His Instant Heir(4)

By: Katherine Garbera

“Surely profit matters.”

“It does.”

She nodded and moved back to her chair. He sat down and so did she. She steepled her fingers together and he noticed she wore a ring on her right hand now that she hadn’t before. It was a platinum band of hearts with a row of diamonds in the center. It seemed the kind of ring a lover would have given her. Was she involved with someone now?

Maybe that was where her new confidence stemmed from. She had a lover now. Well, he could be happy for her. Even though he regretted that he might not ever get to kiss her again.

“When did you get back from Australia?” she asked as she toyed with the ring. Those little gestures seemed to indicate her nervousness, though the rest of her body language didn’t support that.

“Saturday, but I’m still adjusting. And seeing you again surprised me,” he admitted, reaching for his briefcase, which he’d stowed next to his chair, and putting it on the table. He had his computer and the files he’d already started studying on the takeover.

“How did it surprise you? I knew you’d be here this morning,” she said. “Didn’t you know it would be me?”

“Yes, Emma informed me via email,” he said. He wasn’t about to tell her that he’d never expected to react so strongly to her presence. Not now. He’d thought since they’d slept together all the chemistry would be gone…but he’d been wrong.

The mystery of her body had been revealed to him. There wasn’t an inch of it he didn’t remember, though he realized now, with the flesh-and-blood woman standing before him, that those memories were a pale imitation of the real thing.

He wanted a chance to explore all of her curves and, more than that, he thought, to finally unlock the secrets she kept hidden deep inside. If he were busy dissecting her, maybe he would stop trying to get introspective in his own life.

In fact, the more he thought about it the more that Cari seemed the perfect distraction for whatever malaise had been affecting him lately.

He needed a distraction, and voilà, the universe had provided the one woman he’d hadn’t been able to forget. He thought of his time frame for the takeover—six weeks. Surely that was long enough to satisfy his curiosity about her. Though being in the middle of a hostile takeover wasn’t going to make seduction easy. In fact, if he were smart he’d forget about her personally and concentrate on business. But this was Cari, the woman whose image had haunted him throughout the past eighteen months, and now he wanted a chance to find out why. Was it just that he’d only had one night with her? Was there more between them?

“Then what’s the problem?” she said with a half smile. She leaned boldly forward.

“There isn’t a problem.”

She stood up and put her hands on her hips. The movement pulled her suit jacket tight across her full breasts. She was a little bit flirty, which he liked. But also he sensed that it was a little forced this time.

“Are you sure? Doesn’t it bother you that our families have been feuding forever?”

He’d like to say yes, but he suspected the problem was with him. He’d been traveling almost nonstop since he’d last seen her and he was a bit lonely for home. Not the Baglietto Bolaro yacht he kept at the yacht club in Marina del Rey that he’d christened Big Spender. Certainly not the Beverly Hills mansion that he’d inherited from his parents. He’d never had a place that he’d felt was home.

It had just started three months ago, that longing for something permanent. And he knew he had to get over it. It was out of character for him. Being adopted by the Montrose family was great, but being used as a pawn in his parents’ messy divorce had taught him that he was meant to be alone. Then, at twenty-five, he’d lost his father in a freak skiing accident, and two years later his mother’s liver had finally given out from all the drinks she’d used to medicate her life.

He shook himself out of his reverie to answer Cari’s question. Was he bothered by the feud? Truthfully, it was something he’d grown up with, part of his family, and he knew it couldn’t be ignored. Instead, he told Cari, “It should.” Though he was going to be unbiased in his reviews, he knew Kell intended to fire all three of the Chandler women in revenge for what had been done to their grandfather all those years ago.

Starting an affair with Cari now had stupid written all over it. And he wasn’t a stupid man. He’d have to work hard to keep reminding himself of that, because the way she was now smiling at him made him almost believe that an affair would work.

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