The Billionaire Bodyguard(9)

By: Sharon Kendrick

Keri eyed the darkness warily. ‘On my own?’

He glanced up. Clearly she was a woman to whom the word ‘initiative’ was a stranger. ‘You mean you want me to come and hold your hand for you?’

‘No, of course not,’ she said stiffly.

‘There’s nothing to be afraid of.’ His voice softened by a fraction. ‘Here, take a candle with you.’

‘Well, I’m hardly going to feel my way out there in the dark!’ She lifted her hand to her head. ‘But before I do anything, I’m getting rid of this hat.’

His eyes narrowed as she pulled the snow-damp beanie off, shaking her hair out so that it fell and splayed in night-dark glossy tendrils before falling down over the soft curves of her breasts. It was a captivating movement, as elegant as a dancer, and he wondered whether it just came naturally or if she’d learnt it from her modelling career. Keep your mind on the job, he told himself.

Except that the job he had set out to do was turning into something quite different. He sat back on his haunches and his eyes travelled up the endless length of her legs. He felt a pulse beat deep in his groin—an instinctive reaction to a beautiful woman. God, it had been a long time. ‘Run along now,’ he said softly. ‘My throat is parched.’

Run along? Run along? ‘Don’t talk to me that way,’ she said in a low voice.

He looked up. ‘What way is that?’

As though he were some kind of caveman and she was the little woman, scurrying away with whatever he’d successfully hunted that day. Though when she stopped to think about it there was something pretty primitive about the deft way he seemed to be constructing the fire.

‘You know exactly what way I’m talking about!’

‘You mean you just can’t cope with a man unless he’s paying homage to you, is that it?’

‘Don’t put words into my mouth!’

If her feet hadn’t been hurting so much, and if she hadn’t been afraid that the candle might go out, then Keri might have flounced out of the room. But Jay Linur didn’t seem like the kind of man who would be impressed by any kind of flouncing, and so she made do with walking, her back perfectly straight, her head held very high.

She made her way back to the kitchen and looked around. It didn’t look very hopeful. An ancient old oven which looked as though it had seen better days. A big, scrubbed wooden table. And that was about it. A cupboard yielded little more than a couple of tins, and a box of dusty old teabags which had clearly seen better days.

She filled the kettle with water, but the kettle wouldn’t work, and she remembered why and went back into the huge room, where he had managed to coax a tiny flame from the fire.

He looked up. ‘What is it?’

‘The kettle won’t work! There’s no electricity—remember?’

He stared at her consideringly. ‘How about gas?’ He raised his eyebrows questioningly and then shook his head. ‘I don’t believe it—you haven’t even bothered to check, have you?’

She felt like telling him that she was a model, not a girl guide. And that she didn’t even want a hot drink, and that if he did then he could jolly well go and make it himself. But there was something so forbidding about the expression on his face that she decided against it. Being stuck here with him was like a nightmare come true, but Keri suspected that it would be even more of a nightmare if he wasn’t here.

‘No,’ she admitted reluctantly.

‘Then I suggest you go and try again.’

He was doing it again—dismissing her as if she was a schoolgirl. This had to be addressed some time, and maybe it was best she did it now. ‘Did anyone ever tell you that you are distinctly lacking in the charm department?’

‘Oh.’ There was a pause. ‘Is it charm you want you want from me, then, Keri?’

The question threw her as much as the smoky look of challenge in his eyes and the silky note of caress in his voice, and suddenly she became aware of a whispering of unwelcome sensation, too nebulous to define. Almost as if… She shook her head to deny it and gave him her coolest smile, the kind which could intimidate most men—a frosty and distancing kind of smile. ‘Not at all—but if you could hold back on the arrogant, macho, bossing-me-around kind of behaviour, I’d be very grateful.’

He raised his eyebrows laconically. ‘You don’t like it?’

‘Show me a woman who does!’

‘I could show you legions,’ he observed softly, thinking of two in particular.

‘Not this woman!’

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