Read Her Heart's Desire Online

Authors: Lisa Watson

Her Heart's Desire (10 page)

Tiffany went across the hall into the dining room. The huge wood table and chairs looked like they were from another century. Down the hall, she saw a circular room with windows surrounding it on three sides, low bookshelves and an oval table and decorative rug in the middle of the room.

“The library, I presume?”

“Yep. This is where Cole and I did most of our homework.”

The family room had a huge flat-panel screen on the wall with another fireplace and leather furniture. It was homey, and Tiffany could imagine many a family gathering spent there. She picked up one of the pictures sitting on a table. It was a family portrait. Ivan and Cole’s mother was a well-tanned woman with strawberry-blond hair and the same amber eyes that Ivan had. Their father was tall, with a mocha-brown complexion and kind brown eyes. He exuded confidence and strength, just like Ivan. They were a good-looking family.

She set the portrait down. A lump formed in her throat. Her parents’ home also had a myriad of family portraits, all of them filled with smiles. From the outside looking in, her family appeared happy and her parents in love.

“All an illusion,” she whispered.

“What?”

Startled, she turned to Ivan, forcing the shadows away.

“Hey, what’s the matter?”

“Nothing. I’m fine.”

Ivan placed a hand at her chin and titled her face up to meet his. “If you’re fine, why did you look so sad a moment ago?”

Did anything get past him? Tiffany tried again. “No reason. You have a lovely family, Ivan.”

Ivan observed her momentarily before he said, “Wait till you meet them. Especially my grandmother—but I have to warn you. She has no filter. You don’t know what she’ll say at any given moment.”

“She sounds like another matriarch we know.”

“That’s probably why I like Norma Jean so much,” Ivan concluded.

Tiffany encouraged him to continue the tour. He showed her the galley-style kitchen. While the other rooms held a hint of old European tradition, the kitchen was ultramodern—it had granite countertops, stainless-steel commercial-grade appliances and all the latest kitchen gadgets. Ivan showed her the half bath that he and his brother had been working on.

“The basement has a guest suite, laundry and exercise rooms, and another full bath. We’ll skip that and go upstairs.”

Tiffany peeked into a small office right off the second-floor landing, and then saw his parents’ master suite and Cole’s room. Each room had a bathroom en suite.

Ivan’s bedroom was pale gray with a white tray ceiling. His furniture was black and his bedding bright white, with a rich gray comforter and decorative pillows sprawled across it. He had a sitting area and an amazing view of the well-manicured backyard and stone patio.

“This suits you perfectly,” she replied, looking around his room.

“Thank you, but I can’t take all the credit. My mother redesigned it while I was out of the country. Personally, I think she did it on purpose,” he added. “Come on, Cole wants to say hello before he leaves.”

“He won’t be here?”

Ivan shook his head. “He’s got a date, and I doubt he’ll be back till some ungodly hour in the morning.”

“You don’t say?” She grinned.

He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her. “Have I told you how sexy you look in that damned backless dress?”

“It’s not backless,” she protested. “It’s just a little revealing.”

“I’d love to reveal a lot more,” he ground out. “Let’s go before I forget I have a brother.”

They found Cole in the basement working out.

“Good to see you again, Tiffany. I’d hug you, but I’m way too sweaty.”

“No worries, I’ll get two next time,” Tiffany told him.

Cole turned to Ivan. “Has she met GiGi?”

“Not yet.”

Tiffany spun around. “Why?”

“Cut it out,” Ivan said. “You’re going to make Tiffany nervous.”

A wicked smile etched Cole’s face. “So, what dirt would you like me to dish about my big brother?”

“Hmm...is he always so serious? Or does he cut loose when nobody’s looking?”

“Are you kidding? Ivan wouldn’t know how to relax if it came in a bottle and was approved by the FDA.”

“I relax plenty,” he protested.

“Uh-huh. Unconscious relaxing doesn’t count, big brother.”

“Don’t mind chatterbox here.” He wrapped an arm around her. “Come on, I’ve got a great dinner that’ll be ready in fifteen minutes.”

Ivan glared at his brother from behind Tiffany’s back, but Cole just waved.

When they reached the kitchen, Tiffany looked at the stove top, then at Ivan.

“I thought you said dinner would be ready in fifteen minutes? I didn’t smell anything when we came in. Is it in the oven, or do we need to warm something up?”

“Nope.”

Just then the doorbell rang. Ivan winked. “Dinner’s ready.”

Tiffany couldn’t contain her laughter. “Well, in that case, let’s eat.”

When he returned, he carried several large bags. He set them on the counter and then retrieved dinnerware, place settings and glasses.

“Would you like to eat inside, or on the patio?”

“It doesn’t look like we’re getting rain after all, so I vote for outside.”

He headed for the door. “Whatever my lady wants, she gets.”

They both made two trips carrying what was needed for their meal. Tiffany arranged the table while Ivan brought out the wine bottle he’d chilled, and glasses. Tiffany arranged the food on their plates, and Ivan lit candles and turned on the stereo system. Soft music drifted through the outdoor speakers. By the time it was done, the sunlight was waning.

They both sat down and admired their handiwork.

“I think we work well together,” she said proudly.

“The last time we were together was proof of that.”

She blushed, remembering their interrupted lovemaking session. “I thought it was, too.”

They made a toast and began eating.

“This is delicious,” she said after taking a bite of food. “Where did you get it?”

“My parents are friends with a local chef. I asked him to provide something spectacular.”

Tiffany stared down at her roasted rack of lamb with a red-wine reduction sauce, asparagus and herb-roasted baby potatoes. “I’d say he knocked it out of the park.”

While they were eating, Cole stuck his head out the patio door.

“A driver from Nigel’s just dropped off your dessert. I’m gone. Good seeing you, Tiffany. Don’t be a stranger.”

“Thanks, Cole.” She turned to Ivan. “I don’t plan to be.”

Chapter 13

“D
o you always do things on such a grand scale?”

Ivan grinned. “Only when I’m...motivated.” He took her hand and spun her around so that her back was toward him. “What about you? This dress is making a heck of a statement, too.”

Tiffany turned back around. “I was...motivated.”

After dinner they cleaned up and put the leftovers away. They camped out on the couch and watched a movie. Halfway through, Ivan said, “Would you like your dessert now?”

“Definitely.”

She sat up, but he stopped her.

“I’ll get it, you relax.”

“If I relax any more, I’ll be asleep. You sit, and I’ll go. That’s an order,” she added for good measure.

He looked surprised. “Yes, ma’am.”

Tiffany returned with a tray holding two small plates and two glasses of milk. She set it on the table and handed him a plate and fork.

“I see you found everything okay.”

“I’m very good at foraging.”

Ivan chuckled. “Thank you. How’d you know I like milk with my cake?”

“Just a calculated guess.” She took a bite of the fruit torte, and then closed her eyes to savor the taste.

“Good call,” he told her after sampling his dessert.

“You, too. This cake is delicious.”

When they were done, Tiffany stretched out against him. It felt good to have his arm draped around her shoulders. It reminded her that she missed having this connection with a man. It wasn’t long before she fell asleep.

“Hey,” Ivan whispered into her ear some time later. “Wake up, sleepyhead. Movie’s over.”

“It is?” she said groggily. “Darn, I was looking forward to the end.”

“Don’t worry, I recorded it for you.”

Ivan got up and helped her to her feet. Without any shoes on, Tiffany came to his chest. She tilted her head back.

“This has been such a great evening, Ivan. It’s hard to believe that this time tomorrow, you’ll be gone.”

“I’ll be back before you know it.”

Tiffany wrapped her arms around the wide expanse of his chest and rested her face against him. She could feel his heart beating against her temple. “You’ll be gone...I’ll definitely know it.”

Tiffany thought about the brief time they had known each other. It had been over a month now, but it felt much longer. “Ivan, I don’t want this night to end.”

His touched the side of her face. “It doesn’t have to. Stay with me.”

She gazed up at him. He was so appealing to her.

“Hey,” he said when she didn’t answer. “You can sleep in the guest room if you’d prefer not to sleep in my bed. There’s no pressure, Tiff. I’m fine with whatever you decide. I just want you here with me.”

“I know you’d never pressure me. I want to spend as much time as I can with you before you go.”

He picked her up so that she was eye level with him. “Yeah?”

“Yes. And I’m not sleeping in the guest room,” she clarified. “Unless that’s where you’ll be.”

He set her on her feet. Ivan reached up and tilted her head to the side to kiss the pulse at her neck. Tiffany leaned into the embrace. “Are you ready to go up?”

Tiffany knew there was a lot more entwined in that question than mere sleeping arrangements. He was asking her to make love to him. “Yes,” she told him. “I’m definitely ready.”

He turned the television off and left the dishes right where they were.

When they reached the base of the stairs, he picked her up. She let out a gasp. Ivan ran up the stairs with her like he did it every day. When he got to his room, he went in and kicked the door shut with his foot, then set her down.

“You’re so beautiful.”

She beamed at his compliment. “I’ve got a confession to make.”

His eyebrows rose higher. “Do tell.”

“When I first saw you, I had to remind myself to breathe.”

With a steady hand, Ivan touched the silky outline of her hip and then moved around to follow the shape of her rear end. His fingers inched higher to trace the cutout at the back of her dress before slipping around the front to sketch her right breast. His eyes never left her face. “I know the feeling.”

Tiffany quivered from the emotions his touch evoked. She felt like her body jolted awake under his ministrations. It felt as if she had been asleep all her adult life, and only now, with Ivan, had she begun to blossom. It was intoxicating. He was intoxicating.

She ran a hand up his shirt to the open area at the top. She caressed his chest before undoing the buttons one by one. When she finished, Tiffany slid the shirt off of him. It landed in a heap behind him.

“My turn.”

She allowed her hands to roam over the broad expanse of his chest. She was as thorough as he was in his study. Ivan remained completely still while she explored him.

Tiffany noticed several scars that ran along his ribs, stomach and left pectoral. Tiffany solemnly traced them with her fingers, and then bent down to kiss each one.

Ivan released a harsh breath. “God, Tiff.”

“You like that?” she asked, tickling him with her tongue.

There was a clap of thunder that sounded outside his bedroom window.

She moved her lips lower, teasing his stomach, and then the skin below his navel as she went. She unzipped his pants and then licked a path downward, blowing warm trails of air as she went. With steady hands, Tiffany eased his pants down his large, muscled legs. When they hit the floor, he stepped out of them.

She touched him through the cotton boxer briefs he was wearing, reveling in the feel of his warm, firm flesh. When she stroked him, a low moan escaped his lips.

“What do you want me to do next?” she whispered.

A boom broke through the silence and shook the windows.

“Looks like a storm’s coming,” she breathed against his stomach.

“It won’t come close to matching the one in here,” he replied in a firm voice.

Now it was Ivan’s turn to explore. He knelt down and grasped the hem of her dress. As he raised it higher, his fingers grazed her skin along the way. He caressed Tiffany’s ankles, knees, thighs, waist and then her upper torso.

“As delectable as this looks, I’d prefer to see what’s underneath it.”

He eased the dress up over her head and then moved to put it on a chair. Tiffany shook her head and took it from him. She dropped it on the floor next to his shirt.

“I don’t want you going anywhere,” she said boldly.

Ivan stepped back to take in the entire picture of her wearing black thong panties and nothing else.

“Do you know how sexy you are?”

She took a good look at him. It was there in his eyes. In the controlled strength he held at bay like a panther waiting to strike. Finally, Tiffany could
see
how much he desired her. He held nothing back. It was as potent a feeling as if she had been injected with an aphrodisiac.

Tiffany gazed into his eyes. “You just told me.”

Suddenly, he gripped her shoulders and pulled her in to kiss him in one motion.

“I’m trying to remain a gentleman, but it’s getting harder by the minute. All I want to do is ravage you.”

She bit his lower lip before slipping her hand inside the waistband of his briefs. “I think I’d prefer your not-so-gentlemanly side right about now.”

* * *

Ivan was having a hell of a time concentrating on anything except how good Tiffany’s lips felt on his body, and the havoc her fingers worked on his manhood. It had been his intention to hold off until he returned from Italy before making Tiffany his. That had been the goal, but even with rigorous discipline, military background and good intentions, Ivan was not strong enough to stop now. He heard rain pelting the windows and another loud clap of thunder, but unless a tornado was imminent, he wasn’t going to worry about it. Right now his little vixen was driving him crazy, and he was going to make the most of it.

With a Herculean effort, he stayed her hand.

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing, sweetheart. I couldn’t be happier, believe me, but there are other things I’ve been aching to do.”

Ivan picked her up and placed her in the center of his king-size bed. There was no greater picture than Tiffany splayed across his bed, almost naked, and waiting for him with a look of complete trust and desire.

“You have too many clothes on,” he said thickly.

Tiffany eyed him brazenly. “So do you.”

Ivan stripped out of his boxer briefs and knelt on the bed in front of her. He took his time sliding her panties down over her hips, and then her legs. He threw them behind him with great flourish. Tiffany giggled. Her laughter faded when Ivan reached up to stroke her fully. “You don’t know how much I’ve wanted to pick up where we left off.”

Ivan made good on his promise of learning what drove Tiffany wild. He took his time discovering the many nuances of her body. After exploring and touching her in various places, he cued in to her sensitive spots and gave them his complete attention. It wasn’t long before Tiffany sat up on her elbows.

“Ivan, I can’t wait anymore. I want you inside me now.”

He retrieved a condom out of his nightstand drawer, and after putting it on, he settled over her.

“Relax, sweetheart. You’re tense.”

“Am I? Sorry. The anticipation is driving me crazy.”

“I know the feeling. I just don’t want to hurt you.”

Tiffany took a few deep breaths when she felt him easing inside her.

“Are you okay?” he asked in a strained voice.

“I’m fine,” she assured him.

When Ivan pushed forward, Tiffany sucked in her breath. She felt like smiling in pure satisfaction as she felt her muscles give way to accommodate his size. With purposeful strides, he set the pace and she held on to his shoulders to catch the rhythm. For Tiffany, there were no words to describe what it felt like to finally be making love with Ivan. No daydreams or fantasies could ever match the real thing. He coaxed her body to reach heights it never had before.

A harmonious concert played out between her body, mind and heart, and for Tiffany, it was epic. Whatever she could reach, she explored. When she stuck her tongue in his ear, he almost came off the bed.

“Baby, you do that again, and this roller coaster will be over before we get to the first loopty-loop.”

She burst out laughing. “Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize, it felt good—just a little too good.”

Later, Ivan tensed, and then he cursed.

Tiffany wasn’t close yet, but she found out seconds later that with Ivan, her not climaxing wasn’t an option. He rolled her over so that she was on top. She steadied herself by placing her hands on his chest. He held her waist and set a faster tempo. Her body reacted instantly.

“Ivan,” she gasped.

He leaned up and held her tight. Tiffany locked her legs around his waist.

“Time to let go, sweetheart.”

His gentle command was enough for her to do just that. Tiffany became engulfed in a sea so sweet, she never wanted it to end. A few seconds later, Ivan buried his face against her neck and let himself get caught up in the wave, too.

They stilled moments later before collapsing against the sheets. Outside, another clap of thunder sounded overhead.

A few minutes later, Ivan ran a hand over Tiffany’s backside.

“Are you alive?”

She murmured into his neck. “Mmm-hmm. You?”

“Sort of,” he replied. Ivan sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Tiffany protested the lack of warmth.

“Where are you going?”

“To the bathroom. Come on,” he said. “Let’s take a shower.”

Tiffany dragged herself up, and he helped her off the bed. “Okay, but then I’m getting back in this bed, and I’m going to sleep for ten hours.”

“That’s a deal,” he promised her.

Ivan turned on the shower and adjusted the temperature. He got in first before helping her into the hot spray. Ivan had a rain showerhead that cascaded water over them.

“I’ve never used one of these before,” she told him, and instantly perked up. “This is neat.”

“Glad you like it. Now come here.”

Ivan washed Tiffany’s back. She returned the favor when he was done, and then they washed each other. They got out and towel-dried off before returning to bed.

They were entwined in each other’s arms a while before Tiffany said, “Ivan?”

“Yeah, sweetheart.”

“Did I hear thunder earlier?”

He chuckled. “Yes, you did. It stormed earlier.”

She yawned. “Hmm...I didn’t notice.”

“Then my mission is complete,” Ivan teased.

“So is mine,” she said sleepily.

“Really? What mission was that?”

“Operation Seduction...did it work?”

His chest shook with mirth. He kissed her shoulder. “I’d say you nailed it, babe.”

* * *

Tiffany awoke slightly disoriented. It was still dark outside. After a moment, she remembered where she was.
Ivan’s house
. She turned over and reached for him. Her hand connected with air. “Ivan?” she called out.

“Hey,” she heard him say from across the room.

She sat up. “Hi. What are you doing?”

“I wasn’t sleepy, so I figured I’d read over my prep work for the new client.”

Tiffany yawned. She had slept well curled up next to him in his massive bed. A clap of thunder sounded outside, followed by the sound of heavy rain. “What time is it?”

“Zero two hundred.”

“Oh. Are you finished?”

“I can be.”

“Good. Can you come back to bed?”

Ivan set his work down, and then sauntered over to the bed and climbed in. He gathered Tiffany up in his arms. “Hey, beautiful. I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“No,” she said. “Not exactly.”

“What does that mean?”

“That you didn’t wake me per se, but you did in my dream—it was pretty hot.”

“Is that so?” Ivan rolled Tiffany under him. He kissed her neck and grinned down at her with purpose in his eyes. “Let’s see if I can give that dream of yours some competition.”

* * *

This time, when Tiffany awoke hours later, Ivan wasn’t in the room. She stretched languorously. His bed was extremely comfortable, and between it and his massive body, and being spent from lovemaking, she had slept like the dead. Reluctantly, Tiffany got up. A pile of clothes and a note were at the end of the bed. She opened it and saw Ivan’s bold handwriting and three words on the page.
In the kitchen
.

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