Craving the Forbidden(4)

By: India Grey


‘No problem. As this is First Class you’d think there’d be enough legroom, wouldn’t you?’

His voice was low and husky, and so sexy that her spirits should have leapt at the prospect of spending the next four hours in close confinement with him. However, the slightly scornful emphasis he placed on the words ‘first’ and ‘class’ and the way he was looking at her as if she were a caterpillar on the chef’s salad in some swanky restaurant cancelled out his physical attractiveness.

She had issues with people who looked at her like that.

‘Absolutely,’ she agreed, with that upper-class self-assurance that gave the people who genuinely possessed it automatic admittance to anywhere. ‘Shocking, really.’ And then with what she hoped was utter insouciance she turned up the big collar of her shabby military-style coat, settled herself more comfortably in her seat and closed her eyes.

Kit Fitzroy put down the newspaper.

Usually when he was on leave he avoided reading reports about the situation he’d left behind; somehow the heat and the sand and the desperation never quite came across in columns of sterile black and white. He’d bought the newspaper to catch up on normal things like rugby scores and racing news, but had ended up reading all of it in an attempt to obliterate the image of the girl sitting opposite him, which seemed to have branded itself onto his retinas.

It hadn’t worked. Even the laughably inaccurate report of counter-terrorist operations in the Middle East hadn’t stopped him being aware of her.

It was hardly surprising, he thought acidly. He’d spent the last four months marooned in the desert with a company made up entirely of men, and he was still human enough to respond to a girl wearing stiletto boots and the briefest bondage dress beneath a fake army coat. Especially one with a husky nightclub singer’s voice who actually seemed to be complaining to the lovesick fool on the other end of the phone that all she’d wanted was casual sex.

After the terrible sombreness of the ceremony he’d just attended her appearance was like a swift shot of something extremely potent.

He suppressed a rueful smile.

Potent, if not particularly sophisticated.

He let his gaze move back to her. She had fallen asleep as quickly and neatly as a cat, her legs tucked up beneath her, a slight smile on her raspberry-pink lips, as if she was dreaming of something amusing. She had a sweep of black eyeliner on her upper lids, flicking up at the outside edges, which must be what gave her eyes their catlike impression.

He frowned. No—it wasn’t just that. It was their striking green too. He could picture their exact shade—the clear, cool green of new leaves—even now, when she was fast asleep.

If she really was asleep. When it came to deception Kit Fitzroy’s radar was pretty accurate, and this girl had set it off from the moment she’d appeared. But there was something about her now that convinced him that she wasn’t faking this. It wasn’t just how still she was, but that the energy that had crackled around her before had vanished. It was like a light going out. Like the sun going in, leaving shadows and a sudden chill.

Sleep—the reward of the innocent. Given the shamelessness with which she’d just lied to her boyfriend it didn’t seem fair, especially when it eluded him so cruelly. But it had wrapped her in a cloak of complete serenity, so that just looking at her, just watching the lock of bright coppery hair that had fallen across her face stir with each soft, steady breath made him aware of the ache of exhaustion in his own shoulders.

‘Tickets, please.’

The torpor that lay over the warm carriage was disturbed by the arrival of the guard. There was a ripple of activity as people roused themselves to open briefcases and fumble in suit pockets. On the opposite side of the table the girl’s sooty lashes didn’t even flutter.

She was older than he’d first thought, Kit saw now, older than the ridiculous teenage get-up would suggest—in her mid-twenties perhaps? Even so, there was something curiously childlike about her. If you ignored the creamy swell of her cleavage against the laced bodice of her dress, anyway.

And he was doing his best to ignore it.

The guard reached them, his bland expression changing to one of deep discomfort when he looked down and saw her. His tongue flicked nervously across his lips and he raised his hand, shifting from foot to foot as he reached uneasily down to wake her.

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