Unbuttoned By Her Maverick Boss(2)

By: Natalie Anderson

The irritation rose to a rolling boil. How come no one realised her time was precious too? She walked out of the office, her high heels clipping quickly down the stairs. She passed the receptionist, who was running in the other direction with the cord of her phone headset trailing after her.

‘Will Mr Hall be long, do you think?’ Sophy asked with extreme politeness.

The receptionist stopped, but looked harassed. ‘He’s not up there?’

Sophy gave the woman a cool stare. She didn’t know? Wasn’t she his receptionist? Where was the efficiency in this place—off on a holiday to Mars? She inhaled and crisped up even more. ‘Obviously not.’

The frown on the receptionist’s face deepened. ‘I’m sure I saw him earlier. You could look and see if he’s up on the third floor or try out the back.’ With that she was gone, hurrying to do whatever it was that was so urgent.

Sophy continued down the stairs and went through the doorway behind Reception. This was a meeting that had been arranged two days ago. He might be the newly crowned king of the wine exporters, but for the life of her she couldn’t figure out how he’d managed it. Not when he couldn’t even make it to a meeting on time. She found what had to be the door leading out to the yard. She paused for a second, squared her shoulders and then turned the handle, pulling the heavy wood back.

From what she’d seen at the window upstairs she’d known what she was about to face—but she hadn’t accounted for the effect it would have on her up close. She swallowed, momentarily speechless.

He had his back to her—a mightily broad back it was too, and very bronzed. Well, it would be from all the time he obviously spent out here—shirtless.

The fire that blazed through her was surely all due to anger.

The baseboard and basket were on a stand on the far side of the asphalt square. He had the ball in hand, feet apart, his knees slightly bent as he readied to take the shot.

Sophy waited for the exact moment. Just as his body moved to shoot the ball, she called—raising her normal volume more than a fraction, and using what her speech and drama teacher had referred to as ‘the tone’.

‘Lorenzo Hall?’

Needless to say, he didn’t make the basket. Sophy smiled. But then, in an instant, it died on her lips.

Even with the three or so metres between them she could feel the scorching heat of him. He turned his head, looked her over—a quick, slicing glance with the darkest eyes she’d ever seen. Then he turned back to the wretched basket.

That had been all he needed to sum her up? Sophy wasn’t used to being dismissed so quickly. She might not have lived up to her family’s stellar success in the legal fraternity, but she did okay in the appearance stakes. Always immaculate. Always appropriate. Presentation had been drilled into her for so long it was second nature now. So she knew she looked more than acceptable in her baby-blue linen skirt and pressed white shirt. Her lipstick was muted but smooth and her face wasn’t shiny. Her one-style-only hair would be in place—she didn’t even have to try for that to happen.

The ball had bounced a couple of times. He barely had to move to retrieve it. Once it was back in his broad hands he turned and gave her another look—even more pointed. Then he turned back to face the baseboard, took careful aim and replayed the shot—landing it this time.

Sophy would have turned and walked if she wasn’t too angry to move. So that was the way of it, huh? His little game of by-myself-basketball was more important than a meeting scheduled with her. She’d heard nothing but positives about this guy’s charitable organisation. Had heard the rumours about his own background and his meteoric rise—marvellous, wasn’t it, people said, that someone with a background like that could become such a success?

Well, Sophy wasn’t about to patronise the selfish jerk. ‘Are we meeting any time soon?’ She refused to offer to come back at another time—bit back the conciliatory words by pushing her jaws together. She wasn’t going to put herself out at all for him.

The ball had bounced back to him again. He tossed it to the side and walked towards her. His jeans sat low on his hips. He wore them with no belt and she saw a glimpse of a waistband—briefs or boxers? She shouldn’t be wondering. But she couldn’t stop looking.

There was no fat beneath his skin, just lithe muscles that rippled as he walked. She managed to force her gaze a fraction higher, skimming over the dusting of masculine hair, the dark nipples. He had straight, broad shoulders. Sleek curving muscles stretched down his arms. And all over was the sheen of sweat—burnishing the smooth, sun bronzed skin.

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