Kathryn shot him one of her cool little smiles as they stepped into the lift.
‘The meeting went well, don’t you think?’ she said. ‘Everyone I spoke to seemed very pleased, both by the company’s progress and with you,’ she added.
Somewhat reluctantly, Hugh thought.
‘You’re very good with people, aren’t you?’
How she managed to make even a compliment sound like a criticism, he had no idea.
‘Must come from all the parties I’ve been to,’ he said offhandedly as he pressed the car-park button. ‘By the way, Max was extremely impressed with you. He thoroughly enjoyed your lecture on inflation.’
Her head whipped his way, her eyes showing concern.
‘I’m not teasing you,’ he said. ‘I’m being serious. He liked you. Said I was to do everything in my power to keep you. Which leads me to my next question,’ he added just as the lift doors opened at the basement level.
‘Oh? What’s that?’
‘Do you intend to stay on working for me after you’re married?’
She didn’t have to say a single word, he saw the truth in her eyes.
‘I see,’ he said, astounded at his reaction to this news. Where was the relief? All he felt was dismay. Yet that was ridiculous! If he couldn’t have her, then it was far better that she go. Out of sight would be out of mind. He’d be able to get back to normal. And next time, he’d be very careful over the kind of female he hired as his assistant. Maybe someone like his father’s PA. Elaine was in her early fifties, a career spinster who’d been with Parkinson Media for yonks.
Clearly, his father was no fool. Or perhaps it was a case of once bitten, twice shy? His father’s first wife, Hugh’s mother, had once been his personal secretary. Of course, she’d been very pretty.
Hugh stared at Kathryn, who could hardly be described as very pretty. Yet she had a face which he was finding increasingly attractive, with its fine eyes and wide, sensual mouth. And then there was her figure, that tantalising, hourglass figure which was his constant torment.
‘And when were you going to tell me?’ he ground out, as— against all common sense—he cupped her elbow and steered her forcibly from the lift.
Kathryn was taken aback by his obvious anger. It wasn’t like Hugh to be angry, about anything! As a boss went, he was extremely easy-going, too easy-going. Life was meant to be enjoyed, he’d once told her when she’d chided him over spending so much time out of the office.
His anger upset her. As did the way he was pushing her along. Heavens, but his grip was strong. It had to be down to all that golf!
‘I didn’t say I was definitely leaving,’ she said with a degree of indignation. ‘I haven’t made up my mind yet.’
‘That’s not like you. I got the impression you had your life all planned out down to the last minute.’
How boring he made her sound. Boring and predictable.
‘There’s nothing wrong with having plans and goals,’ she countered defensively. ‘Not everyone can afford to just swan along without thinking about tomorrow.’
‘Touché,’ he said with the kind of light-hearted laugh she was used to hearing from him. It relaxed the tension which had been gathering in her stomach. So did his finally dropping her elbow. She hadn’t liked him touching her like that, hadn’t liked the funny little thrill it gave her.
It wasn’t till Hugh bent to open a car door that she noticed they’d come to a halt next to a bright red sports car.
Like lots of women, cars held little attraction for Kathryn. All she required of a vehicle was that it be kept spotlessly clean and got her safely from point A to point B.
Hugh’s car was spotlessly clean. Its metallic paintwork fairly shone. But it didn’t shout safety at her, it shouted danger, excitement and, yes, sex.
In a jolt of sudden insight, Kathryn understood why rich playboys drove cars like this, and why other men coveted them. They were, quite simply, seduction on wheels. Even the act of lowering herself into the passenger seat felt flirtatious, with her skirt riding halfway up her legs. When Hugh didn’t close the passenger door straight away, she glanced up to find him staring down at her provocatively exposed thighs.
It seemed an eternity before his gaze lifted from her legs to her face; an electrifying and exquisitely exciting eternity.
His eyes, when they met hers, betrayed no such excitement. A hint of irritation perhaps. Nothing more.
‘Watch your elbow,’ he advised brusquely before slamming the door shut.
‘Foolish girl,’ Kathryn muttered under her breath, gripping her handbag tightly in her lap whilst her billionaire boss strode round the front of the car.
But it was difficult to relax after being rattled so soundly by such a small thing as Hugh looking at her legs. Difficult to ignore her still thudding heartbeat. Difficult to pretend that she hadn’t wanted him to go on looking at her legs.
He wrenched open his door and slid in behind the wheel.
‘You haven’t been in my car before, have you?’ he threw at her as he leant forward and inserted his car key.
‘No,’ came her taut reply. There’d been no reason for him to drive her anywhere.
‘Seat belts would be good,’ he said with a sideward glace.
Kathryn cursed herself when she fumbled with hers and it snapped back over her left shoulder.
‘Here. Let me,’ he said, and leant over to do it for her.
She knew his arm brushing against her breasts was accidental but it didn’t stop her nipples from tightening inside her bra—or the sharp intake of breath which accompanied this not-to-be-ignored evidence of sexual arousal.
‘Sorry,’ he muttered, no doubt thinking her gasp was a form of protest. ‘There’s not a lot of room.’
Once her seat belt was fastened, Hugh turned his attention to slipping his own belt on then starting the car, giving Kathryn the opportunity to gather her senses.
Any relief was short-lived, however, when the car’s powerful engine throbbed into life, its vibration entering her body through her feet and shooting upwards, bringing a tingling to her whole body. When Hugh reversed out and accelerated away, taking the car-park corners faster than she ever would, Kathryn experienced a most uncharacteristic surge of exhilaration.
Normally, she despised speeding. But nothing was normal right now.
In no time they were out in George Street, where the steady lines of city traffic brought a swift halt to any speeding.
‘So what do you think of my car?’ he asked when they stopped at a set of lights.
What did she think? She thought it was so sexy it was sinful. But not as sexy as its owner.
‘Very nice,’ she said, and he laughed.
‘Only you would call a Ferrari nice.’ The lights changed and he was off again, this time a little more quickly, as the traffic ahead was thinning. He zapped left at the next corner, then right, after which she lost total track till he zoomed into a small car park down near the quay and braked to a halt.
‘Have you been to Neptune’s before?’ he asked as he retrieved his car key then unsnapped his seat belt.
‘You’ll like it.’
Kathryn was sure she would. How could you not like being taken to one of Sydney’s most famous restaurants where the menu would be to die for and the wine like liquid gold?
Suddenly, Kathryn knew why all those women chased after Hugh.