At the Billionaire's Beck and Call?(4)

By: Rachel Bailey

She pushed the plate in front of him. “Other fruits in plentiful supply are pineapple, lychees and strawberries. Additionally—” she picked up the silver sugar tongs and pulled another bowl over “—we’re considering adding mint leaves to the range.” She ran the fresh mint leaf under the stream of chocolate, but before she could place it on his plate, Ryder laid his palm out for the delicacy.

She looked up, sure her boss was the type who’d want to minimize mess, but he nodded so she laid the leaf into the palm of his hand. Making sure not to watch him consume this one—staying professional—she grabbed a couple of napkins and put them beside his plate.

He wiped the chocolate remnants from his hand, then sampled an assortment of the other morsels from his plate. She could feel him watching her as he tasted and chewed, but she found things for her hands to do. Her pulse fluttered but thankfully her hands were steady.

“Very good,” his deep voice rumbled. “You said you’d be recommending three lines. The Truffle Bar, these variations of the Drops and…?”

“And the basic sampler tray. The current five fillings in the sampler should be suitable, but we’ll run more focus groups before finalizing that recommendation.”

A knock sounded at the open door and Tina walked in. “How’s it going in here? Do you need me?”

Ryder leaned back in his chair, eminently comfortable in his new domain. “No, Ms. Ashley has taken good care of me.”

Her skin heated as if the timbre of his voice, the intensity of his gaze could reach across and touch her. Caress her. Stroke her. She suspected that if he beckoned her now with the crook of a finger, she’d go without a second thought.

Thank goodness they’d be working on opposite sides of the globe most of the time. He was unexpectedly dangerous to her composure.

She flicked her hair over her shoulder, glancing around the table, at the ingredients they’d been through. “Actually, unless you want to keep tasting, I’ve pretty much shown you everything.”

Ryder nodded once and stood. “These options are good. Tina, tomorrow you can run them past Shaun and the team.” He turned back to Macy. “Ms. Ashley, I’d like to see you for a moment alone. In my office, please.”

A shiver of excitement skittered along her spine despite knowing his request was professional—of course he’d want to talk to the team leader.

She stood taller and nodded. “Certainly.”

This was her opportunity to impress him—an opportunity she’d been looking forward to. But that was before she’d met him and felt how he could effortlessly bring her body zinging to life.

Would the effect be magnified once they were closeted in an office, alone?

Ryder stood behind the polished wooden desk in his temporary office and stared down at the cruising boats negotiating the ribbon of the Yarra River.

Macy was perfect. The woman he’d crossed the globe to meet had the face of an angel, the body of a Venus and a spine of steel. He’d have married her just to buy her father’s company, but all evidence now pointed to him enjoying this marriage.


Macy would be his wife.

Ryder sucked in a satisfied breath.

He knew he was cut from the same cloth as his own father—he’d lost count of the number of times people had told him that—knew he was incapable of love, especially the forever kind. So a practical marriage would suit him perfectly—he’d have companionship and raise a family, sidestepping the love issue.

He heard Macy’s voice, sweet as birdsong, coming down the corridor, talking rapidly to one of her staff, and he shook aside his wandering thoughts. One step at a time, no point getting ahead of himself.

Then she stood in the doorway, looking impossibly beautiful, awaiting his instruction. Her mysterious hazel eyes assessed him and her curtain of dark brown hair draped her shoulders like satin. Long, toned legs showed below the skirt of her suit, but he tried not to look.

He indicated with a hand that she could enter and she moved to stand in front of him, seemingly so delicate. For one crazy moment, he lost himself in the desire to explore her delicateness more intimately. To step forward—

“You wanted to see me, Mr. Bramson?”

Her words brought his attention back to the meeting…and his eyes back from her legs. He swallowed hard. “Call me Ryder.”

Her only reaction was to flick her hair behind a shoulder encased in a pearl-gray business jacket. “Ryder.”

“You’ve done well with this project. I don’t have to tell you that the expansion of this arm of our company into Australia depends on your conclusions, but I see it’s in good hands from the work you’ve completed.”

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