Killer Curves

By: Naima Simone

And an idiot.

His big palm nearly engulfed hers. Electric. Stunning. She swallowed a gasp as a jolt speared her chest and traveled at lightning speed to the faintly pulsing flesh between her thighs. A handshake. He’d set her sex swelling and quivering with a simple handshake.

She shouldn’t have touched him.

“Nice to meet you, Ciaran.” Kee-ran. She silently repeated his name, rolled it on her tongue like a delicious, decadent treat. It suited him. Unique. Strong. Sexy. “Sloane Barrett.”

“Sloane,” he repeated. “It’s my pleasure.”

She’d never been a fan of her name. Her parents had christened their youngest daughter Chelsea—perky, pretty, bright, fun. Perfect for her sister. As the first-born child, Sloane had received her mother’s maiden family name—Sloane. Stately. Stodgy. Gender generic. Boring. Hell, if she’d been a boy, she still would’ve been Sloane. Her parents had deliberated, considered, and finally selected the ideal match for their second child. They hadn’t done the same for Sloane. Probably from the moment they’d discovered her mother was pregnant, the decision had been made, regardless of whether the name would fit. Regardless of whether the weight of it was too heavy for a child. All that had mattered was Mallory Johanna Sloane Barrett’s legacy.

So, no, she’d never been a fan of her name.

Until now.

Until the moment a midnight-and-sin voice stroked that one, resented syllable and transformed it into something—someone—sexy and mysterious instead of dull, stuffy…flawed.

God, he was dangerous.

“You’re staring,” she whispered. Like she wasn’t doing some major ogling right back at him. Jesus Christ, lust had eradicated all but a few brain cells.

Amusement flickered in his bright gaze. “I am,” he agreed. “I like looking at you, duchess.” His voice lowered as if imparting a secret. A secret that should only be voiced in the darkest part of the night when sighs and whimpers are the only form of communication.

Heat scorched her throat and face even as she latched on to the one part of his admission, choosing to ignore the rest for her sanity—and panties’—sake. “Duchess?”

He lifted a shoulder in a half-shrug again. “You look like one. Beautiful, wealthy, composed…untouchable.”

His description unnerved her. She was none of those things. Her parents were wealthy, but she lived off her teacher’s salary. And her mother had never been able to drill a proper lady’s composure into Sloane; she’d always been too shy, too sensitive. Now she could pretend with the best of them…but the mask only lasted a little while. Sooner or later the emotions inside her landed on her sleeve for all to see like a Hell’s Angel patch. And beautiful? Well, her father called her so. As had Phillip at one time. But he’d changed his tune soon enough.

The reminder of her ex swilled in her gut like sour alcohol. “Yes, well, looks can be deceiving.” She tugged her hand but his fingers tightened, refusing to release her.

“Which one,” he challenged.

“Which one, what?” Frowning, she tried to pull free again. But once more, his hold tightened. She narrowed her eyes on him, and his hooded gaze dropped to their clasped hands before lifting back to her face. And he still didn’t let her go.

“Which one is deceiving?” he clarified. “I have eyes, so I know you’re beautiful. Composed, too. You walked in here tonight like you owned it and chose a beer when every other woman in this place has a glass of champagne. Which was hot as hell.” His scrutiny briefly dipped to her mouth as if he envisioned her drinking from the bottle at that moment. “From the cut of your hair and the red soles of those shoes, you can afford material things. So that leaves untouchable.” He cocked his head to the side. “Are you untouchable, duchess?”

“First, my name isn’t duchess. And second, my touch-ability or lack thereof is usually reserved for people I’ve known for twenty minutes, not two,” she bit out. And the Louboutins had been a gift from her mother, who firmly believed the designer shoes should be a staple in every woman’s closet. Buy the expensive shoes on a teacher’s salary? Not hardly.

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