Sweet Persuasion(8)

By: Maya Banks



“Mr. Roche will receive you in here,” the maitre d’ said with a bow as he opened the door to an opulent private dining room.

She walked in on trembling legs and saw a man rise from his seat at a table set for two. Good Lord but the man was gorgeous. He screamed wealth and breeding from the tips of his Italian loafers to the top of his meticulously groomed hair.

“Serena,” he greeted as he came to meet her halfway. “I’m so glad you could join me.”

He tucked her hand under his arm and guided her to her seat. It was all she could do not to gape as she settled into the comfortable chair.

First rule of business: Never let the opponent realize his advantage.

She straightened and shook off the awe he inspired. Okay, maybe it wasn’t awe as much as a huge bolt of unadulterated lust.

Focus, Serena. For God’s sake.

Reclaiming her poise, she relaxed gracefully in her seat as a waiter poured wine into her glass.

“I hoped you’d join me for a glass of wine since you aren’t driving. I hope I wasn’t too presumptuous in choosing the label or having the waiter pour you a taste.”

“It’s fine,” she said easily. “I love wine.”

“Excellent.”

He gestured once before taking his seat across from her, and the waiter produced two menus.

“I hope you’re hungry,” Damon remarked. “The food here is quite superb.”

“I am, actually,” she admitted. Her nerves had prevented her from eating much the day before. “This was all quite unnecessary, Mr. Roche,” she said as she swept her hand around the room. “I got the impression you were quite busy, and my request is … unimportant.”

“Please call me Damon,” he said with a smile. “And it was no trouble at all. As for the matter you wish to discuss with me, perhaps we should talk about it before you dismiss it so readily.”

She took a sip of her wine as she studied the menu. She’d hoped he’d viewed her phone call as an irritation and would embrace her eagerness to drop it entirely, but he was quite insistent that she relate why she had called. It was all she could do not to let go of a huge sigh.

“Perhaps we should order first,” Damon suggested.

“I’ve decided if you’re ready,” she said as she laid aside her menu.

Again Damon motioned, and the waiter appeared. Serena placed her order and watched Damon smile his approval. A giddy little tingle shot down her spine. Then she frowned. Why the hell should it matter if he approved of her choice?

“I’ll have the same,” Damon said as he handed his menu back to the waiter.

The waiter collected hers as well, then backed away from the table. As soon as he disappeared, Damon turned his gaze on her. His warm brown eyes were appraising as they flickered with interest. He was sizing her up every bit as much as she was him.

“So what did you wish to discuss with me, Serena?”

She took another sip of the wine before setting her glass down. “Was your research very detailed?” she asked. “How much did you discover about me before you called?”

His lips quirked into a half smile. “You’re in the business of fulfilling fantasies. Very admirable. Your clients speak highly of you.”

“How the hell would you know what my clients have to say?” she asked sharply.

“The internet is a wonderful tool. Amazing what will turn up in a Google search.”

“I wouldn’t know,” she muttered. “I’m not in the habit of searching for myself using Google.”

“So what can I do for you?” he prompted. “Perhaps a donation for the clients you waive charges for?”

Her cheeks tightened in mortification. “No! I don’t ask for donations. This isn’t about money. I wouldn’t—”

Damon held up a hand to interrupt her. “I’m sorry. I had no desire to offend you. Let’s start over. Why don’t you tell me what you wanted to discuss?”

Serena squared her shoulders and bolstered her flagging courage. “I have a client whose fantasy is a bit different from my usual requests.”

He remained silent as he waited for her to continue.

“Most of my clients want an experience, something they’ve dreamed about but feel they’ll never accomplish on their own. I think perhaps in this case, it’s more a lack of knowledge rather than an inability to achieve satisfaction.”

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