Bride By Design 3: Manchala Nights

By: Alicia Roberts

"Fine." I grabbed the negligee nearest to me and stalked off into the bathroom. I'd wear the damn thing, but it was only because of the deal.

When I was changed and ready for bed, I rushed out of the bathroom, one arm covering my breasts, the other flipping up the covers as I dove under them.

Colin laughed and slid in beside me. "You'd win the Olympics for quickest dash into bed," he murmured, "But I've already seen what I need to."

I felt one arm snake around my waist, and I glared at him. "This isn't happening."

My anger surprised him and he moved his arm away. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong. But we agreed on no sex, and I expect you to stick to that."

Colin propped himself up on one arm and stared at me. I felt the covers slide down a bit, and I pulled them up high around my neck. Colin's eyes were calm and speculative, and he smelled of the ocean and musk. His shoulders were broad and strong, and I fought back the impulse to bite into his chest and see how he tasted.

He stroked a finger down my cheek and I flinched, refusing to admit that my skin was tingling where touched me.

"Why are you fighting this?" His voice was soft and deep. "I can see that you want this."

I looked at him. His eyes were calm, as if I was a foregone conclusion.

"You're not going to seduce me," I said. "I don't need a guy to use me and leave me."

Colin smiled. "Why don't you think of it as you seducing me, you using me and leaving me?"

I looked at him in surprise and he went on, "Why does everything have to be complicated? We're both adults, we both know what we want. You're so busy worrying about everyone else and taking care of other people you forget about yourself. Why can't you just have some fun for once? We could have a lovely time together."

His words were slowly sinking in and I knew he was right. I deserved to have some fun, to take a break from my mundane life of being broke, struggling with my career and taking care of my baby brother. But he was too smooth, he was just saying all this to get what he wanted, and I refused to give in so easily.

"A lovely time, like you had with Celine?" My voice was sharper than I'd intended, but when I saw the look of surprise in his eyes I felt a wave of triumph.

"So Celine told you about that, did she?" His voice had darkened again, and I could feel the hatred in his words. "Did she tell you how she was only with me to get in the tabloids, and how little she cares about anyone but herself?"

I shrugged. "That didn't stop you from chasing her even after she got married."

He laughed bitterly. "I didn't chase her. She got me drunk and got me to bed. I don't even know if we did anything, but it was enough for her to tell Roger about. She just wanted him to get jealous and care about her, but I doubt that worked."

I suddenly felt sorry for Celine, living a life of lies, chasing fame and fortune instead of real love and accomplishments. Maybe her life was just an extension of what I was doing right now, except I knew my lie would end in a few days, and her lie would never end.

"Well, I guess now I know why Roger hates you so much."

Colin shook his head. "No, Roger's just a self-righteous bastard. He thinks nobody but old money has a right to be rich and he's just full of it because of who his great-grandparents were. He and Sir Donald seem to deserve each other."

I wanted to give Colin a consoling hug, but I didn't trust myself yet. His words about having fun were still ringing in my ears, and his hard muscles were still being flaunted in front of me.

"Let's forget about these guys," Colin said.

He moved quickly and lay down on top of me. My eyes widened as his muscles pressed against me, and his hands held my wrists down. His lips pressed down on mine before I had a chance to think, and I felt myself drifting off as his tongue sought mine. I arched into him despite myself, our mouths merging and his minty taste overpowering my brain.

I felt an urge to wrap my legs around his waist, to press myself against him and I tried to wake myself up from the stupor. This wasn't happening…

Just as I felt myself about to give in, Colin moved off me and lay down on his side of the bed. I felt an emptiness where his body had been, where his he had been rubbing against my skin. I turned to look at him, wondering what I wanted, and I knew he could see the ache in my eyes.

"Why don't you think about it," Colin said smoothly, and kissed my cheek. "Goodnight."

He turned away and I watched as his breathing slowly got heavier.

I didn't want to say anything, I didn't trust myself to think straight. His warm breath was still lingering in my mind and I used all my willpower to stop myself from begging him to kiss me again.

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