He didn’t reply for the longest time, before nodding curtly and swiveling on his heel to head to his office. After the door shut behind him, she dropped her head to where her hands still rested on the keyboard and just sat there for a few minutes, trying to recover her poise.

“Right,” she said to herself as she pushed away from the desk and started to go slowly about organizing his urgent mail and pouring the extremely bitter dark-roast coffee he preferred.

She gave a perfunctory knock on the intimidating double doors that led to his massive office before pushing her way inside. Dante sat behind his exquisitely crafted bird’s-eye maple-and-walnut antique desk and stared broodingly at his huge computer screen. He had his elbows on the desk and his hands steepled in front of him, the tips of his forefingers pressed against his lips. Her entry drew his gaze from the computer, and he stared at her over the top of his fingers.

She rounded the desk, placed the coffee mug beside his right elbow, and centered the mail in front of him. He didn’t say a word while she was doing that, and she was acutely aware of his closeness, of the scent of him, the heat of him, and couldn’t get back to the other side of the desk fast enough. She stood there, her hands clasped in front of her and her eyes downcast, waiting to hear where he would parcel her off to this morning, but when he said nothing for the longest time, she dared a glance up at him. He still stared at her, his eyes narrowed and his lips pursed. He was slowly moving his mouth back and forth across his fingertips, looking lost in thought at he watched her.

“Will that be all, sir?” she asked expectantly. Maybe he’d send her to HR to meet her future boss. It would do her good to apprentice with his current secretary. Frankly, she couldn’t wait to get away from the top floor and its high-powered, frenetic pace.

“Did you get my package?”

She cleared her throat and shifted restlessly at the unexpected question.

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. I’ll have a proper read-through later, since I didn’t get a chance to check the finer details on Thursday before I signed it.” She couldn’t resist the dig, and she watched him closely for his reaction. But he revealed nothing, keeping his face completely passive, even while his gaze darkened.

“That’s not the package I meant,” he said after a few minutes of awkward silence. His deep, husky voice sent shock waves reverberating through her body as the words registered, and she felt a blush starting from her breasts and sweeping right up to the top of her head. She clamped her mouth shut and glared at him, refusing to respond to his words.

“I meant, did you get your panties?” he prompted perversely when she said nothing. “They were sweet. Not my favorites, mind you. That honor belongs to the blue Daisy Duck pair with the little white-heart polka dots all over them. Do you know which ones I mean?”

Of course she knew which ones he meant; he’d removed them with his teeth that last night in Tokyo. He’d been so absorbed with what was being revealed beneath the underwear that she hadn’t for one second considered that the design would register with him.

“I wish you wouldn’t talk like this,” she said shakily. “It’s—”

“Inappropriate,” he completed. “I know. The problem is that when I’m around you, all thought of appropriate behavior completely flees my mind. Now why the hell do you suppose that is?” He sounded angry as he said the words, and Cleo shared his frustration. He was like an addictive drug that she couldn’t flush out of her system. Every time she got in his general vicinity, she turned into mush and her brain stopped functioning.

He got up and rounded the desk until he stood behind her, close enough that she could feel the heat emanating off him in waves and his breath in her hair.

“I took one look at you behind that desk this morning, all—how do you say—prim and proper? And I wanted this,” he said, his voice low. He didn’t have to explain what this was; they both knew and they both accepted it even though they both hated the inexplicable need.

He moved, wrapping one strong arm around her torso and gripping her jaw with his hand as he tugged her back against his hard body. She could feel his iron-hard erection grinding into the small of her back. He sucked her earlobe into his mouth for the briefest of moments before moving down to nuzzle the sensitive area just below her ear.

Her knees buckled, and his other hand came up to cup the nape of her neck and gently but inexorably exert enough pressure to let her know exactly what he wanted. She complied, bracing herself on her elbows as she bent over his desk.

His hands went roaming, tugging her blouse from her skirt and burrowing their way beneath the silk chiffon until they found and cupped her small breasts through the lace of her demi bra. The slightest of tugs and he had the bra tucked beneath her breasts and his thumbs flicking away at her sensitive nipples. He played there for a while, knowing that very little more than that was required to get her going, before his hands trailed down over her flat stomach and then around to the small of her back, his fingertips skirting along the sensitive skin above the waistband of her skirt. When his thumbs met in the center of her back just above the slight swell of her behind, he shifted the position of his hands until he had her backside cupped in his palms. Cleo whimpered, unbelievably turned on by being spread out on his desk in his office in broad daylight.

His hands grabbed a couple of fistfuls of twill and dragged her skirt up, up, ever so slowly up, until—after an excruciatingly long time—she felt cool air on the backs of her thighs. Dante—who’d been silent up until this point—groaned when he finally had her skirt up over her back and her panties revealed to him.