Awaken the Senses

By: Nalini Singh


Thirty-One Years Ago

"We need to talk."

Spencer looked up from the papers on his desk as Lilah walked into his office. Irritated by the interruption, he frowned. Normally, that would've shut her up.

She continued to speak. "If you don't divorce Caroline, I'm going to leave you." Her voice shook, but in her eyes he glimpsed determination that felt dangerously close to a threat.

Anger blazed inside him, dark and far more violent than anything Lilah could summon. It took no effort to rise and move around the desk until his body was almost touching the reed-thin redhead who'd had the audacity to give him an ultimatum.

Her blue eyes widened. Tall as she was, Lilah had no trouble meeting his gaze. He wandered what she saw there that gave her the courage to straighten her spine. If she'd understood the depth of his fury, the silly chit would've been cowering in fear.

"You're beautiful, Lilah." He saw her pride awaken and almost laughed at how easy it was to manipulate her. "But the second you walk out that door-" he thrust in the verbal knife and twisted "-ten nubile young things will be standing there begging for my attention."

He enjoyed Lilah, enjoyed her body and her face, enjoyed the way she gave in to all of his wishes. Completely under his spell, she would do anything he asked. Now, he watched her swallow and savored the sight of her already shaky confidence seeping out of her.

"I mean it, I want you to leave Caroline." Though that husky, little-girl voice shook, her blue eyes sparked with possessiveness. "You've been with her for six years-it's my turn now."

The sexual attraction he felt for her flared at this display of just how much she wanted him, but coldly, clinically, he squelched it. "And if I don't?" His voice had gone quiet. A warning.

Her slender shoulders squared. "Then I'm going to find another man. You can hire yourself a new... secretary." The last word was a taunt.

Nobody walked away from Spencer Ashton. Nobody. Certainly not a female whom he'd bedded and had yet to tire of. Reaching out with one hand, he grasped her hair and pulled her body hard against his, not caring if he hurt her. When he tugged her head back, her eyes met his, fear dawning in the blue.

Tightening his grasp, he leaned in very close and whispered, "What (lid you say?"

She whimpered as he pulled her head even further back. "I’m S-sorry, Spencer. I d-didn't mean it."

The panic in her eyes acted as an aphrodisiac. He was suddenly very sure that he was going to have Lilah Jensen spread out under him within a few minutes. "Good." He ran his finger down her throat. "What was that about leaving me if I didn't leave Caroline?" Her skin was soft under his spreading hand, her neck fragile.

"I-I'm s-sorry," she said again. "I'll make it up to you." Tentatively, her hands touched his chest, beginning to undo buttons. "It's just that I want you s-so much."

He smiled, aware that she really did want him that much. She was a beautiful thing, he acknowledged. And very accommodating in bed. He might end up marrying her after he got rid of Caroline, but that was for him to decide. Lilah had to learn her place here and now, before he gave her anything, much less the right to bear his name.

"I'll do anything you want, Spencer." Lilah's blue gaze was a little less afraid, a little more sexually enticing.

He found the combination seductive, but despite her charms, he wanted her to be very, very aware that this had been her last chance. Keeping one hand clenched in her hair, while the other moved to rest over her breast, he whispered, "A lot of people have tried to threaten me over the years." He kept his voice casual, thrillingly aware of the power he held over this woman.

Her lips parted as she tried to speak. He squeezed her throat slightly. She shut up.