A Night of No Return(7)

By: Sarah Morgan

‘Emma?’ His voice was soft and deadly and did nothing to reassure her.

She discovered that her hands were shaking and that irritated her. This was Lucas, for goodness’ sake. She’d worked with him almost every day for two years. He was tough, but he wasn’t threatening. Not exactly kind, but not cruel either. ‘I’ve been calling you for hours. Why didn’t you pick up the phone?’

‘Who the hell let you in?’

‘No one. I rang the bell and no one answered so I—’ She broke off and he raised an eyebrow.

‘So you thought you’d just walk into my house? Tell me, Little Red Riding Hood, do you make a habit of walking through the forest when the wolf is loose?’ Fierce blue eyes met hers and Emma felt as if she were being suffocated.

She lifted her hand and loosened the scarf around her neck. Maybe it was his tone. Maybe it was the look in his eyes, but suddenly her heart was pounding. ‘I rang the bell. You didn’t answer.’

‘But you walked in anyway.’ Those softly spoken words were a million times more disturbing than the hard tone he’d used to order her out.

She tried to rally herself. ‘If you had answered your phone I wouldn’t have had to walk in.’

‘My phone is switched off. And I didn’t answer the door because I wasn’t looking for company.’

Something snapped inside her. ‘You think I drove for over two hours in lethal conditions for the pleasure of your company? After the week we’ve had, when I’ve had your “company” for an average of fifteen hours a day? I don’t think so.’ The injustice of it stoked her temper. ‘I drove here, at much personal inconvenience, I might add, to give you a file. The file that you forgot to pick up. The file you need tomorrow.’

‘Tomorrow?’ The way he said it made it sound as if that day were a lifetime away. A point somewhere in the future that might never come.

‘Yes, tomorrow.’ She looked at him in exasperation. Was he really that drunk? ‘Zubran? The launch party? Your papers for the Ferrara meeting? Is any of this ringing any bells with you?’ She’d been clutching the file to her chest like a shield but now she thrust it towards him and then decided that on second thoughts she didn’t want him to move from the sofa, so instead she dropped it on the nearest table. ‘There. My job is done. You can thank me when you’re sober.’

Slowly, he put the champagne down on the floor. ‘You drove out here to give me the file?’

‘Yes, I did.’ And suddenly she felt like a crazy person for doing that. ‘You need it. I didn’t want to trust it to a courier.’

‘You could have given it to Jim.’

Jim was his driver. ‘Jim has flown to Dublin for a long weekend.’ Why hadn’t he remembered that? What was the matter with him?

‘So you chose to bring it in person.’ His eyes glinted in the firelight and his gaze slowly travelled from her head to her toes as if he was seeing her properly for the first time.

‘Yes, I brought it to you in person,’ she snapped, hating herself for caring that she wasn’t looking her best. It wasn’t that she had any expectations of coming close to meeting his standards of visual perfection, but it would have boosted her confidence and made her feel businesslike. As it was, it was hard to feel businesslike with mud and snow streaked down her coat. ‘Frankly I’m starting to wish I hadn’t bothered, since the gesture clearly isn’t appreciated.’

‘Your head is bleeding. And your hair is wet. What happened to you?’

There was blood? Emma touched her head with her fingers and felt the bruise. Oh God, there was blood. How embarrassing. She rummaged in her bag for a tissue and pressed it against her head. ‘I slipped walking from the car. It’s fine.’ Suddenly she was horribly aware that it was just the two of them in this enormous house. It didn’t matter that she was often alone with him in the office. This felt different. ‘I’m going now and I’ll leave you to your party.’ She thought again about the balloons and the cake and wondered where everyone else was. In a different part of the house?

‘Ah yes, my party.’ He gave a humourless laugh and his head dropped back against the sofa. ‘Go, Emma. Someone like you shouldn’t be here.’

She’d been about to retreat but his words stopped her. Offended, she tapped her foot on the floor. ‘By “someone like me” I assume you mean someone who doesn’t move in your lofty social circle.’

‘I didn’t mean that, but it doesn’t matter.’

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