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Sitting in a booth, Dawn waited until she saw Brad leave the office, then went back to have a talk with Richard. She couldn't figure out what kind of game he was playing, but it would stop or the business deal was over. Not bothering to knock, she stormed into the office. "What in the hell were you trying to do earlier?" she demanded, tossing her pad down on the desk.
Richard's green eyes stared at her. "I don't know what you're talking about," he replied innocently. Folding his hands behind the back of his neck, Richard rested his head in them and leaned back in his chair.
"Don't you dare lie to me, Richard," she snapped. "If Brad hadn't walked in, your tongue would have been in my mouth."
Dawn didn't miss the desire that flared up in her boss's eyes, but she refused to acknowledge it. She was beyond pissed at the hunk daring her to react to him. She needed this job, and Richard wasn't going to scare her away from it. He was enjoying teasing her.
"Is that what you wanted to happen, Dawn?" he asked in a heated voice.
Storming around the desk, Dawn poked her finger in Richard's rock-hard chest, trying not to notice how good it felt. "You need to keep all your body parts to yourself," she informed him, looking deeply into his eyes. "Find your release with someone else, not me."
She turned to leave, but Richard's hands shot out, jerking her back to his chest. "What happened last night, Dawn? Did your date not know how to perform?" he taunted in her ear.
Snatching her arm away, she raised her hand to slap him, but Richard caught her, toppling her back into the seat and into his chest. He covered her mouth quickly with his, and his tongue thrust deep inher mouth.
Holding her against him with one hand, Richard slid the other into Dawn's hair, tilting her head back to deepen the already hot kiss. Dawn tried to get away by shoving at his chest, but he wasn't budging.
Finally realizing she wasn't getting away until he was ready to let her go, she relaxed on his chest and let him kiss her. Feeling her submit caused him to break the white-hot kiss, and his eyes searched hers, then he withdrew his hands from her hair and waist.
Jumping up from his lap, Dawn hissed, "If you ever do that again, I'll walk out of here without a second thought." Picking up the pad from the table, she went over and retrieved her purse from the floor. "I'll see you tomorrow, and you better remember to keep your hands to yourself," she snapped, storming out the door.
Stopping at a drive-thru, Dawn picked up some dinner and then headed home. Once there, she checked her answering machine, but there weren't any messages. Today hadn't turned out at all like she thought it would. Working with Richard was going to be harder than her mind ever thought. How could she work with him and be indifferent when her body was going to betray her at every turn?
Seeing him with his shirt open had almost been her downfall, but she got through it with flying colors. Then what did that green-eyed devil do? He kissed her. No, it wasn't a kiss, but a switching of souls. Richard's mouth showed her what a kiss was like when you're in love with the other person. However, she knew that her love was one-sided. Richard Drace wasn't in love with her and never would be.
The question was, why did he kiss her in the first place? He wasn't the kind of man to kiss a woman without a good reason. Were he and Emily having problems, so he needed to find a release? Well, shit. He wasn't going to use her as a part-time plaything. She meant what she said; if he pulled something like that again, she would leave him. It didn't matter how fine his ass was.
Oh, you know you aren't going anywhere until you have that business back up and running for him. You love D4 as much as you love the owner. "Hell, I'm trying my best not to love him, but it's so hard," Dawn said.
If Dawn hadn't gone to that out-of-town convention with one of her friends over two years ago to kill some time, she would have never seen Richard Drace, let alone fall in love with him. The amazing thing was Richard looked the same as he had when she spotted him at the conference. Next week would make three years to the day since she had seen him standing no less than twenty feet in front of her, talking to a group of men about starting up his business.
Richard had worn a dark blue suit with a tie, looking every bit the up-and-coming businessman that he wanted to be. Dawn knew the thing that had caught her attention first was his sexy, Texas drawl. Every word that came from his mouth made her blood sizzle in her veins. Not being the kind of woman who got instantly attracted to a man, and a stranger at that, she was blown away and had to think of a way to draw him into a conversation with her.
It never happened, and the only way she had learned anything about him was one of the speakers at the event had sat behind some people and started talking about him. Since that moment, Dawn had had a need to know more about the handsome Texan. So she left her job in Arizona as a restaurant manager and moved to Texas, hoping to become better aquainted with Richard. At the time, it didn't seem like she was acting in an irrational manner, but like a woman, she saw what she wanted and went after it.
For months, she worked odd jobs, waiting for him to open his restaurant D4, which was named for all his brothers. The waiting paid off in the end. Working with Richard was worth all the money and time and effort she had thrown into it. Going to work every day and seeing his face had brought a smile to hers, but he never felt the same way towards her. Richard thought she was pushy, stubborn, bossy, and power-hungry.
He told her to stay in her place as the manager and he would make any big decisions. God, she was so into him back then that she had allowed him to talk to her like that, but it all ended the day he hired Melissa. Melissa was the worst employee she had ever managed in her whole seven-year career. She was always showing up late and talking on the phone nonstop, but Dawn had drawn the line with how Melissa disrespected the customers time and time again.
Of course, she waited until after work late one night to talk to Melissa about her attitude. However, Melissa, being the way she was, just blew her off. After that conversation, she had gone to see Richard, and he didn't turn out to be much help, either. He wasn't listening to her about Melissa's rudeness towards the customers, but he told her the only reason she was complaining about Melissa was out of jealousy. At first, his comment threw her because she had never been envious of any other woman in her life.
To her, jealousy was a wasted emotion that she wasn't cursed with. If you were resentful of someone, you could take that extra energy and place it towards a more important project. Richard continued taunting her by saying she wanted the same attention he showered on the younger, sexier Melissa. Lastly, he ended with someone like her should know her place and stay in it.
Never had she been so insulted and pissed off in her life. She had boxed up what few personal items she owned and walked out the doors of D4. Oh, a few weeks later Richard had left a message on her answering machine asking her to come back, but the wounds were still too fresh, and she didn't do it.
Now, it was almost six months later and he had finally convinced her into coming back. However, this time they were going to play by her rules, not his. Richard wouldn't charm his way into her life or bed. It was totally business between them now.
Why should it matter that her heart still did a little flip-flop when his tall, lean frame sauntered into the room? Or how that sexy drawl of his whispering her name sent her lonely body into overdrive? Dawn Summers wasn't there for his amusement.
This time she wouldn't get her judgment clouded by girlish fantasies. Richard was a job to her and nothing else. If he thought for one moment something else might happen, he was out of his mind. The faster he figured it out, the better off his sexy ass would be. Damn, I need to stop thinking about how gorgeous he is or I won't get one thing done, her mind thought as the ringing doorbell intruded on her private fantasy.
The breeze dried some of the sweat from his body, but the majority of it was still damp as he ran down the well-lit street. Richard loved his nightly run; it gave his mind the peace it needed to sort through the events of the day. The most important thought in his mind now was a way to get Dawn interested in him. Today, she had let him kiss her, but she didn't kiss him back. That wasn't a good sign at all. Dawn acted like she felt nothing towards him. Had he really killed what she used to feel for him?
He couldn't work in close quarters with her and not be attracted. Brad was right. All his criticism of her was his way of trying to fight the attraction he felt for her in the past.
But now, Dawn seemed hell bent on keeping their relationship on the business level. Furthermore, who had she gone out on a date with yesterday? He didn't like competing with a guy he knew nothing about. How long had they been seeing each other? Was it serious enough that he was about to buy her a ring? All the questions needed to be answered, and he would get the answers he wanted from Dawn at work tomorrow.
Richard stopped and did a few stretches for his cramped muscles. He couldn't stop his mind from wandering back to the kiss he shared with Dawn. His mouth still tingled from how passionate it was on his part. If he had a few more minutes, Dawn would have felt the same way. He knew she still remembered the nasty words he yelled at her. Thinking back, he knew that Melissa and Emily had been the problem when it came to Dawn. In all honestly, Dawn was doing her job when she pulled Melissa to the side to discuss her problems at D4.
Melissa, being the bitch she was, had torn into Dawn, making her doubt her abilities as a manager. He couldn't let the situation stay the way Dawn left it back at the restaurant. If they didn't settle it, they would never be able to work together. D4 had a long way to go to get back to the level it was when Dawn was manager.
Standing under the streetlight, he looked up and down the street for any signs of the woman haunting his mind. He knew Dawn lived on the next street. He was hoping that if he made a surprise appearance she might be in the mood to talk to him.
Jogging over one block, Richard paused at the corner. His eyes got hard at the sight in front of Dawn's house. She was standing there, hugging some man by a parked car. He didn't seem to be much older than she. Separating their bodies, the guy leaned down to kiss Dawn on her cheek and then moved back. The stranger waited until she got safely into the house before driving off. Seeing red, Richard ran to Dawn's house and knocked loudly on the door.
"Hey, did you forget something?" Dawn laughed as she opened the door to a gorgeous, sweaty, and very pissed off Richard Drace.
"Who in the hell was that guy?" he asked, coming into her house and slamming the door behind him.
Folding her arms, Dawn stared at him. "Do you know how late it is? Why are you at my house at seven-thirty at night? Did you need to ask me something about D4?"
Dawn hoped she would be able to hear Richard's answer over the pounding of her heart. He looked so stirring with the sweat clinging to his damp T-shirt. Sweaty men never used to get her blood racing, but the towering man trying to control his temper in front of her changed that. Thoughts of peeling the shirt from his body would keep her dreaming for hours tonight, but she wasn't about to let him see it in her face or eyes.
"Don't answer my question with a question," he growled, advancing towards her, but Dawn stood her ground.
"Is that what I did?" she asked, her smile showing a dimple in her left cheek.
Reaching out, Richard tugged her to him. "You know what you're doing," he muttered softly.
"Richard, are you sure I know what I'm doing?" she asked, throwing in another dimpled grin.
Brushing his lips very lightly over her, he sipped the essence from her body into his. "Did he kiss you?" he asked hotly.
Twisting her head away from him and shoving at Richard's hard chest, Dawn ended the embrace. "You have no right to show up at my house this late at night and inquire about my personal life. What I do outside the restaurant is my own business. I don't have to answer to you," she finished with a finger poke to his chest. "Now, if you have a question about D4, I can answer that, but anything else falls under 'none of your damn business.'"
"Are you going to tell me who he is?" he asked for the final time.
She gazed back at him without blinking. "I guess I can take that as a no," he said, going back toward the front door. Richard opened the door and stood there a few moments; he allowed the cool air to calm down his heated body. "I have to find a way to tame that temper of yours," he threw back over his shoulder.
Dawn rushed to the door to give him a small shove, helping him all the way outside. "I'm not an animal. Don't you dare say I need to be tamed," she yelled at his back.
Richard walked until he got to the end of her pathway. Turning back around, he looked at her. "Dawn, you're like a hurt kitten now, but with a few strokes in the right places, I'll have you purring in my hands. And don't doubt that I can do it," he said with a hint of seduction in his irresistible drawl. He strolled away without looking back, because he could feel Dawn's eyes on his back all the way to the corner.
Slamming the door hard, Dawn hated Richard because she believed him. Just saying those few words had made her want to yank him back in there and rip the clothes from his body.
"Girl, you have to fight those urges that man sends to your body. Remember, Richard is only doing it because he needs your help with D4. Once he has his restaurant back up and running, he won't ever look at you twice."
Tapping two fingers against her temple, she whispered, "Stay focused. Please let tomorrow come slowly. I can't take Richard in this flirtatious mood." Feeling stressed, she decided to take a nice milk bath. Those always helped calm her nerves after a long, hard, stressful day, and Richard's surprise appearance just turned her night into one.
"Richard, you aren't going to win. I have more willpower than you think," Dawn said. But who was she trying to convince? Richard or herself?