Thursday, 15 March 2007

Excerpt from Too Hot To Handle/ Anne Ireland

Too Hot To Handle/ Anne Ireland.Triskelion/ Release May 2007
Rafe’s eyes followed her as she made for the kitchen. Despite the loose tracksuit, her hips had a seductive sway and there was no hiding her sensuality. Under those shapeless garments was an extremely desirable body. He was aware of an enticing perfume that hung about her, and her huge haunted eyes seemed to draw him in. they were smoky gray and something about them made him feel an instant curl of desire in his stomach.
It was clear that she hadn’t bothered to make herself attractive for his benefit, and that carried its own charm for a man used to another kind of woman entirely. "I would be grateful for some coffee...if it’s good and strong like that you made for Cornel this morning."
"You wouldn’t stay for that," Sylvie said from the doorway of the kitchen. Her eyes and her tone accused him. "Cornel had an attack of pain after you left. You shouldn’t have upset him."
"Pain?" Rafe frowned at her. "What are you talking about?"
"You don’t know?" He shook his head and sensed her hesitation. What are you hiding from me? I need to know if something is wrong.’
. "I’m not sure I am the one to tell you – but Cornel has angina. If he gets too stressed, it causes him pain. He has pills...but he needs to be careful. A severe attack might..."
"I know what a severe attack might do," Rafe replied, feeling angry. "My father died of heart trouble. Why the hell didn’t Cornel tell me he has been ill?"
"Perhaps he didn’t want to worry you," Sylvie suggested. "And perhaps I ought not to have told you..."
"I’m glad you did," Rafe replied and smiled.
With his expression softened in concern for his uncle, he became another man, a much nicer, more likable person altogether. Her stomach caught with what she realized was desire but she squashed the thought instantly. Sex was right out. She didn’t even like the man!
"You must think I’m all kinds of a heel!"
Sylvie turned away as her heart suddenly wrenched. For a moment, her senses spun out of control, rather like stepping out of an aircraft and tumbling through the sky until the parachute took over. She took a deep breath to steady herself.
When Rafe smiled, he reminded her of Cornel, rather attractive, and she didn’t particularly want to like him. She sensed that he might be a dangerous man to know...dangerous for her peace of mind, that was. What exactly was it about him that made her so aware of him? She wasn’t sure, but it had been there from the first moment they met.
"I’ll get the coffee," she said. "There’s a map of sorts on that glass-topped table. The road is fairly well signposted until you get to the village. It’s after you leave Penerry that you could lose your way. I’ve tried to show you where to turn off, but I’ll explain properly in a moment."
"Thanks..." He picked up the map and bent his head over it as she went into the kitchen.
When she returned with a tray of steaming coffee and china bowls, he was looking at her collection of paperback books.
"Thrillers?" he asked, his dark eyebrows arched in amusement. "I would have seen you more as the romantic type."
"Romance is for mugs," Sylvie replied, unable to keep the bitterness out of her voice. "How do you like your coffee? Cream or sugar?"
"Two sugars, no cream," Rafe replied. His eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "Don’t tell me a girl like you hates men? You don’t strike me that way." Sylvie flushed, flicking back her hair defiantly. "Do I have to be gay because I don’t believe in romance?"
"No." He continued to look at her steadily. "Then there has to be another reason. What happened—did some bastard break your heart?" Rafe’s brows arched inquiringly. "Is that why you’ve given up on the rest of us? You give off vibes, but your words don’t match up to the invitation in your eyes. Something must have made you bitter."
Sylvie felt a shaft of unpleasant surprise. She gasped, went white and then pink. He certainly didn’t beat about the bush!
"I hardly think that’s any of your business, Mr. Wilde."
"No, it isn’t," he admitted. "I had no right to ask, but I’m used to asking awkward questions, Miss Penrith—and I hate to see anything go to waste. You’re not the kind of woman who should live alone."
"Oh?" Sylvie’s eyes blazed with sudden anger. Just who did he think he was, giving her advice? "And what kind of a woman am I, Mr. Wilde?"
"I refuse to answer that on the grounds that I might incriminate myself," Rafe replied, a wicked grin on his lips. "I’ve messed up, haven’t I? And all I wanted was to persuade you to let me drive you home. It makes more sense than both of us going our separate ways, don’t you think? Or are you afraid of me? Don’t tell me I scare you, Miss Penrith, I assure you I don’t bite. Only in the nicest way ..."
The fact that he was so amused made it worse. She wished he wouldn’t smile at her that way—it sent her pulses haywire, and she wasn’t used to feeling this way. He was disturbing–there was no other word for the effect he was having on her senses. She found herself dwelling on his mouth, noting its sensual fullness, feeling a constricting tightness in her throat as she swallowed. The heat was rising to dangerous levels!
Damn it! He’d mesmerized her. What was going on? She had to stop this before it got out of hand!
"I would rather drive home with a loose rattlesnake in the car," Sylvie said slowly and deliberately. He had gone just a little too far and needed cutting down to size. "If you’ve finished your coffee, Mr. Wilde, I would appreciate it if you left. I have things to do."
"Yes, I expect you have," Rafe murmured, laughter playing over his mouth as he glanced round the room. "Or do you always live this way?"
"Always," Sylvie assured him, a dangerous glint in her eyes. If he didn’t get out of here pretty quick, she was going to hit him! "I like things this way. Any objections?"
"None at all." Rafe held up his hands, backing away from her as he headed for the door. "It looks kinda cozy. I look forward to seeing you at the wedding, Miss Penrith."
"Not if I see you first," she muttered. "Goodbye, Mr. Wilde. I wish I could say it was nice meeting you, but I’m not accustomed to telling lies."
"I noticed that earlier," Rafe murmured, and his smile flashed out, making her grind her teeth in frustration. Was he going? Or did he want her to throw him out? "Thank you for telling me about Cornel’s heart condition." He was suddenly serious. "I mean that sincerely. You may have thought otherwise this morning, but I happen to be fond of my uncle."
With that, he was out the door. As it closed behind him, Sylvie gave a scream of frustration and picked up a cushion. She aimed it at the door just as it opened again to admit a surprised-looking Helen.
She caught the cushion, grinned and arched her fine eyebrows. "Was that meant for me or the dishy guy I saw leaving?"
"Rafe Wilde," Sylvie growled. "Cornel’s nephew. And the most arrogant, clever so-and-so you’ll ever meet."
"My, oh, my," Helen said, and Sylvie saw her eyes dance with amusement. "You did like him, didn’t you? When can I expect my invitation to the wedding?"

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