Her lungs constricted and oxygen couldn’t fill them fast enough. The blood drained from her face, her stomach dropped into her knees and she gripped the arms of the chair so tight her knuckles went into spasm.
Oh. Dear. God.
“Fine, make it Tuesday.” Fine. Let’s do it.
Miniscule bumps shivered up her neck. It wasn’t possible.
“Good. See you then.” He swiveled his chair around and hung up.
Bizarrely, her first thought upon seeing his face was that AJ Riley didn’t have a moustache after all. Or glasses, for that matter.
Unmistakable ice-blue eyes appraised her. “Miss Tanner, I presume?” His tone was mocking and cold, not warm and honeyed like she remembered. His mouth was set in grim lines, harsh and unforgiving, not full and swollen from her kisses. His eyes were distant and condescending, not heated and hungry like before.
“You!” The word ripped through her throat. Disbelief echoed in her ears.
Her nameless lover was AJ Riley?
“You were expecting someone else?” He scoffed.
Shock rendered her speechless. She’d slept with AJ Riley. After weeks of unsuccessful attempts to track him down, she’d unwittingly slept with him.
“You seem surprised,” he commented dispassionately.
She gaped at him. Surprised? Flabbergasted, more like it. Gobsmacked, astounded and dumbfounded to boot. Not to mention thrown so far off balance the entire office block spun.
She hadn’t just slept with the man—she’d indulged in activities she suspected might be illegal in some places. Now what the hell was she supposed to do? She was never meant to see him again. The pure anonymity of their encounter had led her to do things with him she’d never have done under ordinary circumstances. She’d masturbated in front of him—touched herself… Shamelessly begged him…
Now she sat across from him in his office, about to beg again. Only this time it was for money. Nausea rose in her stomach. She did the math and, for once, one and one did not make two. It added up to her looking like a whore.
Spots danced before her eyes and she prayed she wouldn’t pass out. She’d embarrassed herself in front of him enough already.
“Do you plan on saying anything, Miss Tanner, or should I attempt to infer from your body language your reasons for being here?”
Cold. He was so cold. So distant. Not to mention rude. The man she’d made love with hadn’t been like this. How could she blame him? If she thought she looked like a whore, she could only imagine what he thought. Trying in vain to pull her thoughts together, she straightened her back and considered what to say.
Something else bothered her, something other than her complete and utter humiliation.
“I believe,” he prompted her, “you are here to ask for a donation?”
She tried to focus on his words. What bothered her? It was there, trapped somewhere in her subconscious. If she could just access it…
“Would you care to tell me a little about your…needs?”
There was no mistaking the innuendo in his question. He knew all about her…needs.
His tone made it obvious he wasn’t the least bit interested in her cause, in the real reason she was here. It was aloof and expressionless. It didn’t sound at all like it had in her hotel room. Then it had been warm and sensual. When he’d whispered his carnal wishes in her ear, it had been low and roughened by desire. When he’d lost himself in the throws of a wild orgasm and called out her name, it had been hoarse and hot and completely unrestrained. When…
Oh, Jesus. That was it.
He’d called out her name. She’d thought he hadn’t known her identity…but he’d screamed her name. “Lexi”.
Red-hot fury pulsed through her. Maybe she used it as a weapon to hide her embarrassment. Maybe she was just pissed off about being misled. Whatever the reason, she was livid. All the warm, content feelings she’d had about their night together rocketed out the window. How could he? How could he have done that?
She surged to her feet, her movement so fast and fierce she knocked the chair over. It landed with a resounding crash on the carpeted floor. Much the way she wished her fist could smash into his nose.
“You bastard,” she spat at him. “You cold, callous bastard.” She knew her cheeks flamed. She flamed, so angry she could barely see straight.
“You knew all along, didn’t you?” She kicked the chair out of the way—no mean feat, considering its size—and banged her fists on the desk. Pens scattered from his ever-so-pristine penholder and clattered down on the polished cherrywood. She fervently hoped one had gouged a sizeable mark out of his immaculate desk.
“You knew exactly who I was, right from that first moment in the lobby, didn’t you?”
He assessed her with cold eyes. “Of course I did. Do you think I’d sleep with someone I don’t know?”
She gaped at him. “You knew who I was and you never had the decency to tell me? You slept with me without so much as hinting at your familiarity?”
The corner of his mouth turned up. She’d never describe the expression as pleasant. “And I suppose you didn’t know who I was?” He tossed out the idea with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Impossible. You made this appointment weeks ago. You knew exactly who I was. Didn’t you, Lexi?”
“How could I?” she snarled. “I’d never met you. Until one minute ago, I didn’t even know what AJ Riley looked like.”
“Oh, you knew,” he taunted. “And you took full advantage of our unexpected meeting at the hotel. It was quite perfect, wasn’t it? Seduce me first to butter me up, and then ask for money.”
“You weren’t buttered, you were creamed,” she retorted.
Oh… Crap. Had she just said that out loud?