The Billionaire's Blackmailed Bride(2)

By: Jacqueline Baird

‘Allow me to introduce my friend Eloise,’ the deep voice continued as the brunette sent a social smile around the table, ‘and my right-hand man, Max.’

Emily glanced at the middle-aged burly man and smiled in welcome as he took his seat at the table next to Helen. Then the stranger turned to her.

‘Emily, isn’t it? Tom has told me a lot about you. It is a real pleasure to finally meet you. I am Anton Diaz.’ A large strong hand was held out and she politely put her hand in his, while her mind busily wondered how Tom knew the man, and why her brother would have mentioned her to him.

Then suddenly her mind went blank as a bizarre sensation a bit like an electric eel snaking up her arm had her skin breaking out in goose-bumps under the latex. Hastily she pulled her hand free and slowly looked up.

Emily had a long way to go…He had to be at least six feet four, she reckoned, and then her curious blue gaze collided with deep brown eyes and she simply stared…

The man was like a sleek black panther: poised, powerful and predatory.

She grimaced inwardly at the fanciful notion, really not her usual style.

The introductions moved on and Emily supposed she had made the right response, though she could not be sure. Her mouth felt dry and she had trouble tearing her fascinated gaze away from the tall, striking man.

He was dressed all in black. A black silk-knit roll-necked sweater outlined the impressive musculature of his broad chest. A short black cloak covered his wide shoulders and flowed down like bats’ wings to broad cuffs around strong wrists, set off by tailored black trousers. He should have looked ridiculous in costume like the majority of the people present. Instead, if ever a man looked like a devil it was this one…

Dark and dangerous, she thought, her heart inexplicably tightening in her chest, and for a moment she had difficulty breathing that had nothing to do with the latex suit she wore.

His straight black hair worn slightly longer than was fashionable was swept casually back off his broad forehead. Distinctive arched brows framed deep-set almost black eyes, high cheekbones, a large hawklike nose and a wide sensuous mouth completed the picture. As she stared his lips parted to reveal even white teeth. He was smiling down at her. She lifted her eyes to his and even in her stunned state she recognized the humour did not entirely mask the cool remoteness of his dark gaze.

The man was not conventionally handsome, his features too large and harshly chiselled for classic male beauty.

Brutally handsome…was a better description.

There was something insulting about the way his dark eyes slid casually down to her cleavage and lingered for a long moment. But even as she recognized his insolent masculine appraisal for what it was her skin prickled with shocking awareness. The breath caught in her throat and she gave a shaky inward sigh of relief when he casually pulled out the chair next to hers, and lowered his long length into it.

It could be worse, Emily told herself, at least with Anton Diaz seated at her side, she did not have to face him.

Instinctively she recognized he was a man who was supremely confident in his masculinity and totally aware of his effect on the opposite sex, and discreetly she crossed her arms over her suddenly hardening nipples. A sophisticated charmer with an aura of ruthless power about him that would intimidate anybody, man or woman, she concluded. Not her type at all…

Even so, there was no escaping the fact he was an incredibly sexy man, as her body’s unexpected response confirmed.

‘I could not help overhearing your comment, Emily. Shame on you, your chauvinism is showing.’ The devil spoke in a deep, dark, mocking voice that made her hackles rise.

‘What do you mean, Mr Diaz?’ she asked him with cool politeness, flicking him a sidelong glance, and was once again captured by the intensity of his dark eyes.

‘In today’s world of equality between the sexes isn’t it rather politically incorrect to assume all the women should dress as angels and the men as devils? And, given the very striking outfit you are wearing, just a little hypocritical,’ he drawled mockingly.

‘He has got you there,’ Helen piped up and everyone laughed.

Everyone but Emily.

‘My costume was my sister-in-law’s choice, not mine. She has a warped sense of humour,’ she explained, forcing a smile to her lips. ‘And I see you are dressed as a devil, rather upholding my theory. Though you do seem to have forgotten the horns,’ she prompted smoothly.

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