To merciless Serge Marinov, Clementine Chevalier's Mona Lisa smile and siren's body could incite a male riot! She's so bewitching that ground rules are required: he'll give her nights of endless pleasure—but in the stark light of Saint Petersburg's dawn he'll be gone.
Serge is Clementine's secret fantasy come to life, but she has no interest in money—his diamonds leave her cold. So she sets some terms of her own: she won't be warming his bed until he shows her she's more than just this magnate's plaything!
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"Clementine, I don't think you understand what I'm offering you."
She was plucking at her sweater now. Serge watched, fascinated even as he endeavoured to work out what her problem was and exactly how much it was going to cost him.
"Two weeks in your bed in exchange for a career I've worked very hard for. I don't think so."
"I was thinking of something more open ended," he said, aware Clementine was about to turn him down flat. And how in the hell he'd opened himself up to be shot down he had no idea. It was Petersburg all over again, standing in that street, feeling like a thug for upsetting Clementine, when all he wanted was to see her again. To go on seeing her.
Yet he wasn't quite able to get the words I'll make it worth your while out of his mouth, and he told himself it was because he'd never actually had to say them to a woman. The women he was with understood the unspoken contract, mutually enjoyable sex, a certain lifestyle made available to them and at the end - and there was always an end, sooner rather than later - a reward in the form of jewellery or something that softened the edges of what was essentially a sexual contract.
Or an interview in a trashy magazine, but the women who had done that were always the ones with whom he'd had only glancing contact.
Clementine looked at him with those soft grey eyes he remembered from last night.
"I don't know Serge," she said with quiet dignity, "you haven't made much of an effort so far."
Sto? A dark flush of colour moved over his high cheekbones. His male pride sat up and took notice. Not made much of an effort? What exactly did that mean?
"It's not as if I saw anything of you today, and after last night that felt... weird."
"Weird?" He repeated the word as if she was speaking in another language. Something about her simple, straightforward manner was riffling through his hard won masculine detachment.
"I felt a bit... used," she confessed.
He shifted beside her, his eyes narrowing as his tartar ancestry became more pronounced. Clementine viewed the change in him warily.
"What is it you require, Clementine?"
He spoke so formally, his accent thickening attractively on her name.
"Time. With you."
She asked for the moon, he thought, challenged all the same.
Diamonds were so much easier.
Yet a wild sort of certainty about how this could play out focussed him on the one thing she seemed to be asking for and he could give her.
Time in his bed. Time with him. Time for both of them.
Clementine wondered what the silence meant. She could read him a little now, but she wasn't that good.
A slow elemental smile lit up that mouth she had longed to soften with hers the very first time she met him.
Never had she felt like this with a man before. From the very start, he had lit something inside of her. She felt like a woman when she was with him and not the gauche girl stumbling through life. She didn't want it to end, she didn't want to give him up but she didn't want to lose her self-respect if he only thought of her as a convenience.
"I will make time." His green eyes had darkened, he reached for her and suddenly she was wrapped in those muscular arms and being kissed the way she had dreamt of being woken up this morning.
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