Baiting the Boss

By: Coleen Kwan



“I’ll save you some breath,” he started. “Nothing you say is going to make me change my mind. I’m not leaving.”

“But you don’t even know what I’m going to say.”

He scowled down at her. “I don’t know why on earth my grandfather sent you out.”

She pressed her lips together, looking piqued. “Because he thought you might have the decency to listen to me.”

“What exactly did he tell you to do? Does he honestly expect you to drag me back no matter what?”

“Of course not,” she said. “He said it was important for the future of the company that you return to Sydney to settle things.” After a moment’s hesitation, her voice tempered. “You know, it’s not easy for a man like your grandfather to seek help. He didn’t feel comfortable asking me to do this for him.”

“He didn’t need to ask you to do anything. He could have written me a letter or made a phone call.”

“Some things can only be said face-to-face.”

Resentment surged in him. She should have refused to do Lachlan’s dirty work for him, but instead she was defending him. “Well, I’m saying to your face that my answer is no.”

She squared off to him, color rising in her cheeks. “There you go again, not thinking of anyone but yourself. I understand why you felt the need to get away after Becky’s death, but it’s been three years now. Most people in your situation don’t have the luxury of just bumming around for all that time. They have to face up to their responsibilities. And what about your family? Don’t you owe them anything? After all, if it weren’t for Macintyre’s, you wouldn’t be in a position to do whatever you please.”

Her eyes flashed and her body vibrated with the force of her feelings. And even though part of him was riled by her outburst, another part couldn’t help appreciating her sudden spark. Her silky-brown hair crackled, her skin flushed, and her breath hissed from between full lips. Shoot, when Grace Owens let herself go, she was surprisingly hot. But no matter how appealing she looked, he wasn’t going to take any crap from her.

“Sorry to disappoint you,” he drawled, “but I don’t fall for guilt trips, so you can throttle back on the angry juice.”

She huffed out a breath. “Can’t you at least take a few days to consider it?”

Jack snorted. “And have you pestering me all that time? No thanks. I’m staying here, and you’re going back with Wally tomorrow. Nothing personal, but I don’t want you hanging around as a constant bad reminder.”

“What if I—” She let out a sudden shriek and launched herself at him, feet pedaling madly. “What was that? Something ran right over my foot! Is it—is it a rat?”

When she’d leaped at him, he’d instinctively opened his arms to catch her. Now, as she hung onto his shoulders, he became sharply aware of her warm, soft body clutched up against him. The sensation was far more seductive than it should have been.

He smothered a laugh. “Maybe. We get a few around.” As her fingers tightened on his shoulders, he relented. “Actually, it’s probably just a gecko. Every bungalow has dozens of them. Keep the insects down.”

“You sure it’s not a rat?”

For a moment he considered lying to her just so she’d remain in his arms. The way her breasts were pressed against his chest was beginning to make his blood thud. Hmm, maybe lying wasn’t such a good idea. “I’m sure.”

Shuddering, she disentangled herself from him and hugged her arms across her chest, darting sideways glances at the dense undergrowth flourishing around them. “Okay. Fine. I don’t mind geckos.”

Obviously she wasn’t aware of the downsides of house geckos—cannibalism, droppings, and noisy spats during the night—but she’d either find out tonight or not at all.

“Wally is leaving early tomorrow morning,” he pressed on. “I’ve told Tupua to wake you at six so you won’t miss him. You’ll be able to catch the flight to Kiribati the following day, and you’ll be back in Sydney before the weekend.” He paused as she slapped at a mosquito honing in on her exposed neck. “Wouldn’t you rather be in your city clothes sitting behind your desk in a nice, air-conditioned office? Doesn’t that sound so much better than pestering me?”

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