He stood back. The spark of something dangerous in his eyes faded and something like respect replaced it.
Then he was back to reserved.
‘Great.’ He disappeared into the office.
Liss sat motionless for a moment. She’d successfully fended off the moment of threat—so why did she feel some silly sense of disappointment?
She counted to one hundred and then took in the timetable she’d arranged for a series of meetings he had the following week. His wary half-smile disappeared the second he saw it and any hope his expression was simply a serious look of concentration faded as it turned into one serious frown. Liss’s heart started knocking uncomfortably against her ribs. She hadn’t just screwed up again, had she?
‘You know, princess—’ the slight jibe was there ‘—I’ll agree I’m a man of many talents, but being able to be in two places at once is beyond even me.’
It was her turn to frown. ‘What do you mean?’
‘Monday, three p.m.—I’m here for a conference call and in the auditorium for a presentation. How do you propose I do it?’
Liss stared hard at the paper, read upside down with a skill until now she’d never known she had. Oh, hell.
His voice cooled. ‘Look, prin—’
She didn’t want him to say it, didn’t want him to give up on her too. Not when she was finally getting her act together and her plans in place. So she interrupted. ‘I’ll fix it. I’ll fix it right away.’ She snatched the paper back. Thank heavens she hadn’t emailed it on to the other attendees yet.
He looked at her, the hard gaze seeking to penetrate her reserve while revealing nothing of his own thoughts. There was silence for a few moments. Then he nodded and she made her escape—quick.
James knew he should never have made the ‘in bed’ comment. Totally inappropriate. And it was because he’d been dumb enough to make it that he felt he owed her another chance. But he couldn’t quite regret it.
The look on her face had been priceless—for one second totally floored, and in the next? Aware—as aware of him as he’d been of her the whole damn day.
And finding her lying back in that chair, her body shown off to glorious perfection, what else would leap into his mind at that sight? Liss languorously lying in bed, those incredibly long legs bare and bronzed on white cotton sheets, her body a little damp, her face as flushed as it had been then, but this time with the glow of completion in her eyes…
The image instantly had him tormented by longing. What would that effortlessly graceful, oh, so sophisticated princess be like? How would she look, how would she sound, in the moment when her body mastered her mind and she succumbed to sensation? He ached to know and had needed the satisfaction of seeing her desire revealed for just that one second. But she hadn’t followed through—hadn’t bantered back. She was wary with him. Which was interesting. Why? From the papers she seemed to be full of flirtation when she was out at all her parties. Had he suddenly grown horns and a tail?
He shouldn’t care. Shouldn’t be interested. Shouldn’t be wasting this much time thinking about a woman who would be as fickle as an autumnal day.
It was pretty obvious she wasn’t that happy. He snorted. Hell, all that was probably bothering her was the fact she had to work for a change.
Now he was behind by about half an hour on his work and he needed to wrap it up. There was a function at a new bar that he was due to look in on.
Liss made a quick exit, right on closing time as usual, but he was glad she was gone. Now he could get on with his work and stop his mind—and body—from dwelling on her. It was stupid of him, when he knew what she’d be like—inconsistent, unreliable, untruthful. Exactly the kind of woman he swore he’d never bother with—never again. One fun-loving, unfaithful girlfriend was enough. Even now, his scars were red and sore and constantly aggravated by the day-to-day reality of his parents’ dysfunctional relationship. The mess that they were simply cemented his belief that long-term monogamy wasn’t possible. Short-term, sure —very short. But Liss was here as his employee, worse than that she was flavour of the month for the media circus and as far as James was concerned he’d been in one magazine too many as it was. It was totally in his best interests to ignore her.
But of course she was there, at the opening party for the bar and in full glamour-girl mode. He spotted her immediately—she was hard to miss in a stunning black dress that clung low to her torso, showing off every beautiful curve, and then flaring out. As she walked there were slits in the skirt granting tantalising glimpses of those gorgeous legs. She wore her hair out and it hung long down her back and once again he had the urge to wind his fingers into it and feel its soft length brush against his body.