The Awakening Page 9

His perfectly sculpted mouth curved gently into a small smile. “I noticed.”

“Well, don’t notice.” Holding the sheet up to her neck with one hand, she imperiously pointed toward the door with the other. He was the most alluring man she had ever seen. His hair was long and thick, jet-black, shiny enough to make her want to run her hands through it. Given the way she had been feeling the night before, she wasn’t altogether certain it was safe for him to be in her bedroom. Especially when she was naked. “I’ll get dressed and meet you downstairs in the kitchen.”

His smile widened into a melting grin. “I brought you up food.” He pulled a silver tray from atop the dresser and placed it on the bed. “I don’t mind your state of… er… undress. It livens up the place.”

She blushed, color creeping up her neck. There was fruit on the tray, a glass of cold juice, a mug of hot tea, and a colorful orchid. The flower was fresh. Exquisite. What kind of man would think to bring her something so beautiful on her first awakening in the rain forest? She stared from the tray to his masculine good looks. The man was all muscle, rippling biceps and wide shoulders. His eyes were mesmerizing, a burning intensity Maggie was lost in the moment their gazes met. She had never seen eyes like his before on a man. His eyes belonged on a creature of the jungle, a hunter, focused and intent on prey. Yet he had thought to bring her a flower on a silver tray of food.

Maggie looked hastily away from his eyes before she was lost forever in their mysterious depths. Lost forever in the contrast between predator and poet.

“I don’t think this place needs livening up,” she murmured, trying not to gape at him. There was no way she was going to try to eat fruit stark naked in bed with him staring at her with his sinful eyes. He was robbing her of speech. Of breath. Of good sense. Her entire body came alive with him in the room. It wasn’t safe. That was all there was to it. “Really, you just wait downstairs and I’ll be right down.”

His gaze moved over her. Hot. Possessive. She held her breath. His look alone could send her body into meltdown.

His white teeth flashed briefly, leaving her with the impression of a predator as his smile faded. “I’ll be waiting, Maggie,” he said quietly as he left the room. His voice was low, compelling. A tone that seemed to seep through her pores to heat her blood. He had a voice, a body, eyes, and a mouth that were too sensually sinful, and she was afraid of succumbing to his blatant sex appeal in her present state. Fortunately, he had sounded a bit too aggressive. Too arrogant. There was something proprietary in his tone that set her teeth on edge. It was almost as if he had rubbed her fur the wrong way.

Maggie laughed aloud at the analogy. She was in the forest a day, but already she was embracing the wildlife. She tossed back the sheet and hurried to the bathroom. Brandt Talbot had the keys to every door in her house. The bar on the front door hadn’t even slowed him down. She should be grateful to the man for being so concerned about her. He had slept in the house with her.

Had he come to her room in the middle of the night? Had he crept into her dreams with his amazing voice? She tried to reach for the elusive memories but all she could really think about was the way she had been on fire, the way she had needed to be touched, to be stroked. Had he seen her like that? The idea made her burn inside and out.

She stared at herself in the mirror, wanting to see if she looked as different as she felt. For the first time she noticed how incredibly large her green eyes were. Her pupils were tiny pinpricks in the light of day, protecting her eyes from the bright glare of daylight, although there was little sun. She stared, wondering at the illumination of her vivid green eyes as she spread toothpaste onto her brush. Her heart stopped, slamming hard in her chest, as she exposed her small white teeth. Sharpened canines gleamed at her, a wicked addition to her delicate looks.

Maggie covered her mouth, frightened, of the strange illusion. It had to be an illusion. Very slowly she took her hand away and stared at her exposed teeth. They were perfectly straight. Perfectly normal. She was losing her mind. Maybe Jayne had been right and she didn’t belong in such a primitive setting. She had loved the thought of it for so long, maybe she was just too susceptible. On the other hand, it was the only time in her life she would be able to learn about her parents. She had never been a timid woman, or a nervous one. She had no fear of traveling on her own. She was well versed in martial arts and had confidence in herself in a tight situation, although here, in the wild forest, she felt so different, so unlike Maggie Odessa. Yet it wasn’t in her to run.

She dressed with care, as lightly as possible. The humidity was oppressive. Her hair was twisted into a neat French braid and pinned to the top of her head like a crown. It left her neck bare. She found her lace bra and matching panties, scraps of material she hoped wouldn’t rub against her skin in the heavy cloying air. She was not making the same mistake twice, being caught without her bra in the middle of a tropical rainstorm.

She had very little time to research her parents’ history. She was determined to make every moment count. As she ran down the stairs, she prepared a mental list of questions for Brandt Talbot.

Brandt stood up as she entered the kitchen, and every single word in her head melted away. Scattered. Dissipated so that she just stood in the doorway staring at him. He made her weak. Actually weak when she looked at him. Maggie feared if she tried to speak she might stammer. His effect was overpowering.

He smiled at her, and a thousand butterfly wings brushed at the pit of her stomach. As he came toward her, he moved in absolute silence, not even his clothing daring to rustle. He took her breath away. Maggie had never been so susceptible to anyone before and it was exceedingly uncomfortable.

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