Until He Met Meg(6)

By: Sami Lee


‘That’s it.’

‘I guess you’re pretty good at managing wealth, huh?’ She appeared immediately contrite. ‘I’m sorry. That was rude.’

A smile tried to shape his lips. ‘It’s all right.’ In fact her complete lack of tact was oddly charming. He realised he felt a stab of regret that the cab ride was ending, as well as a peculiar rise of protectiveness that made him instruct the driver to charge the estimated cost of Meg’s ride home to his Platinum Card.

‘No!’ Meg protested hotly. ‘I don’t expect you to pay for me.’

‘Meg, the trip back to your flat might be very expensive,’ Bryce told her softly. He didn’t want to insult her by insinuating she hadn’t the money to pay for it, but all she’d told him on the cab ride made him aware she had limited finances. ‘You’re only here because I needed to come home in a hurry.’

‘That’s irrelevant. I pay my own way.’

She crossed her arms over her chest so stubbornly that Bryce almost missed the anxiety that crossed her features when the cab driver interjected. ‘Maybe I’ll get your credit-card imprint now Miss, just so there’s no trouble later.’

Meg turned her fiery gaze to the driver who was eyeing her suspiciously in the rear view mirror. ‘Are you suggesting—’

‘I’m sure he wasn’t suggesting you don’t have any money, were you —’ Bryce sought out the driver’s identification tag, ‘Joe?’

‘Oh of course not sir,’ Joe said, his tone as dry as bone as he rolled his eyes. ‘But I am trying to make a living here, if you two lovebirds hadn’t noticed.’

Bryce decided he wouldn’t dignify the driver’s ‘lovebirds’ reference with an objection. ‘Then add the fare to mine.’

‘No!’

Bryce felt his irritation mount. ‘Meg, your pride is making a nuisance of itself.’

‘I said no,’ she told him adamantly, surprisingly immoveable in spite of her slim physique.

They eyed each other for a long moment until the driver interrupted. ‘Will someone please make a decision here? I haven’t got all day.’

Bryce told Joe, in the tone he used with his employees when he wanted a task carried out immediately, ‘We’re both getting out here.’





Chapter Two


While Meg sat in the cab, still as stone, Bryce Carlton settled his fare with the ill-mannered driver and came around to her door. Opening it, he held out his hand to her, as though nothing other than absolute capitulation was a possibility.

Her temper surged, heating her blood. Why did men always think women should do exactly what they wanted?

‘You can’t seriously think I’ll…’ Her protest trailed off as he grasped her elbow and with gentle pressure pulled her from the taxi. The driver peeled out of the driveway, taking with him Meg’s only chance of leaving.

Bryce’s hand was still at her elbow, pressing gentle, insistent heat to her flesh through the layers of clothing. Swiftly she rounded on him, using the movement to escape his touch and its palpitating effect on her heart. ‘What did you do that for?’

‘Do what?’

‘Send him away. I told you I was going to pay him.’

Sounding put upon, Bryce Carlton sighed. ‘I had no choice, since you refused to let me pay for you. Besides, I didn’t like the idea of you riding alone with him.’

‘He’s a taxi driver. That’s what people do — ride alone with him.’

‘He was rude to you.’

Meg stared at him. Since when had he become her avid protector? She had enough of those back in Karawak Downs, thank you very much.

‘We’re getting wet,’ Bryce pointed out.

With a start Meg realised he was right. The rain had lessened, but it was still coming down in a light drizzle that was seeping stealthily through her clothing. His clothing, she mentally corrected, remembering too late that she was still wearing Bryce’s suit jacket. He was probably worried that she’d ruin it standing out in the weather like this.

She thought her suspicion confirmed when he said with barely suppressed exasperation, ‘Come inside before you catch pneumonia.’ His touch landed on her arm again and Meg allowed herself to be propelled toward the imposing front door of the man’s house, if for no other reason than getting drenched through to the skin for the second time in one day was a prospect she viewed with great disrelish.

Bryce opened the heavy timber front door and Meg followed him into a marble-tiled foyer. To the left was a grand, beige carpeted staircase and to the right a passageway leading into another part of the house. He called up the stairs, ‘Phillipa!’ He unbuttoned his coat. ‘Mrs Dunkirk!’

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