinner. Anything so he could have her.
He wasn’t rough, but it took all his self-control and then some to be gentle, to coax her into accepting the kind of kiss he needed to give her. He nibbled at her lower lip, tasting it with the tip of his tongue. She let her mouth open a little bit farther and he dipped inside, feeling like he was on an overdose of pleasure as her honey-sweet taste lured him in farther. He was careful not to dominate her mouth though. Not yet. He wanted to lure her into seeking more.
He did a series of dip and retreat moves that had him shaking with the effort it took to let her set the pace. But finally, her tongue came in search of his. She slid it along his, inviting him back into her mouth with shy enthusiasm and very little skill.
He let her have her way.
She moaned and arched into him. He cupped that incredible backside he wanted so desperately to see naked with one big hand and pressed her forward. It brought her mound into direct contact with his rock-hard and aching penis.
He could feel pre-ejaculate wet his tip and he lifted her, using her body to caress his needy flesh. All the while, he knew he was taking it too far. This wasn’t the time or the place. He knew the passion was mutual. They could pursue it later. However, none of the arguments could put a hand-brake on the need that had been building up for four years.
Worse for his self-control, she was as lost to the pleasure as he was. She writhed against him, her fingers locked like manacles around his neck.
He was so close to orgasm, he could feel the tingling at the base of his shaft.
He used the hand not busy grabbing her butt to feel her up in front. Her shirt was thin cotton, her bra couldn’t be padded, not and him feel that hard and tight little peak poking the center of his palm. He squeezed her breast, kneaded it and then rubbed his palm over her nipple until she was climbing his legs, practically straddling him.
One shift of his big body and she was straddling him. He slipped his hand down over the resilient flesh of one of her cheeks, until his fingers were pressing into the apex of her thighs. Her panties were no barrier to him feeling the wetness their kiss had wrought between her legs.
Man, was she hot.
Hot and sexy and so on the edge that he wondered which one of them was going to go over first. Since it was both of them, he didn’t even try to stop it. He’d wanted her too long to worry about the embarrassment of coming in his shorts like a horny adolescent.
He slipped his hand inside her panties. Skin so soft, it begged for one caress after another, quivered under his knowing hand. Pressing inexorably downward, he slid his middle finger into the slick and swollen warmth between her legs. Then he started undoing buttons with his other hand and got inside her shirt.
He’d been right. Her bra was some kind of thin, silky material and it had a front clasp. With the flick of his wrist he had the catch open and was peeling fabric away from his prize, all the while kissing her with hunger built up by prolonged abstinence and fantasizing run amok.
One perfectly shaped mound was enough to fill his big hand. He squeezed and she moaned. He upbraided her nipple with his palm, and she made a deep animal sound in the back of her throat and started rubbing herself against him like a woman on a mission. He bucked against her, increasing the friction of their bodies while his tongue started to mock what his body so desperately wanted to do to her.
Wild desire raged out of control in his body and he took her nipple between his thumb and forefinger and gently pinched, then pulled it, rolling the sweet morsel between his fingers, before lightly pinching it again.
She exploded, her body bowing, pressing her swollen lips even harder against his throbbing erection, squeezing his finger in rhythmic contractions of her inner muscles.
Her mouth tore from his and the guttural cry that erupted from her throat sent him into oblivion.
It lasted until stars danced on his closed eye-lids and his body had shuddered over and over again in the longest climax he’d ever experienced. When it stopped, he was practically laying on her desk with her on top of him.
Her head landed against his shoulder like a dead weight, her body went boneless against him and he had to hold onto her so she wouldn’t fall. Which was no mean feat considering how totally wasted he felt.
She mumbled something against his neck.
“What?” he wheezed, still breathing heavy from the best climax he’d had in over four years.
Hell, maybe forever and he hadn’t even been inside her.
“I like your tongue.”
He couldn’t help it. He laughed.
She giggled and it was such a sweet sound, he hugged her.
“I think this is going to work.”
“Kissing me? I’d say it already has.”
Relief and more anticipation than he’d even been feeling before poured through him. It was all going to be okay.
“What is going to be okay?” she asked just as he realized he’d said it out loud.
“Us. Getting married.”