Bladen lifted his gaze to her face and found her regarding him expectantly. “While your offer is very tempting, Ms. Mallory, I can’t accept it.”
Her brow furrowed beneath her long, sexy bangs. “Why not?”
He gave her a small smile. “Because for one thing, it wouldn’t be very professional of me. And for another, I would feel like I was taking advantage of you.”
She blinked, obviously surprised by the words. But then her lips curved into a smile. “You wouldn’t be taking advantage of me, Mr. Sloan, I assure you. I know exactly what I’m offering you, and I’m willing to do whatever is necessary to retain your services.”
Bladen said nothing for a moment. Damn, she must want to find her ex-boyfriend bad. And since she obviously wasn’t going to let Bladen bow out of this gracefully, he was going to have to try a different approach. “Don’t take this the wrong way, Ms. Mallory. I find you very attractive, but I don’t think that a single night of sex would be a fair trade for ten-thousand credits worth of my services.”
While he’d been careful how he phrased the words, he could tell by the color rushing to her cheeks that he’d clearly offended Cindra Mallory. Then again, maybe that might be a good thing, he thought. If she was suitably insulted, maybe she’d storm out of his office in a huff and he could forget all about her very tempting offer. But instead, she simply lifted a brow.“Then I’ll sleep with you more than once,” she said. “Is there a particular number you have in mind?”
Bladen had to fight to keep his jaw from dropping. Shit, that hadn’t gone like he thought it would. Cindra Mallory was seriously willing to sleep with him in exchange for his help. And the sultry look she was giving him right now was making his cock stand up and demand to be put in charge of the negotiations.
“I’d have no idea what the going rate would be,” he said. “But even if I give you the benefit of the doubt and say that a single night of lovemaking with you is worth a thousand credits, that would still mean you would owe me…”
“Ten nights of unbelievable passion,” she finished for him. “Deal!”
For the second time that night, Bladen stared at her in disbelief, stunned by what she had just agreed to. His cock however, was quite thrilled. “Let me make sure I understand this,” he said slowly. “In exchange for my services, you’re agreeing to provide me with ten sexual favors, of my design, and at the time of my choosing?”
“Yes, Mr. Sloan, that’s exactly what I’m agreeing to,” she told him.
What was she thinking, agreeing to sleep with Bladen Sloan ten times in exchange for his help? Cindra wondered. But she’d been so caught up in their sexy banter, not to mention mesmerized by his hypnotizing good looks, that the words had come out of her mouth before she even knew what she was saying. Was it too late to back out of it? she asked herself. But one look at the expression on the bounty hunter’s face told her that he considered it a done deal. Maybe she should tell him that she changed her mind, and then make a mad dash for the door.
But she didn’t. Instead, Cindra forced herself to take a deep, cleansing breath. Why was she freaking out? What difference did it really make if she agreed to sleep with Bladen Sloan once or ten times? It wasn’t like she was actually going to have sex with him anyway. She’d flirt and lead him on just like she planned, then when Sloan found DelCour for her, she would be off Pendari before she’d ever have to honor their agreement.
Behind his desk, Sloan inclined his head. “Then I’ll draw up a contract and we can make it official.”
Cindra frowned at that. She found it hard to believe he was actually going to put something like that into writing, but she said nothing as he dictated the terms of their agreement into the computer. Well, she could only hope he was just as thorough when it came to looking for DelCour, she thought wryly.
Once the contract was printed, the bounty hunter came around the desk and held it out for her signature. Quickly reading it, she saw that he had simply put their agreement into words. There was something about seeing it on paper that made her blush though, and her hand trembled a little as she signed it. It wasn’t as if the contract would hold up in any council of law in the galaxy anyway, she told herself. At least she didn’t think it would.
“So, what do we do first?” she asked, handing the signed contract back to him.
He set the contract on the desk, and then turned to give her a grin. “You.”
Cindra looked up at him in confusion. “Me?”
Taking her hand, he pulled her gently to her feet. She had known the bounty hunter was tall, but now that he was standing so close, she realized just how tall he really was. The top of her head didn’t even reach his chin.
“I think it would only be fair for me to get a partial payment up front, don’t you?” he said softly.
Her pulse quickened as she realized what the bounty hunter meant. He wanted to have sex with her. Right then! “Here?” she asked, looking around the office.
Bladen released her hand to lightly run the tips of his fingers up and down her bare arm. The touch sent the most delicious little shivers up and down her back. “Why not?”
His nearness was making it difficult to think. Or speak, for that matter. She hadn’t expected to have to make good on her side of the bargain quite this soon. “B-but anyone could walk in,” she stammered. Damn, he smelled good! Not like cologne either, she thought, just pure, unadulterated masculinity.
He reached behind him to press a button on his computer. A moment later, a lilting female voice confirmed that the doors had been locked and the office was now secure. “Not anymore,” he told her.
Cindra chewed on her lower lip, trying to come up with some excuse she could use to avoid having sex with him right that minute, but for some reason, nothing would come to mind. Maybe it was because she was flustered, she told herself. Then again, maybe it was because with Bladen standing so close to her, she was suddenly thinking that sex with him wasn’t necessarily something to be avoided. Before she could really decide if that was a good thing or not, the question became moot as Bladen lowered his head and covered her mouth with his.
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