Joseph Petrović was as nervous as a teenager on his first date. Mackenzie Conley would be there in less than an hour. And if all went as planned—in his bed by nightfall.
Smiling at the thought, he made one last inspection of the areas he intended to show them on the tour. Everything was exactly as one would expect a research lab for a huge chemical company to look like. Pleased with himself for coming up with the perfect excuse to get her there, he walked out of the fake lab he and his men had carefully constructed in less than a day.
When he’d approached her at the café the day before, he’d sensed her hesitation to talk to him. But instead of discouraging him, her covert rejection had only prompted him to up his game. Knowing she’d refuse if he asked outright, he’d gone straight to her boss, sweetening the invitation with the promise of a huge donation to the School of Science.
At first Ziane had suggested bringing the head of the department with him instead of Mackenzie, but Petrović had quickly nixed that, saying he was eager to hear her suggestions about ways he could improve his techniques.
He knew he was obsessed with her, but he was powerless to keep from taking one the biggest risks of his life to have her close. It had taken two years to build the facility high in the Moroccan mountains, and after several positive test trials, he was close to achieving his goal. No one knew about his experiments, and certainly, no one had ever seen them. But he longed to show Mackenzie everything—to have her see firsthand his brilliant new invention, a creation that would make him one of the richest men in the world.
When he’d first heard about the American guest lecturing at the university, he’d gone to see for himself what the fuss was all about. It had only taken an hour listening to her, watching her move so gracefully around the classroom, her long dark curls bouncing with every step, her caftan unable to hide what he anticipated to be an exquisite body underneath, to know he had to have her. He’d attended two or three lectures a week after that until he’d finally come up with a plan to lure her to his haven in the mountain.
He walked to the far end of the house and entered the small room furnished with only a single aluminum table in the middle. After repositioning one of the leather restraints that had fallen off the tabletop, he took one last look around before walking back out and locking the door behind him. The last test subject had been disposed of earlier, and the room looked pristine, but he needn’t have worried. This was one area Mackenzie Conley would never see on the tour.
Checking his watch, he hurried to put on the curly wig and apply the mustache. Then he inserted the dark brown contact lenses before taking one final look at himself, pleased with what he saw.
Today all his hard work would be rewarded, and Mackenzie Conley would be his, one way or another.
He wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead, feeling an unfamiliar tightness in his lower body. He didn’t know how much longer he could wait.