Read His Christmas Virgin Online

Authors: Carole Mortimer

His Christmas Virgin (10 page)

BOOK: His Christmas Virgin
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Jonas's mouth twisted. ‘The perfect Christmas indeed.'

Mac eyed him ruefully. ‘To me it is, yes.'

Jonas reached out and placed his hand over hers as it rested on the tabletop. ‘I wasn't mocking you, Mac,' he said gruffly.

‘No?'

Strangely enough, no… It was all too easy for Jonas to envisage the Christmas Mac described so warmly. The sort of Christmas that many families strived for and never actually experienced. The sort of Christmas Jonas had never had. And never would have.

‘There are no arguments?' he prompted.

Her eyes glowed with laughter. ‘Usually only over who's going to pull the wishbone after we've eaten our Christmas lunch!'

His fingers curled about hers. ‘It sounds wonderful.'

Mac was very aware of the air of intimacy that now surrounded the two of them. But it was a different type of intimacy from a physical one. This intimacy was warm and enveloping. Dangerous…

She removed her hand purposefully from beneath Jonas's to pick up her fork. ‘I'm sure there must have been arguments; you can't put eight or ten disparate people in a house together for four or five days without there being the odd disagreement. I've obviously just chosen to forget them.' She grimaced.

Jonas looked across at her with enigmatic blue eyes.
‘You don't have to make excuses for your own happy childhood, Mac.'

‘I wasn't—'

‘Weren't you?' he rasped.

Yes, she supposed she had been. Because Jonas's childhood had borne absolutely no resemblance to her own. Because, although he wouldn't thank her for it in the slightest, her heart ached for him. ‘If you haven't made other plans yet, perhaps you would like to—' Mac broke off abruptly, her cheeks warming as she realised how utterly ridiculous she was being.

Jonas eyed her warily. ‘Please tell me you weren't about to invite me to spend Christmas with you and your family in Devon.'

That was exactly what Mac had been about to do! Impulsively. Stupidly! Of course Jonas didn't want to spend Christmas with her, let alone the rest of her family; with half a dozen strangers there, as well as Mac herself, he would necessarily have to be polite to everyone for the duration of his stay.

Her cheeks were now positively burning with embarrassment. ‘I think I feel that indigestion coming on!'

Jonas studied Mac through narrowed lids, knowing by her evasiveness that she
had
been about to invite him to spend Christmas with her and her family. Why? Because she actually wanted to spend Christmas with him? Or because she felt sorry for him and just couldn't bear the thought of anyone—even him—spending Christmas alone?

His mouth thinned. ‘I don't recall ever saying that I'm
alone
when I spend my Christmases sunbathing on those golden sandy beaches.'

‘No, you didn't, did you?' The colour had left Mac's cheeks as quickly as it had warmed them, her eyes
a huge and haunted grey as she gave a moue of self-disgust. ‘How naïve of me.'

Jonas knew that he had deliberately hit out at her because pity was the last thing he wanted from her. From anyone. Damn it, he was successful and rich and could afford to do anything he wanted to do. He had never met refusal from any woman he'd shown an interest in taking to his bed. All the things he had decided he wanted out of life years ago when he left university so determined to succeed he had achieved.

Then why did just being with Mac like this, talking with her, make him just as aware of all the things he
didn't
have in his life?

Things like having someone to come home to every night. The same someone. To share things with. To laugh with. To make love with.

‘Don't knock it until you've tried it,' Jonas drawled. ‘In fact, why don't you consider giving the traditional family Christmas a miss this year and come away with me instead?' he asked as he looked at her over the top of his wine glass before lifting it and taking a deep swallow of the ruby-red liquid.

Mac stared at Jonas, absolutely incredulous that he appeared to be asking her to go away with him for Christmas.

CHAPTER TEN

W
AS
Jonas serious about his invitation? Or was he just playing with her, already knowing from her earlier remarks exactly what her answer would be?

One look at the unmistakable mockery on his ruggedly handsome face and Mac knew that was exactly what he was doing.

She stood up. ‘It would serve you right if I said yes!' she snapped as she picked up her glass of wine and moved across the room to stand beside the Christmas tree.

‘Try me,' Jonas invited as he relaxed back in his chair to look across at her thoughtfully. ‘I assure you, if you said yes then I would book two first-class seats on a flight that would allow us to arrive in Barbados on Christmas Eve,' he promised huskily.

Mac looked at him scornfully. ‘That's so easy to say when you knew before you even asked that I would refuse.'

‘Did I?' He stood up to slowly cross the room, his piercing blue gaze easily holding hers captive as he came to a halt only inches away from her.

Mac stared up at him, her breathing somehow feeling constricted. She moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue. ‘I had already told you that I couldn't imagine
spending Christmas anywhere but at home with my parents.'

Jonas's dark gaze was fixed on those moist and slightly parted lips. ‘I'm curious to know what your answer would have been if that family Christmas was taken out of the equation?'

Mac gave a firm shake of her head. ‘I hate even the idea of spending Christmas on a beach.'

Jonas had no idea why he was even pursuing this conversation. Except perhaps that he wanted to know if Mac's invitation for him to spend Christmas with her family had been out of the pity he suspected it was, or something else… ‘What if I were to suggest we went to a ski resort instead of a beach?'

She smiled slightly. ‘I can't ski.'

‘I don't recall saying anything about the two of us actually going skiing. I seriously doubt I would have any desire to leave our bedroom once we got there,' Jonas admitted wickedly.

Once again her cheeks coloured with that becoming blush. ‘Wouldn't that rather defeat the object?'

He gave a shrug. ‘Surely that would depend on what the objective was?'

Mac looked up at him and frowned. ‘I believe we had this conversation three days ago, Jonas. At which time, I believe you made it
more
than clear that you're not at all interested in becoming my first lover.'

He hadn't been. He still wasn't. Except he had realised these last three days that he didn't like the thought of some other man being Mac's first lover either! ‘Maybe I've changed my mind,' he replied guardedly.

‘And maybe you just enjoying playing games with me,' Mac said knowingly.

‘Mac, I haven't even begun to play games with you
yet!' he teased. Although whether that teasing was directed at her or himself, Jonas wasn't sure…

He wanted to make love with this woman. He actually wanted it so badly he could taste it. Taste
her
.

Dear God, there were so many ways he could make love to this woman without actually taking her virginity. So many ways he could give her incredible pleasure. And she could give him that same pleasure in return.

But would it be enough to sate the ever-rising hunger inside him? Would touching Mac, caressing her, making love to her but never actually taking her, being inside her, ever be enough for him? Did he really have that much self-control?

Where she was concerned? Somehow Jonas doubted it! The only reason they hadn't already become lovers when she had been at his apartment was because of the realisation of the seemingly insurmountable barrier of her virginity.

Jonas moved away abruptly. ‘You're right, this conversation is pointless. Christmas is still two weeks away—'

‘And we may not even be talking to each other again by then!' Mac put in with black humour.

‘Probably not,' he admitted. ‘But even if we are, we still both know that you will be spending Christmas in Devon with your family and I will be sitting on a beach somewhere improving my tan.'

Mac didn't think that Jonas's tan needed improving; his skin was already a deep gold. And from the calluses on his hands and those defined muscles in his shoulders and chest, she didn't think that tan had been acquired sitting on a beach anywhere!

In fact, if she had arrived home a little later than she had this morning, then she was pretty sure that she
would have found Jonas up that metal tower outside her home beside Ben and Jerry as he helped to paint over the graffiti. Jonas might now be rich and powerful, the owner of his own company for some years rather than an employee, but his rugged appearance and weather-hewn features were testament to the fact that he still enjoyed getting his hands dirty occasionally.

‘I was totally sincere in my invitation for you to spend Christmas with my family, Jonas,' she said huskily.

His eyes were a hard and mocking blue. ‘And what do you think your family would have made of you bringing a man home for the holidays?'

Mac's cheeks warmed as she easily imagined her father's teasing, and the whispered speculation of her aged aunts, if Jonas had accepted her invitation and accompanied her to Devon. ‘Oh.' She grimaced. ‘I hadn't really thought of that.'

‘Exactly,' Jonas said, drinking the last of his wine before placing the empty glass on the table. ‘It's probably time I was going.'

Mac blinked. ‘It's still early.'

As far as Jonas was concerned, it was seriously bordering on being too late!

She looked so damned beautiful, so desirable with the coloured lights on the tree reflected in the glossy curtain of her long black hair, her eyes a deep and misty grey, her skin like a warm peach, and her lips—dear heaven, those full and pouting lips!

Jonas wanted to take those lips with his own, devour them, to kiss her and explore the hot temptation of her mouth until she felt the same need he did. If he didn't leave here soon, in the next few minutes, he wasn't going to be able to withstand that temptation at all.

‘You didn't get to see my studio earlier; would you like to see it now?'

Jonas was jolted out of that rising fiery haze of desire to focus on Mac. ‘Sorry…?'

She shrugged narrow shoulders. ‘Obviously the studio is pretty empty at the moment with most of my recent work being at the exhibition, but you're welcome to take a look. If you would like to,' she added almost shyly.

Did he want to do that? He had evaded taking up the invitation earlier because he didn't want to find himself being drawn into Mac's world any more than he already was. To see where she had created the amazing paintings like the ones he had seen at the Lyndwood Gallery the previous week, and to feel himself being pulled even deeper into the intimacy of Mac's life.

He still wanted to avoid doing that, didn't he?

‘I would like to,' Jonas instead heard himself accept gruffly.

Mac smiled. ‘It's just up the spiral staircase.' She placed her glass down next to Jonas's on the table before turning to lead the way.

Jonas reached out and grasped her arm to look down searchingly into her face, sure by the way she avoided meeting his gaze, that she was already regretting having made the invitation. ‘Don't take me up there if you would rather not, Mac…'

‘I—no, it's fine,' she reassured him, not really sure that it
was
fine, but unwilling for Jonas to leave just yet.

Because she could sense the air of finality about him now and she had the feeling that once he left this time he would ensure that it really was the last time she saw him.

Yet wasn't that what she wanted? Didn't she want
Jonas out of her life? To never have to see and deal with this disturbing man ever again?

‘It will only take a few minutes,' she told him briskly as she pulled out of his grasp and walked over and switched on the light overhead. She'd rather take him up the spiral staircase to her studio than answer any of her own soul-searching questions.

But she was completely aware of Jonas, every step of the way, as he followed behind her up that metal staircase…

Whatever he had been expecting Mac's studio to look like, after the warmth and colour of the living area below, it certainly wasn't the starkness of the pale cream colour-wash on the three bare brick walls. Or the fourth wall that faced towards the river completely glass, the ceiling also made up of glass panels, and revealing the clear star-lit sky overhead. The only furniture in the room was an old and faded chaise against one wall and a daybed beside another.

Mac's easel was set up near the huge glass window, and she strolled across the room to lightly lay a cover over the painting she was currently working on. ‘I never allow people to see my work before it's completed,' she explained ruefully at Jonas's questioning look.

The surroundings weren't quite ‘starving in a garret', but the studio was much more basic than Jonas had been expecting after the vividness of colours on the floor below. ‘You prefer not to have any outside distractions when you're working,' he realised softly.

Mac turned to him with wide eyes. ‘No…'

She hadn't expected him to have that insight, Jonas realised, wondering if anyone else had ever really understood how and why she worked in the surroundings she did. Surroundings that were unique in the way Mac
had converted this warehouse to her own individual needs.

Another reason she refused to sell the warehouse to Buchanan Construction. The main reason probably; most of Mac's emotional links to her grandfather would be inside her rather than consisting of bricks and mortar.

This last realisation put Jonas in an untenable position.

Had she done that deliberately?

His mouth thinned as he turned to look at Mac. ‘You brought me up here for a purpose.'

Mac briefly thought of denying it, and then thought better of it as she recognised the steely glitter in Jonas's eyes. ‘I'm not sure I could work anywhere else,' she answered truthfully.

‘Have you ever tried?' he gritted.

‘No. But—' She moved her shoulders in an uncomfortable shrug. ‘I just thought it might help if you understood I'm not just being bloody-minded by refusing to sell my home and my studio to you.'

‘You thought by showing me this that I would back off,' Jonas guessed. ‘I don't enjoy being manipulated, Mac,' he said coolly.

She frowned. ‘I wasn't—'

‘Yes, you were, damn you!' he burst out, suddenly explosive in his anger, taking the two long strides that brought him to within touching distance of her. ‘This is just an artist's studio, Mac. It could be replicated just about anywhere.'

She shook her head. ‘You're wrong. I've lived and worked here for the past five years—'

‘And once this place has been knocked down you'll live and work somewhere else for a lot longer than that!' he said grimly.

‘I told you, that isn't going to happen—' Her protest was cut short as Jonas reached out to pull her into his arms before lowering his head and grinding his mouth fiercely down onto hers.

It was a kiss of punishment rather than gentleness, anger rather than passion, Jonas's arms like steel bands about her waist as he held her tightly against him, pressing her to his muscled body, making Mac completely aware of the pulsing hardness of his thighs.

She stood on tiptoe as her hands moved up his chest to his shoulders, and then into the dark thickness of the hair at his nape, her mouth slanting, lips parting beneath his as she returned the heat of that kiss.

Jonas was aware of his shift in mood as the angry need to punish her faded and passion and desire took over, groaning low in his throat as he began to sip and taste the softness of Mac's lips, his tongue stroking those lips as he tested their sweetness before moving deeper into the hot and welcoming warmth of Mac's mouth.

He could feel her delicacy beneath the restless caress of his hands down the length of her spine before he cupped her bottom to pull her up and into him, the soft and welcoming well between her thighs both an agony and an ecstasy as his arousal fitted perfectly against her.

He dragged his mouth from hers to breathe deeply against her creamy cheek. ‘Wrap your legs around me,' he encouraged fiercely.

‘I don't—'

‘I promise I'll lift and support you, Mac,' he looked up to encourage hotly. ‘I just need you to wrap your legs around me,' he exhorted her gruffly before burying his lips against the side of her neck.

Jonas's tongue was a fiery torment against Mac's
skin, a rasping, arousing torment that made her feel weak and wanting even as she did as he asked. As promised, Jonas's hands beneath her bottom easily lifted and supported her as she raised up to curve her legs about him and instantly felt the press of his arousal against the centre of her parted thighs.

Her thin leggings and brief panties were no barrier to that firm and pulsating flesh as it pressed against her. Mac felt herself swell there, becoming damp, wet, so hot and aching as Jonas's mouth claimed hers once again.

She was barely aware of him carrying her across the room to press her against the wall, Mac only realising he had done so as the coldness of the brick against her back became a sharp counterpoint to the heated arousal of her breasts and thighs.

His arousal was more penetrating now, pressing into that welcoming well as Jonas moved against her rhythmically, each thrust of his body matched by the penetration of his tongue into the heated inferno of her mouth, so that Mac felt him everywhere.

Jonas wrenched his mouth from hers, breathing hard as he looked down at her with fiercely dark eyes. ‘I'm going to pleasure you, Mac,' he promised gruffly as he carried her over to lay her down on the chaise. ‘I'm going to make love to you until you beg me to stop,' he vowed as he knelt on the floor beside the chaise.

BOOK: His Christmas Virgin
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