Mr. Carrey steps up to him, shakes his hand and that of Gabriel’s VP before leading them around the room to reacquaint them with the members of the Smith Cannon team—Terry, Brian, Mark.
“And you remember Elizabeth Watson,” Mr. Carrey says.
Elizabeth, just like our queen. The words Gabriel spoke so long ago, accompanied by that panty-melting grin of his, echo in my head. Please say my name. The way you used to when you were so deep in me you stole my heart.
“Nice to see you again, Ms. Watson.”
I dig my nails into my palm to keep from crumbling, because the glance he directs at me displays neither love, nor hate, but indifference as if I mean less than nothing to him. “Mr. Storm,” I manage to say even though I’m dying inside.
Although he’s shaken hands with everyone else, he doesn’t bother to do so with me.
“Everything ready, Liz?” Mr. Carrey asks.
“Yes, Sir.” I point to the papers on the conference table, vetted and approved by both sides.
A flurry of click-click-clicks from the financial media invited to the signing swirl around Gabriel Storm and the SouthWind owner when they take their seats at the conference table.
The contrast between the two men is startling. While the portly SouthWind owner looks like he’s been stuffed into his no-doubt high end suit, Gabriel, in his Savile Row custom-made jacket and trousers, appears to have just stepped off the cover of GQ. The disparity between the two men is brought home even further when they make it official. While Mr. SouthWind grabs a standard issue pen and signs on the dotted line with an ostentatious flourish, Gabriel Storm retrieves a classic gold-tipped Montblanc from the depths of his jacket and records his name with quiet dignity.
My fascination with his hands has yet to desert me. Big, masculine, tender. Barely three months ago, they worshiped my skin when he couldn’t get enough of me. And now . . .
My own hands tremble as I retrieve the signed papers and set them to the side to allow the ink to dry. More flashes go off when they and Mr. Carrey stand at the podium to make their statements. The good ole boy provides the press with a self-congratulatory speech which provides little in the way of substance, all the time grinning like a fool. But then why wouldn’t he? He just sold the rights to develop his Brazilian wind power farm to Storm Industries for a cool $600 million, most of it in cold, hard cash.
The cameras barely snapped when Mr. SouthWind blathered on, but they burst in blinding fury when Gabriel Storm steps up to the lectern to discuss the importance of renewable energy and the low cost of delivering wind-generated power. Surely, the environmentalists have no advocate more electrifying than him.
When reporters rifle off questions, he answers a couple before Miranda Stone steps in to handle the rest, giving him a chance to walk away from the limelight. The presentation concludes with a round of handshakes and more photos. And then Mr. Carrey leads Mr. SouthWind and Gabriel Storm, along with members of the Smith Canon team, two doors down to the Potomac Conference Room where a celebratory cocktail party will take place.
While the press corps collect their equipment, I gather the signing documents and head to Support Services to copy them. Once the signatory pages are bound with the rest of the closing documents, Smith Cannon will file the purchase agreement with the appropriate agencies.
Done with that, I head to my office, rather than the celebration. I’m being a coward, I know, but I can’t be in the same room with Gabriel Storm without falling apart. Back at my desk, I take deep breaths to slow my racing heart, still my nerves. But it doesn’t do any good. I let out a mirthless laugh. One would think a four-month pregnancy would cure me of my lust for him. Wrong. Even after all these months, even after the insulting offer he hurled at me, I crave him as much as ever.