He will bind her to him…in marriage.
James Marshall never takes no for an answer. He is feared for his cunning wit and ruthless drive in the business world. From the first moment he lays eyes on Clarissa, he knows he will stop at nothing to have her…every part of her.
Clarissa Moreland knows her father’s dire situation, and she resolves to do whatever is necessary to save their family’s company. But she doesn’t expect the solution to be a man who looks at her with raw desire and naked yearning. Now her only option is to agree to be his, and he intends to keep her forever.
Content Warning: contains strong language and sexual content
"This is the final offer. I suggest you think very wisely about your next move, Mr. Moreland. The amount of money you owe me can never be paid in ten lifetimes, let alone the two months you are left with," I say, my voice dripping with the scorn and disgust I feel for the man sitting in front of me.
"J-just give me some more t-time," he begs. "Please, my company is all I have left. I can pay the money back. I-I just need some more time."
"Stop deluding yourself. You and I both know if you could pay me back, I wouldn't be here right now. You have until tomorrow to get back to me," I state in a cold voice edged with steel as I turn to leave the gaudy, stifling confines of his office without a backward glance.
I have no respect for a man who squanders away his family fortune on a life of luxury and comfort. If the company he inherited from his father meant so much to him, then he would work to keep it afloat instead of spending money on privileges he hasn't earned. Now he's so deep in debt, he's drowning and begging for scraps.
Grasping the gold, polished handle, I open the heavy, double doors and find my arms full of the softness of a woman. Caught off-guard by the door suddenly opening, she lets out a little squeak, stumbles, and falls right into my chest, her forehead bumping my collarbone.
I automatically grab her upper arms to steady her, and the first thing that hits me is her scent: fresh grass and wide, open spaces. A hint of innocence mixed with wildness that sets my blood boiling and my heart racing as my mind registers the silky, satiny skin under my fingers.
I lift her chin with my forefinger and thumb, and the moment her wide, brown eyes meet mine, it's like a punch to the gut. I struggle to draw air into my suddenly starving lungs as my eyes devour every inch of her. All these years spent with my sole focus on my business and in the space of a single heartbeat, my world shifts. My breath catches in my throat, and all I can do is stare at her, her shiny, brown hair hanging loose down her back, a soft pink blush staining her cheeks.
She tries pulling out of my grasp, and I snap back to the present and growl as I hold her tighter, pulling her closer to me so that her breasts are smashed against my chest and her face is so close I can see the gold flecks in her doe-shaped eyes.
"Who are you?" I question, my voice coming out harsher than I had intended from all the emotions rioting inside me for supremacy. I want to hold her close and never let her go. To take her away from this place that doesn't deserve a beauty like her. To own her.
Before she can reply, Paul speaks from behind me, "She's my daughter, Clarissa."
I was so lost in her presence that I had completely forgotten he was still in the room.
The disapproval is clear in his voice as he says, "I told you to stay away from this wing of the house, Clarissa. When will you listen and do what you are told to—"
"Don't speak to her like that," I bark at him, without tearing my gaze away from her. Then in a gentler voice, I say, "Go wait for me in the foyer, baby."
She starts to look back at Paul, but I move so my body is blocking her line of sight and hold her shoulders to turn her. She takes a step out of the door, and then turns around to look at me over her shoulder, her eyes filled with confusion and desire.
"Go on," I urge. "I'll be right there."
I watch as she turns back around and walks away, her steps shy and unsure. When she has turned the corner out of my sight, I close the door and look back at Paul. "Here's what's going to happen…"
* * * *
When I walk into the foyer, she's waiting by the front door, her teeth tugging at her bottom lip and her fingers twisting a lock of her long, brown hair.
"Clarissa," I call.
She jumps a little and turns to look at me.
"Come here." I stretch my hand out to her.
She looks from my open palm to my face and back again before she shakes her head and takes a step back.
"Clarissa," I growl, a warning in my tone.
She takes another step back, and the thin thread of my control snaps. I lunge, pinning her to the wall with my body pressed against hers. She opens her mouth to scream, but I clamp my palm over her lips as I press her against the wall, the hard planes of my body cushioned by her softness. She looks at me with wide eyes.
"Shh. We don't want daddy to hear and interrupt us, do we?"
Her eyes flash, and I remove my hand from her mouth and place it on the wall beside her head, looking down at her. She's so small her head barely comes up to my chest, and she has to tilt her head back to look into my eyes. God, she is so beautiful.
"What deal have you made with my father? I know he is indebted to you. Don't take the company away. If you give us more time, I can—" Her voice is filled with determination and resolve, as if she has taken it upon herself to shoulder his burdens.
I admire her loyalty, but this is her father's fault. He should be protecting her, not the other way around. The thought sparks my anger.
"Your father's not your concern. He has gotten himself into this mess. He will work to get himself out of it."
She stiffens against me and tilts her chin higher in a stubborn gesture that just makes her look more adorable. But I'm sure she wouldn't appreciate me telling her that. "He's my father. You don't have to take the company away from him. I will get you the money. I just need a little time."
"I don't want the money."
"W-what?" She pauses, her forehead creases in thought, and she bites that pouty, succulent bottom lip again. "Then what do you want?"
"I want you."