The Billionaire Bodyguard(2)

By: Sharon Kendrick

‘I was asking how long it will take us to get back to London.’

Jay narrowed his eyes at the road ahead. The snow was getting heavier now. The skies were pale grey, so pale that it was impossible to see where the falling, swirling snow ended and the sky began. Trees loomed up as they passed—skeletal brooms so inhospitable that you could not imagine them ever bearing fruit or leaves or blossoms.

It was tempting to say that if she hadn’t wasted so much time then they would be well on their way now, but he didn’t. It wasn’t the job of the driver to offer anything in the way of opinions, which took more than a little self-restraint on his part.

‘Difficult to say,’ he murmured. ‘Depends.’

‘On what?’ Something about that lazy, drawled air of assurance was making her prickly. What kind of driver was he, anyway, if he couldn’t throw in a rough estimate of their time of arrival?

He heard the faintly impatient note in her voice and hid a smile. He had forgotten what it was like to be subordinate—to have people tell you what to do and to ask you questions and expect you to answer, just as if you were some kind of machine.

‘On how bad this snow gets,’ he said, frowning suddenly as he felt the treacherous slide of the front wheels. He slowed right down.

Keri stared out of the window. ‘It doesn’t look that bad to me.’

‘You think so?’ he murmured. ‘Well, that’s okay, then.’

He had a faint, almost American drawl, and for a moment she thought she detected a mocking note of humour underpinning it. Suspiciously, Keri stared at the unmoving set of his broad shoulders. Was he making fun of her?

Through a gap in the thick curtain of dark fringe which flopped into her eyes Jay could see the tiny frown which pleated the smooth, pale perfection of her forehead. ‘Would you like the radio on?’ he questioned, as soothingly as he would to a maiden aunt who was in danger of becoming fractious.

He was making her feel…uncomfortable, and she couldn’t quite put her finger on why. ‘Actually,’ said Keri, very deliberately, ‘what I would really like is to get some sleep, so if you wouldn’t mind…?’

‘Sure. No problem.’ Jay hid a smile which vanished as he drove further into the winter dusk. The flakes of snow had changed from being the innocent ones of storybook pictures—now they were small, and he knew that they would have the bite of ice behind them. The wind was gusting them into bitter white flurries so that they looked like swarms of white bees.

He glanced in the mirror again. She had fallen asleep. Her head had fallen back and her hair was spread out behind it, like a shiny black pillow. The blanket had slipped down and the slit in her skirt meant that her long legs were sprawled out—pretty much the longest legs he had ever seen on a woman. Legs like that could wrap themselves round a man’s neck like a deadly snake. Deliberately, Jay averted his eyes from their coltish display and from the tantalising glimpse of lacy stocking-top. This drive was going to take longer than he had anticipated—far better she slept than distract him.

But the weather was distraction enough. The narrow lanes became more precarious by the second, with the snow falling heavier and heavier, and as night closed in the darkness hid the fall from sight and the car began to slow as it encountered the first drifts.

He knew way before it happened that things were going to get bad—really bad. Instinct told him that, coupled with the experience of having lived in some of the most God-awful conditions known to man.

His windscreen wipers were flicking dementedly, but still it was like gazing into an icy abyss. The road dipped slightly, and he eased his foot back. A dip was good. Slopes ran down into hollows and hollows were where you found people, and they built houses which equalled shelter, and he suspected that they very soon they might need shelter… Except that this was pretty desolate countryside. Unspoiled, he guessed. Chosen for its beauty and its very isolation.

He flicked the light on briefly, to glance down at the map, and then squinted his eyes as the car passed the darkened bulk of a building. Some way after that, Jay realised that he no longer had a choice, and braked. Hard.

The jerk of the car woke her, and Keri opened her eyes, caught in that warm half-world between waking and sleeping. She yawned. ‘Where are we?’ she questioned sleepily.

‘In the middle of nowhere,’ he answered succinctly. ‘Take a look for yourself.’

The sound of the low, tough masculine voice shook her right out of her reverie, and for a moment it startled her, until she realised where she was. She looked out of the window, and then blinked. He wasn’t joking.

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