had told her his plantation was located on a remote bayou in "Tara-bon" Parish.
Obviously, it was more remote than she'd first imagined. And the way Reba looked away
guiltily every time she asked a question about the plantation made Selene decidedly
Hmmm. She'd been picturing a "Gone With The Wind"-style mansion
nestling on a green lawn along a glorious river. Okay, she admitted to herself with a
grimace, she'd probably even been hoping that James would turn into Rhett Butler. Every
Hah! Fat chance!
She looked down the riverbank where James and Fergus, both shirtless, were working
along with the slaves, loading the heavy supplies onto the boats. She had to give James
his due--he worked as hard as his slaves whom he'd released from their chains as soon as
they'd left New Orleans. Sweat glistened on his wide shoulders and muscled arms. Lean and
sinewy, he looked like a man who worked hard for a living, not an indolent planter.
Nope, he definitely was no Clark Gable. Then again, she decided, scrutinizing his
tapering waist and lean hips, he might be better. Especially if he would flash that dimple
once in a while. Selene had to be realistic, though. James wouldn't consider her much of a
Scarlett O'Hara. He always made smart remarks about how bony she felt in his arms. Or that
she was too old to be attractive.
On the other hand, she'd noticed a look of appreciation in his eyes sometimes when
she'd caught him off guard. What if he really did find her attractive? What if he stormed
all her defenses and swept her off her feet, like good old Rhett, carrying her away to his
sensuous bedchamber where he would have his way with her. Selene giggled. Have his way
with me? I'm losing my bloody mind.
Still, for one brief, tantalizing second, Selene's mind wandered and she tried to
imagine the brooding planter in the role of the romantic Rhett Butler. They would be
standing at the base of a wide, curving staircase, arguing....
"You've been teasing me from the day we first met, Selene. Your reckoning
time has finally arrived."
James' wonderfully expressive eyes flickered with sensual sparks of blue ice as
he swept her up in his arms and proceeded to carry her up the stairs.
She fought against his steely arms, as well as her wild attraction to a man she
should not love. To no avail.
She tried not to think of the massive, four-poster bed that awaited their
bodies at the end of the hall. Against her will, she wondered if she would finally
experience all the sexual delights her body craved.
As if reading her thoughts, James' hot lips nuzzled the curve of her neck. He
whispered hoarsely, "Tonight...tonight, my love, I will examine all of your body, all
your secrets. You will beg me for mercy and scream when I give it, finally."
Selene moaned. The tips of her breasts hardened into dull aching pebbles, and
blood rushed madly to all the erotic points on her body that he would soon investigate.
"Why are you standing there, looking like a moon-eyed calf?"
"Huh?" Selene emerged slowly and embarrassingly out of her reverie.
"Are you going to stand there all day like a broom handle?"
Selene jolted to awareness. Reba had left her side and stood next to Fergus near
the boat, talking animatedly. To her embarrassment, James was standing in front of her,
hands on hips, legs widespread. Still under the spell of her romantic fantasy, she felt an
insane inclination to use the hem of her wide skirt to wipe the perspiration which ran
down his face, dripping off his chin, making rivulets through the crisp black hair on his
chest, all the way down to a delicious vee near the low-slung waistband of his trousers.
He made a clucking sound of disgust as his eyes followed the path of her gaze. He
knew exactly what she'd been thinking, Selene realized with dismay. Then, his eyes latched
onto the pointed nipples of her breasts which showed through her blouse.
"That must have been some daydream," he remarked dryly. She put the
fingertips of both hands to her warm cheeks, hoping he would attribute the flush she felt
to the hot sun.
No such luck.
"Your timing is way off, sweetheart, if you have in mind what I think you
"I do not," she protested weakly, "have in mind what you think I
do, I mean." She realized, with chagrin, that her stammering betrayed her guilt even
"You don't lie very well, but, since we're on the subject, I think we should
make one thing clear. I'm not looking for a mistress."
Selene inhaled sharply with outrage. "Why, you overbearing chauvinist!"
He ignored her words and continued, "I might have considered bedding you back
in New Orleans, as unwise as that would have been. But I have too many problems back at
Bayou Noir to handle the entanglements of a mistress. So, please, no games of
The nerve of the guy, thinking she would try to seduce him. As if she knew how!
"You are an arrogant bastard."
"Merci. I try."
"I have absolutely no interest in you...that way."
He slanted a look of disbelief her way.
"And I'll thank you not to try any games of seduction on me,"
Selene countered. "Because I'm going home the first chance I get. I hate this time. I
hate this heat. And, most of all, I hate you." Swiping at the tears rimming her eyes,
she turned her back on him and started to stomp away.
"Je m'en fous." When she didn't react, he repeated in English,
"Frankly, Selene, I don't give a damn."
A chill began in her fingertips, traveled up her arms to her brain, making her
light-headed, then careened all the way down to her toes.
"What...did...you...say?" she asked incredulously, spinning on her heels
to face him.
"Nothing," he snapped and brushed past her on the way to the boat.
Selene stared after him for a long time before she finally murmured on a groan,
"Welcome to my fantasy, Rhett."