CINDRA'S BOUNTY HUNTER
Cindra caught her lower lip between her teeth again. What was she going to do? She needed Sloan’s help to find out where DelCour was hiding or she could kiss the idea of bringing him to justice goodbye. But there was no way in hell she was giving the bounty hunter forty-nine percent. She’d spent practically every credit to her name plus what money her father had left to her hunting DelCour. She needed the bounty so she could finish her graduate program. It was the one thing her father had wanted and she wasn’t going to let him down. But she wasn’t going to let his murderer get away, either. She’d simply have to convince Sloan to take less, or offer him something else instead. But what?
She wasn’t as shocked by the answer as she should have been. She’d never been a prude, but she didn’t make a habit of indiscriminately sleeping with guys, either. Her father had always said a bounty hunter did whatever it took to get the job done. She needed to decide right now if she was willing to sleep with Bladen Sloan if it meant bringing down DelCour. Back at the restaurant, she as much as admitted to herself she thought the other bounty hunter was hot. If he was half as good in bed as she thought he might be, having sex with him wouldn’t be an arduous task, that was for sure. Heat was already pooling between her thighs at the delicious prospect. Still, this was one hell of a big step. She didn’t normally proposition men quite this blatantly. Heck, she was practically prostituting herself. Was she really willing to go there? The answer to that was a resounding yes. She would do whatever it took to catch her father’s murderer, and that included sleeping with Bladen Sloan.
She wet her lips. “If we can’t agree on splitting the bounty, perhaps we could work something else out.”
He arched a questioning brow. “What are you suggesting?”
Cindra lifted her chin to meet his gaze. “If you help me track down DelCour, I’ll sleep with you.”
A mix of surprise and intrigue appeared in his amber eyes. She had him, she could tell.
“You’ll sleep with me?”
She gave him her sexiest smile. “That’s what I said.”
He was silent as he considered her words. “While the offer is extremely tempting, Ms. Mallory, I’m afraid I have to refuse.”
She frowned, taken aback. From the way he’d looked at her when she came into the office, she’d been sure he would go for it. “Why?”
Most men wouldn’t turn down an offer like that unless they were gay, married or in a committed relationship, and she wasn’t convinced guys in the last two categories would refuse even then. Intuition told her Sloan wasn’t gay, and since she didn’t see a ring on his finger she assumed he wasn’t married. Which left only one other explanation. Maybe he wasn’t comfortable with something mighty damn close to prostitution.
Damn, she hadn’t considered he might have a problem with that. She’d thought he would be…well…a typical guy.
He gave her a rueful smile. “Because if I took you up on it, I’d feel like I was taking advantage of you.”
Okay, so she had been right about the reason behind his refusal. Great. Not only was Sloan sinfully gorgeous, but he had a conscience, too. Normally, that would have been an attractive quality in a man, but right now it was annoying as hell. She needed help and the only thing she had to offer was her body. She was going to have to convince him to have sex with her. What was the galaxy coming to?
She smiled. “You wouldn’t be taking advantage of me, I assure you. I know exactly what I’m offering you and I’m willing to do whatever is necessary to get you to help me.”
“So I gather.” He was silent for so long she thought she might have to repeat her offer, but then he spoke. “While I appreciate your tenacity, I’m still going to have to decline.”
Cindra ground her jaw. Damn him, and his conscience.
“Fine,” she snapped, getting to her feet. “I’ll track down DelCour myself.”
Head high, she turned and headed for the door. Behind her, Sloan cursed under his breath.
“Wait a minute,” he ordered.
She hesitated, her hand on the knob, then took a deep breath and turned to face him.
He was standing behind his desk, a look that could almost be called concern in his eyes.
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t help you.”
Her pulse quickened. “Then you’ll accept my offer?”
A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. “I didn’t say that. Please don’t take this the wrong way. While you’re extremely beautiful, I don’t think a single night of sex would be a fair trade for the nineteen percent difference in the bounty, do you? I mean, we’re talking at least ten-thousand credits I’d be giving up.”
Cindra felt color rush to her cheeks. While she knew she should be insulted, she couldn’t help but admire his negotiating skills. Luckily, hers weren’t too shabby either. Especially in conjunction with the feminine wiles in her arsenal.
She crossed the room to stand in front of his desk, adding a little extra sway to her hips. “Then I’ll sleep with you more than once.” She looked at him from beneath lowered lashes. “Is there a particular number you have in mind?”
She could tell from the way his eyes went wide that she’d caught him off guard. Good. That put her firmly back in charge of the negotiations.
“I don’t want to offend you any more by trying to figure out what your going rate would be,” he said. “But even if I give you the benefit of the doubt and say a single night of sex with you is worth a thousand credits, that would still mean you’d owe me…”
“Ten nights of unbelievable sex,” she finished for him. “Deal.”
Sloan’s eyes narrowed. Clearly, he hadn’t expected her to call his bluff. “Let me make sure I understand this. In exchange for my help, you’re agreeing to provide me with ten nights of sex, of my design, and at the time of my choosing?”
Cindra was a little worried by the way he’d worded it, but she gave him a sultry smile anyway. “That’s exactly what I’m agreeing to.”
Sloan didn’t answer, but she could see the battle raging in his eyes. Finally, he inclined his head. “I’ll draw up a contract and we can make it official.”
She found it hard to believe he was going to put something like that into writing, but she said nothing as he typed the terms of their agreement into the computer. She could only hope he was as thorough when it came to looking for DelCour.
Once Sloan printed the contract, he came around the desk and held it out for her signature. She quickly read it and saw he had simply put their agreement into words. There was something about seeing it on paper that made her blush, and her hand trembled a bit as she signed her name. It wasn’t as if the contract would hold up in any council of law in the galaxy anyway. 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 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’d known the other bounty hunter was tall, but now that he was standing so close, she realized how tall he really was. The top of her head didn’t come to his chin. That made him at least six-four. Maybe six-five.
“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 now.
“Here?” she asked, looking around the office. Her pussy purred. The unique situation she found herself in was turning her on like crazy. She couldn’t believe she was doing this.
Bladen released her hand to lightly run the tips of his fingers along her bare arm. The touch of his fingers gliding along her skin sent the most delicious shivers up and down her back. “Why not?”
His nearness made it difficult to think. Or speak, for that matter. Damn, he smelled good. Not like cologne either. Just pure, unadulterated masculinity.
“B-but anyone could walk in,” she stammered.
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 could never think when she was flustered. Then again, maybe it had nothing to with being off her game at all. Maybe it was because at that moment Bladen lowered his head to cover her mouth with his.
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