“Then I’m good.”

She tilted her head slightly, a gesture he remembered. Funny how he could still see the girl in the woman. He’d always liked the girl. He didn’t plan to get to know the woman.

He looked her over, then frowned. Was it just him or were her shorts way too short? Not that he didn’t appreciate the display of leg, but this was Meredith-Hunter’s baby sister. And should her shirt really be that… revealing?

“I’m staying here, too.”

Her voice was low and sexy, and had she been anyone else, he would have welcomed the distraction.

“Why?” he asked bluntly.

“I’m the housekeeper. The one you were promised. I’m here to make your life…easier.”

There was almost a challenge in the statement. “I don’t need a housekeeper.”

“You’re not being given a choice. I come with the property.”

“That’s ridiculous,” he said flatly. He happened to know she worked for a D.C. think tank and was currently on loan to JPL and some private company, helping them develop a better solid rocket fuel.

“Such language,” she scolded gently, then smiled. “It’s what Hunter wanted. We’re both here because of him.”

He frowned. He didn’t buy her story. Why would Hunter want his sister at the house for a month? But then, he’d asked all his friends to spend time here, so it was possible. Besides, it wasn’t as if Meri would want to be in the same house as him. Not after what had happened on her seventeenth birthday.

He’d hurt her. He hadn’t meant to, but he had, and after the fact he’d been unable to figure out a way to make things better. Then Hunter had died and everything had changed.

Or maybe he was making too big a deal out of all this. Maybe Meri didn’t give a damn about what had happened…or not happened…between them.

“Let’s go inside,” she said and led the way.

They walked into a large entryway with a staircase and a stone floor. The place was welcoming and masculine. It might not be the house he would have built, but it wasn’t going to drive him crazy with lots of frills and smelly bowls of dried flowers.

“You’ll get your exercise climbing the stairs. Your room is on the next floor.”

He glanced around. “You’re down here?”

She smiled. “No, Jack. I’m on the second floor, next to the master. We’re only a wall apart.”

Meri deliberately widened her eyes and leaned toward him as she spoke. She wanted the invitation to be clear. After what Jack had put her through eleven years ago, he deserved to squirm.

She started down the hall before he had a chance to respond. “There’s an office loft area,” she continued. “You can use that. It’s set up with Internet access, a fax. I’ll be in the dining room. I like to spread out when I work. I tend to get really…involved.”

She emphasized the last word, then had to consciously keep herself from laughing. Okay, this was way more fun than she’d thought it would be. She should have punished Jack a long time ago.

She made sure she swayed her hips as she climbed and bent forward slightly so he would be sure to notice her very short shorts. She’d worn them deliberately, along with the halter top that left very little to the imagination. It had taken her nearly two days to come up with the perfect outfit, but it had been worth the time.

The shorts clung to her and were cut high enough to show the bottom of her butt. Tacky but effective. Her sandals had a spiked heel that was practically a weapon, but they made her legs look long-a serious trick for someone as short as her.

The halter was so low-cut that she’d had to hold it in place with double-sided tape. She had fresh highlights, sultry makeup and long, dangling earrings that almost touched her nearly bare shoulders.

If the guys back at her science lab could see her now, they would probably implode from shock. Around them she only wore tailored suits and lab jackets. But for the next month she was dressing as a sex kitten and she planned to enjoy every minute of it.

She deliberately sped up at the end of the hall, then stopped suddenly. Jack ran into her. He reached out to steady himself or maybe her. She’d planned that he would, so she turned and held in a grin as the palm of his hand landed exactly on her left breast.

He stiffened and pulled back so fast he almost fell. Meri tried to decide if she minded seeing him in a crumpled heap on the polished hardwood floor.

“Sorry,” he muttered.

“Jack,” she purred. “Are you coming on to me? I have to say, that’s not very subtle. I would have expected better.”

“I’m not coming on to you.”

“Really?” She put her hands on her hips as she faced him. “Why not? Aren’t I your type?”

He frowned. “What the hell is this all about?”

“So many things. I’m not sure where to start.”

“Try at the beginning. It usually works for me.”

The beginning? Where was that? At conception, where some quirk of the Palmer gene pool had decided to produce a child with an exceptional IQ? Or later, when Meri had first realized she was never going to fit in anywhere? Or perhaps that long-ago-but-never-forgotten-afternoon when the man she loved had so cruelly rejected her?

“We’re spending the month together,” she told him. “I thought we could have more fun if we played. I know you like to play, Jack.”

He swore under his breath. “This isn’t like you, Meri.”

“How can you be sure? It’s been a long time. I’ve grown up.” She turned slowly. “Don’t you like the changes?”

“You look great. You know that. So what’s the point?”

The point was she wanted him desperate. She wanted him panting, begging, pleading. Then she would give in and walk away. It was her plan-it had always been her plan.

“I’m not going to sleep with you,” he said flatly. “You’re Hunter’s sister. I gave him my word I’d look after you. That means taking care of you, not sleeping with you.”

She’d meant to keep her temper. Honestly she’d even written it on her to-do list. But it was simply impossible.

“Take care of me? Is that what you call disappearing two seconds after Hunter’s funeral? All of you left-all of his friends. I expected it of them but not of you. Hunter told me you would always be there for me no matter what. But you weren’t. You were gone. I was seventeen, Jack. My father was a basket case, I was a total social outcast with no friends and you disappeared. Because that was easier than facing your responsibility.”

He put down his luggage. “Is that why you’re here? To tell me off?”

He had no idea, she thought, still furious and wishing she could breathe fire and burn him into a little stick figure, like in the cartoons.

“That’s only part of the fun.”

“Would it help if I said I was sorry?”

“No, it wouldn’t.” Nothing would change the fact that he’d abandoned her, just like everyone else she’d ever loved.

“Meri, I know we have some history. But if we’re stuck here for a month, we need to find a way to get along.”

“Be friends, you mean?” she said, remembering how he’d said he would always be her friend, right after rejecting her.

“If you’d like.”

She took a deep breath, then released it. “No, Jack. We’ll never be friends. We’ll be lovers and nothing else.”


Вы читаете In Bed With The Devil
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату