Sugar Daddy Author:Lisa Kleypas The heroine of Sugar Daddy, Liberty Jones, works for the billionaire Churchill Travis, who has broken his leg in a riding accident. The oldest Travis son, Gage, has made it clear that Liberty and the eight year-old sister she is raising by herself are not welcome at the family mansion... — Every time Gage Travis looked at me, you could tell he w... more »anted to tear me limb from limb. Not in a fury, but in a process of slow and methodical dismemberment.
The day we moved in, our possessions crammed into cardboard boxes, I thought Gage would throw me out bodily. I had begun to unpack in the bedroom I had chosen, a beautiful space with wide windows and pale moss-green walls, and cream-colored molding. What had decided me on the room was the grouping of black and white photographs on one wall. They were Texas images; a cactus, a bob-wire fence, a horse, and to my delight, a front shot of an armadillo looking straight into the camera.
As I opened my suitcase on the king-size bed, Gage appeared in the doorway. My fingers curled around the edge of the suitcase, my knuckles jutting until you could have shredded carrots on them. Even knowing I was reasonably safe--surely Churchill would keep him from killing me--I was still alarmed. He filled up the doorway, looking big and mean and pitiless.
"What the hell are you doing here?" His soft voice unsettled me far more than shouting would have.
I answered through dry lips. "Churchill said I could choose any room I wanted."
"You can either leave voluntarily, or I'll throw you out. Believe me, you'd rather go on your own."
I didn't move. "You have a problem, you talk to your father. He wants me here."
"I don't give a damn. Get going."
A little trickle of sweat went down the middle of my back. I didn't move.
He reached me in three strides and took my upper arm in a painful grip.
A gasp of surprise was torn from my throat. "Take your hands off me!" I strained and shoved at him, but his chest was as unyielding as the trunk of a live oak.
"I told you before I wasn't going to--" He broke off. I was released with a suddenness that caused me to stagger back a step. Our sharp respirations pierced the silence. He was staring at the dresser, where I had set out a few pictures in standup frames. Trembling, I put my hand on the part of my arm he'd gripped. I rubbed the spot as if to erase his touch. But I could still feel an invisible hand print embedded in my skin.
He went to the dresser and picked up one of the photos. "Who is this?"
It was a picture of Mama, taken not long after she'd married my father. She had been impossibly young and blonde and beautiful. "Don't touch that," I cried, rushing forward to snatch the photo from him.
"Who is it?" he repeated.
His head bent as he stood over me, looking into my face with a speculative gaze. I was so bewildered by the abrupt halt of our conflict that I couldn't summon the words to ask what in God's name was going through his mind. I was absurdly conscious of the sound of my breathing, and his, the counterpoint gradually evening until the rhythm of our lungs was identical. Light from the plantation shutters made bright stripes across both of us, casting shadow spokes from his lashes down the crests of his cheek. I could see the whisker grain of his close-shaven skin, foretelling a heavy five o'clock shadow.
I dampened my dry lips with my tongue, and his gaze followed the movement. We were standing too close. I could smell the bite of starch in his collar, and a whiff of warm male skin, and I was shocked by my response. In spite of everything, I wanted to lean even closer. I wanted a deep breath of him.
A frown tugged between his brows. "We're not finished," he muttered, and left the room without another word.
I had no doubt he'd gone straight to Churchill, but it would be a long time before I found out what was said between them, or why Gage had decided to abandon that particular battle.« less