Rule's Obsession

By: Lynda Chance


Very carefully, Angie put her hand in his and her palm was promptly enclosed within a firm, sinewy handshake. "Damian Rule."

Angie licked her lips as both trepidation and excitement rushed down her spine. "Angie Ross."

"Nice to formally meet you, sweetheart. Can you spare me some time? There's a restaurant down the road and I promise I won't keep you out long."

Angie absolutely knew she should decline; nothing good could come from a meeting between them. He was insulting, antagonistic, and far too appealing for his own good. But the reason that she knew she was going to agree was simple. She was curious. She was dying to know what the hell he wanted.

She shrugged her shoulders and named the closest restaurant with an attached bar that she figured he'd appreciate.

"Yeah, that's the one," he agreed to her choice.

She pulled her hand from his. "I'll meet you there."



****

Damian snagged a booth in the corner and held himself rigidly as he waited for Goth girl to arrive. She came in five minutes behind him, and although courtesy dictated that he stand at her entrance, his very noticeable physical reaction to her wouldn't allow him to move from his seat.

It was a knee-jerk reaction that he was going to have to get a handle on; surely time spent with her would lessen her physical appeal. He certainly had no plans to do anything about it. He wasn't going to sleep with her. He. Was. Not. He needed a business arrangement with her, and he couldn't sully that with an exchange of bodily fluids, no matter how hard she made him.

She slid in the seat across from him and didn't mince words. "What's up?"

"I've already ordered a drink, what do you want?"

She glanced from him and looked at the male waiter who'd come to her side. Damian felt the immediate loss of connection when she broke eye contact. As she turned a megawatt smile on the new arrival, Damian experienced a hot rush of anger, even as he took a forceful hit to his equilibrium, his senses stunned by the beauty that transformed her face. He wanted that smile for himself.

"I'll have a Diet Coke, please," she addressed the other man in a tone so feminine and pleasant that Damian clenched his fists.

The waiter stared at her for a moment too long by Damian's estimation, and when the younger man turned away, Damian tried to get a grip as he studied her. "You don't think you should have something stronger?"

She raised a single, perfect eyebrow. "Will I need something stronger?"

"No. Just thought we could make this easier by sharing a drink."

"Anesthesia by alcohol? Not tonight, thanks. I have to drive and I haven't had much to eat today."

After the drinks were placed in front of them, Damian requested two menus. He wasn't hungry, but she very obviously was.

When they were alone again, he studied her stiffened shoulders and attempted to put her at ease by admitting to his earlier lie. "You didn't mess up my hair."

She studied the menu and didn't bother to glance up. "No shit. Why'd you say that in the first place?"

"It was a reaction. You looked ready to bolt and I thought it would keep you in place for a few seconds more."

Her eyes flew to his and she asked neutrally, "What do you want with me?"

He declined to answer her question yet. "I hope you order something. I don't like knowing I'm holding you up from your supper."

She held his gaze for a second and then glanced at the menu once more. The waiter appeared again and she ordered an appetizer.

"Is that all you want?" Damian asked. The small helping wouldn't be enough to keep a bird alive.

"Are you going to eat half?" she accused.

"I might," he said, as the vision of sharing her food hit him as being particularly sensual.

She looked back to the waiter. "I'll have the grilled chicken and vegetable medley."

After the man turned to go, Damian tamped down his arousal and attempted to get down to business. "I need your help Saturday evening. Are you free?"

Her eyes narrowed to suspicious slits. "What kind of help?"

"I need a date for a dinner party."

The girl was smart; Damian could see her adding up the few things he'd already let slip and coming up with, if not his entire reason, then at least part of it.

She folded her arms over her chest and leaned back in her chair. It seemed as if she was attempting a casual look, but Damian wasn't buying it. Her voice was flat as she stated, "A woman like me is inappropriate for a businessman such as yourself," she restated his opinion in a controlled voice and then continued, "and yet someone needs to believe you're seriously interested in me."

Damian inclined his head minutely. "Correct so far."

"Who are you trying to fool?"

The girl was good; she caught on quickly. "We're trying to fool my mother."

She shook her head slightly and let out a half-smile. "There is no 'we.' I haven't agreed to anything."

"I'll pay you for your time," he offered abruptly.

"You'd have to pay me for my time. Saturday is my most lucrative day at the salon and I'd don't want to cut it short."

"A thousand dollars now and a thousand when the evening is over."