Home > Her Tender Tyrant (The Alfieri Saga #5)

Her Tender Tyrant (The Alfieri Saga #5)
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Elizabeth Lennox - The Alfieri Saga #5 - Her Tender Tyrant

Her Tender Tyrant (The Alfieri Saga #5)
Elizabeth Lennox



Chapter 1

Marcus heard the noise and dropped the papers he’d been reading. His eyes sharpened as he waited for the sound to come again. When there wasn’t any other sound, he decided that he’d just been hearing things. Lowering the papers to his lap, he rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying to ease the tension that was starting to accumulate behind his forehead. His mother had been right. He’d been working too hard and needed a break. Of course, staying in their house while they went down and visited their newest grandchild wasn’t exactly his idea of a vacation, but it hid him away from the prying, invasive eyes of the press. And that was what he needed more than anything else in order to finish this particular acquisition. There was a great deal of controversy and protest this time around because he was buying up what the locals considered a family business. A family business that was about to die out, he thought. If he hadn’t stepped up and offered to buy this particular firm, there would be more than a thousand people out of work next month.

With a sigh, he lifted the report once more, efficiently writing notes in the margins.

When he heard the sudden noise again, he stood up, tossed the papers onto the table beside him and walked out of his father’s home office where he’d been working. It was well past midnight and he’d thought he was the only one in the house. All of his brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews were down in Texas. Even Butch and Dennis, his mother’s stable helpers were long gone, having headed home right after the evening feeding of the horses.

When he stepped into the kitchen, he immediately saw the light coming from the fridge. Someone had broken into the house to get food? Really? A hungry burglar? That was new.

On silent feet, Marcus moved around the breakfast bar. He saw the boots underneath the door but knew that the feet were still too small to be either Butch’s feet or Dennis’. Besides, they would have announced themselves. And more importantly, they rarely came up to the house, preferring the company of the horses. No matter how many times his mother invited them to dinners or family gatherings, they refused, coming up with excuses so they didn’t have to be around other people. Horses they understood. People were a mystery to those two men.

So who was standing in the open door of the fridge?

He crept around, wishing he had a weapon but at least he knew how to fight. During high school his dad had recognized the excess energy that made his sons a bunch of accidents waiting to happen and dumped them all into martial arts training. And football, swimming, soccer…any sport that would use up the extra energy four growing boys had to spare. Which, at the time, seemed endless.

Ready for anything, he moved silently around the counter, watching and waiting. When he was in position, he jerked the door open wider, his arm snapping out and capturing the intruder. He had the surprisingly small and supple body in a lock when he felt something cold and squishy hit his face. At the exact same time, his hands came into contact with something warm and soft. The two textures, hitting him at the same time, threw him off balance but his training kicked in and he spun the intruder around…only to be confronted by the prettiest brown eyes he’d ever seen, surrounded by pale white skin and a head full of auburn hair, lit on fire by the fluorescent lights of the fridge interior.

Her high pitched yelp identified her as a female, but his hand still holding her very soft, very full breast helped his mind wrap around that fact more quickly.

“What are you doing? Who are you? I don’t have any money!” she said as those brown eyes looked back at him with confusion and a large dose of fear.

Marcus twisted slightly, getting a better look at the woman. His hand still hadn’t moved, nor did he feel the need to move it. That hand was perfectly happy right where it was. “Who are you and how did you get into this house?” he demanded, wondering if he’d forgotten to turn on the security system. No, he’d done that. He remembered pressing the code into the system right before he’d settled down to read the reports his assistant had sent to him.

“I’m Juliette. And I’m armed!” she warned, her big, brown eyes revealing her terror.

Marcus registered her fear quickly enough and told him that she wasn’t a threat. At least not a threat in the traditional manner. “Okay, Juliette, how did you get through the alarm system?”

She stuttered for a moment before finally spitting out, “Damien Alfieri showed me how to disarm the security system, but it’s still on. And the security company has probably already sent the police here.”

Marcus almost laughed at her threat. “I don’t hear the alarm ringing.”

“It’s a silent alarm,” she lied, praying that he would just go away. It suddenly occurred to her that she wasn’t necessarily afraid of this man. Not that he would hurt her so much as…well, she wasn’t really sure why she was so nervous. There was just an instinctive knowledge that she knew he wouldn’t hurt her. So why was she shivering so violently?

Marcus leaned in closer, trying to ignore her soft body pressing against his. She was in his house illegally; he shouldn’t be turned on by her. “It isn’t a silent alarm. If the alarm were going off, the people in town would be able to hear it,” he countered. “Why are you here?”

Juliette wasn’t sure who he was, but their position was becoming a bit awkward. “Um…do you think you could take your hand off of my breast?” she asked, looking all pretty and blushing now. “Please?” she whispered.

Marcus looked down. It wasn’t that he hadn’t known his hand was on a breast. And this one was extraordinary. But since this was a stranger, albeit a gorgeous one, he really should release the luscious flesh.

Slowly, his hand opened up and he moved back, but not far enough that she could escape. All of a sudden, a cold blob fell onto his shoulder. He looked down, remembering the cold splash to his face several moments ago. He realized that there was a blob of ice cream melting on his shirt, soaking through to his skin.

“You’re stealing ice cream?” he asked, looking disgusted as he pulled the chunk of ice cream off of him with his fingers, flinging it into the sink behind her.

“I’m not stealing anything!” she countered, offended that he would even suggest something like that. “And who are you? What are you doing in Damien Alfieri’s house?”

“Damien Alfieri is my father. I’m Marcus Alfieri, little Ms. Juliette. So I believe I have a right to be here since I grew up in this house. Which still doesn’t explain what your adorable butt is doing in my parents’ fridge, eating ice cream.”

Juliette suddenly realized the crazy situation and started to laugh. It was just a chuckle at first, but as the hilarity of the scene started to dawn on her, the laughter grew until she was doubled over, laughing and almost crying, holding her stomach as the adrenaline slowly left her body.

When she could finally stop laughing, she stood up, taking a deep breath and pushing her hair back off of her face. “Oh, goodness. I needed that laugh. It’s been a really tough week so far.”

“It’s Wednesday,” he said, enjoying her laughter but still not sure what she was doing in his parents’ house. She was cute, in a sexy kitten kind of way. Not too skinny but definitely not fat. Curvy, he thought. And tiny. Hell, she barely reached his shoulder in her bare feet. She was small enough to be a kid, but her figure told him she was all woman. A woman he wouldn’t mind exploring a bit more. If he could just figure out what she was doing in this house.

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