Eleanor Emberton isn't sitting around waiting for a handsome prince to rescue her. In fact, she's determined to save not only herself, but her whole family from her stepmother's headlong plunge into financial ruin. When she meets a mysterious man at the ball, romance is the last thing on her mind, but she can't help feeling an instant attraction. Before long she finds herself head over heels for her charming suitor. So what if he's left out a few teeny, tiny details?
She started with his waist. She had to practically embrace him to run the measuring tape behind his back, and Max could feel the heat of her face, ghosting just above the bare skin on his chest. He was tempted to inhale deeply, and brush against her cheek, but he took a firm grip on himself. He willed himself to not move, no matter what wayward thoughts went through his head.
It was an odd kind of erotic torture, standing there, pretending not to notice when her fingers brushed the flat planes of his stomach as she brought the ends of the tape together. Heat bloomed in his core, rising to meet each delicate fingertip. From his waist she loosened the tape and drew it over his hips, letting the heel of one hand nestle into the hollow just under his hipbone while she noted the measurements with the other. The warmth raced to follow, settling where ever skin met skin. When she knelt down in front of him, Max closed his eyes and kept track of what she was doing by feeling the path her hands were taking across his body. Whisper light touches—at his waist with one hand, the other skimming along the outside of his leg to the floor—coated his skin with liquid fire.
Ella was grateful when Max closed his eyes. Her face was burning and her hands were shaking, but being unobserved allowed her to calm down and fall into a rhythm; one hand holding the tape, the other letting it slip through her fingers until she found the measurement, then writing it down and beginning again. Waist, hips, waist to floor; the inseam gave her a momentary pause.
“Could you hold this end of the tape for me?” Her voice was pitched so low it almost sounded like another person. Max looked down at her with burning eyes and Ella hastily offered him the measuring tape. He closed his hand over hers, pulling the tape from her suddenly slack fingers.
“Where does it go?” He saw her eyes widen in alarm at the question.
“It, ah, it goes... just put it against your leg, and...” Max almost grinned at her sudden hesitation.
Ella saw the wicked twinkle in his eye, and immediately stopped faltering. “I’m sure you’ve been measured before.”
“I have, but trust me, this is still a whole new experience.”