Ways To Ruin A Royal Reputation (Mills & Boon Modern) (Signed, Sealed…Seduced, Book 1), стр. 2

The words he’d just spoken were floating in her consciousness, but his gorgeously deep voice with that Italian accent evoked hot humid nights in narrow cobblestone alleys while romantic strains of a violin drifted from open windows. She could practically smell the fragrance of exotic blossoms weighting the air. He would draw her into a shadowed alcove and that full-lipped, hot mouth would smother—

“Will you?” he prodded.

Amy yanked herself back from the kind of fantasy that could, indeed, ruin him. And her. He was a potential client, for heaven’s sake!

A cold tightness arrived behind her breastbone as she made the connection that she was, once again, lusting for someone off-limits. Oh, God. She wouldn’t say the king of Vallia reminded her of him. That would be a hideous insult. Few men were as reprehensible as him, but a clammy blanket of apprehension settled on her as she realized she was suffering a particularly strong case of the butterflies for someone who potentially had power over her.

She forcibly cocooned those butterflies and reminded herself she was not without power of her own. She could turn down this man or this job. In fact, based on this off-the-rails attraction she was suffering, she should do both.

She would, once she politely heard him out. At the very least, she could recommend one of her colleagues.

Why did that thought make this weird ache in her diaphragm pang even harder?

She shook it off.

“I’m sorry,” she said, managing to dredge the words from her dry throat. “Did you say someone is trying to ruin you? London Connection can definitely help you defuse that.” There. She almost sounded like the savvy, confident, cofounder of a public relations firm that her business card said she was.

“I said I want you to ruin me.”

You. Her heart swerved. Did he know? Her ears grew so hot, she feared they’d set her hair on fire. He couldn’t know what had happened, she assured herself even as snakes of guilt and shame writhed in her stomach. Her parents and the school’s headmistress had scrubbed out that little mess with all the alacrity of a government cleanup team in a blockbuster movie. That’s how Amy had learned mistakes could be mitigated so well they disappeared from the collective consciousness, even if the stain remained on your conscience forever.

Nevertheless, her hands clenched in her lap as though she had to physically hang on to all she’d managed to gain after losing everything except the two best friends who remained her staunchest supporters to this day.

“Our firm is in the business of building reputations.” Muscle memory came to her rescue, allowing her voice to steady and strengthen. She said this sort of thing a million times a week. “Using various tools like media channels and online networking, we protect and enhance our clients’ profiles. When a brand or image has been impacted, we take control of the narrative. Build a story.” Blah, blah, blah.

She smiled while she spoke, hands now stacked palm up in her lap, ankles crossed. Her blood still sizzled because, seriously, he was positively magnetic even when he scowled with impatience. This was what a chiseled jaw looked like—as though a block of marble named “naked gold” or “autumn tan” had been chipped and worked and shaped to become this physical manifestation of strength and tenacity. Command.

“I know what you do. That’s why I called you.” Luca rose abruptly from the armchair he’d taken when she’d sat.

He paced across the spacious lounge. His restless movement ruffled the sheer drapes that were partially drawn over the wall of windows overlooking the Thames.

She’d barely taken in the decor of grays and silver-blue, the fine art pieces and the arrangements of fresh flowers. It all became a monochrome backdrop to a man who radiated a dynamic aura. He moved like an athlete with his smooth, deliberate motions. His beautifully tailored clothes only emphasized how well made he was.

He paused where the spring sun was streaming through the break in the curtains and shoved his hands into his pockets. The action strained his trousers across his firm behind.

Amy was not an ogler. Men of all shapes, sizes and levels of wealth paraded through her world every day. They were employees and clients and couriers. Nothing more. She hadn’t completely sworn off emotional entanglements, but she was exceptionally careful. Occasionally she dated, but even the very nice men who paid for dinner and asked politely before trying to kiss her had failed to move her.

Truthfully, she didn’t allow anyone to move her. She preferred to keep her focus on her career. She’d been taught by an actual, bona-fide teacher that following her heart, or her libido, or that needy thing inside her that yearned for someone to make her feel special, would only leave her open to being used and thrown away like last week’s rubbish.

But here she was acting like a sixth-former biting her fist because a particularly nice backside was in her line of sight. Luca wasn’t even coming on to her. He was just oozing sex appeal from his swarthy pores in a passive and oblivious way.

That was ninja-level seduction and it had to stop.

“I’m asking you to reverse the build,” Luca said. “Give me a scandal instead of making one go away.”

She dragged her attention up to find him looking over his shoulder at her.

He cocked his brow to let her know he had totally and completely caught her drooling over his butt.

She briefly considered claiming he had sat in chewing gum and gave her hair a flick, aware she was as red as an Amsterdam sex district light. She cleared her throat and suggested gamely, “You’re in the wrong part of London for cheap disgrace. Possibly hire a woman with a different profession?”

He didn’t crack a smile.

She bit the inside of her lip.

“A controlled scandal.” He turned to face her, hands still in his pockets. He braced his feet apart like a sailor on a yacht, and his all-seeing gaze flickered across