Moonflower by Leigh Archer
(Untamed Safari Series, #2)
Reuben Manning stared at the woman in front of him. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected his new conservationist to be like; but a beauty, all long golden limbs and bronze hair, stomping through the bush with rifle in hand, wearing sturdy hiking boots, shorts and a lacy white bra, definitely wasn’t it.
He took the hand held out to him. Her grip was strong, confident, and a little sticky. The heat of her skin tingled in his fingers. He withdrew quickly, wiped his palm against his trouser leg and inclined his head towards her chest. ‘Do you usually walk around like that out here? That standard conservation practice?’
He’d expected her to drop her eyes, look mortified. Instead she searched his face. For what, Reuben wondered? Surely she didn’t think he was joking. This was the person to whom he would entrust the safety of his friends and business associates.
‘No, of course not,’ Sophie said. ‘I got a puncture.’
She hesitated, moved the shirt against her chest. Reuben realised he’d been staring at the tops of her breasts. Two perfect golden orbs.
‘So you took your shirt off to fix a puncture.’
‘No, of course not.’ Sophie shook her head; a thick copper ponytail had escaped the sedate bun, and swished side-to-side.
‘Well then, let’s hear it, Ms Kyle. Because what I’m seeing is a far cry from the sort of professionalism I’d expect from an experienced conservationist.’
The cabin had been transformed into a fantasy bushveld haven of browns, creams and ochre; linen, silks and woven thread.
‘How?’ she breathed, gazing around her.
‘Do I approve? It’s beautiful. But when did you do all this? We were here… four days ago. It was in a complete mess…’
‘When there’s something I want, Sophie, I stop at nothing ’til I get it.’
The thudding of Sophie’s heart told her he meant every word he said. He had spoken with utter certainty. He was standing so close to her she had felt the breath of his words against the bare skin of her shoulder. He was a phenomenon. A whirlwind. A tornado. Passing through her life with such force she wondered if she had the strength to survive the encounter.
‘It’s beautiful,’ Sophie breathed softly, feeling calm, at peace; as if she moved in the eye of the storm.
‘It’s for you, Sophie.’
The tenderness of his words made her tip backwards, towards him, knowing he would not let her fall. She felt the press of his chest against her back. She knew why he had brought her here, the reason he’d done this for her, but she wanted to hear the sound of his voice, that sent a frisson of pleasure up her spine. ‘Why?’
He touched her shoulder; ran fingertips lightly down and along her bare arms. He kissed her shoulder, his lips feather-light against her skin. ‘Because I can’t promise you anything… except this, Sophie; here and now. You deserve more, but I’m not the one to give you that. Still, I want this to be special for you…’ He paused. ‘This has to be a time apart. There’s no future in it. Do you understand that, Sophie? Do you accept my terms?’