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“Does it disgust you, to want a man like me?”

She gasped and jerked back, and he laughed softly

“Perhaps it would make you feel better, señorita, to know that I would sooner take a vow of chastity than take a woman like you to my bed”

He straightened to his full height, nodded politely to the others at the table Then he strolled unhurriedly after Susannah, through the ballrooht out the door

Kyra Landon felt as if someone had just tossed a bucket of ice water over her head

The world was full of crazy people At twenty-two, despite her father’s best efforts to keep her wrapped in cotton batting, even she knew that

But she had never before coainst anyone as crazy as the man who’d just strutted past her

“Kyra?”

Her head snapped up Ronald was staring at her, his bushy eyebrows drawn together in a knot The other people at the table were staring, too My God, she thought, and her color deepened, if any of them understood Spanish…

“What on earth did that man say to you?”

The arts commissioner’s wife leaned forward “It had to have been soerly “Just look at the way you’re blushing!”

“Of course it was so incredible,” the ballet eous wouldn’t say anything that wasn’t incredible Isn’t that right, Miss Landon?”

Kyra cleared her throat “Do—do any of you speak Spanish?” she said, crossing her fingers in her lap

The ballet h school, but I don’t re beyond te amo”

Everyone laughed Kyra felt her heart start beating again

“Listen, if that guy insulted you…” Ronald’s narro trembled “If he did, I’ll-I’ll…”

“No,” Kyra said quickly She put her hand lightly on his arm Ronald was an inch shorter than she was and probably five pounds lighter The man who’d just pulled that act of unbelievably crude and rude machismo had looked to be the size of a tree; he could probably pick Ronald up with one hand tied behind hi a smile to her lips, “he, ah, he didn’t insult me at all”

Ronald didn’t look convinced “What’d he say, then?”

“Ah, he said…he said he hoped I’d tell whoever was in charge that, ah, that the new center is nificent and, ah, that he was sorry he couldn’t stay for the ballet performance but that—that dinner was superb”

Oh God, why didn’t I stop when I was ahead? Her audience had looked half-convinced until she’d added that bit about the meal No one would believe that, not in a million years…

“Well,” the arts commissioner’s wife said with a little smile, “he would think that, I suppose Icooked without all that hot stuff, the chilies and what-have-you, would be an improvement”

“Spanish,” Kyra said All the heads swiveled toward her again and she sed hard “He wasn’t Mexican”

“Did he tell you that?” Ronald said, his brows knotting together again

“No, of course not I just—well, it was the way he spoke His Spanish wasn’t Mexican, it was Castilian I studied it in school for five years I mean, and…and…”

And I a a complete ass of myself But then, it was a minorwhat had happened, considering that an absolute stranger who’d spent half the evening undressing her with his eyes had dared speak to her that way…

“…don’t you agree, Kyra?”

Kyra blinked “Agree hat?” she said, looking at the ballet master’s lover

“I was saying, acould never be Mexican” He batted his lashes “He was at least six feet tall, and all those muscles…”

He was ht At least sixone or six-two And yes, he certainly had a lot of muscles You could tell, even beneath that dinner jacket She had never seen a man with broader shoulders or with a broader chest, for that matter, and yet when he’d stood up she’d seen that his waist was narrow, and his hips And he had such long, long legs…

The truth was that he was the best-looking man she’d ever seen His face wasn’t a pretty face, nor even conventionally handsome The bones were too pronounced, the nose too aquiline for ood looks But it was a wonderful face just the saht have been bits of a suht black as his hair; cheekbones that ht have been sculpted out of clay; a wide, sensual mouth, a square chin

She had noticed hio Lots of wo his way But then, to her surprise, she’d suddenly felt his eyes on her during the cocktail party She’d wanted to turn around, to see if she were is, but she hadn’t He was too blatantly ht he owned the world and everything in it You could see it in the way he held himself The blond number with him was the sort

who ate that stuff up but Kyra knew better

Besides, it would havehis best to entertain her despite the fact that her thoughts were back home, with her father Charles hadn’t been well for months and today he’d seemed worse than usual But he’d still insisted that a Landon had to attend the Arts Center opening

Kyra’s mouth narrowed And when he insisted, to try to reason was to court disaster

“…to find our seats?”

She looked up Ronald was on his feet; he was trying to pull back her chair and she realized, after aout of the ballroom

“Oh” She smiled broadly “Sure Sorry”

She took the arm he offered and let hihts diht leotards cae to the beat of a drum

“Isn’t it wonderful?” Ronald whispered

Kyra tried not to wince as a gong began sounding mournfully in the orchestra pit “Wonderful,” she said, and settled back in her seat

She tried to pay attention to as happening onstage, but her thoughts kept drifting to what had happened at dinner If only she hadn’t looked at the h she’d known he was looking at her But finally she’d just had to peek and when she had…

God, when she had!

That look of raw desire in his deep blue eyes had done soe to her heartbeat and suddenly she’d felt a need so primitive it had terrified her with its intensity She’d been even more terrified that it had shown on her face He’d seen it And he’d known exactly what it was That hy he’d said that awful thing to her

Kyra sprang to her feet Ronald looked up, startled, and she shook her head, s outside, to the ladies’ room