“I’ll be in touch,” Jade said, briefcase in hand, and headed for the open door. She deftly avoided shaking Carter’s hand again, walking the long way around the conference table just so she wouldn’t have to.
She knew she’d made a mistake when she saw Carter move up behind her. With every breath, she was aware of him following her. For such a big man, his footsteps were light, nearly silent. Her shoulders prickled and smoky desire woke in her belly, twining its way between her legs then up through her breasts, her throat, her very fingertips. Jade quivered from the familiar longing.
Dammit. And she’d only been in the same room with him for an hour. She needed to get out of this building. Fast.
“Before you leave, let’s have a quick talk in my office,” he rumbled in his deep voice and she could practically feel his breath at the back of her neck.
Do we have to? She shoved down that whiny part of herself and clasped both hands tight around the handle of the briefcase. If this were any other man, Jade would tell him where to shove his offer of a conversation. But this wasn’t any man, this was Carter, and he was now a client.
“Lead the way.” Outside the door, she paused for him to walk ahead of her. “My office is just down there to the left,” he said, voice bland. “My name is on the door.” Jade almost rolled her eyes. Of course it was.
He stepped ahead of her and she followed him, trying her best to keep her eyes at shoulder level, or at least on his back. But with her eyes on his back she saw clearly just how well he had filled out since college. His shoulders were so very broad, and his hips narrow.
Although she had never fooled herself into thinking she was over him the minute he walked out the door and left her ten years ago, she didn’t realize his presence would affect her so strongly, or so soon. Her body’s traitorous response triggered a hot flush of fury.
Ahead of her, he opened a door identical to the one that guarded Kingsley’s office. His assistant, a capable woman with purple hair and multiple piercings, greeted him with words Jade didn’t pay much attention to. After a few moments of conversation, he left his assistant behind and guided Jade deeper into the space that was obviously all his.
He closed the door behind them. For all of its magnificent view of Miami, the glittering water of Biscayne Bay, the amazing blue skyline littered with white puffy clouds, the office was very plain. He obviously didn’t spend much time there.
A spotless and bare mahogany desk sat in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows. The leather chair in front of it seemed comfortable and brand-new. The long conference table identical to Kingsley’s looked unused. And that was all. Jade spent a few precious seconds wondering where he spent his time before common sense came back to her. Then she let her anger handle the rest.
With the door closed between them and the rest of the world, she stopped being polite. “What do you want, Carter?”
At first he didn’t say anything. He just leaned back against his desk and watched her. His look was intent and hawkish, like he was just eating her up with his eyes. It was unnerving, and unexpected. Only years of doing business with some of the most frightening people in the world stopped Jade from squirming.
“It’s good to see you again, Jade,” he said in his basement-deep voice. I will not react, she told herself. I will not react. But it was useless. Back in college, she’d always been surprised by the low voice coming from such a skinny guy. The depth of his voice definitely matched his personality. Even then, he had been stable, reliable and so sure of himself. He handled every situation that came at him with a maturity surprising for someone that young. At least that was what Jade realized now.
Most twenty-year-old guys didn’t possess the maturity to get other college students to calm down and keep the situation peaceful. They didn’t know how to effortlessly get girls to trust them and not take advantage of that trust by taking them to bed. It’s good to see you again, Jade, Carter had said. Did he really think so?
“I don’t see anything good about this, Carter.” At least she didn’t want to. Ten years should’ve been long enough for her to forget about what happened between them and move on. But apparently, she was as stuck in the past as her parents had been. “I came back to Berkeley and you were gone,” he said, immediately facing the elephant between them. “Funny. I dropped by your room the day after we had sex and you were gone.” She tipped an eyebrow at him. “A tiny difference there, don't you think?”