Shackled by Diamonds

By: Julia James

But it was.

Leo let his eyes rest on her.

She wasn’t looking bored now.

Two quite different emotions were animating her face, though she was, he could see, trying not to let the second one through.

The first emotion was anger. The girl was angry. Very angry.

It was an old anger too, one that was familiar to her.

But the second emotion was coming as a shock to her.

He felt a surge of satisfaction go through him.

She might be hiding it, but he’d seen it—seen the tell-tale minute flaring of her pupils as her eyes had impacted with his.

The satisfaction came again, but he put it to one side. He’d attend to it later—when the time was appropriate. Right now he had other matters to deal with.

He flicked his eyes to the blonde. Yes, definitely the neurotic type, he thought. Tense and jittery, and the type to give any man a headache. She was fantastically beautiful, of course, but he didn’t envy the man who had the handling of her.

‘Let me understand,’ he said to her. ‘You do not want this shot? The one Signor Embrutti desires?’

The girl was almost trembling she was so tense. She shook her head.

Tonio Embrutti burst into a fusillade of staccato Italian. Leo halted him with a peremptory hand.

‘No breast shots. Not for her. Not for any of them. Their clothes stay on—all of them,’ he spelt out, for good measure.

His eyes moved over the four girls, resting momentarily on the redhead. A smile almost flickered on his mouth. He could just imagine his cousin Markos’s reaction to seeing his mistress’s naked charms paraded in the publicity shots accompanying the launch of the rediscovered Levantsky collection—long-hidden in a secret Tsarist cache in the depths of Siberia and recently returned to the commercial world courtesy of a shrewd acquisition by Makarios Corp.

Markos would have beaten him to a pulp for allowing it!

If he could land a punch, that was, thought Leo, with dark humour.

Not that he would give him cause to—or any man who had an interest in the girls here.

His eyes flicked back to the sable-haired model. Was she taken? Just because she’d responded to him it didn’t mean that another man didn’t have his marker on her. She wouldn’t be the first female to think she’d do better trading up to a Makarios.

Those that thought that way, however, he promptly lost interest in.

Such women made poor mistresses. Their minds were on his money—not on him.

And when he had a woman in bed with him he wanted her mind totally and utterly on him.

As the sable-haired model’s would be when he bedded her. He would see to it.

He strolled to the side of the vast hall, nodding briefly to the senior security personnel hired to guard the Levantsky collection, leaned back against the edge of a heavy oak table, crossed one ankle over the other, folded his arms, and watched, wanting to see more of the girl he had selected for himself.

The shoot went on.

It was the turn of the sable-haired model next. Both to be shot and picked on.

Tonio Embrutti was clearly taking out his spleen on her. Nothing she did was right. He snapped and snarled and sneered at whatever she did, however she posed.

Leo felt an intense desire to stride across to the photographer and wring his scrawny neck. And he also felt a grudging admiration for the model.

She might be bored wearing a Levantsky parure, she might be the kind of troublemaker who quoted contractual conditions at the first sign of rough water, but when it came to putting up with what was being handed out to her she had the patience of a saint.

Which was curious, thought Leo, watching her assessingly, because she didn’t look saint-like at all.

Not that she looked sexy.

Nothing that crass.

No, her intense sexual allure came from something quite different.

It came from her being supremely indifferent to it.

It really was, he mused, very powerful.

Very erotic.

His eyes swept over her. The black hair like a cloak, the milk-white shoulders and generous curve of her corseted breasts, her tiny waist and her accentuated hips, her slender but moulded arms—and then her face, of course. Almost square, with a defined jaw, and yet the high cheekbones, the straight nose, the wide, unconsciously voluptuous mouth—and the emerald eyes…

Oh, yes, she really was very, very erotic.

He felt his body stir, and he relaxed back to enjoy the view.

And anticipate the night’s entertainment to come.

Courtesy of the sable-haired model.

Idly, he wondered what her name was…

Anna sank her exhausted body into the hot, fragrant water. It felt blissful. God, she was tired. The shoot had been punishing. Not just because of that jerk Embrutti—though keeping her cool with him had taken more effort than she enjoyed exerting—but simply because it had taken so long.

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