Phoebe gaped. Did it matter? She briefly wondered if steam actually whooshed out of her ears. ‘Of course it matters.’

Alex let out a harsh incredulous laugh. ‘You’d seriously put what other people think before your own safety? Your priorities are unbelievable.’

‘My priorities are my own business. You,’ she said, glaring at him, ‘overreacted.’

Alex looked as if it was taking every ounce of his control not to wrap his hands round her throat and throttle her. ‘Do you have any idea how volatile someone in that state can be? They can switch from charming to violent in the blink of an eye.’ He leaned in so close that she could see her own image reflected in his eyes and snapped his fingers and she jumped. ‘Just like that.’

Phoebe stamped down the stab of curiosity that suddenly demanded to know whether his reaction was based on personal experience of something similar and channelled her indignation instead. ‘Look,’ she said icily, ‘this isn’t the first time I’ve come across someone who can’t handle his drink. Before you,’ she said, stepping forwards, uncurling her fist and jabbing him in the chest with her index finger, ‘barged in and started throwing Mark around like some sort of caveman everything was fine. I was dealing with it perfectly well. On my own.’

Phoebe broke off, breathing heavily, suddenly aware that Alex wasn’t listening to her. His jaw was rigid. Colour slashed along his cheekbones. He was staring at her mouth, his big frame almost vibrating with an odd sort of electric tension.

She could feel his heart pounding beneath her hand. She could feel the scorching heat of his body burning through his shirt to singe her palm. She could feel his nipple, hot and tight, pressing against her hand.

Appal thundered through her. His heart? His heat? His nipple? Beneath her hand?

Her gaze shot down to the finger that had been poking his chest. Only now the jabbing had stopped. Now her hand lay flat against his chest and any minute now her fingers would be clutching at his shirt and yanking him towards her.

Time seemed to judder to a halt. Music drifted towards them, the sultry beat winding through her and whipping up unfamiliar sensations that stretched out and took over her ability to think about anything other than having his mouth hot and demanding on hers.

Phoebe could barely comprehend what was happening to her. No man had ever had this effect on her before. She’d felt attraction, tremors of lust even. Quite often. But never this slow drugging desire humming deep inside her, making her whole body itch with the need to reacquaint itself with his.

She wouldn’t even have that far to tug. One centimetre. Maybe two. And they’d be locked together, tumbling down onto the pile of huge cushions that lined the pergola and pulling at each other’s clothing.

In the middle of a party that she was supposed to be running.

With a sharp gasp of horror she snatched her hand awa

y and took a hasty step back. Alex’s eyes shot back up to hers. Dark, lit with something that made her mouth dry and her pulse hammer. ‘No one saw me,’ he said, the trace of huskiness in his voice telling her that an identical thought had been running through his head.

‘Thank goodness for that,’ she managed, although her throat felt like sandpaper. She ran the tip of her tongue over her lips and swallowed hard. ‘Now I’d like an apology.’

‘I’d like a thank you.’

Phoebe stuck her chin up and gave him a cool smile. ‘Then I guess we’re both destined to be disappointed.’

Alex reached out to slide his hand round to the small of her back and pulled her against him. ‘Not necessarily.’


AS HIS MOUTH slammed down on hers Phoebe instantly lost track of everything except for the flood of heat that rushed straight to the centre of her. He took advantage of her gasp of shock instantly. When their tongues met it was as if someone had lit a firework deep inside her and Phoebe couldn’t do anything other than melt against him. Her arms shot up around his neck and his tightened and whether he pulled or she pushed, all she knew was that she was plastered against him and her body thought it had died and gone to heaven.

She ought to pull away. This was utter madness. She was supposed to be working. She’d planned every minute of this party, and at no stage did her plans involve six feet plus of devastating masculinity swooping to her unneeded rescue, kissing her and messing up her mind.

But tingles rippled along her nerve endings and the scent of him wound up her nose, seeped into her brain and fried it. All rational thought vanished.

As the kiss deepened and spiralled into something wildly out of control Phoebe felt the evidence of his arousal press against her and she wanted to writhe against it. Barely aware of what she was doing, she raised herself onto the tips of her toes to feel his hard length better against her, but her dress was too tight, too constricting.

Her breasts felt heavy and swollen and she wanted him to push the bodice down, get rid of her bra and soothe her aching nipples with his hand and mouth. When his hand moved round to cup her breast, lights exploded behind her eyelids and lust thundered through her.

Oh, God, she thought, beginning to tremble uncontrollably. She’d never been kissed like this. Had never kissed anyone like this. And she’d never been swept away by this intensity of…feeling.


They both froze at the sound of Jo’s voice. Phoebe let out a tiny moan of protest and Alex jerked back, cursing softly. She hung limply in his embrace and stared up at him in stunned silence. His hair was rumpled from where her fingers had tangled through it and a muscle pounded in his jaw. He seemed to be as shaken as she was. But a moment later he’d let her go and had backed into the shadows.

She blinked and swayed for a second while Jo called her name again, her voice louder and closer, and then reality swooped in and hit her round the head with the force of a fully laden tote bag.

What had she been thinking? She was at work. What if Jo hadn’t called her name? She’d have come across the two of them practically devouring each other, which was most certainly not the sort of professionalism she prided herself on.

Tags: Lucy King Billionaire Romance
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