At the Billionaire's Beck and Call?(3)

By: Rachel Bailey

Macy swallowed. Stepped back. Put a chair between them.

Tina looked up and smiled—the picture of a professional reaction. “Ah, Mr. Bramson, we’re ready for you.”

His eyes lingered on Macy for another long moment before they flicked to her assistant. “Tina, isn’t it? Looks like you’ve done a great job here, but I won’t keep you from your work. I’m sure Ms. Ashley will be able to help me.”

Macy’s heartbeat stuttered. She glanced at Tina and saw the question in her eyes. She knew Tina was rushing to get the information on potential retail sites together, and, as Ryder was the only person coming for the tasting now, it made sense for Macy to do this alone. But with the sexual charge in the room, with the way her insides melted every time her boss looked at her, she could well do with a chaperone—

Macy stopped herself mid-thought. What was she thinking? She’d never let herself be diverted from her goals before, and she wasn’t about to start now. She closed her eyes, took a breath, then opened them and smiled at Tina. “It’s okay, I’ll be fine here.”

Tina paused a moment as if to reassure herself she really could leave, then bustled from the room.

Ryder strolled over and surveyed the food on the table before again meeting her eyes. “Where do you want me?”

She stilled, but Ryder’s strong face remained impassive, dark eyes focused on her, no sign of teasing or flirting visible. Brilliant, now she was reading double entendres into his words.

She found a polite smile and pointed to the head of the table. “There will be fine.”

Ryder took his seat and she sat in the chair to his right, in easy reach of all the ingredients, then slipped into the speech she’d been preparing in her mind. “The Diva Truffle Bar has tested well and is unique. At this stage we believe it will be able to enter the Australian market in its current form.” The bar—crushed almond and honeycomb in a chocolate truffle, coated in their own brand chocolate—would be as much a hit here as overseas if her research was correct. “We’ve run some preliminary focus groups and the feedback from the tastings was overwhelmingly positive.”

Ryder steepled his fingers under his chin, elbows on the armrests of his chair. But said nothing.

The silence threatened to stretch and leave her in the unfamiliar position of being flustered, so she took a breath and forged on with her spiel.

“The second product we’re investigating as an option is Diva Drops.” The dried fruit pieces smothered in a thick layer of their dark chocolate was their second highest selling line in the U.S., after the Truffle Bar. “Given your preference for Australian production using Australian products where possible, we might need to adapt some varieties. The cherries, cranberries and blueberries are harder to source here so we’re looking into the viability of some locally grown fruit.”

Ryder tipped his chin to the bowls in front of them. “Such as mango.”

Macy nodded and picked up a piece of dried mango on a toothpick then held it beneath the stream of the chocolate fountain. “This is dried Bowen mango. It’s in plentiful supply in the north during the summer and we have some early feelers out now with growers.”

She waited till the chocolate solidified, then handed the toothpick to him, realizing too late that there was very little room on the end of the pick for both sets of fingers. His thumb and forefinger encircled hers, capturing her hand with a gentle clasp. Time seemed to still as her body reacted to the touch, from the heat in her hand right down to a tug of desire deep in the core of her being.

She’d been thinking of his hands only minutes before and his fingers were so firm, his palm radiating such warmth on the back of her hand that she was glad she was already sitting down.

Then he moved to grasp the toothpick at the very end and she let go. He lifted it slowly and as the chocolate and mango reached higher, his tongue appeared and took the food into the dark depths of his mouth before he slid the pick out through closed lips.

With a start, Macy realized she’d been staring, so she began stabbing toothpicks in other pieces of fruit, but this time, arranged them on a plate instead of handing them to him.

Keeping her eyes glued to her task, she asked, “What did you think?”

There was no response as she put several more pieces of dried mango through the chocolate fountain then onto his plate. Her eyes drifted back to him. He was watching her.

He cleared his throat. “Delicious.”

The sensuality in his voice was unmistakable but Macy had no choice but to ignore it, despite the protestations of her body. She couldn’t afford to ruin this opportunity. That Australian CEO position had her name on it, and if she got the job, hopefully Ryder Bramson would remain her boss for a long time. She needed to keep this professional relationship working optimally.

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