The hospital boardroom couldn’t contain the noise that could be heard clear down the hall, where nosy nurses stood quietly and listened to the war over the use of hospital funds. At the center of the argument were Eve Russell and Julian Crane. Every offer Eve made, Julian dashed, frustrating her to no end, as well as the rest of the board members that backed her up. But, since it was Crane funds to be used, there was little that Eve or the rest of the group could do without his approval.

Eve glared at Julian. Why was he being so difficult these days? He had been so easy to deal with this past year, and now…he was being the ‘old’ Julian Crane. Her glare softened when he smiled. She looked away, not wanting him to see that it affected her.

Julian grinned and looked at the papers in front of him. He rather enjoyed getting Eve all riled up. It was such an exhilarating feeling seeing her breasts rise and fall in anger as her eyes flashed, and her lips…how he wanted to lay her down on that table and kiss them till they were swollen.

As the members of the board left the room, infuriated, Julian got up and walked to the huge window and stared down at the street below. He felt her presence behind him. He knew she would not leave until she spoke to him about this. She was that passionate about hospital matters…and other things, he recalled with a smile.

“How could you, Julian?” she asked accusingly. “You know how much this hospital needs those funds.”

He turned and stepped close to her. “You know why,” he said simply, placing his hands on her shoulders.

Eve’s eyes narrowed in disgust. “You are punishing the hospital because I broke things off with you?” She brushed his hands away.

Julian again placed his hands on her shoulders and moved her up against the door, closing it. “Tell me that you don’t miss me, that you don’t want me near you like this…” He leaned in so that his lips were just a breath’s space away.

Eve pushed against his chest, trying to put some distance between them. “No, you are wrong. I love TC. I want to be with him.” Her lips brushed his as she spoke, and she hated the tingling sensation it created in the deepest part of her being. “I want TC; I love him.”

“Hmm, do you?” Julian teased as he pressed her close to him, molding their bodies together. “I don’t think you are being honest,” he murmured as he nuzzled her ear, gently nipping her ear lobe.

Eve’s knees weakened as he continued to mess with her senses. She struggled to remain standing, clinging to his jacket. “S…stop it, Julian,” she muttered.

He brushed his lips against her throat. “You don’t mean that. I know you want me as much as I want you,” he whispered.

She pushed against him, but it was as if she was pushing against a brick wall. Her arms lacked all strength. Her legs no longer cooperated either as she sank against him, her mind reeling from the intoxicating scent of his cologne as his soft lips nibbled her throat and moved across her cheek.

He lifted his head and gazed into her eyes. “Eve…” he whispered, his thumb kneading her lips.

Her lips parted slightly, giving him enough room to slip his thumb into her mouth. In her mind she cursed herself for being so weak around him; cursed her body for betraying her; and her lips, damn, they seemed to have a mind of their own when it came to Julian’s caressing touch. She was going to have to rebel against herself if she was to salvage any feelings that she had left for TC.

He brushed against her teeth, trying to gain access to her mouth, wanting to glide his thumb along her soft, wet tongue. His heart pounded in delight when she parted her teeth, but then, he yelped in surprise when she bit him. “What did you do that for?” he cried, releasing her.

“Consider yourself lucky; I could have done worse.” She glanced down, and instinctively, Julian moved to protect himself when she raised her knee in warning.

“You wouldn’t dare?!” he challenged.

“Just try me,” Eve countered.

Julian studied her for a moment. He sighed. “Well, I can see there is only one way to deal with this.”

“Yes, leave me alone. This cannot go on. We can’t see each other anymore.” She reached for the door. His warm hand on hers startled her, and she turned in surprise.

“Your sweet lips say one thing, Eve, but your body says quite another. I think for now, till you come to your senses, I am going to go along with what your body is telling me.” With that, he yanked her against him, causing her to lose her balance as she crashed into his arms. His lips swooped down and captured her mouth in a punishing, wet, lip-bruising kiss.

Eve gasped into his mouth as he pressed close to her; his need was evident against her thigh. She struggled to free herself, even her leg…to raise her knee, but he held her tightly against him. Powerless to fight him, her heart and body, as usual, gave in long before her mind did.

His hard lips that had been pressing fiercely against hers softened when he slipped his tongue into her mouth, and Eve found herself becoming electric with need and desire. ‘Damn him for knowing me so well, for knowing exactly how to push my buttons. Damn him for being so sexy…for being so male…for using my vulnerability towards him as a weapon against me….and damn you, Eve, for enjoying it!’ she cursed silently as she returned every erotic touch and kiss he gave her.

Her blood rushed through her veins and her heart beat erratically when he placed his hands on her backside and lifted her up higher against him. When he stepped between her legs, forcing them to hug his hips, her face flushed.

Then, just as suddenly as her blood had begun to boil, he released her and set her on the floor again, stepping back.

Eve panted, gazing up at him through drugged eyes, almost too weak to stand.

“There, now, tell me that you don’t want me,” he challenged.

Anger rose up in her as she realized he had been playing with her. She reached up and slapped him. “How dare you!” she cried.

Rubbing his cheek, he smiled. “I dare because you belong with me, and I will not give up until you are mine…” He stepped close again and breathed heavily on her, “in every sense of the word - heart, mind, body and soul.” He caressed her lips. “You can go now and play house with TC, but remember, Eve…TC or not, you will be my lover soon. I guarantee you that.” He smiled as fury blazed in her eyes. “No need to get angry, my love; it will come soon enough. For now, you have something to look forward to.”

Before she could slap his arrogant smile away, he opened the door and left the room. Eve stared at the open door, her heart pounding furiously. “The nerve of that man! He was still the same arrogant ass he was two years ago, and there was no way she was going to let him seduce her again! Renewed with fresh confidence, Eve returned to her rounds, determined to put as much distance between herself and Julian Crane as possible.