The Forbidden Touch of Sanguardo(8)

By: Julia James

He inhaled sharply, pulling himself together. It would be easy enough to find out everything he needed to know about her. She was a model, she worked for an agency, and that meant the information was out there. And if the answer was the one he realised he wanted it to be more with every passing moment, then he would set out to woo her—woo her and win her.

His imagination raced ahead, vivid and eager.

In his mind’s eye he saw himself gazing into her eyes, clasping her hand, drawing her towards him, taking her slender, pliant body into his arms and lowering his mouth to her tremulous, tender lips, tasting their sweetness, seeking the nectar within, feeling her respond to his embrace, her body contouring against his with soft sensuousness, glowing with honeyed desire as her breasts peaked against him...

But imagination was not enough! He wanted the reality.

The reality of her pale, pure beauty, which was calling to him with a subtly compelling, insistent power that was impossible to deny.


‘YOU WANT MORE money to renew your contract. That’s it, isn’t it?’ Karl Reiner’s voice grated.

Celeste kept her expression fixed. Karl Reiner had demanded her presence at a dinner in a West End hotel hosted by a fashion magazine keen on retaining its share of the lavish Reiner Visage advertising budget. Since she was still—just—under contract, it had been impossible for her to decline.

She deeply wished she had. Wished she could just walk off the way she had when Rafael Sanguardo had made a move on her at the charity event the previous weekend.

Not, she found herself thinking, that anyone in their right mind would put Karl Reiner and Rafael Sanguardo in the same class. The difference was total. Karl’s stocky stature and slack belly were the complete opposite of Rafael Sanguardo’s tall, lean, honed physique—just as Karl’s pouched, close-set eyes were a million miles from the dark, hawkish eyes that had rested so disturbingly on her. And Karl’s receding dyed hair, swept back into a ponytail that he mistakenly seemed to think made him look creative and bohemian, had nothing of the feathered sable of the South American’s.

Yet again Celeste felt the disquieting quickening of her pulse as an image of Rafael Sanguardo took shape in her mind. It had been doing so repeatedly ever since the weekend. She had tried desperately hard to put him out of her mind but it had been impossible—just impossible! She could bewail it all she liked, try as hard as she could, but it was no good. That encounter, however brief, had imprinted itself on her. Why, she did not know—could not understand. Could not understand why her habitual immunity to men was failing her so pitiably when it came to Rafael Sanguardo.

But if she couldn’t understand it at least she could do her determined best to ignore it. Suppress it and crush it out of her consciousness—out of her life. There was no point—none whatsoever!—in thinking about him.

What Rafael Sanguardo wanted was not what she was free to want...

An old, familiar ripple of revulsion went through her. Those slimy trails across her skin—fetid memory made tangible.

And with Karl Reiner pressingly at her side tonight, making her skin crawl, revulsion came afresh. Recrimination came in its wake. Why, oh, why had she ever got involved with Reiner Visage?

But she knew the reason now—just as she had long ago.

Rejection seared within her.

This is different! Entirely different! Karl Reiner can assume what he likes. I will never go along with it!

Nor was there anything he could say that would make her sign a new contract. She would simply go on stonewalling him, staying as composed and as civil as she could, until she was free in a few weeks’ time.

But his persistent unwanted attentions were becoming even harder than ever to endure. He was badgering her repeatedly to renew her contract, and this evening he had drunk freely, and she could see his temper mounting at her continued refusal. Now, dinner over and guests dispersing, he’d renewed the subject in the middle of the hotel lobby.

‘No,’ she said carefully, ‘it’s nothing to do with more money. I simply don’t wish to extend my contract any further. I’ve been very appreciative of it, naturally—’

‘That’s not the message you’re giving out.’ Karl cut across her brusquely.

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