The Pursuit of Pleasure

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Chapter 17

Victoria had known that people still whispered about her. Whether ot was her personal or her position at her father’s company. She also knew that they wouldn’t dare say anything to her face. So she decided that what was said behind her back didn’t matter, not even when they were beginning to hint that she was the shameful lady behind the mask who over bid at the auction.

Let them speculate all they want, she thought. As long as it didn’t get to her father’s ear, she would pay no attention. The whispers about that night didn’t bother her at all. No, she decided.

But the dreams - the dreams did.

She dreamed of Nikolai. Erotic dreams that left the sheets twisted at her feet. The dreams were all to real, it left her flushed with heat and sometimes she would awaken at the feel of Nikolai’s lips on her mouth. Not all the dream were as erotic as the next. Some were sweet, and Nikolai would tenderly hold her in his arms and they’d danced in a flower-filled field. The dreams were silly, she knew that ; and they were just that - dreams.

She began walking in the green field and watched with amusement as a group of horses started running in the distance.

Victoria paused and wondered what it would feel like if to run amongst them. She glanced down at her boots and with swift helands, she freed her feet from them. She scuffed her bare toes in the cool grass before walking back towards the farmhouse.

My god, she thought. Her father would probably turn purple if he saw her walking around like this. After all the class he had paid to have her prim and ready to play her role impeccably as a upper class wife of his successor.

A hawk cried out as it soared towards the hot valley sun. Victoria tilted her head back, looked up and sighed softly ; wondering what it must feel like to be free. Something that she will obviously never know.

Victoria smoothed back her hair. The hot breeze had teased the strands loose from the knot she had secured at the nape this morning. She glanced down and noticed a car in the driveway, parked alongside her rented sedan. It was a black Porsche.

It must be her lawyer, she thought, walking in its direction.

Her mobile phone rang just as she reached the car. She plucked it from the back pocket of her jeans and heard her attorney’s voice on the other line.

“Ms. Sinn, forgive me, but I’m afraid that I’m not going to make it.”

Victoria sighed as she reached the steps of the porch. “That’s fine. We’ll just have to reschedule then.”

“Well, actually Mr. Hoffmann is already heading your way. So my suggestion is to hear what he has to say. Unless you feel uncomfortable meeting him alone.”

She smiled. She liked David Hoffman. He had been like a father to her and to be quiet honest, sometimes she wished that he was. Which is why when her lawyer approached her about him wanting to by Hawks ranch, she didn’t hesitate to consider it.

“That will be fine, Barley. I know David. So I’m sure that it will be fine.”

“Oh, no! Ms. Sinn. Mr. Hoffmann. As in Nikolai Hoffmann. He’ll be representing his father, Mr. David Hoffman.”

She felt the blood drain to her toes. “What?”

“He tells me that you two are old friends.”

“Old friends,” Victoria said, between clenched teeth.

“It’s sort of true, isn’t it?” A low male voice said.

Victoria jerked around. Nikolai stood in front of the screen door. He was wearing jeans and a white T-shirt and boots. Cowboy boots.

“Victoria?” Barley’s voice echoed in the background.

She stared into the grey eyes of the man that she had been dreaming about.

Victoria wanted to laugh. Friends? Hell, she didn’t know what to call them right now but ‘friends’? Friends dont know how each other’s skin taste like. So no. They were not friends and surely not old ones.

“Victoria.” His voice sounded again.

She licked her lips. “Yes?” She said, into the phone.

“Are you okay?” Her attorney asked.

“Yes, I’m fine. I’ll be fine. Mr. Hoffman and I are ... friends. I’m sure that we can come to an understanding. ” she replied.

Nikolai smiled. Victoria tried not to focus on his lips, it reminded her of how good it felt against her own.

“Alright. But do not agree to anything. Just listen to what he has to offer.” Barley said.

“Of course.” She said, her eyes never leaving his as she hit the disconnect button.

“Nikolai.” She said, with a distinct coolness on her voice.

Nikolai restrained the desire to pull her into his arms and kiss the look of distaste off her face. But by the looks of it, she just might scratch his eyes out.

“Princess.”

She flushed. Was there anything that he was going to say or do, that wouldn’t remind her about those nights spent in bed with him.

“Don’t call me that.” She said, tucking her phone back in her pocket.

Nothing had changed and Nikolai could tell. She was still the ice princess that landed him a blow the last time they were alone. But hell, he didn’t expect her to look this beautiful. Something in his body stirred when his eyes landed on the pair of jean that she was wearing. It hugged her curves in all the right places and reminded him of just how soft they felt against his palms.

“Right,” he said calmly, leaning against the wall. “We’re back to formalities. Where are my manners?”

“My lawyer says that you’re here representing David.” She said, moving past him and opening the screen door.

“That’s the plan.” He said pleasantly, following her inside the Victotian farmhouse.

“I would have preferred him coming himself.” She told him flatly, walking into the living room.

Her words. They wounded him more than they should. A peg of jealousy hit him at the thought of her wanting to see his father instead of him. It was ridiculous, he knew that. Yet the feeling itself wouldn’t go away. Before he could say anything, she added, “You have to understand, this was my mother’s ranch and I wanted to hear from him that once he purchases it, he won’t change it completely.”

The muscles in his face relaxed. And his eyes softened. “I’ll let him know.” He said coolly, leaning against the wall, watching her manoeuvre her way into the living room.

Victoria swung around and looked at him with raised brows. She hadn’t expected him to be so... cordial. Hell, she didn’t even know what to expect when it came to him. He was so unpredictable, which made her even more so nervous to be around him. She didn’t trust herself to be alone with him.

“Thank you.” She muttered.

“Now,” Nikolai said, glancing down at his watch, trying to look thoughtful. “how about we head for an early dinner?”

Victoria stared at him as if he had lost his mind. “Dinner? I didn’t come here for dinner.”

“What did you come here for then?” He asked with a raised brow. “Do you want to sell your ranch or not?”

“Of course, I do. But don’t see how going to dinner will get the job done. Unless you plan on getting me drunk to agree on everything that you say.”

Nikolai laughed. “Do I really need to get you drunk for that? The only reason I’m asking you to dinner is because the lovely lady I came here with has been buzzing me about food ever since we landed.”

“Lady?” Victoria’s eyes narrowed at him. “You brought a date to a negotiation deal?”

For a moment, Nikolai considered playing along with her premature conclusion. But on the other hand, it was worth almost anything to see that flash look in her eyes and the way her face had turned redin seconds.

“I wouldn’t call Daisy, my date. Atleast not to her face, she might get offended.”

Daisy. Victoria blinked. She hadn’t seen Daisy in a long while.

“Daisy came?”

“I sure did.” Came her voice, followed by footsteps as she walked into the living room. “And Nikolai’s right. I am deeply offended that you call me his date.” She scrunched her face in false disgust, “I wouldn’t date him even with a gun to my head.”

Victoria’s eyes met Nikolai’s. He was laughing. She told herself that it was probably at her for being an idiot but a laugh burst from her throat, anyway.

Daisy walked over and gave Victoria a hug. “Its been too long, Vicky.”

Victoria smiled. “Way too long. But why are you here?” She asked.

“Dad asked me to inspect the place. You know, for liabilities and such.” Daisy replied.

“Oh, I see.”

“I was just telling Victoria that we should discuss it over dinner,” Nikolai said, then turned to look at Daisy. “I wouldn’t want you to waste away.”

“Funny.” Daisy returned. “So? Should we head out?”

Nikolai flicked a brow at Victoria. “I don’t know. You see, Ms. Sinn hasn’t given me her answer yet.”

Victoria hesitated. Her heart danced at how he had formally said her name, as if it was something only him and her would understand. And the way he was looking at her felt like the way he had done so the last time that she had laid in his arms .

She felt as thought the air was being sucked out of the room. But she had come here to sell the property and having Daisy with them, what could possibly happen?

“Of course,” she said, trying not to think about Nikolai’s fingers as they slide down her back to the curve of her waist as he led them out of the farmhouse.

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