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"We meet at last, Mrs. Ford," Flynn Donovan drawled, looking into a pair of heart-stopping, exquisitely arresting blue eyes. In that instant, he wanted her. With a passion as absurd as it was unexpected.
For a moment the woman appeared startled, then whatever she saw made her delicate chin rise and her delicious mouth tighten. "I'm sorry to disturb you " she said coolly.
Disturb him? Hell, despite her poise, Danielle Ford radiated a sex appeal that reached out and grabbed him by the throat.
"Mr. Donovan, you sent a letter demanding repayment of a loan my husband and I"
Suddenly he was angry with her for being so damn gorgeous on the outside and so damn dishonest within.
He knew her type. Robert Ford had said his wife was superb at acting and that her "innocent" look could hook a man until she got all she could out of him. He wasn't fool enough to believe everything Robert Ford had said, but any woman married to that liar and cheat must be tarred with the same brush.
"Don't you mean your late husband?" he snapped, flicking his pen on the desk.
Her slim shoulders tensed, even as her eyes reflected surprise at his tone. "My late husband, then." She took a breath. "About the letter. It says I owe you two hundred thousand dollars but I have no idea what this is about."
"Come now, Mrs. Ford," he mocked. "What you actually thought was that you'd try and con your way out of repaying back the loan you took out from my company."
She gasped, her thick lashes blinking in confusion. "But I don't know anything about a loan. And certainly not for such an amount. There must be some mistake."
And he was supposed to believethat? "Don't play dumb."
A blush stained her cheeks, making her appear oddly vulnerable.
Or guilty, but then, a person could only feel guilty if they had a conscience. He doubted this woman had one.
"I assure you I'm not playing dumb, Mr. Donovan." His jaw clenched. "Is this the same assurance your husband gave us when he borrowed the money from one of my loan officers?" He pushed some papers across his desk toward her. "Isn't that your signature alongside your husband's?"
Her eyes clouded with apprehension as she took a few steps closer, before looking down at the paperwork.
Then she paled and sank onto a chair. "It looks like my signature but " Her voice trailed away to nothing.
Oh, so that's how she was going to play it. Robert had been right about her. She wasn't about to admit to anything, not even when the evidence of her guilt was right in front of her.
"It is your signature, Mrs. Ford," he said, ignoring her "helpless female" act. "And now you owe me two hundred thousand dollars."
Her head snapped up, her eyes wide and panicked. "But I don't have that kind of money."
He knew that already. After some investigating he'd learned she had exactly five thousand dollars in the bank here in Darwin. The rest she'd flittered all away, as evidenced by a variety of empty accounts around the rest of Australia. He was beginning to feel sorry for that poor guy who'd married her. She'd turn any man's head.
God, she was beautiful.
His gaze slid down her simple pink dress and matching jacket that made a soft statement of style, to the slender legs revealed by the hem of her dress.
They'd look really sexy in a tub full of fluffy white bubbles, one shapely calf raised as she smoothed soap over its silky length, the water's edge just stopping short of covering her breasts. The image aroused him without any effort at all, sending the blood pounding through his veins, telling him he needed a woman.
This woman. "Then perhaps we can come to a compromise?" he said, leaning back in his leather executive chair to watch her more closely.
Her eyelids gave the slightest flutter, before she angled her chin, as if daring him to take another look. For a moment he was tempted.
She pulled herself up straighter. "Maybe I can pay you back a little each week. It'll take a long time but"
"Not good enough." There was only one payment he wanted now.
Her lips parted in surprise, their perfect bow shape too damn appealing. "Wh-what?"
"You'll have to do better than that, I'm afraid." She hesitated, as if trying to understand. "I'm not sure"
"You're a very beautiful woman, Mrs. Ford." Her eyes held his for a heartbeat, then a pulse began to leap crazily in a tiny vein in her neck. "I've been widowed for two months, Mr. Donovan. Have you no sensibility?"
"Apparently not." He wanted to place his lips on that neck and feel her heart beating against him.
She let out a sigh. "Then you must tell me how I can repay you. I can certainly do with some money at the moment."
Ah, yes. Money is what it came down to with this woman. His gut knotted at the reminder of how mercenary she was. "Sorry, sweetheart. You don't get another cent from me until you pay back the loan. In full."
Her cheekbones instantly reddened. "Oh, but I didn't mean"
"Yes, you did."
She looked taken aback for just a moment, then quickly recovered. "Oh, yes, of course I did," she said with sarcasm. "I'll take as much money as I can get out of you. I'm good at that, you know."
As a bluff, it didn't work. He knew what she was trying to do. "Yes, you're very good at that."
She threw him a glare. "I'm glad you can read my mind. I hope you can read what I'm thinking right now?"
He felt a ripple of amusement. "A lady shouldn't know such words."
"A lady shouldn't have to sit here and listen to you blackmail her, either."
"Blackmail is an ugly word, Danielle." He rolled the name over in his mind the way he wanted to roll her over in bed. "I merely want what is mine."
And she was one of them.
Her lips pressed together briefly before she answered, "No, you want revenge. I'm sorry, but I can't be blamed for my husband's mistakes."
Flynn stared hard. "What about your mistakes, Danielle? You signed for the loan, didn't you? Therefore you are just as liable to pay me back."
He arched a brow. "I wonder how many hot tropical nights two hundred thousand dollars is worth?" He thought for a moment, then answered his own question. "Hmm. About three months, I'd say." Expensive, yes, but he knew he'd pay that for just one night with this woman.
Her blue eyes turned disbelieving, as if only now realizing he was serious. "Three months! You expect me to sleep with you for three months?"
His gaze lingered on her mouth. So perfect. "I didn't say anything about sleeping with me, though I guarantee it wouldn't be a hardship," he said, as her surprisingly sensual fragrance wafted across the desk and slid into him, stirring his blood. "No, I have a lot of engagements coming up and I could do with a mistress to accompany me."
Awareness flickered in the back of her eyes, then was quickly blanked out.
She got to her feet. "Mr. Donovan, you're dreaming if you. Let me suggest you wake yourself up and find a woman who would actually welcome your company." With those words, she spun on her heels and left the office.
In cynical amusement, Flynn watched her go, then got to his feet and stood looking out the huge window of Donovan Towers to the sparkling expanse of harbor spread before him. He rather liked her response. It was a far cry from some of the females he'd been out with lately, who'd left him cold with their easy acquiescence to anything remotely connected to bedroom games.
And then he remembered.
Danielle Ford was more sinner than saint. Her token resistance was only a game, one she'd already played with her late husband. From what Robert Ford had said, she'd taken him on a wild ride during their marriage, though he doubted Robert had needed any encouragement. They had obviously deserved each other. No, he wouldn't forget she had belonged to Robert Ford and that the two of them had reneged on a loan. A pair well-matched.
He muttered a swearword and turned back to his desk, knowing he had a morning of video conferences with personnel in Sydney and Tokyo ahead of him, yet for once the thought of work didn't appeal. Not even the promise of a particularly satisfying takeover tomorrow.
He preferred instead another sort of takeover, with a woman who had gorgeous blue eyes and golden-blond
Despite her protestations, he would make her his mistress. No doubt she would sell her soul for a chance to rub shoulders with him and his billions.
After catching a taxi home, Danielle still trembled from her encounter as she let herself into her air-conditioned apartment. She'd come to love living in this tropical paradise this vibrant capital city at the top of Australia's Northern Territory but now there was a serpent in paradise by the name of Flynn Donovan. God, he had to be deranged if he thought she would pay
She swallowed hard and sank down on the gray leather sofa, her knees suddenly weak. What had Robert been thinking when he'd forged her signature on that document? Because it was a forgery, that was certain. She even remembered when he'd tried to get her to sign some paperwork. He'd said it was a business deal and he needed her signature as a witness. Only she'd felt uncomfortable and accidentally misplaced it. She heard nothing more about it from Robert. Pity she hadn't read it before she'd thrown it away.
Two hundred thousand dollars! For what? It made her wonder what else he had done. Had she known her husband at all?
Not that Flynn Donovan would have believed her if she'd told him the truth. He clearly thought she was as guilty as her husband and any further attempt to refute that would have been met with suspicion.
She blinked back tears. This was supposed to be a new beginning for her. After three years of being smothered by Robert and his mother, she'd finally broken free after his death and moved into this luxury apartment. Living with her mother-in-law had been hard enough during her unhappy marriage, but since Robert's death, Monica had been trying to manipulate her, just as she had her "Robbie." And feeling sorry for the other woman's loss, she had given in too many times to count.
But eventually she'd had enough. A Realtor who'd been an acquaintance of Robert's had offered Danielle this penthouse at minimal rent. Signing the lease had lifted a lead weight from her shoulders. The place was beautiful and made her happy. She loved the spacious living room and open-plan kitchen, and the glass doors leading to the balcony looked over a wide expanse of ocean. Being surrounded by such beauty made her feel as if she could breathe again. It had been exactly what she'd needed, and better yet, it was all hers. For a year, anyway.
And now this.
Now she owed Donovan Enterprises a large sum of money and had no idea how she was going to pay it back. And pay it back she would. She just wouldn't feel right about it if she didn't. Robert had taken the money and she was Robert's wife and, as much as she wanted to walk away from it all and say it wasn't her problem, she couldn't. It was her problem.
But the five thousand dollars she'd managed to save from her part-time job was woefully inadequate. Besides, she wouldn't give that up. Couldn't give it up. It was her security blanket, held in an account Robert had known nothing about. Thank God. He hadn't wanted her to be independent, and she'd fought hard to hold on to her job during her marriageagainst both Robert's and Monica's wishes. If she'd given it up to become a lady of leisure the way they'd wanted, then somehow she may as well have given up on herself.
No, she'd just have to find another way to pay the money back. And not through sleeping with Flynn, either, even though she couldn't deny her heart had skipped a beat over him.
The tycoon had definitely been at the front of the line when they were handing out good looks, with the sort of handsome features that stole a woman's breath and curled her toes.
Strong, silent and sexy. With broad shoulders more than enough for one woman to caress, not to mention the kind of thick dark hair that invited a woman's hands.
She could imagine feeling its shining silkiness beneath her fingertips.
Perhaps some would call her crazy for refusing to go to bed with a man with such remarkable dark eyes and a sensually molded mouth. She called it survival.
He was one of those men who expected everyone to do his bidding. She'd spent three years being smothered by a man who'd fought to control her and she wasn't about to step back into another relationship like thatno matter how much money Flynn Donovan said she owed.