His for Revenge(4)By: Caitlin Crews
No matter that a bright hot burst of flame danced from the place he touched her and then throughout the rest of her. No matter that a shiver rocked through her or that she felt as if her whole body woke up at the sensation of that hot, male palm against the nape of her neck. Her lungs felt tight and her throat ached. Her knees felt wobbly again, but for a very different reason than they had before.
And then Chase Whitaker, who had been quite clear that he’d never wanted to marry anyone and wouldn’t have chosen her if he had, bent his head and pressed his perfect lips to hers.
It should have been awkward, Zara thought wildly. Even violating.
But instead, it was like her entire body simply…sizzled. Her lips felt seared through, and she felt herself flush what she knew would be a revealing, horrifying red. She felt that simple press of his lips everywhere. In her throat. In that ache between her breasts. In her suddenly too-tight nipples. In that hard knot in her belly, and worse, in the sudden molten heat below it. Chase lifted his head, his remarkable eyes darker than before, and she knew he saw all of that betraying color.
And worse, that he knew what it meant.
There was something taut and electric between them then, something that sparked in the air and then moved inside of her, setting off alarms and making her feel that she really might collapse in the first faint of her life, after all. Like the archaic, bartered bride she was impersonating today. Maybe that would be a nice little vacation from all this, a small voice inside her suggested, while everything else she was or ever had been drowned in those dark blue eyes of his.
And then he looked away and everything sped up.
There was applause, then organ music, then the murmuring of several hundred scandalized guests who’d finally caught on to the fact that Chase Whitaker, president and CEO of Whitaker Industries and one of the world’s most beloved playboy heirs, had just wed the wrong Elliott daughter.
Zara found this as unbelievable as they did, she was certain, but she didn’t have time to reflect on it. Chase was holding her by the arm—in a manner that made her feel rather more like a prisoner than a bride, and yet, somehow, more cherished than when Amos had done the same thing—and they were starting off down the aisle again. She saw her father’s smug face as they strode past him. She saw her stepmother dabbing at her eyes, and thought that ditzy Melissa might in fact be the only person in the church who’d found the ceremony moving, bless her. She saw longtime neighbors and old family friends and the speculative expressions of a hundred strangers, but the only real thing was that hard arm that held her next to his impossibly lean and chiseled body.
And then there was silence. Chase marched them out of the church and down the steps into the searing, brutal cold of the December afternoon, then directly into the back of a waiting limousine.
“Home,” he grated at the driver. “Now.”
“The reception is actually here in the village, not wherever your home is,” Zara said, because she was incapable of keeping her mouth shut.
Chase had thrown himself into the cushy leather seat beside her and when he turned that furious, incredulous gaze of his on her again, it was like being burned alive. She felt charred.
He stared at her. Moments passed, or maybe years. The car drove off from the church. The world could have exploded outside the window, for all she knew. There was nothing but that wild dark blue and the leftover heat where his mouth and his palm had touched her skin, like he’d branded that contact into her flesh.
Then the car jolted to a stop at a light, Chase blinked and looked forward again, and Zara decided she’d imagined that awestruck, spellbound, on fire feeling. It was the oddness of the situation, that was all. It was Ariella’s ridiculous dress, cutting into her like a corset from hell, making it difficult to breathe. There was no reason at all to feel that despite everything, she’d never been more alive in her life than she was right now, in the back of a limousine headed God knew where with an angry, beautiful stranger.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, because they might as well make the best of it. It was what Grams would have done. “I don’t think we’ve ever met.” She smiled as politely as she could at this man, her brand-new husband, and stuck out her hand. “I’m Zara.”
* * *
He was trapped in a nightmare, Chase thought, staring at that outstretched hand in stunned, outraged amazement. There was no other explanation. For any of this.
“I know who you are,” he grated, and when he didn’t take her hand she merely dropped it back in her lap, looking wholly unperturbed. Exactly as she’d looked in the church, when he’d been glaring at her fiercely enough to burn holes through her.