Billionaire's Contract Engagement(3)

By: Maya Banks

“I only meant that if you wow me with a pitch and I sign on with Maddox, you won’t pawn me off to some junior executive. I’d expect you to oversee the campaign at every level.”

“And do you anticipate signing with Maddox Communications?” she asked huskily.

There was a gleam of amusement in his green eyes. He took a measured sip of his wine and then regarded her lazily. “If your pitch is good enough. Golden Gate has some good ideas. I’m considering them.”

Her lips tightened. “Only because you haven’t seen mine yet.”

He smiled again. “I like confidence. I don’t like false modesty. I look forward to seeing what you have in mind, Celia Taylor. I have a feeling you put every bit of that passion I see burning in your eyes into your work. Brock Maddox is a lucky man to have such a fierce employee. I wonder if he knows it.”

“Are we moving into the appointment phase?” she asked lightly. “I have to admit, I’ve enjoyed watching you surrounded by the piranhas as you call them.”

He put his glass down on a nearby table. “Dance with me and we’ll discuss appointment times.”

Her eyes narrowed.

He lifted one finely constructed eyebrow into what looked like a challenge.

“I’ve also danced with female ad executives from Golden Gate, Primrose, San Fran Media—”

She held up her hand. “Okay, okay, I get it. You’re making your selection on who’s the best dance partner.”

He threw back his head and laughed. Several people around them turned to stare, and she had to resist the strong urge to flee the room. She hated the attention that Evan seemed to have no issue with whatsoever. How nice it must be not to have to worry what people thought about you. To have your reputation intact and not have suffered the stupidity and vindictiveness of others. But then men rarely suffered in cases like hers. It was always the woman. The vilified other woman.

Knowing no graceful way to bow out of the dance, she set down her own glass and allowed Evan to lead her onto the ballroom floor.

To her relief, he held her loosely. To anyone looking on, they could find no fault or impropriety. She and Evan didn’t look like lovers, but she knew the thought was present in both their minds. She could see the desire in his eyes and knew he could probably see it in hers.

She wasn’t practiced at hiding her emotions. Maybe being the only girl in an all-male household growing up was the reason. Her family was a loud, demonstrative lot, and she’d always been regarded as the precious daughter and sister.

It would make her life easier to be able to hide her thoughts from this man. Then she wouldn’t concern herself over whether he was giving her a shot because he thought she deserved it or whether he was thinking only of the powerful sexual pull between them and how best to capitalize on it.

Wow, Celia. Lump him in with all the other jerks you’ve known, why don’t you? Nothing like being tried and convicted based on your gender.

“Relax. You’re thinking way too much,” Evan murmured close to her ear.

She forced herself to do as he’d instructed and gave herself over to the beautiful music and the sheer enjoyment of dancing with a man who took her breath away.

“So how is next week? I have Friday free.”

She jerked back to reality, and for a moment couldn’t for the life of her figure out what he was talking about. Some professional she was.

“I was thinking we could meet informally and you could go over what you have in mind. If I’m interested we could do the whole shebang at your agency. Maybe that’ll save us both a lot of time and hassle if I’m not loving your ideas.”

“Sure. I can do Friday. Friday is good.”

The music ended, and he held her just a bit longer than necessary, but she was so affected by the intensity of his gaze that she couldn’t formulate a single objection.

“I’ll have my assistant call you with the time and location then.”

He picked up her hand and brought it to his lips. The warm brush of his mouth over the back of her hand sent a bolt of pleasure straight down her spine.

“Until Friday.”

She watched wordlessly as he strolled away. He was immediately swallowed up by a crowd of people again, but he turned and found her gaze. For a moment they simply stared at one another and then the corners of his mouth lifted into a half smile.

Oh, yes, he knew. He knew exactly what her reaction to him was. He’d have to be a complete moron not to. And he was anything but. The man was smart. He was driven. And he had a reputation for being ruthless. He was the perfect client.

She turned to walk toward the exit. She’d done what she’d come for. There was no reason to stick around and be social. If there was any gossip over her dance with Evan, she certainly didn’t want to hear it.