Hot Boss, Wicked Nights(8)

By: Anne Oliver

She jerked to attention at the mention of her name, knocking her pen to the floor with a resounding clatter in the silent room, and realised he was watching her expectantly, waiting for an answer. ‘Ah…I missed that.’

Damon knew she had. Good God, what were the odds of your one-night stand turning up at a staff meeting? She’d been a mess of nerves since she’d realised who he was and if he wasn’t mistaken the temperature in the room had dropped a few degrees.

Not the way she’d behaved the last time he’d seen her, he remembered. No, sir, she’d been more than willing and abundantly able. And hot. She couldn’t be sure he knew, however, because perhaps she thought she’d disguised herself adequately. She’d obviously not considered the tiny mole below the corner of her left eye. Or the fact that the veil was more transparent than she thought.

He retrieved the pen from the floor, noting the sexy ankles in her unflattering granny shoes as he did so, and set it on her pad. Her dark eyes collided with his as she mumbled a thank-you. ‘I asked if there’s anyone I need to thank personally for helping out with the funeral arrangements, flowers and donations and such. As you’d know now, Bryce and I had no other relatives.’

‘I was aware of that…’ Her gaze filled with what looked like pity and held his for a beat out of time. No need for tea and sympathy, he assured her silently with an equally resolute gaze.

Then her eyes cooled and skidded away as if she regretted the momentary lapse and she straightened, jotted something else on her notepad, her fingers wrapped so tightly around her pen he wondered that it didn’t break. Her voice took on that chilly note again as she said, ‘I have the details at home. And the book of attendees.’

There was an emphasis on that last word as if condemning him for not turning up to the funeral. He didn’t bother telling her the news of Bryce’s death hadn’t reached him until a few days ago. ‘Thanks, Kate. I’ll give you a call later.’ He sent a smile her way but she wasn’t giving him eye contact.

He turned, swept his gaze over the table as he smiled at each individual in turn and said, ‘Thank you, everyone. I think that’s it for now. As for Aussie Essential Travel, don’t worry. We’ll all muddle through this together.’

Hushed conversation ensued as staff members skirted the table. Kate pushed up too, but he laid a restraining hand over one of hers. ‘A moment of your time, Kate.’ He didn’t remove his hand right away, enjoying the feel of her smooth fingers beneath his, even if they were clenched like grim death.

She resented him being here. No, he decided, it was more than that.

He leaned back in his chair and watched her as the room emptied. She stared back at him with unsmiling eyes, a contrast to the dark desire he’d seen there thirty-six hours ago. This conservative Kate with her raven-black hair imprisoned in a tight knot, those gorgeous breasts crammed into a demure navy suit, was no Oriental temptress. Even the no-frills name ‘Kate’ conjured an entirely different image from the sultry ‘Sha-ki-ra’. A double personality.

Maybe a double life? he mused, watching her struggle with a riot of emotions. ‘You and Bryce were friends, I’m told.’

‘Yes.’ She looked down at her hand beneath his, then yanked it away to clench it over her other one on her lap. Her head jerked up, and her eyes flashed, sunlight glinting on ice. ‘He was a caring and generous boss. And a true gentleman.’

Ah, well, that last attribute left him out in the cold. As far as she was concerned at any rate, if her expression was anything to go by. Yep, he’d been anything but a gentleman on Saturday night.

And she’d enjoyed every wild and wicked moment, this prim and proper woman in front of him. He felt his mouth kick up at the corner despite himself.

‘What are you smiling about?’ Before he could draw breath she continued, jamming each word onto a skewer. ‘Let me guess. You’ve just had a business fall into your lap.’

She was, he thought, his half-grin still in place, magnificent in anger.

She was also way off base. He didn’t need a failing business; he had enough problems with his own at this moment.

‘He’s been gone a matter of weeks.’ Her voice dropped to a hoarse whisper. ‘Have you no respect?’

His facial muscles tightened. If this was about Bry, she wouldn’t understand that Damon refused to look back. It didn’t mean he didn’t mourn Bry’s death in his own way. Nor did he have to justify himself to her. ‘It’s not about respect. Life goes on, Kate.’

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