Violet Fire

Violet Fire by Brenda Joyce Read Free Book Online

Book: Violet Fire by Brenda Joyce Read Free Book Online
Authors: Brenda Joyce
often. She lifted her chin, trying very hard to ignore his blatant assessment of her. The problem was, her body had a mind of its own, and her heart was trying to leap right out of her rib cage. “That child is only six, not sixteen. Wrinkles? Please, don’t go putting any more vanity into her head than already exists there.”
    â€œWhy not?” Rathe asked easily. “She’s a beautiful child and she’s going to be a gorgeous woman. Do you have something against flattery, Grace?”
    Her jaw muscles went tight. His gaze seemed to be penetrating her through and through; it was as if he was trying to see inside to all her deepest secrets. “It’s not flattery I have a problem with,” she replied coolly.
    At that, his dimples deepened. “Good,” he said, staring. His gaze had become very warm. His hand came up, slowly. Shocked, Grace realized he was reaching for her glasses and she found herself leaning backward against the wall.
    â€œBecause I’m going to take off those ugly spectacles and look into your eyes,” he breathed, his forefinger touching her face. “And then I’m going to tell you just how beautiful you are.”
    Grace literally jumped. “Please,” she cried, aware of being breathless, “spare me your chauvinistic attentions.”
    That stopped him dead in his tracks, puzzlement crossing his features. “Chauvinistic attentions?”
    It was men like this who were responsible for the plight of modern women—men who saw only a pretty face and a warm body to serve their needs. She felt the hot surge of victory for having outmaneuvered him. “I have no need of flattery, not from you, and not from any man.”
    â€œAh, I see. Independent, are we?”
    She flushed, lips tightening. “Yes.”
    He stared at her, then smiled slightly. “Are you afraid of me, Grace?”
    She was so angry and shocked she was speechless.
    â€œOr are you afraid of a well-deserved compliment?”
    She gasped. “I, sir, am afraid of no man and certainly of no words—at least, no words in your vocabulary! But please, let me ask a question.” She was glowing triumphantly. She rushed on, both barrels about to blast. “You, of course, are an expert on which subject—flattery or women?”
    He chuckled. “Both, sweetheart, both.”
    His nerve made her jaw lock momentarily. “As long as women are treated like inferior, doll-like beings by men like you, sir, as long as we are flattered for being merely pleasant objects to look upon, we will never rise to enjoy all that God has blessed us with.”
    He stared, blinked, then grinned again. “Oh, no,” he breathed. “You aren’t one of those crazy women agitators, are you?”
    She ignored him, although she was red-faced now. “It is men like you, sir, who are responsible for the downtrodden plight of women today!”
    â€œThe downtrodden plight…I was only trying to make you feel good, Gracie,” he murmured.
    â€œFlattery doesn’t make a man feel good?” she challenged.
    â€œFlattery makes a dog feel good, for that matter. I happen to enjoy petting dogs.” He stared back, hard.
    She flushed. “We are talking about men and women, not dogs.”
    He grinned. “Let’s talk about men and women,” he said, his tone dropping suggestively. “Although talking does get boring—sooner or later.”
    She gasped in frustration. “Do you or do you not enjoy flattery, sir?”
    â€œGracie, you can flatter me any day, any time, right now if you feel like it.”
    â€œI’m afraid,” she said crisply, “the task you set me is impossible, monumental, and insurmountable.”
    He had the gall to laugh with obvious enjoyment. “And I thought my appeal was irresistible.”
    â€œWe are not all blatant, naive fools,” Grace snapped.
    â€œYou have an interesting

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