Not that she had any sort of righteousness on her side.
There was only a moment to study Zach up close. His thick jet hair was a little longer than it had been the last time she’d seen him. Remembering that night long ago, she couldn’t help the itch to bury her fingers in those silky strands again. Or to run her fingertips over the weary lines of his chiseled features until the tension melted away.
Her sensual memories were dimmed by the current hard look on his face. There was no glimmer of recognition or softening as she stood before him, even though she could remember every detail of the body that now towered over her. No smile of welcome softened his sculpted lips as he asked, “What are you doing?”
“I’m just taking some pictures,” she said quietly, lifting the camera still in her hand.
If anything, his dark eyes hardened more. “On private property.”
She glanced around, uncomfortable under the stares of the other men. “This is...was a business, right? There aren’t any signs posted about private property or trespassing.”
“That’s because they were all blown down by the bomb.”
Really? She wanted to challenge him, push past that stony facade to find out if he was simply making that up. Was he trying to punish her for walking away? Or did he really not recognize her? Had she been that unmemorable? The thought made her slightly ill.
She settled for a simple, “Sorry, I didn’t realize.”
Zach stared her down. What would he do next? She had a feeling this wasn’t going to end as a friendly little chat. Her cheeks started to burn. Inwardly cursing her fair skin, she tilted her chin up to counteract the feeling of inadequacy. So what if he didn’t remember her...she’d still find a way to get what she needed.
But she couldn’t force her gaze back up to his.
“As you can see, this is still an active fire zone, and we’ve got a great deal to investigate before we know how safe it is.”
She smirked at the lame excuse. “I wasn’t anywhere near the fire. I was in the parking lot with a bunch of other people.”
The crowd around her shifted, as if uncomfortable with her spark of courage. But Zach didn’t back down. “Do you have a press pass?”
“A press pass,” he said, enunciating each word with careful control. “Do you have permission to be taking photos of the scene?”
She seriously wanted to roll her eyes at his show of dominance but held herself in check. “No.”
“Steve, please escort this lady back to her car.”
Startled, she snapped her gaze up to meet his eyes once more. Surely he wasn’t throwing her off the property?
He stepped closer, close enough for her to catch the scent she’d missed all too often, mixed with perspiration from his work despite the cool October air. His fingers—the same ones that had explored her body that long-ago night—caught her chin, tilting it up just a touch more until it was uncomfortable. Then she had no choice but to meet his gaze, despite their height difference. Her heart thumped hard, though she didn’t know if it was from his nearness or fear.
“I suggest you stay away from where you don’t belong.”
As the guard escorted her back to her car, she had only one thought.
Guess he does remember me after all...
* * *
Zach Gatlin stood behind his desk, lost in thought as he stared at the large monitor. Where had she come from? Did he really want to know?
Unfortunately, he did.
As much as he wished he could forget the red-haired beauty he’d taken to bed five years ago, the memory of her eager passion had resurfaced all too often. As had the memory of her love of sunsets and people and nature—her artistic eye had taught him to see the gentler world he’d forgotten in the midst of war.
Then, with no warning, she was gone. He’d consoled himself with the thought that if she hadn’t been willing to say goodbye, she wouldn’t have stayed in the long run anyway. Probably for the better, since Zach’s responsibilities were a heavy load.
Sometimes he wondered if that inner voice lied.
Shaking off the memories, Zach focused on the present. The question was: Did he look into her or not? Running a background check would be all too easy, especially now that he ran his very own security business. The tools were within close reach. Close enough to make his fingers twitch. He could know all he wanted within minutes, every small detail of her life within days.