Because I’m lost in my thoughts, I don’t hear Cataline enter the room. Her tight black dress cuts across her mid-thighs, and her cleavage teases from a plummeting neckline. She’s done her makeup for probably the second time since arriving at the mansion.
“What is this?” I ask, narrowing my eyes.
Jasmine drifts under my nose as she walks away from me to her seat.
“I told you not to dress up for dinner.”
“I thought you’d like it,” she says, lowering herself gracefully into the chair. Her back is straight as a rod, and her fingers are laced. “You don’t?”
Norman decorates the table with food as I stare Cataline down. He clears his throat. “For dinner, we have—”
He pauses. Though my eyes are still fastened on Cataline, I know he’s watching me as he bows his head. “As you wish, sir.”
I stand and slowly walk the line of the long table. My footsteps echo through the hall, appropriately menacing. I’ve just come from a burning building but am back in my suit and tie to maintain appearances. And my ridiculous glasses, which I remove and toss aside. She’ll believe I’ve just returned from the office. When I’m standing over her, she tugs up the neckline of the dress and blinks at me. I resist smirking as she tucks hair behind her ear twice.
“Well,” she says, “aren’t we going to eat?”
“I’m going to eat.”
“As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one meal at this table, and it’s you.”
My ears pick up her slow swallow, my eyes the curl of her hands in her lap. “That sounds like a threat,” she says quietly.
I bend over, flatten one hand on the table and wrap the other around the arm of her chair. “It’s not. This is a threat: if you’re not naked and spread out on this table in two seconds, I’m going to spank you so hard, you won’t know up from down.”