Marcus Baird has been called a lot of things: Scottish bastard, heartless, ruthless, but thanks to his new neighbor, he could add ginger buff guy. The ruthless part is true, at least. His current occupation as a handyman is a front to fuel a bidding war between his former employer and the next private equity firm in his sights—an undertaking that should have all his attention, but Ivy makes him an offer he cannot refuse.
When Ivy Stewart imagined losing her virginity, she was at least a decade younger, a yes away from marriage, and her perfect man would make sweet, slow love to her. Waiting for that dream to unfold has kept her watching life from the sidelines. She’s done biding her time. It’s foolhardy to choose Marcus. He’s a man with secrets and an ugly past, but he’s honest about what their relationship will be, charming and…he’s very good with his hands.
Since Marcus took Ivy into his bed, he’s lived a lie. He could be the man she needs. He isn’t a workaholic and he doesn’t really have a heart of stone. But it’s only a matter of time before Ivy finds out the truth, and once again he’s nothing but a Scottish bastard.
Surprised at the abrupt end to their conversation, he raised a brow. “I’m dismissed?”
She shifted, not looking at him. “What more is there?”
Touching her, kissing her, fucking her. “Lie or the truth?”
“Truth.” She didn’t even hesitate.
He cupped her cheek and then ran his thumb over her delicate chin. Her lids lowered. Aye. More of that. He wanted to jolt her, make her blush. It’s why he’d decided to flirt with her explicitly. Marcus wanted to see how she’d react and she hadn’t missed a step.
“If you’d let me, I’d show you a world of pleasure. Teach you all the ways you like to be touched.”
The sound of her gasp tightened his insides. He dragged his thumb down, over the slender column of her neck, her collar bone and stopped at the rise of her breasts. She didn’t try to break the gentle contact.
“I wouldn’t just take your virginity. I’d do every filthy thing my imagination offered.” He drew a lazy sweeping circle over the swell of her breasts. “I’d make sure to ruin you for any other man. Makes me a dobber. I should feel bad about it.”
Her nipples pressed against her dress. He scraped his nails over one and watched her gaze darken. “So you’re right to be wary.”
“Marcus.” The condemnation got tangled up with her moan. She arched her back. Her body pleaded with him to do more. So much more.
He balled his hand to keep from sliding his fingers down her torso, and up her skirt to confirm just how wet his words had made her. “If left up to me, I won’t make the right or kind decision. You’ve waited this long. You should have someone who will make your first time matter. You’ll like everything I’d do to you, but there won’t be romance. The choice is yours, lass.”
Her breathing was unsteady. “I’m wondering if this is what the serpent said to Eve.”
“And you’ve already taken a bite of me.”