Billionaire's Contract Engagement(2)

By: Maya Banks

“Are you fifty million dollars sure, Celia? Maddox is small, and this kind of deal means our employees keep their jobs whereas if we continue to lose clients and accounts, I can’t make any guarantees.”

“I know I’m asking a lot,” she said in a low voice. “But I can’t walk over there and pull out the seductive wiles.” She gestured toward the women standing around Evan. They weren’t making any bones as to how far they’d go to sign him. “It’s what he expects, and you of all people know I can’t do it. I can land this account on the ideas, Brock. I’ve spent every waking minute putting this pitch together. There’s no way he won’t go for it.”

Brock studied her for a long moment, his eyes gleaming with what looked like respect. She loved working for him. He was hard. He was demanding. And he was the only person she’d presented her side of what had happened in New York in her last advertising job.

“I never expected you to land the account on anything less than your brilliance, Celia,” Brock said softly. “I hope I never gave you any other impression.”

“I know. I appreciate your confidence more than you know. I won’t let you down. I won’t let Maddox Communications down.”

Brock ran a hand through his hair and glanced once more across the room. He looked tired. It was true he worked hard. The agency was everything to him. But in the last few months new lines had appeared around his eyes. More than anything Celia wanted to be able to hand this account to him. He had believed in her when everyone else was willing to think the worst.

She glanced up to see Evan threading his way through the throng of people. “Don’t look now, but he’s headed our way. Maybe you should take Elle and go dance or something.”

As quickly as he’d approached, Brock turned and melted back into the crowd.

Celia sipped at her wine and practiced nonchalance as she literally felt Evan close in. It was impossible to miss him. Her body always seemed to heat up about five degrees whenever he was anywhere near.

And his smell. Even amid the hustle and bustle of the crowded room, the mix of so many feminine perfumes, she could pick out his unique scent. Rough. Masculine and mouthwateringly sexy. It made no sense to her, but she was attuned to his every nuance, and that had nothing to do with all the studying up she’d done on him and his company.

“Celia,” he murmured.

She turned with a welcoming smile. “Hello, Evan. Enjoying the evening?”

“I think you know I’m not.”

She raised one eyebrow and stared at him over the rim of her glass. “Do I?”

Evan snagged a flute from a passing waiter and turned his attention fully on her. It was all she could do not to gasp under his heated scrutiny. It was as if he undressed her right then and there in front of a roomful of people. Her blood simmered and pooled low in her belly. He had beautiful eyes, and they were currently devouring her, delving beneath the modest evening gown she’d chosen. He made it seem like she wore the most scanty, revealing dress imaginable. She felt nude and vulnerable under his searing gaze.

“Tell me something, Celia. Why aren’t you over with the rest of the piranhas convincing me that your ad agency will take Reese Enterprises straight to the top?”

Her lips curved upward into a smile. “Because you already are at the top?”

“You’re such a tease.”

At that her smile faded. He was right. She was flirting, and it was the last thing she wanted to do.

She glanced across the room to where the other ad execs stood staring holes through her and Evan.

“I’m not desperate, Evan. I know I’m good. I know my ideas for your ad campaign are spectacular. Does that make me arrogant? Maybe. But I don’t need to sell you on a load of malarkey. All I need is the time to show you what Maddox Communications can do for you.”

“What you can do for me, Celia.”

Her eyes widened in surprise at the blatant innuendo. And then he went on to correct the errant assumption she’d just made.

“If the ideas are yours and are as brilliant as you say, I’d hardly be taking on Maddox and what the agency could do for me. I’d be hiring you.”

She frowned and hated that she suddenly felt at a disadvantage. Her fingers curled a little tighter around the glass, and she prayed they wouldn’t shake and betray her unease.

He studied her curiously, having obviously picked up on her discomfort.

“It wasn’t a proposition, Celia. Believe me, you’d know the difference.”

In a daring move, he reached a finger out and traced a line down the bare skin of her arm. She was unable to call back the shiver, or the sprinkling of chill bumps that danced over her flesh.