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The working theory was that he simply liked knowing that it was widely desired by others, that this pleased him more than the view itself. That was what Cayo Vila loved above all else, after all: owning things others coveted. It gave Drusilla Bennett tremendous satisfaction that she would no longer be one of them. He made a low, scoffing sound.

Night and day. Across all time zones and into every little corner of the globe where his vast empire extended. And she hated him. Oh, how she hated him. She did. It surged in her, thick and hot and black and deep, making her skin seem to shimmer over her bones with the force of it. It was all gone now.

Of course it was. She felt a fierce rush of that hard sort of grief that had flooded her at the strangest times in these odd few months since her twin brother Dominic had died.

What choice was there? His care. That had been hard. It still was. But this? This was simple. This was the end of her treating herself as the person who mattered least in her life.

She assured herself that she would have resigned anyway, eventually; soon—that finding out what Cayo had done was only a secondary reason to leave his employ.

She would cast aside the necessarily icy exterior that had seen her through these years, that had protected her from herself as well as from him. She would be flappable unto her very bones. Dru caught her breath.

His jet black brows were low over the dark gold heat of his eyes. That fierce, uncompromising face made almost brutally sensual by his remarkable mouth that any number of pneumatic celebutantes swooned over daily was drawn into a thunderous expression that boded only ill.

The shock of his full attention, the hit of it, that all these years of proximity had failed to temper or dissipate, ricocheted through her, as always. She hated that most of all. Her damnable weakness. The air seemed to sizzle, making the vast expanse of his office, all cold contemporary lines and sweeping glass that seemed to invite the English weather inside, seem small and tight around her. Dru restrained a small ripple of sensation, very near a shiver, that snaked along her spine.

They called him the Spanish Satan for a reason. She would like to call him far worse. Almost cleansing. He shook his head, dismissing her. Send me an email outlining your concerns and—" "You do," she interrupted him.

They both paused; perhaps both noting the fact that she had never dared interrupt him before. She smiled coolly at him as if she was unaware of his amazement at her temerity. And she felt the force of that attention, as if his gaze was a gas fire, burning hot and wild and charring her where she stood.

Have you taken it upon yourself to demand more money? Better benefits? That edge of sardonic displeasure with something darker, smokier, beneath. Behind her professional armor, Dru felt something catch. As if he could sense it, he smiled. This conversation is merely a courtesy. In and out of the courts. Believe this, if nothing else. I have no interest in the corporate world. He was like some kind of corporate snake charmer.

It had to. It would. But that was yesterday. One more reason she wanted to escape it. Vila," she said. She even shrugged. Dominic was gone. She was no longer his sole support. And the invisible chains of emotion and longing that had ruled her for so long could no longer keep her here.

He only watched her now, those dark amber eyes moving over her like the touch of his hands, all fire and demand. She knew what he saw. She had crafted her corporate image specifically to appeal to his particular tastes; to acquiesce, as ever, to his preferences. She stood tall before his scrutiny, resisting the urge to fuss with her pencil skirt or the silk blouse she wore, both in the muted colors he preferred. She knew the deceptively simple twist that held her dark brown hair up was elegant; perfect.

She had become so good at playing this role, at being precisely what he wanted. She could do it in her sleep. She had. That she meant what she was saying, however impossible he found it to fathom. The impatience faded from his clever gaze and turned to something far more calculating—almost brooding.

He lounged back against his massive, deliberately intimidating chair, propped his jaw on his hand, and treated herto the full force of that brilliant, impossible focus of his that made him such a devastating opponent.

No was never a final answer, not to Cayo Vila. It was where he began. Where he came alive. And where she got off, this time. For good. Not anymore. Not ever again. Dru let out a short laugh that clearly hit him the wrong way. His eyes narrowed, seeming almost to glow with the temper that would only show there, she was well aware.

He so rarely unleashed the full force of it. It normally only lurked about, beneath everything, like a dark promise no one wanted him to keep. I manage yours instead. With bite. While busy sending farewell gifts to all of your ex-lovers? Dru felt it drag across her, clawing deep. Perhaps two. Find a beach and some warm bodies. Drink something potent and scratch the itch. As many times as necessary. You are of no use to me at all in this state. But I am not you, Mr. I have standards.

He did not move a single other muscle and yet Dru had to order herself to stay in place, so powerfully did she feel the lash of his temper, the kick of those dark amber eyes as they bored into her. But Dru knew him. She knew the danger signs when she saw them. You are surrounded by an obsequious echo chamber of minions and acolytes, too afraid of you to speak the truth. I should know.


Not Just the Boss's Plaything / A Devil In Disguise



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