Life Blood: Cora's Choice Book 1 (Chapter Six, page 1 of 7)

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He really isn't that tall, I thought as I took the chair the host pulled out for me. But that chiding did nothing to still the racing of my heart. Mr. Thorne looked down at me across the expanse of snowy linen. His slow smile was predatory.

Damn him, I thought, my breath catching. No one had any right to be that handsome. All my fussing in front of the mirror and whatever defense I thought I'd built with it went out the window with one look from him.

"I hope you understand that I cannot possibly afford this," I whispered tensely. "This is not exactly an insurable expense."

His lips quirked. I tried not to stare at them. "My treat."

I had the sense of undercurrents of meaning that I didn't understand, of secret motives that went beyond my cure or even, for that matter, any kind of simple attraction to me. If Mr. Thorne wanted to seduce someone, he could do a far sight better than an emaciated, exhausted, dying college student.

I tried again. "I don't think this is the proper kind of setting for a doctor and patient to meet."

"Does the name Mr. Thorne mean nothing to you?" he asked, delicately stressing the title. "I am no one's doctor."

My stomach flipped over. Was this some kind of sick joke?

Before I could confront him, the sommelier appeared, bearing a bottle of wine. "You specified the Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Riesling Spätlese now and the Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino with the main course, sir?"

"Indeed," Mr. Thorne said.

The sommelier uncorked the white wine, pouring a small amount into the wineglass in front of him. Mr. Thorne sniffed it and nodded, and at his signal, the man half-filled first my glass and then his. I murmured my thanks reflexively even as my mind churned, waiting until she was out of earshot before I pounced.

"If you aren't a doctor, then what the hell do you think you are doing?" I demanded. "Why did you touch me?"

That wasn't what I had meant to say, and the words made my cheeks redden. Way to keep the moral high ground, Cora.

"Why did you take my blood?" I corrected. "Why did you tell me you could help?"

He lifted the wineglass and took a small sip as if to hide his amusement. "One hardly needs a medical degree to be a competent phlebotomist. And I did not hear you protesting at my skill."

His fingers on my wrist... I could almost feel them again. I realized suddenly that my lips had parted, my breathing speeding up involuntarily.

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