Craving the Forbidden(6)

By: India Grey


Sexual recognition leapt into life inside her, like an alarm going off in her pelvis. He might look lean, but there was no mistaking the hard, sculpted muscle beneath the Savile Row shirt.

Wide-eyed with shock, she looked up at him, opening her mouth in an attempt to form some sort of apology. But somehow there were blank spaces in her head where the words should be and the only coherent thought in her head was how astonishing his eyes were, close up; the silvery luminescence of the irises ringed with a darker grey …

‘I have to get off—now,’ she croaked.

It wasn’t exactly a line from the romantic epics. He let her go abruptly, turning his head away.

‘It’s OK. We’re not in the station yet.’

As he spoke the train began to move forwards with another jolt that threatened to unbalance her again. As if she weren’t unbalanced enough already, she thought shakily, trying to pull down her bulging bag from where it was wedged in the luggage rack. Glancing anxiously out of the window, she saw the lights of cars waiting at a level crossing slide past the window, a little square signal box, cosily lit inside, with a sign saying ‘Alnburgh’ half covered in snow. She gave another futile tug and heard an impatient sound from behind her.

‘Here, let me.’

In one lithe movement he leaned over her and grasped the handle of her bag.

‘No, wait—the zip—’ Sophie yelped, but it was too late. There was a ripping sound as the cheap zip, already under too much pressure from the sheer volume of stuff bundled up inside, gave way and Sophie watched in frozen horror as a tangle of dresses and tights and shoes tumbled out.

And underwear, of course.

It was terrible. Awful. Like the moment in a nightmare just before you wake up. But it was also pretty funny. Clamping a hand over her open mouth, Sophie couldn’t stop a bubble of hysterical laughter escaping her.

‘You might want to take that back to the shop,’ the man remarked sardonically, reaching up to unhook an emerald-green satin balcony bra that had got stuck on the edge of the luggage rack. ‘I believe Gucci luggage carries a lifetime guarantee?’

Sophie dropped to her knees to retrieve the rest of her things. Possibly it did, but cheap designer fakes certainly didn’t, as he no doubt knew very well. Getting up again, she couldn’t help but be aware of the length of his legs, and had to stop herself from reaching out and grabbing hold of them to steady herself as the train finally came to a shuddering halt in the station.

‘Thanks for your help,’ she said with as much haughtiness as she could muster when her arms were full of knickers and tights. ‘Please, don’t let me hold you up any more.’

‘I wouldn’t, except you’re blocking the way to the door.’

Sophie felt her face turn fiery. Pressing herself as hard as she could against the table, she tried to make enough space for him to pass. But he didn’t. Instead he took hold of the broken bag and lifted it easily, raising one sardonic eyebrow.

‘After you—if you’ve got everything?’

Alnburgh station consisted of a single Victorian building that had once been rather beautiful but which now had its boarded up windows covered with posters advertising family days out at the seaside. It was snowing again as she stepped off the train, and the air felt as if it had swept straight in from Siberia. Oh, dear, she really should have got changed. Not only was her current ensemble hideously unsuitable for meeting Jasper’s family, it was also likely to lead to hypothermia.

‘There.’

Sophie had no choice but to turn and face him. Pulling her collar up around her neck, she aimed for a sort of Julie-Christie-in-Doctor-Zhivago look—determination mixed with dignity.

‘You’ll be OK from here?’

‘Y-yes. Thank you.’ Standing there with the snow settling on his shoulders and in his dark hair he looked more brooding and sexy than Omar Shariff had ever done in the film. ‘And thank you for …’

Jeepers, what was the matter with her? Julie Christie would never have let her lines dry up like that.

‘For what?’

‘Oh, you know, carrying my bag, picking up my … things.’

‘My pleasure.’

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