‘You don’t like massage?’ he asked, his expression comically shocked. ‘I’d have thought massages would be your jam.’
Her ‘jam’? Oh, she didn’t think so.
‘They don’t work.’ She’d given her brother so many massages and they’d never helped him.
‘You’ve not been getting the right massages.’
He walked ahead of her, right into the bedroom.
As she glanced about she saw a billion photo opportunities. If only she had a decent camera with her. But her phone was still out of bounds, in the glove compartment of the car.
She walked to the doorway and saw him standing near the bed. Her unruly imagination instantly flashed images of him on it—naked and aroused and hungry.
She backed out of the intimacy of the room, going on to the veranda that ran the entire circumference of the building. She only stopped when she felt a safe distance from that insanely erotic bedroom. She ignored the twin wicker chairs that were placed at close angles and instead leaned against the railing.
She tried not to stiffen when she heard his footsteps coming nearer a few moments later.
‘If you’re very careful, and very quiet, you might see one of your precious echidnas,’ he said softly, dropping into the chair just behind her.
She turned to face him, leaning her elbows on the railing, refusing to let him see how much he—and this place—had got to her. Except the pose pulled her dress tight across her breasts, and they felt too full as it was. And she’d totally just given herself away by literally running from the bedroom.
‘I thought you weren’t that interested in animals?’ she said weakly.
‘Zoos, not so much,’ he admitted, with a teasing lilt to his words. ‘But who doesn’t love little wild animals? I just prefer to see them in their native habitat rather than in some artificially created display where they’re expected to perform. You can learn a lot about a creature by seeing its habitat.’
‘Artificially created display’? Like her blog? He so wasn’t hiding his implied meaning. Well, he wasn’t seeing her native habitat.
He chuckled at her expression, reading her thoughts. ‘Keep your secrets—I’ll find them out eventually.’
‘I don’t have any secrets.’
She looked at the way he’d sprawled back in the elegant chair. It wasn’t an entirely indolent pose. She had the impression he could move as fast as a cheetah if he chose.
‘Everyone has secrets.’
Her blood chilled. So he suspected she was withholding something? Of course he did. He’d heard her calling out in her sleep.
She turned it back on him. ‘Tell me one of yours.’
He held her gaze. ‘I have a meeting two days from now that I’ve been waiting for my whole life. But I’m dreading it.’
She gazed down at him, knowing he was telling the truth. A big truth. ‘So which is the secret? That you’re having the meeting or that you’re dreading it?’
She was unable to look away and break the deepening intimacy of the moment. The memory of his stark expression earlier smote her heart.
‘Who’s the meeting with?’ It so wasn’t her business, but she couldn’t stop herself asking.
‘Nope—that’s all you’re getting. At least until you give me something.’
She wasn’t giving him anything. Even though there was a weak part inside of her wanting to open up and let him in on her secret. She couldn’t. He wouldn’t want to buy the blog. And the blog—the sale of it—was the only reason she was here. It had to be.
‘This would be a fantastic place for me to profile,’ she said, snapping back into Steffi Leigh mode.
He eased further into the chair and smiled. ‘What would be your angle?’ He went along with her change of topic.
‘Exclusivity, of course. It’s obvious everywhere you look. This isn’t for the average consumer. Only the super-rich could stay here. So I guess it’s aspirational for those who want to be super-rich. A peek into how the other half live.’ She glanced about at the decor. ‘And I could pull together a list of some of the interior designs ideas you could borrow to create the same sanctuary effect in your own home.’
‘You feel it’s like a sanctuary?’
‘Of course. Don’t you?’
‘It’s quiet,’ he acknowledged. ‘I get lots of work done here.’
Was that why he’d come here—to have a couple of days’ private preparation before whatever that meeting was?
She threw him a scornful look. ‘You can’t work here—it’s like… sacrilegious or something.’