Hot Boss, Boardroom Mistress(7)

By: Natalie Anderson

The first thing he’d do would be to free her hair from those clips—see if it was as long and golden as it had been back then. She’d always worn it loose—he’d seen it, like a flag heralding her arrival, and he’d known not to look. She’d been out of bounds but she’d pushed it. She wasn’t out of bounds now.

He shortened his stride to stay alongside her as they walked along the corridors. She pushed buttons on her mobile and so did he. He had five messages. All of them could wait. It seemed she had none—or at least none urgent enough to warrant immediate attention. They got to the ground floor and the signs pointing to the luggage carousels. He, like she, ignored them and headed straight for the exit.

‘Don’t you have baggage to collect? Not your snowboard?’ she asked.

‘I like to travel light.’ Habit from the old days, he figured. When he’d finally got out of Ashburton he’d taken almost nothing with him. Nothing but a bunch of memories—and most of them were bad. It wasn’t that he didn’t have the material possessions now—if anything he’d have to admit he had too many. So he kept his snowboarding gear and a complete wardrobe at his holiday home in Queenstown.

It was an odd relief to see that she was disconcerted by his presence—to know that he affected her too, just as she did him. Not that he’d let her know it.

Oh, yes, despite her polite façade it was as obvious as anything that she wanted him to go. Just to be perverse, he stayed close. She was slowing now as they reached the exit. But there was no one to meet her. No boyfriend waiting at the gate to pull her close and kiss her like crazy.

He shouldn’t care, but he was pleased about that too. No rings on her fingers, no calls on her mobile. They went through the automatic doors together. He expected to see her dive straight into the nearest taxi but instead she paused.

‘Lovely to see you again, Jared.’

Lovely? Oh, sure, like she really thought that. Why couldn’t she be honest about it?

‘It was interesting seeing you too, Amanda,’ he said casually. ‘Who knows? Maybe we’ll see each other again soon.’

She gave a plastic smile, turned and walked. Fast.

He watched her for a moment, appreciating the neat ankles and slim calves as her legs clipped along. He wished he could see more of her. She’d had long, slim legs as a girl—damn the wool coat. He forced his head to turn away, figuring she must have her car parked in the long-stay area.

He headed to the short-stay building and got into his car. It felt good to be back and now he had some fun to look forward to. He was going to enjoy seeing her perform tomorrow. Pulling out of the building, he looped round and caught sight of her—waiting for the bus service? No way. He’d pulled over before it hit that it could be a bad idea—not tonight. Maybe after tomorrow.

But the words popped out regardless. ‘Can I give you a lift somewhere?’ What the hell was she doing at a bus stop anyway?

Her gaze was cool as ever. Those blue eyes lancing through him like beams of dry ice—burning cold. ‘Thank you very much, Jared, but I’m OK.’

He stared hard at her. Under the light from the streetlamp above the shadows under her eyes seemed more pronounced. So did the shadows in them. She looked slim. She looked pale. She looked tired. And suddenly he wondered whether she really was OK.

‘It’s winter and it’s dark.’ Wasn’t that good enough reason to say yes?

She glanced down the street as if praying the bus would suddenly come into view. Her reluctance made his irritation resurge. So it was him that wasn’t good enough.

‘Who am I?’ he growled. ‘The big bad wolf?’

‘Of course.’ Her chin tilted. ‘You know you are, Jared.’

Chapter Three

WOLF or not, Amanda should have taken up Jared’s offer of a ride. She’d seen him slide into the sleek black sedan that had been parked in a priority space and knew it would be the ultimate in comfort on wheels. Not some low-to-the-ground flashy sports car—that would be too small for legs the length of Jared’s. He was a big, strong man and he had the equivalent in a motoring machine. But she’d refused—cutting off her nose to spite her face, as it turned out. The bus had been late and had then broken down on the side of the motorway, delaying her even further. It had been almost midnight before she’d got back to her room and, as she’d predicted, sleep had been elusive, brief and peppered with memories and dreams she wished she could forget.

She jabbed the button to summon the elevator. She wasn’t late. Having woken before sunrise and knowing there was nil possibility of more sleep, she’d got up and ready hours ago. Even now she had no need to race up the stairs, for she was still over an hour early. But she wasn’t the first in the office. Bronwyn was already there, carefully studying the mock-ups.

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