Rule's Obsession

By: Lynda Chance


"Holy shit. Two grand just for a dinner party?" Distrust highlighted her features. "Nothing else?"

"Just a dinner party. Nothing else, although it has to look as if we can't wait to be alone. That is, if you think you're up to the challenge."

The first thing he saw was calculation as she very obviously thought about earning two grand in a single evening for little to no work. The second thing he saw was a question as she slid her gaze over him as if mulling over being alone with him. Damian felt the immediate hit to his groin as he imagined the same. It wasn't hard to do; being alone with her was something he thought about often. Her lips slowly opened and her face was transformed into a highly provocative look that made his pants too tight. Her voice came out, almost sultry and nothing like he'd heard from her before, "I'm pretty sure I could fake a bunch of people into thinking I'm into you."

He watched, almost entranced, as she lifted a hand and picked up a lock of hair and began twirling it around her fingers, and held the strand close to her mouth, making it impossible for him not to focus on her full lips. It was an obvious bid for sexual attention; it was also more than obvious that she was staging a performance, and damn if she wasn't good. She shrugged a delicate shoulder and continued, "I suppose for two grand I could manage to pretend you're not a complete douche bag for a few hours."

Damian raised an eyebrow. Her words themselves had been insulting, but the way she'd purred them had made it seem as if she couldn't wait to strip the clothes from his body . . . with her teeth. Yeah, if she could keep that up, she'd do just fine. His mother would buy it, hook, line and sinker. She'd finally get the message that he didn't have a single romantic feeling for Courtney and leave him alone again.

"So you'll do it?" he asked.

"Sure, why not?"

Damian was pleased he was getting what he wanted, although he acknowledged that he didn't care for how mercenary the girl seemed. Her tone had changed quickly when two grand was mentioned. It was a turn-off, but that was actually a good thing, because he needed something to dull the sharp edge of attraction he felt when he was near her.

He pulled out his business card and took a moment to jot down his cell phone number before handing it to her. "My information. I'll have a car pick you up at six sharp on Saturday night. Call and leave your information with my secretary. If you need to speak to me personally, call my cell."

"What do you want me to wear?"

"Something like that, of course," he said, indicating the outfit she had on.

She narrowed her eyes and a look of confusion colored them. "Umm, the party will be fairly formal, right? Or is it just us and your mother?"

"No, her dinner parties are usually twelve to sixteen guests."

She took a deep breath. "Right. I need to wear a cocktail dress at least, I think."

"Okay. But make it black and don't tone down the gothic element."

"All right, but I have to warn you that a dressed-up look will appear more polished."

"Black hair and purple lipstick?"

"If that's what you want," she agreed tonelessly.

"It is.

****

The car that picked Angie up on Saturday night had one thing she wasn't expecting: Damian in the backseat. For whatever reason, she'd thought she was meant to meet him at the party.

As she settled next to him, she tried to ignore the fact that he was studying her intently. Trying to calm her nerves, she attempted to focus on earning the money that would help Janice get out of the situation she was in.

She busied herself with the seatbelt and when he didn't speak and the car was in motion, she leaned back in her seat. When she continued to feel his hot eyes moving over her body, she flattened her palms against the leather and challenged, "You like what you see?"

His jaw tensed, his shoulders filling his jacket. "Most definitely. And that's the reason you're here."

"Because your mother has to believe this?"

He tipped his head in affirmation, his features giving nothing away.

She swallowed hard and tried to ignore the pounding in her chest that was induced by sitting so close to him. "So what's the story?"

"There is no 'story.' All we'll need is the complete truth, except for the part about the payment you're receiving."

"Okay." She cleared her throat and demanded an answer to the question that had been bothering her since she'd agreed to this scheme. "There won't be any PDAs, will there?"

For a moment he wore a blank look and then he smiled wickedly, his straight white teeth solidifying the perfection of his smile. "Public displays of affection?"

She exhaled, trying to remember exactly why she couldn't risk the intimacy of touches between them. "Yeah."

A frown came between his brows. "I shouldn't think so." His expression stilled and became grave. "I'm assuming you want me to relinquish you after this night is over, correct?"

Caught off guard by his intimation, her stomach dropped to her feet, but she managed to nod her head, her eyes glued to his.

At her non-verbal confirmation, he answered brusquely, "Then no, no unnecessary touching." Negating his words, he reached out a hand and lifted her chin, tipping her face up to his. Her nerves shifting restlessly, Angie tried to suppress the pleasure his touch created within her. "You clean up quite well, but I distinctly remember requesting the gothic look," he said in a voice that contained irritation and a hint of accusation.