Deal Twice

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She scoffed. "Don't charm your way into my good graces, Carbonel. I've seen too many men take that route and fail."

He heartily laughed. "I wasn't even trying to be charming."

"So, you're just being a natural flirt?"

"I wasn't even flirting," he protested. "It was just a wink. If I ever plan to flirt with you, you'll know."

"Because you wouldn't be too artful and do just what men do?"

"Men? How many men have you been with?"

"Excuse me?" Her brow rose.

"What you did with who in the past won't be a bone to pick between us, Nyxa. I believe in the equality of the sexes."

"Sexual pleasure is farthest from my mind when I am with you, Leiandros Carbonel."

"Hm..." He smiled. "We'll see about that..."

"Mr. Carbonel, to spare you from the pain of my rejection, let me just say that I am already set to marry someone."

"You're in a relationship?" he asked and for a second she wasn't sure how to describe her betrothal to Jason – it wasn't romantic but something they both expected.

"You can call it that..." she said in a small voice.

He frowned. "It's either you are in a relationship or you aren't."

"I am engaged."

"You are?" He sounded surprised.

"Yes. I have been engaged since I was eighteen. Our families plan to hold a wedding as soon as he's done with his PhD abroad."

"Do you love him?"

"What kind of question is that?"

"Because you don't talk about him with fondness or affection in your voice. In fact, you sounded indifferent as if you were talking about the weather."

"We are not into the cheesy stuff, Mr. Carbonel. Jason and I are adults."

"So, how do you communicate?"

"Is the internet a foreign concept to you?"

"But you do visit him, right?"

"No..." she said finding it somehow weird that it didn't even occur to her to visit Jason in Japan.

"Why?"

"I was busy with school then with helping my family run our business."

"Those are just excuses."

"Call it whatever you like. Jason and I are assured of our feelings towards each other—"

"Does he turn you on?"

Her eyes widened comically. "Excuse me, what?"

"You don't sound like a woman who's in love. I am curious if you at least desire him. Because what's the point of a marriage if you don't, at the very least, enjoy the marital bed?"

"You seem to know a lot about marital beds."

"I do," he replied without qualm. "Though, I have never been married but I have bedded women who are."

Her eyes widened more in shock. "Why do you seem proud instead of ashamed?"

"Why would I be ashamed?"

"Because you slept with someone else's wife?"

"A man who doesn't satisfy his woman in bed so she has to seek satisfaction in someone else's arms is not worthy to be called a husband."

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