The VIP Doubles Down
Page 11

 Nancy Herkness

  • Background:
  • Text Font:
  • Text Size:
  • Line Height:
  • Line Break Height:
  • Frame:
“I can tell by the bulges in your bag that you’re expecting to use all kinds of implements of torture on me.” He held out his hand for the puffy blue coat she’d shrugged out of. “But I want you to use only your magical machine.”
The teasing gleam in his eyes robbed his words of offense, but she heard the underlying truth of his intentions. However, she’d changed his mind about the stim. She could change his mind about her other methods, too.
“No torture, I promise,” she said. “But we might want to combine some different elements to make the stim even more effective.”
He gave her a wary look. “You remind me of my agent. And that’s not a compliment.”
“Ms. Dreyer has been nothing but courteous to me.”
“Don’t be fooled. Jane is an apex predator.”
Miller started toward the parlor.
Allie stayed where she was, her grip tight on her duffel’s handles. “Mr. Miller, I’d like to work where you could lie down and be more comfortable. Ms. Dreyer said you have a fully equipped gym with a massage table.”
He halted. “There are probably giant cobwebs hanging from the treadmill. No, I shouldn’t insult Ludmilla that way. I’m sure she’s kept the gym spotless, despite its disuse. By all means, let’s descend into the dungeon.” He waved her down the hallway. “And since you’re going to be sticking electrical wires to my bare skin, I think you should call me Gavin.”
Bad idea. She needed the distance of formality.
As it was, she could feel his presence behind her, sending tingles up and down her back. His long stride brought him up beside her, so now a sideways glance caught the way the light picked out auburn glints in his dark hair. And threw shadows below his sharp cheekbones.
Allie turned her gaze resolutely forward just as Gavin swung open a door set in the paneling. Pewter wall sconces flashed on without human intervention, illuminating a set of gray-carpeted stairs leading downward.
“The torture chamber awaits,” Gavin said, indicating that she should precede him.
As she hit the bottom step, Allie let out a gasp of delight. She spotted a high-end massage table in one corner. Mirrors covered two walls, while a third held a rack of polished stainless steel and black rubber free weights. Various exercise machines were arrayed around the spacious room. She stepped onto the gym floor and bounced to savor the elasticity of the thick rubber floor covering.
“There’s a resistance pool through there.” Gavin pointed to a brushed metal door.
“Is it heated?” He could exercise in the pool, using the heat to loosen up the muscles.
“I see you’re getting ideas that go well beyond electric current.” He seemed amused rather than annoyed. “The temperature is adjustable, so I can do a polar bear plunge or steam in a hot tub. Or use the sauna.”
Allie took in the amount and quality of the equipment and shook her head. This gym cost more than she could make in twenty years. “Let’s get started. Come over to the massage table, and I’ll set up the stim unit. I brought a bigger one this time so it can cover more muscles and run longer.”
She’d bought the high-end stim unit with her first bonus check from Havilland. Troy had wanted to blow it on dinner at an ultra-posh restaurant, but she had reined him in. Instead, they went to a great Italian place in SoHo and got sloshed on red wine. Which left enough bonus to start stocking her duffel bag.
“How long can you use it?” He watched her lift the bag onto the table and unzip it.
“A couple of hours, but we’ll start with thirty minutes and see how you feel.” A flush climbed her cheeks as she said, “I thought we might try some massage, too.”
She shouldn’t be blushing over that. It was her job. She was a trained professional.
“I won’t raise any objections to that.” Gavin gave her a wicked smile, which fanned the heat in her face higher. “Maybe you could even walk on my back.”
Allie snorted. “That would not help your problem.”
She felt Gavin’s attention as she set up the stim machine, plugging it into the outlet and laying out the wires and pads on a side table.
“Could a layman use one of those on himself?” he asked.
“Trying to get rid of me?” she countered.
“I’m just thinking ahead. I don’t wish to monopolize your services.”
She almost snorted again. She could work here twenty-four/seven and only her cat would feel deprived. “A layman could try. It would be difficult to attach the pads to your back without help.”
“You could show Ludmilla how to do it.”
She turned to face him full-on. “On my business card I have a bunch of initials after my name because it takes some expertise to safely administer electrical stimulation.”
Surprise flashed across his face and she thought she’d gone too far. But one corner of his mouth curled up in a self-mocking smile. “Unlike writing a book, which anyone can do.”
“Not me,” she said, relaxing again. “I am firmly in the reader camp.”
“Ah, but I bet you could tell some interesting stories about your clients.”
Was he testing her? “Nope. It’s all confidential.” She fitted a cloth cover over the table’s padded top. “Why don’t you hop up here?”
He braced his hands on the edge and levered himself onto the cushion with fluid grace. “I imagine I need to remove my sweater,” he said, crossing his arms and seizing the hem before he ripped it up over his head.
Her gaze skimmed over the bare chest dusted with dark hair. His muscles were so well defined that she could have used his torso to illustrate a lesson on male anatomy. He might be avoiding the gym now, but he must have been using it regularly not too long ago. She lifted her gaze to find his longish hair mussed as though he’d just gotten out of bed. She winced inwardly at the dangerous image.
“Lie down on your stomach, please, and put your face in the headrest. Let me know if the angle is good.”
Kicking off his well-shined loafers, he spun on the table, settling himself facedown, his arms by his sides, with the ease of someone who’d done it before.
Now that he couldn’t see her, she felt less self-conscious. However, being presented with the broad, muscular—and bare—expanse of his back sent the tentacles of desire snaking through her again. She closed her eyes for a moment to reset her brain.