“What’s wrong?” he asked, wiping his hands on an apron he’d found from God only knows where.
“Nothing,” I huffed, shooting a look toward the door but Queenie still hadn’t followed me inside.
Slowly, Hunter ambled around the side of the counter and made his way toward me, looking into my face with concerned emerald eyes.
“Amanda?” he asked quietly and I exhaled in an exasperated puff of air.
“I don’t understand what I ever did to her,” I moaned, loathing that I was venting to him. I didn’t want him to think I was whiny but the stress of Queenie’s presence was already getting to me. I needed to let it out before I went crazy.
“I’m damn good at my job, I do what I’m told,” I rushed on, eager to spill it all before she could overhear.
Hunter nodded slowly, a bemused smile touching his lips.
“That’s the problem,” he murmured and I looked at him quizzically.
“What’s the problem?”
“She’s jealous of you.”
I paused, unsure if he was joking or not but I saw a wisdom in his eyes…along with something else.
“Jealous?” I laughed weakly. “She’s the boss. What does she have to be jealous of?”
The glint in his irises was unmistakable this time as his gaze raked over her face.
“Your beauty,” he murmured softly. My heart caught in my throat and I stared at him in disbelief but before I could muster anything clever to say, Queenie stomped into the building.
“Oh, how nice,” she growled caustically. “Is it break time? Why didn’t anyone inform me while I was slaving away getting your crap?”
The spell was broken between Hunter and I but the feeling of warmth which had exploded inside me remained.
Maybe this trip wasn’t going to be all stress after all.
It took two days for us to overcome our jetlag and fall into a routine. I was grateful for the distraction of work after we organized our affairs and jumped into it. Even Queenie’s presence didn’t seem to faze me as much once I fell back into my research and the familiar juices started to flow.
It helped that whenever I looked at Hunter now, he was often looking back at me, a soft grin on his face.
Sure, I grunted to myself. Now he notices me. It’s not like I can pursue anything with Queenie in such close quarters.
Still, knowing that I had Hunter’s attention added a little spring in my step.
He thinks I’m beautiful.
I did my best to avoid speaking with Queenie but due to the nature of our work, it was inevitable. She still talked to me like I was a servant but she seemed as consumed with her tasks as I was with mine.
At the end of the third day, I sat back at my desk and rubbed my eyes. The whites were burning from all the intense scrutiny I’d been giving the old specimens. We were going to need to collect more samples soon.
A fission of excitement sparked through me as I realized that it might be my opportunity to be alone with Hunter, away from Queenie’s watchful eyes.
I wonder if anyone has ever gotten in on atop a glacier.
“All done?” Hunter asked from behind me and I looked up at him. He wore a boyish grin on his face like he was coveting a mischievous secret.
“For today,” I conceded. “You?”
He nodded and I realized he was holding something behind his back which he produced without prompting.
My eyes widened at the sight of the bottle and he spun to show it to Queenie who wasn’t staring at us for once.
“What do you say, boss lady?” Hunter called. “You up for a little Scottish-Icelandic celebration?”
Queenie eyed him and I could see the wariness in her eyes.
“You brought booze?” she sighed but she didn’t refuse his offer. Instead, she rose and made her way over to us.
“It’s Halloween,” Hunter reminded her and I chuckled. I hadn’t remembered.
“Is this our candy?” I asked. Hunter held my gaze and winked slyly.
“This is one treat I have in store,” he said and a shiver of pleasure slithered through my body.
Is it getting hot in here or is it just Hunter?
“Come on,” Hunter urged us and we followed him to the kitchen where he’d put together a smorgasbord of snacks. I cast him a look through my peripheral vision, wondering when he’d managed to put the platter together.
“Fill me up,” Queenie sighed, flopping onto the sofa. “I earned it.”
She gave me a cold smile.
“I’ve been working on the prototype. What have you been doing?”
Is that wench implying I haven’t been working? She’s got some nerve, considering she’s coat tailing off my idea!
“We’ve all been working really hard,” Hunter interjected, placing a full glass of scotch into Queenie’s outstretched hand. “We’re a team, remember?”
I waited, fully expecting my boss to make some cutting remark but to my surprise, she only gulped back a huge sip of the liquor and smiled.