Bride By Design 3: Manchala Nights

By: Alicia Roberts

Sir Donald nodded encouragingly at both John and I, and asked us a few polite questions, before turning to Roger again. I was glad when Sir Donald finally decreed that we wouldn't be talking about work - "Not till the presentation, at least!"

Diane nodded, and said, "We just want to get to know you guys on this holiday. Let's have some fun."

I smiled and finished up my food, and we all cooed appreciatively when a gorgeous fruit pavlova was brought out. Other than Celine, all of us heaped our plates with the dessert, and I groaned out loud when I sunk my teeth into it. It was crispy outside, soft inside, and the whipped cream and fruit toppings provided the perfect balance.

Chapter Two

Once dinner was over, and everyone had retired to their bedrooms, I tried to relax a bit. But the nagging feeling that Roger was the shoo-in to get the project, just wouldn't leave my mind.

I sat on the bed and stared up at Colin. He seemed relaxed and unstressed.

"Colin," I started warily, looking at his calm green eyes, "Why do I get the feeling Roger's the only one Sir Donald takes seriously?"

Colin sat down on the sofa opposite and leaned forward, tilting his head and looking into my eyes. "Lisa, I don't want you to worry about this stuff."

"But how can I not?" I shook my head. "Don seems like a nice enough guy, but he shouldn't be so biased when it comes to business."

Colin smiled grimly. "Unfortunately, biases are a way of life. You have to deal with them. Keith and John probably know they won't get this project, but Don might recommend them to someone else - who knows, they might get something out of the whole trip. I could tell at the dinner that you were concerned about them, you don't have to be."

I gulped. "I am concerned about them, but I'm more concerned about you."

We looked at each other silently, and then Colin finally shrugged. "Didn't realize Roger was in the running for this project. And before dinner, I didn't realize Sir Donald seems set on giving him the job. But I won't give up - you can never predict the future completely, and I'll make sure everything I can control is perfect."

I nodded. "What happens if you don't get it?"

Colin smiled easily, and ran a hand through his hair. "Life goes on. I'll develop something else. But I haven't given up on the Manchala project, I have a feeling I'll get it in the end."

My heart was sinking, and it probably showed on my face. "And what about me?"

Colin shook his head. "Don't worry, I've got lots of developments where we need a good interior designer. You can work on one of them. I promise, you'll get a good job out of this, you don't need to stress about your career."

I nodded. Colin might be a jerk and a womanizer, but I trusted him when it came to business.

Colin disappeared into the bathroom and I started rummaging through my clothes, trying to find some comfy pajamas. Colin emerged and grabbed his nightclothes, and started changing - I quickly looked away. I didn't need his bare abs to tempt me, and I stared intently into my messy suitcase until Colin announced drily, "I'm done."

I looked up at him, he had a thin smile and his green eyes were amused. Unfortunately, he was just wearing pajama pants - his chiseled abs were still bare. I frowned disapprovingly.

"Why can't you wear a shirt or something?"

Colin grinned. "Scared you can't keep your hands off me?"

"Of course not!" I bristled inside, was I that obvious?

"Well, it's too hot in here to wear a shirt. Why haven't you changed?"

My frown returned. "I can't find anything comfy."

"That's because I didn't pack 'comfy'."

It took a moment for that to sink in. So the flimsy nightgowns I'd found were all there were? "Are you serious?"

"Come on, we're newlyweds, you're expected to wear something sexy to bed."

He raised an eyebrow suggestively and I blanched. Most of the night clothes in my luggage were tiny, transparent things made of gauze and lace.

"I'm not wearing this stuff. And no-one here'll know what I'm wearing to bed."

Colin sighed, as if he was dealing with a recalcitrant toddler. "Nobody'll see you now, but what if there's a fire alarm? If you wear comfy nightclothes, you'll rush out in a mess. But if you wear something sexy, you'll be wearing a dressing gown and folks will get it."

I stared at him blankly. He was right, what he was saying made sense. But I didn't want it to make sense.

Why did Colin have to make things so difficult? I was determined to stay away from him, I'd already learnt that his kisses and touches were addictive and I couldn't trust my body when I was near him.

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