For the next few minutes, Acheron discussed his concerns about the project, and afterwards the older man asked him about his latest trip to the Amazon. He answered without missing a beat even as he worked to conceal his surprise.
He had not expected her to keep his illness a secret even from her own boss, but there were apparently no bounds to Ms. Jones’ discretion.
Another minute passed before Acheron was able to put his plan in motion and he was able to get Collins out of the office on a made-up pretext. If his calculations were correct – and they always were – it would be a while before the executive would be able to return.
“I’ll see to that myself,” Mr. Collins decided. Standing up, he tossed an absent-minded look at his secretary, saying, “Please attend to Mr. Simonides while I’m away.”
“Yes, sir.” But inside herself, Pippi was dreadfully alarmed. No! Don’t go! Don’t leave me alone with him! She wanted to shriek for help, but reality forbade her to speak a single word of protest. All she could do was watch the older man leave, and with every step he took, her heart began to race faster and faster.
Acheron’s gaze gleamed with amusement at the way she jumped out of her seat the moment she saw him coming towards her. In spite of the apprehension that so clearly filled her eyes, there was also a proud tilt to her chin, making the girl appear like some resisting little prey determined to fight for her life.
And what a wonderful fight it would be, he thought lazily while watching her plant herself behind her high-backed chair. He saw her fingers curl over its top, almost as if intending to use it to run him over if needed be.
Her fierce, defensive stance made her resemble a wildcat in the making, and the thought brought Acheron immense pleasure. Ah, to tame one such as her…
And she was all mine, he thought possessively.
The Fates had bequeathed this girl to him, and he would damn well take it.
Pippi tried not to fidget as she felt Acheron’s dark-as-night eyes run over her figure, leisurely and thoroughly, almost like he was having fun thinking of the many ways he could eat her. It had her body reacting with the oddest sensation – burning hot and freezing cold at the same time – and she would’ve crossed her arms over her chest if not for the knowledge that doing so would make her appear weak.
Which was the one thing a woman couldn’t ever afford to do, Pippi thought nervously, with the type of man Acheron Simonides was.
“You didn’t tell Collins anything.” The tone was casual, but she had a feeling it was only to disarm her.
“It wasn’t my place to do so.” She prayed that would be the end of it, prayed that he would be satisfied with the answer and go away and never come back.
But it wasn’t.
“Is that so?” This time, his voice had lowered into a velvety murmur, and she found herself gritting her teeth against the seductive temptation of his voice. Don’t fall for it! Just don’t!
His eyes narrowed, and it was almost like he could see all the way to her soul. “Is that also why you haven’t come to see me since then?”
Oh, the way he so sinfully couched things, making it sound like she had a long-agreed assignation with him.
“You thought it wasn’t your place to do so?”
There was that sensual purr in his voice again, threatening to entice Pippi out of all rational thinking. Thankfully, she had just enough sense left to stay silent. To answer him in any way would only invite more trouble in her life, and she just wanted this to be over with.
“Do you know that there’s security footage of that night?”
The sudden change in topic threw her off, and she blinked at him in bemusement. “Security footage?” In the heart-hammering, knee-buckling state Pippi was in, she was having a hard time grasping his meaning.
“Your ability to keep your wits about you even under pressure was quite commendable.”
Oh, so he was talking about that night.
There was a pause, and then the billionaire drawled, “I also couldn’t help but notice there was that part when you fell on top of me—”
She had forgotten about that – again!
“I am so sorry!”
The strangled tone of her voice, combined with the guilt in her expression, had Acheron blinking. “Perhaps I’m reading this incorrectly, but are you apologizing because you feel you’ve…err…taken advantage of me?” He almost grinned at the tiny, shamefaced nod she gave him, and he said gravely, “You have done nothing inappropriate, Ms. Jones…but I do wish you had.”
It took a full second for the penny to drop, and when it finally did, the look of scandalized shock on her face was everything he had hoped for, and he smiled. “What an enchanting novelty you are, Ms. Jones.” Her stony silence in response was also what he expected, and his smile widened.