She drew in a ragged breath, her tongue darting across her lips to moisten them. His gaze dipped down to her lips for a moment and back to her eyes with a small smile. The heat of his stare made her intensely aware of her whole body. And his. The button-down shirt he’d changed into was dark green. It strained across his chest and shoulders, the hard muscles underneath fighting to be free of the restraint. Being pressed against him earlier had set her imagination wild. She wanted to know how those bare muscles would twitch under her hands. Or how the wall of his chest would feel when her breasts flattened hard against him.
“This place is very nice,” she said, reaching for her soda and taking a large sip to moisten her suddenly dry throat.
“It is,” he agreed, sitting back in his chair. “I’m glad we decided to try it.”
“How was work?” Cynthia desperately sought out a topic of conversation that wouldn’t make her think of touching Will and fisted her hands under the table to keep from reaching out to him.
“Busy, as usual. I saw your father today.”
That would definitely cool her ardor. “Yes, Mother mentioned he was going to see you. How is he?”
“Good. We were going over the finer details of our product collaboration. It should be ready to launch in the spring.”
“What are you two doing, exactly?”
“We’re working on e-reader technology. His people have managed to create a touch screen so light, thin and cheap that before long, everyone will have one. We’re hoping to even give them away with long-term e-subscriptions to the paper.”
“Is your paper having trouble?”
“No, we’re still performing well, but a lot of other papers aren’t. It’s all about the internet these days. I added online subscriptions a few years back, but I think e-readers are really the next big thing in the publishing industry. I want the Observer and Dempsey Corp. at the front of the surge. To take my company to the next level as a top-tier performer. It’s what I’ve fought for years to do.”
Cynthia nodded, although she had no real idea what it was all about. She loved the feel of a book in her hand, and it would take time before she would be willing to give that up to a gadget. But it sounded promising for the two companies. A big boost in the industry. Maybe if he climbed that peak, he’d be willing to sit back for a while and enjoy the view for once. She doubted it, though.
“Is that why we were getting married?”
Will paused, his glass in midair. “It’s not why I proposed to you, no.”
“But it’s why you stuck around even though I was difficult.”
“We both had our reasons for getting married, even if they were misguided.”
“I would think that it was just good business, working together. Why do you have to marry me to seal the deal?”
“It’s not like that,” Will insisted. “My proposal had nothing to do with your father’s company. That all came later. Just an incentive to stick things out when you became—to use your word—difficult. Your father prefers to work with family. When I broke off our engagement, I did it knowing that this project could be dead in the water the minute he found out.”
“If this second try doesn’t work out between us, will it hurt your company?”
“No, it won’t hurt us. But it won’t help either.”
“I could talk to him. I mean, I’m the reason we broke up. He shouldn’t penalize you and your employees because of something I did.”
“That’s a very sweet offer, but I don’t think I’m in need of any of your heroics just yet.”
Will reached across the table to take her hand into his own. The warmth of him enveloped her and radiated up her arm like sinking into a hot bath. His thumb stroked across her knuckles in slow circles, sending the tiny hairs on the back of her neck to attention. She wanted to close her eyes and lose herself in the sensation of his touch, but his gaze had her pinned in her seat.
“What makes you think this second try won’t work?” he asked with a devilish smile that almost convinced her it would.
“Y ou kissed her?”
Alex’s disbelieving shout no doubt cut through the walls of Will’s office and into the hallways of the Observer headquarters.
“Keep it down, will you? I deliberately employ some very nosy people around here, and not all of them are journalists. My admin is at the top of the gossip food chain.”
Will got up from his desk and pushed his office door closed, flipping the lock to prevent interruptions.
“What’s the gossip in you kissing your fiancée?”