Naughty Nights in the Millionaire's Mansion. Robyn Grady
she stroked her chin. ‘Could be he’s still settling in.’
‘Or tomorrow morning I could wake up and—’
Ack. He didn’t want to think about it.
She crossed her arms. The letters G and T met at her cleavage. Not that he was looking. Same way he wasn’t looking when she nibbled her lip and searched for an answer. Her mouth was naturally pink and very full. The highly kissable kind with delicate dimples on either side, as he’d already noted with some consternation earlier today.
‘What if we try a bigger tank?’ she suggested.
Mitch blinked back to the immediate problem. Increased volume equalled decreased risk, which added up to no dead fish in the morning. ‘I like that plan.’
She moved towards the door. ‘Good. I brought one with me. It’s outside on your portico.’
Giving in to a smile, he followed. Clearly Vanessa Craig was intelligent, helpful, prompt as well as prepared. She was also a professional with her own business. Did her profit and loss sheets balance? Of course he was well aware trouble was not a gender specific trait. However, for too long now, it sure-as-Jack seemed that way.
He assisted Vanessa in with the larger tank and a few minutes later it was filled with the neutralising drops doing their work.
Hooking up the filter, she nodded almost shyly at the portrait on the wall. ‘Is that your family?’
His chest constricted with a familiar sense of fondness tinged with regret. The photo featured his tall, lean father sitting on a red chaise longue surrounded by his wife, their four girls and only son.
His hand slid along the rim of the tank. ‘My father passed away not long after that shot was taken.’ Only days before Mitch’s fifteenth birthday.
When she flicked on the filter, her hand accidentally brushed his. His heartbeat kicked as a live current spiralled up the cords of his arm to his shoulder, much the same heat-generating sensation that had claimed him this afternoon when they’d touched. Instantaneous and perilously pleasant.
Their eyes met—hers filled with perception as well as surprise before she dropped her gaze and edged a little away. ‘I’m sorry…about your dad.’
Setting his thoughts straight, Mitch collected his trusty net. ‘He was a good but old-fashioned man. A firm believer in tough love.’
Her mouth thinned. ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child?’
‘Not at all. But, in our house, actions had consequences.’ How many talks about responsibility and putting those you cared about before yourself had he listened to? ‘We were loved, but you didn’t get away with much. In return, he gave us his undivided attention when we needed it.’
Her green eyes took on a sheen, reminding him of the leaves on the pavement this morning when he’d decided to get himself that pet.
‘You must all miss him very much,’ Vanessa said.
He nodded. Every day.
What would his father have done about the current family dilemma? Last night, Cynthia, the youngest at twenty-two, had announced her engagement to the sleaze ball of all time. Their showboating mother had crowed with joy, which had surprised him. Sleaze Ball might be a doctor but he was also a notorious gambler.
How on earth could he protect people who jumped feet first into disaster, tittering prettily as they fell into the abyss?
Groaning, he swirled the new water with the net.
Guess he’d sort something out. Or maybe he wouldn’t; maybe this time would be the time he let the women sort it out themselves. He couldn’t very well tell his sister who to marry, though he’d certainly like to tell her who not to.
Mitch stole a glance at his comely visitor as a gentle reflection from the water danced over her face. Did Vanessa Craig hold high expectations on the business front, or was she focused more on personal matters, like landing a good catch? Seemed his sisters could think of little other than having babies. What was the hurry? He was in no hurry at all.
He set the net down. ‘What about you?’
Her bright eyes blinked up from the water. ‘What about me?’
‘Family. You didn’t say whether yours live nearby.’
Her slender shoulders went up, then down. ‘I don’t have a family.’
section_insertedcopyright--num_1--seq_18? The idea was alien. And, in some ways, wickedly appealing. No demands. No expectations. No interruptions. ‘No one at all?’
She trailed a damp hand down her jeans, leaving a streak on her shapely denim thigh. ‘I have an aunt. As well as great friends and my animals—’ she flashed an optimist’s smile ‘—so life’s full.’
Was that a subtle hint that she wasn’t interested in romance? Well, ditto…even if his growing curiosity and flexing libido refuted that statement. There was something about Vanessa Craig—something mesmerising calling to him from beyond those bewitching green eyes.
She checked her large-faced watch, took the net and scooped Kami up to ease him into his new watery home. As his golden scales darted around the relocated trident, Mitch shot out a relieved breath. ‘He looks happier already.’
‘Hopefully that should do the trick.’
‘After all that exercise, he should sleep well.’ Which was good news for them both; he had some important paperwork to get through tonight.
‘Fish don’t sleep,’ she pointed out. ‘They slow their metabolism and rest.’ She knelt down to gather the replacement tank’s packaging. ‘Dolphins sleep, of course,’ she went on. ‘But they’re mammals. They keep one side of their brain awake while the other half dozes.’
Fascinated, he dropped onto his haunches too. He’d known dolphins weren’t fish, but, ‘They’re awake while they sleep?’
Clearly he was behind in his general knowledge. Maybe he should subscribe to the Animal channel. Or he could cut his more primal instincts some slack and become better acquainted with this expert. Not as if he was taking the plunge and asking her out. He was simply interested in getting to know her mind a little better.
He collected some discarded bubble wrap. ‘Did you study marine biology?’
‘Zoology. And business as well as some Greek mythology.’ Sweeping up more packaging, she tilted her head at him and shimmering hair fell like a silky waterfall from behind her shoulder. ‘Did you know that the ancient Greeks believed dolphins were once human? There’s a school of thought that says Poseidon was human once too.’
Still crouching, he leant a little closer. The sound of her voice was melodic…soothing. ‘Is that right?’
‘The more traditional myth says he was one of the supreme Olympian gods,’ she continued, grabbing more packaging. ‘When Creation was divided between the gods, Hades got to rule the underworld, Zeus dominated the skies, and Poseidon became lord of the water, both fresh and salt. His son, Triton, was half human, half fish.’
Engrossed, Mitch blindly reached for more bubble wrap while she reached the same way. Their hands touched. That sizzle flashed again and this time sparked and caught light. But while the sexual awareness was through the roof, the sense of awkwardness had all but vanished.
They shared a brief what if smile, then she pushed to her feet.
He wanted to hear more. ‘So the mermaid legend started with the Greeks?’
She nodded. ‘But originally mermaids were called sirens, fabled to be half woman, half bird. They had beautiful voices they used to lure sailors and their ships onto the rocks. If a ship got away, the siren would have to throw herself into the sea.’