Authors: Margaret Mayo
‘What are you doing, Adam?’ Sienna asked fiercely when Ethan was out of earshot. ‘If you think spending money on him is the answer, think again. He wants you, not your money.’
‘You’re incredibly sexy when you’re angry—do you know that, Sienna?’
‘This isn’t about you and me.’
It was like water off a duck’s back. Adam smiled, completely unperturbed by her words.
Sienna’s heart drummed an age-old rhythm, each beat building up her senses, and when Adam’s lips claimed hers she was totally ready. It was like much needed rain after a dry summer. It was like finding water in the desert. It fed her inner needs, and against her better judgement she returned his kiss.
Born in the industrial heart of England,
now lives in a Staffordshire countryside village. She became a writer by accident, after attempting to write a short story when she was almost forty, and now writing is one of the most enjoyable parts of her life. She combines her hobby of photography with her research.
MILLS & BOON
heart pounded as she stood outside the prestigious residential development, which was set in its own park alongside the Thames. Only the very rich could afford to live there. And the last time she’d seen Adam he’d definitely not been in that category…
When no one answered the intercom system, and it appeared that she had wasted her time, she felt strangely relieved. It had taken a lot of courage to come here and she was just about to leave when she heard Adam’s well-remembered voice.
It was like velvet over steel. From experience she knew that it could be as soft as molten chocolate or as hard edged as a razor blade. She had felt both sides of his tongue, and as she stood there now Sienna gave an involuntary shudder.
She’d had no idea that a video camera was monitoring her presence. The thought that Adam knew she was there and that he had probably been watching the expression on her face as she waited chilled her blood.
Forewarned was forearmed, and she was at a definite disadvantage.
‘Adam!’ Was that really her own voice sounding scratchy and nervous when she had been determined to be strong? And why the hell was he keeping her standing here instead of allowing her entrance?
Was he taking some sort of perverse pleasure in it? Unless he didn’t want to see her! After all, it had been over five years. ‘I—I need to speak to you.’ Her mouth had gone suddenly dry, swallowing became impossible.
‘After all this time? How interesting. You’d better come in.’ Again his deep, dark voice scraped over her nerves and as the barrier to the landscaped gardens lifted Sienna made her way slowly to the main entrance door of the complex where she was confronted with yet another see-your-visitor system. With a sigh she pressed the appropriate button and waited—and waited.
After what seemed like several minutes, though was probably only one, Adam’s voice reached her ears again. ‘You look impatient, Sienna.’
‘Are you playing games with me?’ She heard the sharpness in her tone but was uncaring any longer. Her anger was building and she was beginning to wish that she had never decided to approach Adam.
‘I’ve been trying to work out why you’re here.’
‘And unless you let me in, you’ll never know. In fact, don’t bother, I’ve changed my mind.’ She swung on one of her ridiculously high heels, heels she had donned to give her the height and the confidence to do what she was about to do, and was about to march back the way she had come when he spoke again.
And she heard a click as the door opened.
‘Top floor, penthouse suite. The lift’s to your right.’
With his curt instructions echoing in her ears, Sienna approached the lift. It whooshed her swiftly and silently to the top of the building and she emerged in an entrance hall lined with beech panelling and lit by discreet, inset spotlights. Beneath her feet were exquisite tiles in varying shades of bronze and olive green. Glossy-leaved plants stood in corners and a mirror was directly opposite.
She looked, thought Sienna, petrified. Her wide blue eyes were burning like coals in her pale face, her chestnut hair awry, despite having taken care with it before she had left home. And having nervously nibbled her lips while she had waited to gain entrance, her lipstick was non-existent.
This was not the image she wanted to portray and she stood there a moment taking deep steadying breaths, pulling herself together, forcing a smile. She combed her hair, reapplied her lipstick and was popping the tube back into her bag when a door opened and Adam strode towards her.
Sienna took in a sharp breath. The change in him was dramatic. He’d gone from being almost too thin to broad-shouldered and well muscled. She could actually see his muscles rippling beneath the silk of his shirt. His waist and hips were still slender but he had powerful thighs, barely hidden beneath fine linen trousers.
Where had all this body development come from? she wondered. It looked as though he worked out on a major scale and yet from what she knew of him, and what she’d read in the press, he didn’t appear to have time for exercise. Work was still his ethos. If there had been more than twenty-four hours in a day he would have worked most of them.
His strong jaw with its cleft beneath sculpted lips was
firm. His eyes, which were a dark, dark blue, were riveted on her face. Thick black brows jutted over them. The only thing that hadn’t changed was his black, curling hair, which was as awry as it had ever been. It touched his shirt collar and looked as though it desperately needed trimming and combing.
‘So—Sienna, I wondered if I’d ever see you again.’ His deep voice rumbled into the open space. ‘Actually, I’m intrigued. How did you know where I lived?’
Sienna allowed her fine brows to rise. ‘You’re in the news these days. A few enquiries and I had your address.’
Over the years it had been easy to keep tabs on what he was doing. He had gone from being a simple property developer to someone who bought ailing businesses, turned them around, and then sold them off at a huge profit. He had been voted businessman of the year on more than one occasion. To give him credit, he did a lot of charity work as well.
Wide shoulders shrugged. ‘I always knew that I would make it.’
‘Such modesty,’ she flashed. ‘But at what cost?’ His driving force, his need to make millions, was one of the reasons she had left him.
Adam’s lips thinned. ‘Are you here to discuss my success? Or is it a share of my money that you’re after? Is that why you’ve never asked for a divorce, so that you can lay claim to half of my worth? Well, I hate to tell you, Sienna—’
‘That is not why I’m here,’ Sienna said defensively, though in truth she could understand why he thought that. There were women who would go for the jugular under similar circumstances but she was not one of them.
She had struggled these last few years but she would never have asked Adam for a penny, not a single penny. She had her pride. And as for a divorce, she had liked the idea of being a married woman.
If she had met and fallen in love with someone else she might have demanded her freedom, but there had been no one, and clearly Adam hadn’t wanted to remarry either—which hadn’t surprised her. He enjoyed his life the way it was.
Inside his luxurious suite she stood for a moment looking around her. The large open space was entirely fronted by glass, which led out onto a wide balcony with a riven slate floor, studded with potted plants and cushioned cane furniture. It looked more like a courtyard than a balcony and the view over the Thames was stunning, but she had no time to give it more than a cursory glance before her attention was taken up with the room she was in.
The furniture was minimal. Chunky brown leather sofas and glass topped tables. A massive television screen on one wall. Everything in muted natural colours and the open-plan kitchen at the far end was to die for. Sienna couldn’t help wondering whether Adam cooked for himself or sent out for food, or even used one of the restaurants she had seen along the riverside walk.
‘Please—sit down.’ Adam indicated one of the leather chairs but Sienna shook her head.
‘I’d prefer to go outside.’ Although the space was immense, she felt suffocated by Adam’s presence. Strange when she had known him more intimately than any other man before or since.
‘As you wish,’ he said, leading the way. ‘Would you
care for something to drink or would you prefer to say whatever it is that you came for?’
There was harshness in his voice and Sienna shivered. Adam had changed. He had always been a driven man, working hard, collapsing with exhaustion at the end of each day, but there was a hard edge to him now, a cutting edge. He clearly hadn’t got where he was without being utterly devoid of emotion and manically ruthless.
Thank God she had got out in time.
‘I’d like a drink, thank you.’ Something to lubricate her still dry throat. This was going to be far harder than she had envisaged.
‘Tea? Coffee? Maybe something stronger?’
‘Yes.’ Something strong and intoxicating, something to relax her tense muscles because otherwise she would walk out of here without telling him her reason for coming.
She had not imagined when she set out that Adam would be this coolly controlled man who had her at a disadvantage. She had known it would be difficult, she had rehearsed her little speech a thousand times, but this new Adam was making it ten times worse. She felt that he was toying with her, waiting for the right moment to throw her out and tell her that whatever it was she had come for he wanted nothing to do with it.
A dark eyebrow rose. ‘Yes to all three?’
‘I mean, I’d like…something stronger.’
His lips twitched but he didn’t comment. ‘Wine perhaps? Or brandy? How great is your need?’
His sarcasm wasn’t lost on her and Sienna lifted her chin, her light blue eyes meeting his darker ones. She had almost forgotten how amazingly good-looking he was
and for one small moment she felt a rush of heat between her thighs. Banished in an instant, deeply horrifying.
That part of her life was over. Not once since she’d left him had he tried to find her, proving that he hadn’t been particularly disappointed or even worried. In essence it had given him a clear field to work even longer hours. To amass his fortune. She found it difficult to understand why anyone would let money be their god. There was surely more to life.
This apartment, for instance, was nothing more than a status symbol. Why would one man live by himself in a place like this? Unless he used it as a love nest. Did he invite lady friends here? Actually, she had not once seen him in the press with a female on his arm. He was either very careful or working his socks off was still his way of life.
‘Wine would be perfect, thank you.’
Left alone for a few minutes, Sienna closed her eyes, wishing she hadn’t felt the need to seek Adam out after remaining silent for so long. If she had any sense, she would blurt out her reason for coming here and then run.
Except that good sense seemed to have deserted her. All she could think about was the way she had looked into his eyes and felt an emergence of the hunger and longing she had always experienced when they were together. He had been an amazing lover, setting her whole body alight with a fire she had thought would never die.
But after their marriage Adam had quickly gone from being her knight in shining armour to working so hard, coming home so late, that he’d barely had time to speak to her before falling asleep each night.
‘Here we are.’
Grateful for Adam’s interruption, Sienna shot her eyes wide. As they cannoned into his she felt a further body blow. He was still devastatingly sexy, causing wave after wave of hot desire to flood her veins. Damn! All these years she had told herself that she hated him, so why was this happening now?
It had to be pure sexual hunger that she felt, it couldn’t be anything else. She certainly didn’t love him any more. How could she possibly love a man who thought more about his job than he did his wife?
The wine looked deliciously cool and inviting. Sienna watched as Adam poured the pale golden liquid, watching it swirl and then settle. Almost instantly a fine film of condensation formed around the outside of her glass and as she picked it up she stroked her finger down its side.
Adam watched her through narrowed eyes, making her wish that she hadn’t done it because he was looking at her as though she had made some kind of erotic gesture. As though she was stroking
Heat fizzed through her and she took a long swallow, amazed to discover when she set her glass down that she had drunk almost half its contents.
‘Is it such an ordeal coming to see me?’
The gruff tone in his voice sent her head jerking in his direction. She saw lips that were grim and eyes that were as cold as ice.
‘Why don’t you just spit out what’s wrong and get it over with?’
How could she? They needed to be at ease with each other first. And getting drunk wasn’t the answer!
‘It’s a very fine place you have here,’she said instead. ‘Do you have someone to share it with?’
‘If you’re asking whether I have a girlfriend, the answer’s no. You should know me better than that, Sienna. I have only one lover, and that is my work.’
‘So you haven’t changed.’ Sienna let her eyebrows rise. ‘You still work all the hours God made! Why, when you have this?’ She spread her hands, taking in their impressive surroundings.
‘It’s precisely why I work, for security, and to have nice things around me.’ His dark blue eyes watched her closely. ‘I also have a pied-à-terre in France and an apartment in New York. It gives me a feeling of great satisfaction.’
‘Or is that you have so much money now you have nothing else to spend it on?’ Sienna queried, unable to keep the distaste out of her voice. It was as though he was deliberately throwing his wealth in her face, showing her what she had missed out on.
‘If you’ve come here to question my lifestyle, I suggest—’
‘It’s not that,’ cut in Sienna quickly. But she wasn’t ready yet to disclose her real reason for being here. It was such a delicate subject that she had to get Adam into the right mood. ‘It simply seems odd that you have these other places to live and no one to share them with.’
‘Are you putting yourself forward?’ He smiled grimly and his eyes locked with hers, sending a fresh scurry of feelings through her veins.
She had thought that over the years everything she had ever felt for Adam Bannerman had died. She didn’t want to feel anything for him, she despised him and she wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t entirely necessary.
There was ice in both her voice and her eyes when
she spoke. ‘I’ve had a taste of what it’s like living with a workaholic. It’s no fun, I assure you, and I’m not entirely surprised that you haven’t found another woman to share your life.’
‘Are you suggesting that I should? Is it a divorce you’re after? I occasionally wonder why you’ve never filed for one.’
The deep sarcasm in his voice scoured over her already tense nerves like sandpaper.
‘I could say the same about you.’ She held her head high and met his eyes. For several long seconds they challenged each other, Sienna not wanting to be the first to turn away.