Colters daughter, p.12
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       Colters Daughter, p.12
 

         Part #3 of Colters Legacy series by Maya Banks
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Page 12

 

  “You’re incorrigible!”

  “You love me. ”

  She bit her lip when she would have said indeed she did. He’d said it in a light, teasing way. Like someone would say to a friend. Oh, you love me.

  Only she did love him. So much it hurt. But it was the one part of herself she did hold back from him. Despite the fact that she’d forgiven him. She was willing to try again. She’d give him another chance. But she’d be a fool to make herself utterly vulnerable to him. Not yet.

  “Tell me about you,” she said quietly. “What makes you who you are, Max?”

  “That’s a loaded question. ”

  She shrugged. “Maybe. But it shouldn’t be a difficult question. It shouldn’t cause you any issue to answer. ”

  She could picture his brows knitting as he pondered the best way to answer. He paused for a moment, his fingers tangled in her hair, the comb still in his hand. Then he began combing again. Long, steady strokes. Infinitely gentle.

  “I made my fortune at a young age. For me it was necessity, not so much desire. It wasn’t that I craved fine things. Or even money. For me money wasn’t about the luxuries it could provide, but the necessities and what I could give to my mother and my sister.

  “I wanted my mother not to have to worry. I wanted her to have the same lifestyle she had when she was married to my stepfather. I wanted my sister to go to the best schools and have all she needed. ”

  “How did you do all that? You make it sound so simple. ”

  He tugged at one particularly difficult tangle and then carefully worked out the snarl.

  “I worked my ass off. Two, sometimes three jobs. Every penny I made at first was saved to buy my first property. I sold it for a ten-thousand-dollar profit and you’d have thought I hung the moon. I used all of it to make my next investment and with the second sale, I made a whopping six-figure profit. Part of it was luck. Being in the right place at the right time, but just as much of it was determination to succeed. Failure simply wasn’t an option. ”

  That she could believe. She couldn’t imagine Max failing at anything he set his mind to. To hear his story only confirmed what she already knew. Max was driven. He was ruthless when he had to be.

  She shivered with sudden realization. He’d made it clear that she was his current ambition. And if his past was anything to go by, she didn’t have a chance in hell of resisting him.

  But then she didn’t really want to.

  Was she a temporary challenge? Had he pursued other women as he’d done her?

  Silence fell between them as he continued his careful combing of her hair. He was meticulous, separating each of the strands and working the tangles out.

  She wondered how much experience he had with taking care of other women. The thought was unwelcome and painful. It was also stupid. His past was just that. His past. Just like he couldn’t hold any of her past lovers against her. But it still cut at her to think of other women under his care. Submitting to him as she was submitting to him.

  She frowned again. Had he had such relationships in the past? Surely he had. He was simply too comfortable and too adept at seeing to her every need. He was arrogant but not in a petulant fashion. He wore arrogance like it was his due. Like he was convinced, not trying to convince others.

  And he was extremely confident and comfortable as someone always in control.

  “You’re tense. What are you thinking now?”

  She blushed. Heat crawled over her skin as he caught her out again.

  “Callie,” he prompted.

  “It’s just that you’re very good at this,” she mumbled. “I wondered how many other women you’ve shared this sort of relationship with. ”

  “Do you really want to know?” he asked bluntly. “Or are you just torturing yourself?”

  She winced. “Both, I guess. It’s natural to be curious. And natural to discuss prior relationships. Don’t you think? Isn’t this the sort of thing all couples get into after a while?”

  “I suppose it is. It’s a sticky subject though. If you aren’t prepared for the answer or if it hurts you, it’s best not to ask. ”

  “Yeah, yeah, I know. Never ask for an answer you aren’t prepared to receive. ”

  “I propose that I finish combing your hair, and then I need to make a few business calls. I’ve already made arrangements for dinner to be delivered as well as something for you to wear tomorrow. Those things should be arriving soon. Then, if you still want to have this discussion, we’ll talk about it while we eat. ”

  She nodded her agreement.

  “Relax,” he murmured. “You’re supposed to be enjoying this. ”

  She closed her eyes, leaned back and once more allowed the pleasure of his attentions to seep back into her veins. But still, the image of another woman in her place unsettled her.

  Chapter Thirteen

  Callie sat on the couch with her feet curled beneath her as she listened to Max make his phone calls. Earlier he’d ordered clothing for her. He hadn’t asked her sizes. Not even for her girly things, and somehow she knew he’d gotten them right. Which further confirmed her suspicion that he’d been around the block more than a few times. And it didn’t bother her. Not really. Not in the sense that she was about to become an insanely jealous, crazy girlfriend. But she wondered. Not over his relationships exactly. But Max was a man who liked things his way. He became entrenched. He liked routine. He didn’t like change.

  So what had happened to those other women? Had he discarded them as he’d done her? Okay so technically he hadn’t discarded her since he’d come looking for her. But had he grown bored with his other relationships? Would he become bored with her?

  She hated all the doubts, but the one thing she’d come to realize in the months after she’d returned home was that for as much time as she’d spent with Max, for as much of herself as she’d given him, they hadn’t ever discussed the future. Their relationship had been very much in the now. Live for the moment.

  No past. No future. Only the present.

  She glanced over to where he stood murmuring in low tones on the phone. He’d only just offered her a glimpse into his past. He now spoke of the future. That should reassure her. Shouldn’t it?

  Her gaze left him, and her lips pursed as she contemplated the complexity of her relationship with Max. In so many ways, he was an enigma, though finally she was beginning to scratch the surface. This time around she wasn’t going to be content with just what he offered her peripherally. She wanted the whole package. She’d been so blinded by her infatuation and then love for him, that she made the mistake so many people made when a relationship was all shiny and new. She hadn’t taken the time to get to know him on a much deeper level.

  “Are you cold?”

  Callie looked up and realized that while she’d been lost in her thoughts, Max had finished his calls and was now standing in front of her.

  She glanced down her nude body and then shook her head.

  “Good. If you’re going to be naked, and I prefer you that way, I want to make sure the apartment is kept at a comfortable temperature for you. ”

  “What about…”

  He raised an eyebrow and waited.

  “What about when people come in? I mean like when dinner is delivered. ”

  He crouched down in front of her and slid his hand down the curve of her hip to her knee and then up again. “No one else will see you, Callie. I’m fiercely protective of what’s mine. No one will be allowed inside the apartment while you are here unless you’re appropriately attired. ”

  “And do I eat nekkid?” she asked with a grin.

  “Oh yes,” he murmured. “I can’t imagine a better meal than to have you nude in front of me. You’ll eat from my hand. I’ll see to your every need. ”

  She shivered at the husky thrall of his voice. She’d been completely his in Europe but now she realized she’d only gotten a taste of his dominance. They’d st
ill been on the cusp of something new, still finding their way, and he’d likely held some of himself in reserve until she was more comfortable with him.

  “Tell me something, Max. Is my submission contained only to the bedroom or do you expect me to cede control to you in all aspects of my life?”

  He rubbed his thumb over her nipple, teasing it to a rigid peak. “You’re asking a lot of questions, and I’m unsure whether you’re prepared for the answers. ”

  “I want your honesty,” she said. “I’m not some fragile little flower who wilts because your answers aren’t all pretty and sweet. You told me not to ask if I wasn’t prepared for the answer. I have a lot I want to ask. ”

  “Fair enough. ”

  A buzz sounded and Max got to his feet. He rubbed his hand underneath her chin and slid his thumb across her cheek. “Hold that thought while I collect dinner and the things I ordered for you. We’ll discuss whatever you like while we eat. ”

  Callie waited as he went to answer the buzzer. She heard him say in low tones that he’d go down to get it. She smiled. He really didn’t want to risk her being seen by anyone but him.

  A few moments later, he walked back into the living room carrying several boxes. He dumped them next to the couch and then left once more only to return with a rolling cart bearing several covered plates.

  He parked it in front of the couch and set to work taking the covers off and preparing plates of the steaming pasta. The aroma tantalized her and her stomach growled in response. There was fresh bread—her weakness. Fresh parmesan and a bottle of chilled wine in an ice bucket.

  Max settled on the couch next to her but placed the plate on the coffee table.

  “I want you on your knees in front of the couch. So I can feed you better. ”

  Her eyes widened, and for a moment she hesitated as she tried to picture what he’d asked her to do.

  “Callie?”

  Slowly she sat forward and then slid to her knees on the floor at his feet. She turned as he too sat forward, his thigh brushing the side of her face.

  “Perfect,” he said, approval purring in his voice.

  He held a glass of wine to her mouth and carefully tilted it so she could take a sip. Then he pulled it away and forked a small bite of the pasta. Raising it to his mouth, he gently blew and touched it to his lips before lowering it and offering it to her.

  There was something amazingly seductive about the way he made sure the food was perfect for her. He was careful to keep the bites the right size and he never offered it to her without testing it himself.

  His gaze held hers, smoky and seductive, never leaving her face as he placed another bite to her lips. He waited as she savored the decadent morsel and then offered another sip of wine.

  He was remarkably patient, never tiring as he held the fork to her mouth. At one point she smeared a bit of the sauce on the corner of her mouth and when she would have licked it away, he put his hand out to stop her and then lowered his mouth to swipe at the spot with his tongue.

  Warm and rough, his tongue slid across her mouth, pausing at the corner where he lightly lapped and sucked until the sauce was gone. A shiver skirted down her spine. Her body leapt to attention and her pulse sped up, jumping at her pulse points.

  When he pulled away, his breath huffed jerkily and his nostrils flared. His eyes glittered with awareness, and his hand shook just a bit as he pulled it away to fork another piece of the pasta.

  He raised the wineglass and pressed his lips to the same place where her mouth had been. He took a long swallow before lowering it to the coffee table.

  “More?”

  She shook her head wordlessly.

  He didn’t take a single bite until she was sated. She’d been so mesmerized by the experience that they hadn’t spoken. She hadn’t asked any questions, nor had he offered explanations.

  Only when she assured him with a nod that she’d had enough did he refill his plate and begin to eat. After taking only one bite, he put his fork down and slid his hand through her hair. Then he gently tugged until her cheek lay on top of his lap and her head was cradled against him.

  He rubbed her cheek, a silent directive for her to remain as he’d positioned her and then he resumed his meal.

  They didn’t speak and yet the connection between them was powerful. Instead of being awkward, the silence was comforting. She felt close to him. Like they’d shared an intimacy much like making love.

  There was a strange, achy tightness to her chest and yet there was also a sense of homecoming, like this was right after so long being wrong.

  Finally she was back where she most needed to be. She closed her eyes as she rested against his thigh and sighed contentedly.

  A moment later, his hand cupped her head and stroked over her hair. Then he reached down for her hand and helped her to her feet. She rose to stand before him, a little self-conscious as he stared at her nude body.

  “Come sit with me,” he said as he steered her toward the overstuffed chair across from the couch.

 
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