A Calculated Seduction(2)

“Can’t he pay your rent?”

Clarice gasped. “There’s no way I could ask him to do that.” No, never that. A trip to Cancun, the Mercedes she drove, the

Botox treatment last month and pedicures in her apartment, but never the rent. She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. Why did this woman and her daughters think she was their personal keeper?

“I take it you talked to Charles?” Charles Foster was their family attorney and handled all their money. He was the one man Clarice and her two daughters, Barbie and Tori, couldn’t charm.

“Yes, and he told me no.” Of course he did. All three women had no concept of money. “Will you talk to him?”

While Clarice couldn’t charm him, Dulcy could talk him into giving them more money. “Charles is out of town for his daughter’s wedding in Houston, so it will have to wait until Monday.”

“Can you float me some money?”

The woman had some nerve!

“Clarice, you know I have no money. Why do you think I work?”

“I don’t know. Especially with that trust fund of yours.”

“I don’t get any money from the trust fund until I turn

twenty-five. I have eleven more months.” She didn’t mention all three of them forgot her twenty-fourth birthday last month.

“Oh, I always thought you convinced Charles to give you an advance. ”

She gritted her teeth. It never occurred to Dulcy to ask for money. Her parents hadn’t raised her that way. They taught her from an early age to be self-sufficient. Her father probably never imagined he would drop dead of a heart attack three months before her nineteenth birthday, leaving her without funds for six years.

“I don’t know if I can get you the money.”

“Oh, pooh. You can. If you don’t, I’ll be thrown out of my apartment, and then I’d end up in your little studio.”

Visions of Clarice, her yippy Chihuahua and her stepsisters constantly dropping by rose in her mind and Dulcy shuddered.

“Okay, no reason to threaten me. I’ll get you your money.” She slammed down the phone.

“Troubles, Miss Menendez?” Ethan MacMillan’s deep voice rumbled behind her.

She cringed. It figured, after he had ignored her for the last three hours, he’d overhear her conversation with Clarice. Slowly, she turned her chair to face him. Dressed in tailored black suit pants with a red dress shirt, he leaned against the doorjamb, his muscular arms crossed, his gray eyes focused on her. He’d lost his jacket sometime during the day and had rolled his shirtsleeves up, revealing the sinewy length of his tanned forearms.

“No...no. Just family stuff.” She licked her lips and he followed the movement with his eyes. Her face warmed. Since the first day she’d met the man, he made her nervous. He never said much, but the way he watched her, silent and intense, sent a wave of tingles along her nerve endings.

“Family? I thought your parents were deceased.”

She drew a blank. She just didn’t know what to say. It always took at least five minutes for her to gather her senses when she encountered him. Her pulse accelerated and her nipples hardened. What the hell was he talking about? Oh, yeah, her family.

“Yes, but I have my stepfamily.”


She really hated that he repeated her statements as questions.

It always sounded like he was accusing her of something.

“I still have my stepmother and stepsisters.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Your father was married what...nine

months before his death? I can’t think why you would want to bother with them.”

“They’re my family.” She shifted in her seat, completely uncomfortable with him looming over her. He was big and masculine and had a warrior’s body, which he had needed while he served in the Marines. Her nerves jumped and a rush of heat swept through her.

“Is there something you wanted?” she asked, her voice a tad bit huskier than usual.

His eyes bored into her, unblinking, not straying one bit. She licked her lips again. His eyes broke contact to follow the movement again.

“No. You can go now. I’m sorry if you had to cancel any plans for me.” A mocking smile curved his lips.

She thought of her eight-year-old nephew and smiled. “He’ll wait. ”

His lips flattened and his eyes lost their sparkle. “Be here early, Monday.” He turned and left her gaping at him, slamming the door behind him.

Melissa Schroeder's Books