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Authors: Stephanie James

Reckless Passion

BOOK: Reckless Passion
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"Don't Come Any Closer!

I mean It, Yale. I don't want you touching me. Not ever!"

"But I
am
going to touch you," he promised with silky menace.
"Often, and in the most delightful places.
You belong to me now, temper and all. As I said, I'm satisfied with the transaction and I'll make sure you are, too. ..."

Dara's
eyes blazed as she realized she was trapped "You really can't get it through mat thick head of yours that I didn't go with you in order to get your account, can you? Well, I
didn'tf
I don't want your account! I never cared one way or the other about it!"

"Too bad, because you're stuck with it," he gritted, his fingers curling over her bare shoulders. "And believe
me,
I'll make you pay for every dollar you lose!"

_________________________________________________

STEPHANIE JAMES

readily
admits mat the chief influence on her writing is her "lifelong addiction to romantic daydreaming." She has spent the last nine years living and working with her engineer husband in a wide variety of places, including the Caribbean, the Southeast and the Pacific Northwest Ms. James currently resides in California.

 

 

 

 

SILHOUETTE BOOKS, a Simon & Schuster

Division of GULF & WESTERN CORPORATION

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10020

 

Copyright © 1982 by Jayne
Krentz

Distributed by Pocket Books

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Silhouette Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York,
N
. Y. 10020

ISBN: 0-671-44806-4

First Silhouette Books printing December, 1982 10 987654321

All of the characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead,
is purely coincidental.

SILHOUETTE, SILHOUETTE DESIRE and colophon are trademarks of Simon & Schuster.

America's Publisher of Contemporary Romance

CLS 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed in the U.S.A.

 

 

Other Silhouette Books by Stephanie James

 

A Passionate Business

 
Dangerous Magic

Corporate Affair

Stormy Challenge

Velvet Touch

Lover in Pursuit

Renaissance
Man

 

 

 

For my husband, Frank—

 
with
all my love and the futile hope that someday he will learn not to flinch at the total of a writer's monthly phone bill.

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

Exactly how far can I expect the seduction to go?" Yale Ransom inquired interestedly in his pleasant Southern drawl.

Dara
Bancroft froze momentarily in the act of letting him assist her into the chic suede and leather coat. Some of the inexplicable warmth she had been experiencing all evening faded.

"Seduction?" she repeated carefully, her gently rounded chin lifting in a wary gesture. "I don't know what you're talking about. If that's the reason you think I've agreed to leave the party with you..."

"Don't take offense, honey," he soothed at once, his strong hands sliding the coat into place on her shoulders. The hands didn't look at all like an accountant's hands,
Dara
realized.
Poor man.
He tried so hard, but little things kept giving him away.

"I'm more than willing to be seduced," he went on easily, holding the door open and ushering her out into the chilly spring night. "After all, I'm in the market for a stockbroker, and your manager has made it clear Edison, Stanford and Zane would like my account."

"Mr. Ransom,"
Dara
began firmly, hesitating on the top step as he took her arm. "I'm not sure how business is transacted down in Los Angeles, but here in Oregon we don't do things that way!"

"What a shame," he murmured, politely regretful. "And it can be such a pleasure, too."

Dara's
expressive mouth curved into a knowing smile.
"Careful, Yale.
Your Southern-gentleman facade is slipping."

He grimaced wryly.
"Already?
And I try so hard."

"I know you do."
Dara
chuckled, yielding to the pressure of his hand and descending the steps toward a gray Alfa Romeo which waited on the street in front of the house. "But you don't have to pretend with me, Yale."

He shot her a slanting, hazel-eyed look as they walked toward the car, the dark horn rims of his glasses, not concealing the speculative expression in his gaze. "You know me so well?
After only a couple of hours?"

"We stockbrokers are trained to analyze situations quickly,"
Dara
responded with a satisfied smile.

"And in that short span of time you've decided I'm not the Southern-gentleman type, is that it?" he invited, settling her into the car.

"Oh, you've done a good job with the role and you've tried to create a proper, conservative accountant's image, but..."

"But?" he prompted, sliding onto the seat beside her and closing the door. It made that nice, solid sound that expensive car doors make.

"But I think you've been a lot of things in your life besides an accountant with a Southern accent!" she told him recklessly, unable to stifle the pleasant, heady rush which was swirling through her veins.

The sensation had taken her by storm almost two hours ago when she'd held out her hand for the conventional introduction her manager was making.
Dara
had smiled up into a pair of intelligent, interested hazel eyes and wondered what sort of expression she would see behind the lenses of his glasses when that deliberately neutral look was banished.

And then Yale Ransom had smiled back, a wide, faintly dangerous grin that must have been a reaction to her own challenging gray-green gaze. The flash from a gold-capped tooth added an astonishingly
sharklike
touch to Yale's raffish expression, and the strength of his grip on her hand told
Dara
a great deal more about the stranger.

He hadn't stayed a stranger for long. Almost instantly they had become paired off, with,
Dara
knew, the blessings of her manager, who was giving the party. But
Dara
didn't care if she was being used to attract Yale Ransom's account. She had other, more personal interests in the matter.

There was something about this man, she thought a little dazedly as Yale pulled away from the curb and drove down the quiet neighborhood streets of Eugene, Oregon.
Something which pulled at her senses.
Something had clicked between them.

On the surface, there was no logical explanation for her having singled him out of a roomful of people. He was exactly what he purported to be. Almost too much so, she decided, mentally casting about for what set him apart.

Perhaps that was the answer. Yale Ransom took great pains to conform to the image that was expected of him. The dark, amber honey of his hair was trimmed in a close, conservative style that went perfectly with the equally conservative horn-rimmed glasses. Folks here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon weren't inclined to be trendy, but even in this conservative atmosphere Yale Ransom's dark jacket, slacks and subdued tie could be considered sober attire.

The crisp white of his shirt collar contrasted with the deep tan of a ruggedly carved face that had crinkles at the eyes and
a certain
implacability around the mouth. He must have been around thirty-seven or thirty-eight,
Dara
thought fleetingly, eyeing his firm profile as they drove. The years showed.

Yes, everything about him said conservative, quiet, studied, trustworthy, professional, she thought in amusement. Even the faint Southern accent added a nice touch of the old-fashioned gentleman. She wondered if the drawl was a calculated addition to the overall image. Perhaps it was designed to give the impression of a man who still held such virtues as honor in high esteem.

Because if this man had been raised amid magnolia blossoms, genteel poverty or moneyed aristocracy,
Dara
would cheerfully eat her leather and suede coat.

The hardness about this man belied the image of a quiet gentleman. It was everywhere in him, from the harshly carved features of a face that had never been handsome to the six feet of smoothly muscled, hard male body. The conservative jacket and slacks did not hide the lean power underneath, at least not from
Dara's
eyes. And the lenses of his glasses couldn't conceal the perceptive, yet withdrawn expression of Yale's hard gaze.

Given her own analysis,
Dara
told herself she ought to be wary of the man. He wasn't her type, and at the age of thirty, she thought she ought to know exactly what sort of man wasn't her type! But when he'd smiled at her, that exciting, daring grin with the flash of buccaneering gold, his carefully contrived image had shattered.

After that, everything about him had intrigued her. The strong hands, the hazel eyes, the contrast between the look he was trying to project and what she felt was the real man—it all added up to a fascinating puzzle.

"Where are we going?" she asked presently, not overly concerned. They were driving past the two-hundred-and-fifty-acre campus of the University of Oregon located in the eastern part of town.

"Does it matter?" Yale asked politely, his attention on his driving.

"Yes, I think so,"
Dara
told him, considering the issue with a delicate frown. "I'm not ready to go home with you now, Yale."

"I see," he murmured after a moment, slowing the car and guiding it to a halt at the curb. With an efficient, decisive movement he switched off the engine and turned to look at her in the pale light of an overhead streetlamp.

"Implying that you will be ready to go home with me later?" he went on casually, hazel eyes flickering over her figure.

Dara's
smile was slow and gently condescending. "I keep telling you, Yale, we don't do things that quickly here in Eugene. I left the party with you because you suggested we might go to a nightclub and have a drink and a few dances. Don't tell me you don't dance," she added, eyes glinting in the dim light. "Anyone who's worked on the image as much as you have must have learned to dance somewhere along the line!"

His answering smile spoke volumes. "I can manage. Where would you like to go? As you keep reminding me, I'm new here in town. I don't know all the places yet." He waited, deliberately putting the responsibility on her.

"There aren't that many of them,"
Dara
said dryly. "Eugene is only a town of about a hundred thousand. But we get along. Let me see..." Idly she chewed a full lower lip and thought about it for a moment. Yale didn't move
,
his eyes centered on her face. There was a quiet patience about him that amused her. He was so sure he knew how the evening was going to end.

It wouldn't wind up as he assumed it would, of course, she told herself briskly.
Dara
didn't attempt to deny the strange attraction he held for her, but she knew herself well enough to know she could handle her own emotions.

Until she had unraveled the puzzle that was Yale Ransom, she would be reasonably cautious. What did he think of her?
Dara
wondered in the back of her mind. He had seemed willing enough to accept the pairing off which had occurred. Of course, he
was
new in town and probably hadn't met a lot of women yet, she assured herself.

She wondered vaguely how she looked to him after his previous two years spent in Los Angeles.
Dara
was an honest individual. She knew there was
a softness
about her which more than one male had assumed extended to her brain as well as her body.

She couldn't really blame a man for thinking that,
Dara
had decided several years earlier. The gently rounded outlines of her five-foot-four-inch body could most graciously be described as full-figured. She was not
fat,
she assured herself several times a week, but there was no denying the fullness of her high, curving breasts or the rounded outline of her hips.

Her eyes echoed the softness of her body. Wide, faintly slanting and gray-green in color, they were full of laughter and an abiding interest in fife. A short nose which turned up slightly at the tip, a mouth designed for smiling and an unaggressive, rounded chin gave her an impish, amused look which somehow managed to conceal the lack of any real beauty.

The burnt russet of her hair was styled in a sleek, center-parted bell which curved over her ears and ended even with the line of her jaw. The entire combination could be termed reasonably attractive, if a little misleading in that it hid a finely honed willpower, but it would never be described as sophisticated,
Dara
knew.
Or even sweetly beautiful.
So what did Yale Ransom really think of her? Had he been joking earlier when he'd implied a willingness to be seduced in exchange for his securities account?

"If you can't make up your mind," Yale interrupted softly, "perhaps we ought to continue on to my house. We can enjoy a glass of brandy while you decide where you want to go dancing."

He moved slightly, shifting one large hand on the steering wheel. The small action drew
Dara's
attention and her eyes focused for a split second on the muscular wrist which extended, she felt certain, from a sinewy forearm. She met his eyes again and he smiled, unwisely revealing the gold tooth which gave him such a feral look. With a suddenness that was typical of her,
Dara
made up her mind.

"That's all right," she said kindly. "But I've managed to make a decision. Turn left up there at the corner. I'll direct you."

Yale hesitated, tilting his head
consideringly
. Then, with a shrug, he started the engine again and followed her instructions.

With a concealed grin,
Dara
guided him through town to an elegantly rustic restaurant and nightclub. The parking lot was full and the Alfa Romeo had to be left on the street.

"You're sure this is where you want to spend the evening?'' Yale asked warily as he assisted
Dara
out of the car.

"It's the latest rage," she told him saucily, smoothing her coat as she stepped from the car.
Dara
lifted her collar against the night chill and it framed her mischievous smile as she looked up at her escort.

"We're, uh, not exactly dressed for it," Yale observed, glancing down at his own conservative clothes and then at her. Under the leather and suede coat,
Dara
was wearing a softly cut, long-sleeved dress of emerald green. It shaped the fullness of her curves with a touch of sophistication which had pleased her when she'd surveyed herself in the mirror earlier.

"I think," she told him politely, "that if you take off your tie and unbutton your jacket, we'll get by. They get all types in here."

"All types but the one they're trying to imitate," Yale remarked, his fingers rising hesitantly to the knot of his tie. He glanced again at the jazzy sign with the neon-lit picture of a sequin-studded cowboy. The latest in country-western music drifted out into the parking lot.

BOOK: Reckless Passion
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