Cleo still stood with her arms crossed and her bad knee bent so that her other leg was taking most of her weight.

“Explain!” he commanded, pointing to her knee.


“I have a weak knee, and sitting in seiza made it flare up a bit.”

He swore colorfully in about three different languages before running an agitated hand through his hair.

“What’s wrong with your knee?” he asked after a moment, and she huffed impatiently.

“You’ve seen every inch of my body,” she said. “I assumed that, over the course of the week, you’d have noticed the great, ugly scar on my knee?”

“Of course I did,” he admitted. “And I’ve been meaning to ask you about it. Only—”

“Only you’ve never had the time?” she completed. Where would he find the time? At night he was fully occupied with seducing her, and his days were dominated by back-to-back meetings required to get his precious hotel built. And then there was the obvious fact that he simply didn’t care enough to delve into personal details. They didn’t speak about anything other than superficial nonsense when they were alone at night, and once the sex started, the conversation dwindled down to what felt good and where.

“I was aware of the scar. I just never really appreciated that your knee might have been weakened by it. Which was foolish considering the extent of the scarring. But in my defense, it never seems to bother you, you usually walk without impediment, and you’re quite limber—as I can personally attest.”

His comment flashed her back to two nights before, when they’d had sex in the middle of his room, his hands supporting her butt and her legs wrapped around his waist, without even a wall to bolster them. It had been quite a testament to his strength and her flexibility. Only their mutual orgasms had finally sent them sinking down to the carpeted floor. She flushed at the memory and felt uncomfortably hot as she remembered how intense that session had been, the fear of falling combined with the excitement of maintaining rhythm and balance.

“Anyway,” she said, hoping to divert them both back to the point at hand, “the knee doesn’t really bother me unless I’m testing it, and, trust me, that seiza thing tested it sorely.”

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“How old is the injury?” he asked, looking deeply uncomfortable with the question, and she knew it was because he felt compelled to ask her a personal question to make himself look—and possibly feel—like less of an uncaring dick.

“I injured it about three years ago,” she recalled, her lips twisting as she remembered the catastrophic fall that had killed all of her dreams.

“What happened?” Again, the question sounded torn from him. He clearly hated asking and probably had no real interest in the answer.

“I had an accident and needed knee surgery. The end. You don’t have to ask me any more questions, sir. You’ve shown an interest. Noted.”

He said nothing, merely watched her for a very long moment, that handsome face maddeningly blank.

“So be it.” He shrugged dismissively. “We will return to the hotel.”

“You don’t have to go back. I can make it back on my own.”

“Undoubtedly,” he agreed. “But I find myself rather tired.”

“Do you?” she asked on a whisper, and his lips quirked in that sexy, dreadful cat-that-got-the-cream grin.


“What?” she asked, although she knew exactly what he meant by that.

“I’m tired-ish,” he clarified, even though the expression on his face suggested he knew he didn’t really have to. “I may find my second wind by the time we return to the hotel.”

Of course he would.

And did.

Breakfast felt different. Usually the meal, which was always delivered to their suite, was eaten in a rush while Dante rapid-fired a list of the day’s requirements at Cleo. Today, with the urgency of the week behind them and the memory of the previous night’s fantastic sex still throbbing between them, everything felt odd. Different. Wrong.

They would leave for the airport in under an hour, and they were in this weird space of nothingness where everything had been arranged and there was no more to be done other than enjoy the rare moment of peace and quiet.

Only it wasn’t peaceful and it was much too quiet.

Cleo swallowed a piece of toast that felt like sandpaper as it slid down her dry throat. She chased it down with some acidic orange juice and wondered at her nervousness.

She got up and restlessly made her way over to the huge picture windows beside the Bakokko armchairs, which now had some pretty raunchy memories attached to them. There was a layer of smog hanging over the city that did nothing to detract from Tokyo’s vibrancy. She had voraciously read her guidebook from beginning to end, diligently folding over the pages dedicated to places that she had longed to see, promising herself she would come back and visit someday. She knew that it was unlikely to happen and considered herself lucky to have seen this much of it at least, from way up in her glass tower and the claustrophobic confines of the car.

“Miss Knight.” Dante’s quiet voice intruded upon her thoughts, and she couldn’t help but wonder if he’d called her Miss Knight because he’d forgotten her name again. The absolute ludicrousness of a man who knew her body better than she did addressing her so formally caused a tiny burble of hysterical laughter to rise in her chest. She swallowed it back down, instinct telling her he wouldn’t appreciate her humor right now.

She turned to face him, hiding a grimace when her still-sore knee twinged in response to the movement. Sure enough, the grim set of his jaw and the tense line of his mouth confirmed that he was ready to have a Serious Discussion.

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