Hot Boss, Boardroom Mistress(6)

By: Natalie Anderson



He’d changed though. Moved up in the world. Indeed here he was sitting in her class—he’d earned the right. But a sudden flash of discomfort made him stretch and shift in his seat. Despite being able to pay the fare a zillion times over, seeing her brought that old feeling back: the desperation to control, to escape, to succeed, and to have—not just material things. And with it came the bitterness that he’d felt towards her—back then she’d symbolised all he’d lacked and been everything he’d wanted.

He stared at her, unable to look away. She hadn’t changed. Still spoilt. Still selfish. Oh, sure, now she had the ice-princess thing going on the surface. All polite poise and butter-wouldn’t-melt-ish. But the fact was he knew what she was really like and her behaviour proved it. What Amanda wanted, Amanda got—even if it meant two hundred people got held up because of her.

An over-indulged minx and damn if she didn’t still stir his blood—more so now, incredibly enough. He’d never forgotten the sight of her in that get-up…her pale skin had seemed luminous next to the black silk. Where on earth had she got it from? Mail order?

Nine years, seven months rolled away just like that and he was hit hard in the groin by a need that had never been indulged—and the accompanying frustration because she’d been forbidden. He gritted his teeth at the memory and then forced relaxation as he tried to think—reminding himself it was a long time ago and he was no longer the less-than-nothing youth he’d been back then.

In fact, he mused as he sucked in a breath, it might be all right to want her now. One night with Amanda Winchester wasn’t necessarily taboo—not any more. Not now they were both out of that town and all grown up. That thought doused the discomfort and roused the hunter in him.

So as she oh-so-determinedly ignored him he cast his eyes over her screen. Not caring about how rude he was—in fact he was doing it deliberately, wanting to annoy her into betraying herself again. She was a spoilt, demanding brat all the way. She’d tried testing her new-grown claws on him all those years ago, but he bet she’d be one hell of a vixen now. And yes, if she asked again, his answer would be very different. The wilful, wanting teen would translate into a wild, wanting woman. Hadn’t he just caught a glimpse of it in her eyes? Hadn’t he been unable to resist touching her—just a little, to see if that spark would flare? And it had. How would she burn if he touched her where he really wanted to?

He blinked to refocus his eyes from the internal fantasy that was going to get him very uncomfortable if he didn’t shut it down. Too long since he’d had a lay—that was the problem. As he shifted in his seat again he saw what it was she was working on.

Hell, no way!

He took a moment to regulate his reaction and then asked, ‘So what do you do to earn money to eat, Amanda?’

‘I’m in advertising.’

He smothered another snort. Of course she was. She could sell ice to an Inuit, had that knack of getting people to say yes. But not him. Not unless he controlled the situation.

‘Which agency?’ He figured it’d be one of the top two.

‘Synergy.’

He clamped his jaw to stop it falling open. It was the wild card he’d selected. By far the smallest of the three agencies he’d shortlisted for the pitch, and, from what he’d heard on the grapevine, the one most in need of securing the contract tomorrow.

He was glad he’d found out. Forewarned meant forearmed and now he had the time to plan his strategy. No way could he work with her, but at least he was spared the shock of having her walk into his office tomorrow.

He took a sidelong glance at her coolly remote expression. He was not gentleman enough to give her warning. But then, he’d never pretended to be a gentleman. In fact, he spent the rest of the flight trying to suppress the most ungentlemanly thoughts.

As the plane descended he watched the way she was gripping the arm rest between them and figured it wasn’t worth fighting her for it. ‘Don’t you like flying, Amanda?’

‘Not much.’ Her lips barely moved as she answered.

‘Don’t like being out of control, huh?’ The almost admission of a weakness amused him.

‘I have a strong self-preservation instinct.’

He chuckled. A strong selfish instinct, more like. Not to mention lazy. He would never forget the tone she’d used to order him around on her grandfather’s farm and the way she’d sat at a distance with such indolence and watched him carry out her wishes.

Finally they landed and the second the seat-belt sign was switched off she was standing, bags in hand—arrogantly asserting her priority status without even being conscious of it. Her sense of entitlement was so ingrained. Jared counted to ten as he waited behind her while the stewards opened the doors. Her high heeled boots gave her an extra inch, meaning the top of her head made it to his mouth. He breathed in, caught the gentle scent of her shampoo, and his flare of anger became a flare of something else.

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