The Billionaire Bodyguard(10)

By: Sharon Kendrick

He watched her wiggle out of the room in that sinful leather skirt, imagining its softness as it swished against her thighs.

In the kitchen, Keri gingerly scouted around, trying to rid herself of that strange, tingly sensation which was making her feel almost light-headed—as if her blood had suddenly come to life in her veins, making her acutely aware of the way it pulsed around her body. Here to her temple. There to her wrist. And there. There.

Her cheeks burned uncomfortably. Somehow he had done this to her—brought to life in her something unknown and unwanted, with his silky taunts and that lazy way he had of looking at her. And he was so damned blatant about it, too!

Had she perhaps imagined that he would feel almost shy in her company, the way men so often did? Dazzled and slightly bemused by the impact of her looks and the status of her job? Especially someone who drove cars for a living, no matter how blessed he had been in the looks and body department.

She held her hands up to her hot cheeks, angry with herself for a physical reaction which seemed to be beyond her control. So it was time to take control. The important thing to remember was that if she didn’t react to him then he wouldn’t behave so provocatively. If she smiled serenely at his attempts to get under her skin then he would soon grow bored and stop it.

She found a battered-looking saucepan in one of the cupboards, and broke a fingernail into the bargain, and she was fractious and flustered by the time she returned, carrying two steaming mugs of black tea. But at least he had managed to get the fire going properly, and tentative flames were licking at one of the logs, bathing the room in soft, comforting shades of scarlet and orange.

She took her coat off and crept towards the fire’s warmth. She handed him a mug, then crouched down on the floor, wishing she were wearing something warmer and more practical than a leather skirt and wondering why on earth she had, on such a cold day. Because it’s fashionable, she reminded herself, and because the designer begged you to take it as a gift.

Jay Linur had removed his rather battered flying jacket too, but, unlike her, he had obviously made no concessions to sartorial elegance. His outfit was tough and practical. Faded jeans hugged his long, lean legs and he wore a warm dark sweater which softly clung to his torso. Firelight danced flames across the ruffled black hair, which was thick and slightly too long—giving him a buccaneer air which seemed to blend in well with the ancient fireplace.

He looked, she realised, completely at home as he lounged rather indolently along the rug, watching the progress of the fire—all rugged and arrogant confidence as he gazed into the flames, his thick lashes hooding his eyes. He turned his head to study her with lazy interest.

Keri put her mug down and winced as the ragged nail scratched against the palm of her hand.

‘Hurt yourself?’ he questioned softly.

‘Not really, but I’ve broken my nail—and I can’t even file it down—I left my make-up bag in the car!’

He gave a short laugh. ‘Outside it’s sub-zero, the snow is still coming down with no sign of a let-up, we’re stranded God knows where, and all you can worry about is your damned fingernail!’

Keri was stung into defence. ‘It isn’t just vanity, if that’s what you’re implying—my job happens to depend on the state of my hands, among other things, and I was supposed to be doing a magazine-shoot for nail varnish next week!’ It was, she realised, the first time in her life that she had ever felt the need to justify her job to anyone. So why—especially now, and to him of all people?

Jay took a mug of tea, sipped it and grimaced, wondering what type of world it was where a broken fingernail could mean anything at all other than just that. Not a world he could ever inhabit, that was for sure. Different strokes for different folks, he supposed.

He put the drink down in disgust. ‘What the hell did you put in this? Arsenic?’

‘Oh, please don’t tempt me! I just used what was available,’ she said crossly. ‘Which were teabags which looked like they belonged in the Dark Ages!’

‘Don’t believe they had teabags in the Dark Ages,’ he responded drily.

Keri almost laughed. Almost. Boundaries, she reminded herself. ‘Do you have an answer for everything, Mr Linur?’

He looked at her. Oh, yes. The answer was staring him right in the face right now. Her lips were parted, so soft and so gleaming that they were practically begging to be kissed. He didn’t have to approve of an icy beauty whose whole livelihood depended on the random paintbox of looks which nature had thrown together, but it didn’t stop him wanting her.

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