The Billionaire Bodyguard(7)

By: Sharon Kendrick

She had thought that he was good-looking, but she had been wrong. Good-looking implied something that was attractive on the surface but with little real depth to it, like lots of the male models she knew. Whereas this man…

Her breath suddenly caught in her throat.

The flare from the lighter threw deep shadows beneath the high cheekbones and his eyes glittered with a cold, intelligent gleam. She became aware of a strength that came from within, as well as from the deeply defined muscular build. He looked confident and unshakable, while she, on the other hand, was left feeling slightly dazed.

‘I’m…I’m fine,’ she managed, thinking that she had to pull herself together. It looked as if they might be here for some time—and if that were the case then she quickly needed to establish some kind of neutral relationship between them. So that they both knew where they were. They needed boundaries so that they wouldn’t step over them. She mustn’t think of him as a man. He’s the driver of your car, for heaven’s sake, Keri! And a burly security guard who has been employed to…to…

‘Oh, my God!’ she exclaimed.

He frowned. ‘What is it?’

‘The necklace! You’re supposed to be guarding the necklace!’

His mouth curved into a disapproving line. ‘Well, isn’t that just like a woman? Save them from the extremes, find them shelter and safety, and all they can think of is damned diamonds!’

He dug his other hand in his pocket and indolently pulled out the gems so that they fell sinuously over his hand, where they glittered and sparkled with pure ice-fire against the tanned dark skin of his hand. ‘There?’ He sent her a mocking look. ‘Happy now?’

Keri felt anything but. She was used to deference and adoration—she certainly wasn’t used to men who behaved with such unashamed masculine swagger. Who clipped out orders and broke into strange houses with ease and didn’t seem a bit bothered by it. ‘You must be the happy one,’ she observed. ‘Happy you didn’t lose them—after all, it’s more than your job’s worth!’

Jay smiled. It was a remark designed to put him firmly in his place, but Miss Beauty would soon discover that he was a man who did not fit into traditional slots. He slid the gems back negligently into his pocket. ‘That’s right,’ he agreed innocently. ‘Can’t have them thinking I’ve skipped to pawn them on the black market, can we? Now, let’s see if we can find a candle somewhere. We need to get a fire lit, but first I guess we’d better check out the rest of the house.’

Her teeth were chattering. ‘With a view to finding—what, exactly?’

A dark sense of humour made him consider making a joke about corpses, but in view of the tears he thought he’d better not try. The trouble with women was that they always let their imaginations run away with them.

‘With a view, sweetheart, to seeing what luxuries this place has to offer.’

There—he was doing it again. ‘I am not your sweetheart.’

Touchy. ‘Well, then, I guess we’d better introduce ourselves,’ he drawled. ‘Since I don’t even know your name.’

How bizarre it seemed, to be introducing themselves like this. As if all the normal rules of social intercourse had been turned upside down and re-invented. Into what? ‘Keri.’ She hesitated. ‘And I, er, I don’t know yours either.’

He could hear her skating round the edges of asking him, unsure whether or not it was ‘appropriate’ to be on first-name terms with him. She didn’t know how to react to the situation, he thought with wry amusement. Or to him. Take her out of her gilded cage and she probably didn’t know how to fly properly! Maybe his first impression of a woman who would not bleed or love with vigour and passion had been the right one all along. ‘It’s Linur,’ he said sardonically. ‘Jay Linur.’

It was an unusual name, maybe that was why it suited him. Again, she felt the need to re-establish boundaries. ‘Are you…American?’

He knew exactly what she was trying to do. That vaguely interested, vaguely patronising tone. His eyes sparked. ‘Fascinating as my name must be to you,’ he drawled, ‘I’m freezing my bones off—so why don’t we postpone the discussion until we’ve had a look around? Want to go and explore?’

‘Do I have a choice?’

‘Well, I guess we could stand around here and make polite conversation.’

‘I’d hate to put you under any pressure,’ she said sweetly. ‘The strain of that might prove too much for you.’

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