Malik glanced up from reviewing the documents Wiz had just dropped off, surprised to see Natasha. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her. His anger had lingered, but seeing her curvy figure near the door began to slowly thaw the ice running through his veins.
“Hi,” she said shyly, keeping her distance.
Malik, though still pissed, had never been happier to see anyone in all of his life. Stan told him about the reporters at the hospital and how shaken she was when more media people showed up at her house. Malik almost went to her. Almost.
He stood, but didn’t move from behind his desk. His gaze traveled over her body from her hair loosely piled on top of her head, down to the short-sleeved wrap dress that hugged her hourglass shape. He didn’t stop his perusal until he got to her slender feet, which were encased in high-heeled orange strappy sandals that matched her dress. Her favorite color was orange and it was quickly becoming his favorite, too.
Damn she looks good.
Seeing her now, dressed as she was, he couldn’t help but think about something he once heard someone say. The first step in getting what you want is looking like you mean business. And damn if she wasn’t dressed to get whatever the hell she wanted from him.
“Hey,” he finally said. He wasn’t going to make this easy for her, yet it was taking everything in him not to bolt across the room and pull her into his arms. What helped him stay put was the fact that she’d kicked him out of her house. Never had a woman dismissed him, especially twice, and it was about time she understood exactly what he wouldn’t accept.
“I’m surprised to see you here. What can I do for you?” he asked coldly.
She didn’t move from where she stood and her nervousness showed with the death grip she had on the strap of her handbag.
“Thank you for having the house alarm installed. I just wanted to stop by and pay for the system and the services.”
He studied her for a long time. He didn’t want her money. He wanted her.
“The bill has been taken care of. Anything else?”
“Uh,” she glanced around the room, still standing near the door, “I’d like for you to call off the bodyguard.”
“That’s not going to happen,” he said. The media had backed off, but he still wasn’t comfortable with her roaming around the city alone.
“Because it’s not.”
He wasn’t convinced that she wasn’t in danger. Sheldon and his men still didn’t have much on Halsey’s death. Knowing that, not only was Malik going to keep eyes on Natasha, but he had also decided to start his own covert investigation.
“Malik, I’m sorry, all right?” Natasha said, taking a step toward him. He looked up just as she captured her lower lip between her teeth. “I know you’re mad, and you have every right to be. I was wrong asking you to leave.”
Malik said nothing. The only reason he could come up with of why she asked him to leave instead of Martin was because she was still in love with her ex. And there was no way in hell he was sharing her with anyone else.
“You scare me.”
Malik drew his eyebrows together. “Excuse me?” Her voice was so low he wasn’t sure he’d heard her correctly.
“You make me nervous. We come from two different worlds. You’re like the star basketball player being pursued by a hundred colleges to play for their school, and I’m the geeky nerd who always gets looked over by the popular kids.”
Malik frowned, not knowing what she was talking about, but he had to admit she was damn cute.
“I don’t understand.”
She sighed and narrowed her eyes at him as if he was the one who’d done something wrong.
“Why are you making this so hard?” She raised her voice and put her hands on her hips. “I like you, all right? I really like you and I can’t stand the thought of you being angry with me.”
The jerk in Malik wanted to let her stew, but Malik the man wanted to pull her into his arms and taste those sweet, pouty lips. There was something about this woman that stirred things within him that had never been touched, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about that.
Her shoulders drooped. “Malik, don’t look at me like that. Say something.”
He laid down the file and walked around the desk, one hand stuffed into his pants pocket and the other rubbing his forehead. It was no wonder he didn’t do relationships, because whatever was transpiring between him and Natasha was frustrating as hell. He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be seriously involved, or even married for that matter.
“Let’s get something straight. I don’t play games,” he said, staring into her beautiful brown eyes. “I mean what I say and I say what I mean. So whatever the hell type of game you and your ex are playing, count me out. I like you,” he eased up on her, “but I will not come second to some punk-ass professor, who doesn’t know how to move on when it’s over. Do we understand each other?”
Her jerky nod came without words so he continued, “I want you. Baby, I want you in every way a man wants a woman. If you’re not ready for what you know I can offer, then you need to tell me now. Otherwise, I’m going to pursue you to no end.”
Copyright © April 2014 by Sharon C. Cooper