The Billionaire Bodyguard(6)

By: Sharon Kendrick

He shot her one impatient glance. ‘And what do you suggest?’ he questioned coolly. ‘That we stand here all night and freeze to death just to have our good citizen medals awarded to us?

‘No, of course I—’

‘Then just shut up for a minute and let me concentrate, will you?’

This was an order verging on the simply rude, but Keri didn’t have time to be indignant, because, to her astonishment, he produced what looked like a screwdriver from the pocket of his flying jacket, leaving her wondering slightly hysterically if it was a necessary job requirement for all drivers to have house-breaking skills. She dug her gloved hands deep into the pockets of her coat, and with chattering teeth prepared for a long wait.

But with astonishing speed he was soon opening the front door, a small smile playing at the corners of his mouth as he saw her look of horror.

‘You look surprised,’ he commented.

‘Surprise isn’t quite the right word—how the hell did you manage to do it so quickly?’ she demanded as she stepped inside and he shut the door firmly behind her.

‘You don’t want to know,’ he drawled. ‘Just put it down as one of many skills I have.’

Oh, great! What kind of a maniac had she found herself marooned with? A thief? Or worse?

She eyed him with apprehension, but he was looking around him, his face raised slightly, almost like an animal which had found itself in a new and potentially hostile terrain, his hard body tensed and watchful.

Jay was enjoying himself, he realised. He had forgotten what it was like to live on his wits, to cope with the unexpected, to use his instincts and his strength again. It had been a long time. Too long. ‘Nobody lives here,’ he said softly. ‘At least, not all the time.’

‘How can you tell?’

‘Because it’s cold—really cold. And there’s no smell—when a place is inhabited people always leave a scent around.’ He stared down at the floor, where the shadowed outline of untouched post lay. ‘But it’s more than that—it’s a feeling. A place that isn’t lived in feels lonely.’

Lonely…yes—quite apart from its geographical isolation, the house had a lonely feel. And Keri knew exactly what that meant—you could have the busiest life in the world, but inside you could sometimes feel achingly lonely.

‘So here we are,’ he said softly. Alone and stranded in a beautiful house with a beautiful woman. An unexpected perk.

His voice had dipped, and deepened, and Keri stared at him, the reality of their situation suddenly hitting her for the first time. It was just her and him. As her eyes became more accustomed to the gloom she started to become aware of him in a way which was too vivid and confusing. Not as someone employed by the company who had commissioned the photo-shoot, but as something quite different.

As a man.

The first impression she had had in the car had been the correct one—he was spectacular. Very tall—taller than she was, and that didn’t happen too often either, because Keri was tall for a woman—models usually were. But it wasn’t just his height which she was inexplicably finding so intimidating, it was something much more subtle, more dangerous, and it was all to do with the almost tangible masculinity radiating off him, and the raw, feral heat which seemed to make a mockery of the weather outside.

Keri swallowed, and inside her gloves the palms of her hands began to grow clammy, and maybe the place had just telescoped in on itself, because right now it felt small and claustrophobic, even though the hall was high and spacious. And perhaps he felt it too, because he reached out a hand towards the light switch.

‘Let’s see if we can throw a little light on the…damn!’

‘What’s the matter?’

‘Should have guessed. No power.’ He swore quietly underneath his breath and pulled a lighter out of his pocket, flicking the lid off and sliding his thumb down over the wheel. His face was startlingly illuminated by the bright flare.

‘You don’t happen to have a white rabbit in your pocket, too?’ she questioned, but she noticed that her voice sounded high and rather wobbly.

He looked her up and down. ‘You okay?’

Well, up until he had produced the lighter she had been fine, under the circumstances. Tearstained, cold and slightly shell-shocked, true, but more than a little relieved to be inside—if not exactly in the warm, then at least in the dry. But the more she saw of him, the more she realised that the first impression she had got of him in the shadowed recess of the car wasn’t strictly accurate.

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