The Executive's Vengeful Seduction(3) by Maxine Sullivan

Her mother was right, Gabrielle decided, standing beside her father’s hospital bed a little while later. Her eyes misted over as she looked down at his prone body, the white sheets and bandage around his head highlighting his ashen skin, his body thinner than she remembered.

Gently she reached out and touched his cheek. He moved his head slightly but didn’t waken, and she gave a soft cry. It was as if he knew she was there.

Just then the nurse came into the room, and in a compassionate tone advised that there should only be one visitor and perhaps Gabrielle and Damien could come back tomorrow.

Gabrielle nodded, then leaned over and kissed her father’s cheek, whispering, “I love you, Dad.”

Then she felt Damien’s hand on her arm and she looked up at him, surprised by the sympathy in his eyes. She let him lead her from the room, her mother behind them.

Outside, Caroline said regretfully, “Darling, I wish I could come home with you but I need to stay by your father’s side for a day or two, just until he’s out of danger.”

Gabrielle understood. “Mum, it’s okay. I can stay at the house by myself.”

Her mother’s eyes filled with worry. “But that’s the problem. They’d just started major renovations when this happened to your father, so I’ve let them continue while I’m sleeping here at the hospital. But a lot of strange men are working around the place and I don’t want you alone there.”

Gabrielle accepted that. She wasn’t sure she’d even wanted to stay at the house anyway. There were too many bad memories. “Then I’ll stay at a hotel.”

Her mother clicked her tongue. “Oh, but I don’t want you staying in some impersonal hotel room, either.”

“Mum, I have to stay somewhere,” she half joked, then felt a slither of apprehension when she saw Damien’s dark brows jerk together.

He turned to her mother. “Don’t worry, Caroline. Gabrielle can stay at my apartment. I’ll even rent her a car so she can get around town.”

Gabrielle stiffened. “No, that’s not necess—” she began until Damien shot her a dark look silencing her.

Her mother’s face had already filled with relief. “That’s wonderful, Damien. I’ll feel so much better knowing you’re close by.”

He nodded. “You just concentrate on helping Russell get better.”

“But—” Gabrielle began again, not wanting to stay within an inch of this man. They’d been lovers. She was still feeling the pull of his attraction. She couldn’t live with him, not even for a day.

“It’s no trouble, Gabrielle,” Damien said in a tone that brooked no objection.

Caroline gave her daughter a heartfelt hug goodbye. “Darling, let Damien take care of you for a while. Ohh, I’m so glad you’re here. And your father will be, too, once he wakes up.” Gabrielle wanted to say she didn’t need to be taken care of, but Caroline was already kissing Damien on the cheek again. “Look after my baby, Damien. She’s precious to me.”

“I will.”

Just then another nurse went inside the room, and it was obvious her mother was anxious to follow. Gabrielle knew there was nothing for it but to put her own worries aside. “Mum, go back to Dad. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Thanks, darling,” Caroline said warmly before she slipped back inside the room.

Then it was just her and Damien again.

Just as it would be at his apartment.

Sharp anxiety twisted inside her, making her testy. “You’ve got a nerve telling my mother I’ll be staying at your place. I’d prefer a hotel.”

Displeasure furrowed his brow as he took her arm and started toward the elevator. “You heard Caroline. She’s worried about you and wants to know you’re safe.”

“With you?” she scoffed.

“You’re always safe with me, Gabrielle.” He captured her eyes with his. “It’s yourself you’re not sure about.”

The breath caught in her lungs, but thankfully the elevator doors slid open and she quickly stepped inside, standing away from him, wishing it wasn’t empty.

The doors slid shut, enclosing them alone together. “It would be easier if I stayed in a hotel,” she insisted stubbornly, knowing she was fighting a losing battle but determined to fight all the same.

He glanced at his Rolex as if he didn’t care one way or the other. “My apartment has a spare bedroom. You may as well use it.” Yet when he looked up, his eyes had darkened to a jungle green, and just as untamed.

A quiver surged through her veins. “You didn’t have a spare bedroom before,” she said stupidly, saying the first thing that came to mind, trying not to let him see her reaction.

“That’s because I didn’t have this apartment before,” he drawled.

She flushed. “Fine,” she said, giving in to stop from blathering like an idiot again. “But it’s only for a few days and that’s all.”

A satisfied looked crossed his face, making her even more tense. “That’s settled then,” he said, just as the elevator stopped and the doors opened so other people could get in with them.

She and Damien moved to the back of the compartment, but she was still very aware of him. She tried to resist the compulsion to look sideways but decided one quick look wouldn’t hurt.

And that was her mistake.

His gaze lingered on her figure, making her ni**les tighten beneath the light material of her pantsuit. She’d chosen the outfit because it flattered her moderate bustline and slight swell of her hips, and because she always felt good in it. The last thing she’d expected when she’d dressed this morning was an X-ray treatment from a man who’d been her lover and knew every inch of her body.

Oh God. Her staying at his apartment may have been settled, but she had the uneasy feeling nothing else had been settled at all.

Having Gabrielle in his apartment was more than Damien expected on her first day back in town, but he would take it one step at a time. He wanted her in his bed but he also wanted a willing partner and was prepared to wait until she was ready.

It won’t be a long wait.

She could fight herself all she wanted, but it was obvious she was fighting a losing battle. She wanted him as much as he wanted her. He could smell that want in her…that need of desire. He felt the same. Her scent filled his nostrils…filled his apartment even now.

And all she had done was walk through to the spare bedroom, he thought with a wry smile as he remembered her cool comment that she’d see him at dinner. But she hadn’t been cool inside. He knew the two of them struck sparks off each other and that it was only a matter of time before they burst into flames.

In the meantime he didn’t mind playing with matches, he mused as he showered and changed for dinner, then arranged for dinner to be delivered.

Then he sat on the sofa to do some paperwork, though his mind kept flicking to Gabrielle and her parents. He had to admit that Russell hadn’t been the best father in the world after Caroline had left a few years earlier. And what had gone on before that, he didn’t know. He hadn’t known them then, having moved to Melbourne for a few years, building his fortune, only flying back to Darwin every so often to play poker with his best friends, Brant and Flynn.

Then one day he’d decided he missed the tropics and he’d come home for good. Fortuitously, Russell had been looking for a business partner at the time, and he’d been looking to make more money. He’d gone on to forge his own company and make his millions. It had worked out well.

Until now.

Until Gabrielle Kane had walked back into his life.

Just like she was doing this very minute as she made an appearance at the living room doorway. She was worth the wait, dressed in a sleeveless, teal-colored crocheted top and long white pants that clung to her gorgeous figure, making her look casual yet stylish.

“Hungry?” he said, putting the papers aside on the sofa and getting to his feet.

“A little.”

He started across the open-plan apartment toward the dining table nestled over in the corner. “Everything’s ready.”

She slowly followed him, then frowned when she saw the table laden with food. “Are others coming?”

“No. Just us. I ordered from the restaurant across the street.” The chef had gone a little overboard with the array of tropical salads, dishes teeming with prawns and lobster, Tasmanian salmon and barramundi fish. “I told them plenty of seafood,” he said, deliberately reminding her that he remembered how partial she’d been to this type of food.

Her eyes brightened, then she flushed. “Thank you, but I doubt I’ll do it all justice.”

“No problem. My housekeeper will be delighted to take the leftovers off my hands.” He held out the chair for her. “Sit here.”

She moved forward and did as he suggested. Once she was comfortable, he took his own seat and poured wine into their glasses.

Her gaze darted around the room. “This is a really nice apartment.”

“I know. Lucky for me one of my friends married a very talented lady who loves to decorate.”

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