‘Yes, I am.’
‘What if someone is worried about you?’
That oddly tense look crossed his face just has his phone started ringing again. ‘I can’t answer it. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m driving.’
‘You want me to answer it?’ she asked, not meaning it at all.
Suddenly he smiled. ‘Would you mind? That’d be great.’
Huh? He’d called her bluff.
‘Fine.’ She twisted to get his phone from where it lay on the tiny back seat, swiping the screen to answer it. ‘Jack Wolfe’s phone—this is Steffi Leigh speaking. How may I help you?’ she asked in dulcet tones.
‘Uh… pardon me?’
Yep. A woman. Stephanie’s blood simmered. ‘This is Jack Wolfe’s phone… Steffi Leigh speaking,’ she repeated. Ultra-dulcet.
‘Uh, hi… Steffi. Is Jack there? Can I speak to him?’
Definitely a woman. A young, breathless woman, desperate to speak to him.
‘I’m sorry,’ Stephanie said slowly, ‘he’s driving at the moment, and the vehicle we’re in doesn’t have any kind of hands-free capability. Can I take a message for you?’
‘Uh, yes, please… This is Bella.’
Bella. Nice name for a lover. What was the betting she was tall and slender and stunning—?
‘Can you tell him that the board is waiting for that report and they’re really pressuring me for a date.’ Bella sounded apologetic. ‘I know he doesn’t want to be disturbed, because he’s really busy over there, but they want to know his thoughts as soon as possible. They won’t make a decision without his input.’
Huh? Not a personal call.
‘Also, he’s had a zillion messages,’ Bella added. ‘I’ve tried to prioritise, and I’ve put most of them off ‘til he’s back next week, but the Italian printing company are really pushing to speak with him. Tell him I’m almost out of options for holding them off. The others I’ve listed in an email to his private account. If he can go through that when he has a minute that would be great.’
‘Okay—anything more?’ Steffi asked, wanting to get off the phone now.
‘Actually, yes…’ Bella sounded ultra-apologetic. ‘That freelance photographer has been phoning every morning since last Thursday, desperate for an answer on the shots he sent over. I know Jack wants to review them personally, so if he can take a quick look that would be fantastic, because I know he doesn’t want to lose him to any competitor if he turns out to be any good. Oh, and the couple who are doing the revision to the French cycling route had all their gear stolen when they were waiting for a train. They’re covered with insurance, of course, but now the local mayor is on us because he’s worried his town is going to get a bad report. He won’t settle for speaking to anyone but Jack. And—’
‘Okay, I’ve got that—thanks, Bella. I’ve got to go now—sorry. We’re about to go into a tunnel and I’ll lose reception. Thanks. Bye!’
She touched the screen, ending the call. Then counted to twenty before she dared glance at Jack.
‘Tunnel?’ Jack asked idly, his attention apparently fully focused on the clear, tunnel-free road ahead.
‘Um, that was Bella. I’m guessing she’s your PA?’ Stephanie took a deep breath. ‘She said that the board is—’
‘Don’t worry—I heard most of it,’ he interrupted. ‘I’ll deal with it later.’
She almost felt like apologising to him herself. ‘Sounds like you have a lot going on.’
‘Always do. But so do you.’ He glanced pointedly at the phone in her other hand—the one that was now buzzing.
Stephanie tensed, then immediately relaxed when she read the text from Tara.
All good this end. Don’t worry. Have fun. Do everything I’d do and more.
She chuckled inwardly. There was nothing Tara wouldn’t do if she was sitting next to a man as hot as Jack Wolfe.
She started to tap out a text back.
‘Can’t you live without your phone for even a few hours?’ he asked, sounding touchy.
‘Sure I can,’ she declared recklessly, happy now she knew all was okay.
‘Then I’ll tell you what,’ he said, suddenly all brusque authority. ‘Open up that glove compartment and put your phone there. Put mine in too. And put them both on mute before you do it.’
That was an order if ever she heard one. The CEO in him was making an appearance. ‘Seriously?’
She didn’t need to look at him to know he meant it. She kind of didn’t blame him for wanting to escape, given the litany of requests Bella had heaped on him. But she couldn’t put her phone in there. She needed to stay in touch with Tara and Dan in case he needed her. But she didn’t want to tell Jack that. And, given she’d just heard that all was okay from Tara—