He made it look easy, when she knew for a fact that it wasn’t.
But to indulge in the utter fantasy of being in this dress, in this car, next to him, for an hour or so of illicit escape…
‘No choice,’ she muttered.
A small, wicked smile played on his lips. It seemed he’d taken the brakes off both the car and himself, leaving him relaxed and carefree and so strikingly attractive it was a wonder she could breathe.
‘Stephanie…’ he drawled softly. ‘There should always be a choice.’ He glanced her way, a half-question in the back of his blue eyes.
Stephanie licked her dried lips. She could say no. Could demand that he turn around and take her back to the hotel immediately. If she insisted he’d acquiesce. He wasn’t about to abduct her for real. Not for a whole night.
But what a choice it was—stay and play along with his whim, or go and kiss goodbye to any chance of the deal happening?
As she looked at him time stopped. There was that unspoken communication—that intensity that she wanted to run from yet couldn’t break. Fascination. She wanted to be near him for longer. Was this what it was like for her mother when she went headlong into her latest affair?
Stephanie shivered, almost repulsed by her intense reaction to him.
When her oxygen-deprived brain decided to reinstate the use of her vocal cords she answered his question with one of her own. ‘Do you know where you’re going?’
‘I have a rough idea.’ His wicked smile went on full wattage. He looked outrageously pleased with himself. And devastatingly attractive.
She’d bet he knew exactly where he was going. Even in that moment of distress she’d seen back at the hotel he’d been decisive, confident. And determined.
The car sped faster down the motorway and Stephanie slipped into the realisation of a long-held private fantasy—not knowing where she was going. For years she’d dreamed of randomly picking a road and driving along it for as far as she felt like. Or letting someone else take her for a ride for as far and as long as she wanted…
Sweet temptation accelerated along her veins. She’d always wanted to ‘up and leave’—see where the wind blew her. Had always yearned to go deep into the dry heart of the country and explore the infinite unknown possibilities…
Except the one time she’d tried she’d almost destroyed what little was left of her family.
Cold memories slammed into her. Her mistakes burned, and regret tasted as acid and as fresh as the day disaster had struck.
She felt responsible for her brother’s disabilities. Every single one of the golden possibilities he’d had had been destroyed. Dan had gone from sporting superstar to wheelchair-bound and broken. His future had once been assured. Now it was up to her to assure him a different future.
He was the reason she was here now.
So she shouldn’t be ogling Jack’s powerful-looking hands or feeling tantalised by his smile. She wasn’t here to flirt. She needed to focus. And she needed to check on her brother ASAP.
Her fingers tightened on her mobile phone. She’d send a quick, quiet text to Dan and another to Tara to double-check her brother was okay.
Jack wasn’t finding out about her brother. She wasn’t telling him he was the reason why she couldn’t be out for hours and hours. She was not playing the pity card. She’d keep up her ‘take it or leave it’ aura—the projection that she had no worries, no need of his offer, was key. She didn’t want him thinking she had to sell her site. She couldn’t appear desperate.
But in truth she’d do whatever it took to secure Dan’s future.
As she texted, Jack’s phone rang again. He didn’t bother to pull over and answer it this time. If anything, it felt as if he hit the accelerator more heavily.
‘Tell me more about your blog. You write all kinds of lists, right?’ he said, talking loudly over the top of his incessant ringtone.
‘That’s how it started, yes,’ she answered, still looking down at her own phone.
Her blog was still titled ‘The List’. She’d begun with all kinds of crazy lists, but the lists had really been a cover for random comments on everyday absurdities to entertain her friends. It had evolved from there, although now they were more straight lists than any kind of astute commentaries, but she tried to keep them as fun and entertaining as always.
‘Because lists are catchy?’ he asked. ‘“Ten Ways with a Tank Top” or something?’
‘Or something…’ she murmured. ‘Lists are easy and quick to read, and people like them. They’re popular. It’s that simple.’
‘Do you write lists for everything?’