At the Billionaire's Beck and Call?(10)

By: Rachel Bailey

Ryder gave a half smile, as if he knew exactly what she was doing. “I won’t compromise on this.”

He picked up her hand and laid a soft kiss on her wrist that sent a slow burn through her bloodstream. She snatched her hand back—she couldn’t let herself be dazzled.

Ryder gave another half smile. Then he turned to hail a cab. A bright orange car pulled up on the street in front of them and she slid into the backseat, soon joined by Ryder. He was close, so close, and it was much more intimate sharing the backseat of a sedan than in a public bar.

“Where to, Macy?” Ryder asked.

She clipped her seat belt, determined to keep her distance at all costs—a promotion was worth more than a night in the boss’s bed.

Ryder listened to Macy give the driver her address and frowned. Having never been to Melbourne before, there were only a few streets that were familiar to his ears.

“You live next door to our office?”

She settled back into her seat. “Yes.”

Though it would have been covered in her resume, he remembered the location of both her previous workplace and home address from the dossier he’d had prepared on her once he’d decided they would marry. And her home those three weeks ago was not their current destination.

He cocked his head on the side. “Your last job was on the other side of Melbourne.”

“It was,” she conceded, glancing at the city streets and the evening traffic through her window, before returning her gaze to him. “I moved.”

Ryder adjusted his long legs to turn his frame more toward her. This little pearl of insight was too valuable to let pass. “You moved for a two-month project?”

She raised one shoulder and let it fall. “I like to be near my work.”

Very near. “Do you always move when you change jobs?”

Macy shifted in her seat, not quite squirming, but definitely not happy answering the question. Interesting.

Then she called up another polite smile. “Usually. It makes sense to be near where I spend the majority of my day. And it means I can be called in on short notice.”

He frowned, considering the pieces of the puzzle. There was more to it. “You live in temporary places.”

She nodded once. “They suit my purposes.”

They pulled up at the downtown high-rise apartment block and Ryder leaned forward to look at the building through the windscreen. “In what way?”

“They’re temporary.” Macy clasped the door handle. “Thanks for seeing me home.”

He swiveled back to her. She thought he’d leave her alone on a city street? Not likely. Besides, it was time he put his proposition on the table. They’d made a connection—now he had to hope it was enough to back up the logic of his offer.

Ryder thrust some Australian notes at the driver. “I’m seeing you to your door.”

Her lush lips compressed into a flat line. “There’s no need. Really.”

He took his change and thanked the driver. “Yes, there is.”

She inclined her head, accepting graciously, if a little reluctantly.

Feeling upbeat, he stepped out onto the road and circled around to meet Macy on the pavement. It was a good sign she didn’t have roots here. She wouldn’t have trouble moving back to the States with him.

He laid a hand on the small of her back as they walked into the foyer of her building. Besides the doorman who stood discreetly at the entrance, they were alone, and the sounds of their shoes on the marble floors echoed through the softly lit interior.

Their first date had gone well, all things considered. Now he just needed to garner an invitation to her apartment and outline his offer and its merits.

Three steps into the silent foyer, Macy turned on the marble floor and faced him. “I only have to go up that elevator. You’ve seen me home.” She moistened her lips and he couldn’t have dragged his gaze away with a gun to his head. Her scent, something exotic, surrounded him.

She was so damn beautiful he had to replay her words in his head to get her meaning. Was it a good thing or bad that the woman he wanted to marry made his body overheat and frazzled his brain?

“Invite me up,” he said.

She shivered almost imperceptibly, but then arched one eyebrow, as if in control. “Why would I do that?”

A slow smile spread across his face. Her veneer of control called to him, compelled him to move closer. He could see her writhing in his bed, in his arms, under him, all thoughts of control long gone.

His voice, when he found it, was rough. “There’s something I want to talk to you about.”

Macy glanced at his mouth then met his eyes. “I don’t think talking’s what you have in mind.”

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