Authors: Lucy Ellis
‘Wow,’ she said inadequately as she stepped into sheer luxury. ‘This is—incredible.’
The extravagance of the hotel suite was another reminder of exactly who Serge was. A rich man. Who could buy a great deal to keep himself happy. No doubt including women.
But not this woman. She needed to make that very clear to him. Somehow.
‘I’m not that impressed, you know. Money doesn’t do it for me.’
do it for you, Clementine?’ He was smiling at her, that big lazy Russian male smile, as if he knew something she didn’t.
‘Honesty,’ she replied. ‘Sincerity.’
The smile darkened to something else.
She’d surprised him.
has four loves in life: books, expensive lingerie, vintage films and big, gorgeous men who have to duck going through doorways. Weaving aspects of them into her fiction is the best part of being a romance writer. Lucy lives in a small cottage in the foothills outside Melbourne.
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by His Diamonds
did a double-take in front of the ornate windows, almost pressing her nose up to the glass.
Lust—that was what she was feeling. Unadulterated desire.
In the window sat her Anna Karenina fantasy. Thigh-high, fur-lined, suede Russian boots.
She told herself she was only in St Petersburg for one more day after today. She deserved something to remember it by.
Five minutes later she was standing on the worn raspberry-coloured carpet inside, sliding one stockinged foot and then the other into her dream. She felt like Cinderella trying on her glass slippers. The real test was zipping them up above her knees. She was six feet tall and her legs held much of her height. She had shape to them. She had shape to all of her.
She almost gave a whoop of delight when the boots zipped up a treat.
The girl kneeling before her lifted the flaps. ‘They can go higher. Shall we try?’
She spoke English, but in these luxury stores everybody did.
Without hesitation Clementine hitched up her burgundy leather skirt, feeling slightly naughty as she flashed her suspenders. She reached down and pulled the fur-lined suede up and up, to kiss the fleshy curve of her inner thigh.
Her legs looked impossibly long with the leather skirt clinging to her hips. Absorbed in her own reflection, she slung out a leg and stroked the fur meditatively. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a flash of movement behind her in the mirror, and looked up to collide with the gaze of a man standing by the door.
He wasn’t idling in the doorway, lurking. He was purposefully filling the space. Announcing his presence up front. Owning it.
And he was looking right at her.
He had to have a head of height on her, and he was built to go with it, and Clementine would bet her last pair of designer knickers on that size being one hundred per cent lean muscle.
He was quite a sight. They didn’t make men like that any more.
Maybe they had in earlier centuries, when Russian men went into battle with muskets, or even earlier when they needed to club things and skin animals to feed their families. Oh, yes, she could imagine him half naked and marked by claw-marks across his back and chest, bestriding the steppes. In fact—she nibbled her bottom lip—she could imagine that quite vividly.
But nowadays, in an age of technology and convenience and the liberation of women, you just didn’t need men like this any more.
Except in bed. An unexpected flush of warmth moved through her body.
Imagine if he laid his hands on you
Imagine if it was him adjusting the tops of your boots
Her eyes flicked to the mirror and registered that the Cossack hadn’t shifted an inch, but instinctively she just knew he’d moved some muscles because the look on his face mirrored her own: unadulterated fascination. With her. Male,
down-and-dirty fascination. As if she was his own personal little sex show.
Clementine felt his eyes on her like a slow burn, sliding straight up the inside of her bare, exposed leg. It was that good, and almost as tantalising as being touched.
She should cover herself up, but after a year of keeping herself nice she was enjoying the attention. It was harmless. If this guy wanted to look, let him look. It wasn’t as if he
put his hands on her. They were strangers. It was a public place. She was safe.
She was enjoying it
She bent down, nice and slow, folding over one fur flap to reveal the length of her bare upper thigh and then the other. Then she ever so slowly tugged down the leather bunched at her hips and lengthened her skirt, inch by inch, as she had seen so many models do for the camera, until she was decently covered.
There. Show over.
Time to pay for the beauties, head back to the rats’ nest where she was staying and catch up on some sleep. Except when she looked back at the mirror the Cossack was still there, holding up the world on those big shoulders. He’d folded his arms and Clementine registered powerful muscle under the strain of his jacket.
Her pulse leapt. He was every woman’s fantasy, and also a little bit scary—not only because of his size. With his clear intent she got the absolute impression he was waiting for her.
A shivering awareness ran through her body like an electrical shock, but she got herself moving, fumbling with her handbag as she dug out the equivalent cost of her meals for the rest of the week to pay for the boots.
‘You have an admirer,’ said the girl, boxing up her old shoes with a discreet glance in the direction of the door.
‘Probably a shoe fetishist,’ murmured Clementine, but there was a smile on her lips as she said it.
Inhaling a deep breath, she swung round and headed for the exit—only to discover he wasn’t there. She actually dropped a step, idling for a moment in the doorway, disappointed.
She emerged into the street and swung her designer bag as she headed south—and that was when she spotted him. Leaning against a limo, thumbs in designer pockets, running a gaze over her that sped up and slowed down depending on which part of her body he got hooked on. Clementine lost a breath and then her heartbeat raced.
Okay, Clementine, walk on
, she lectured herself.
There’s no way you’re going over there and introducing yourself
. Guys dressed like that with limos on tap were not territory she wished to stray into. She’d already had her brush with his type. Never again. The industry she worked in was rife with women who cashed in on their desirability for a certain lifestyle. She wasn’t one of them, and she wasn’t starting now.
Serge fastened on the sway of her hips as she walked away, flashing those sensational thighs showcased by fur and sheer stockings. He knew what was holding those stockings up: delicate midnight-blue suspenders.
He had been leaving the jeweller Krassinsky’s, where he’d left his father’s wedding cufflinks to be repaired, and crossing the art nouveau atrium that linked several high-end stores in this building when he had spotted her through the shop’s entrance.
A young woman bent at the waist, a leather skirt hiked up around her hips, as comfortable in the middle of the shop as if it had been her boudoir, her shapely bottom encased in burgundy leather, swaying provocatively. He’d seen two strips of pale flesh before the lacy tops of her stockings took over, attached to delicate suspenders.
It had ground him to a standstill.
When she’d started tugging up those boots lust had flashed through him like a lightning strike.
If she’d stopped there he might have dragged himself away, but all of a sudden she’d hooked out a leg and he’d got an eyeful of her inner thigh—that soft, fleshy curve at the very top of a woman’s leg, pressed into prominence by the clasp of the stockings clinging to her legs. Serge had swallowed hard as she’d begun smoothing the fur right up to that spot.
That’s the girl—a bit higher…very nice
As if hearing his thoughts she’d lifted her head and met his gaze in the freestanding mirror. She’d frozen. Her face was heart-shaped, her mouth wide, her chin pointed. Despite the clothes, despite the pose, despite the lashings of make-up, she looked as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. He had waited for her reaction and been rewarded by a small private smile, and then she’d bent and slowly peeled the fur down to expose the tops of her thighs. To him.
Because it had all been for him. She’d known he was watching her.
Which had made it incredibly hot.
As her skirt had slithered down he’d known he’d be thinking not only about that spot at the top of her left thigh but also about her smile for the rest of his day.
He’d watched the girl switch her attention to the salesgirl—no longer his little show but simply a woman making a purchase—and it had chastened him. This wasn’t Amsterdam. She wasn’t on the market and she wasn’t his type. The hooker look had never interested him, and whatever frisson she had got from the experience was over.
He’d left her to it, but as he’d handed his bag over to his driver he’d found himself lingering by the car, just waiting to see her emerge. Curious, interested.
She stepped out of the building in those ridiculous boots
and above the revving of his libido he got the full impact of a fifties pin-up come to life. Lustrous golden-brown hair, narrow shoulders, full breasts, curvaceous hips and a lick of a waist. Her legs were strong and shapely and went on and on. And on.
The realist inside him told him he should let her go. He had places to be, and it wasn’t as if he couldn’t find another woman to warm his bed.
Then she moved and he forgot about every plan he had for the rest of the day.
He knew the moment she noticed him. Her lashes dropped, screened her eyes, and she just took off, those sensational legs in those infamous boots eating up the pavement. Her leather skirt twitched provocatively over the bounce of her heart-shaped bottom. She’d be gone in a few minutes, lost in the late-afternoon crowd.
As if sensing his indecision, she chose that moment to turn her head over one pretty shoulder and give him a smile Mona Lisa would have envied. Subtle, but it was there.
Come and get me
Then she was off with a swish of her long hair.
Serge propelled himself away from the car, and with a brusque instruction to his driver to follow took off after her.
Clementine hadn’t been able to help herself. She’d cast a last look over her shoulder, and when she’d seen his gaze was still glued to her she’d smiled. Apparently that was enough—because now he was coming after her.
Instinctively she sped up, her whole body tightening with anticipation.
When she checked again he was still there, impossible to miss, taller than anyone else, a big, insanely gorgeous man, with chestnut hair falling carelessly over his temples, curling at the base of his broad neck. In the bright sunshine she could
see the faint shadow of where he’d shaved, and the square cut of his chin and the sheer bravado of his grin as he caught her looking.
She shouldn’t be encouraging this. She should turn around on this crowded street and confront him. But she didn’t. She slowed down. She put a little more sway in her hips and kept walking.
She checked again. He was clocking her, but not closing in. She felt relatively safe.
Serge pulled back his pace momentarily as Boots turned out of the Nevsky, watched her cross against the schizophrenic traffic, earning a few hoots and screeching tyres from drivers—probably more at the sight of those long legs than any traffic infringement.
She had a real energy in her body that translated into the sexiest walk he had ever seen on a woman. And what struck him was the fact that she seemed utterly oblivious to the chaos she caused around her.