Playing the Billionaire (International Temptation)(5)

By: M.K. Meredith


Without leaning back, she studied him. “It’s hard to imagine you being afraid of heights.”

“We all have our weaknesses.” He took in the softly bowed curve of her upper lip. Carall.

“Fear of heights? So no roller coasters, no rock-climbing, no skydiving or hot-air balloon rides. Isn’t that a bit boring?” she asked with a teasing glint in her eye.

This one must be a daredevil. “I’ve never been accused of being boring.”

“I don’t know.” She slid her gaze over him, pointedly, just a hint of a smile in her eyes. “You look pretty straitlaced to me.”

He shoved all thoughts of letting her solve that problem out of his mind. He had a job to do, and it did not include following his instincts with this woman.

“Actually, I have another item I’d like to add to my list. Ever since you told me about your family’s orchard, I can’t seem to get it out of my head. Is it very far from here?”

Now that was unexpected. With a slow shake of his head, he answered, “Just at the edge of the city, north of here.”

“Do they have visiting hours?”

“Why? You want a tour?” It wasn’t something they did beyond a few local school field trips, but considering she was only one person, a VIP of sorts, it might just be a brilliant idea. He’d be sure to steer all conversations clear of what he really did for a living without having to tell his mother more than she needed to know about this situation.

She nodded. “I really would.”

His home pride got the best of him and, with a tilt to his chin, he agreed. “I’ll set it up.”

They drove the rest of the way with London studying the scenery as if cramming for final exams. He pointed out Collserola Park. “It’s a wonderful park to forgo the city crowds for a bit of nature.” Then, directing her gaze along the landscape, he continued, “See the mountains? Barcelona sits between two rivers and is encircled by the forested mountains you can see there. As a child, I always thought it felt like a special force field of sorts.” He chuckled. “The hills and the water make it very easy to know which direction you’re headed in, but the limited space has made for a seriously packed city.”

Her eyes never left the scenery. “It’s beautiful.”

He followed the graceful lines of her profile as she admired his hometown through the window. It would have been interesting to have met her under different circumstances. As far as she was concerned, he was an orchard laborer, and that was how he’d keep it. He’d learned the hard lesson that when women found out he was loaded, they lost interest in who he was as a man and cared only about what he could do for them—all anyone had to do was look at his ex-fiancée.

When the shuttle pulled to a stop a few minutes later, he assisted with her bag and led the way to the registration desk inside the hotel.

As they walked through revolving doors that seemed to run uninterrupted to the high vaulted ceiling, she sighed in appreciation. “This is what I’m talking about.” She gestured around the lobby bright with natural sunlight, green with palms, and soothing with a background of waterfall features. “The tranquility of the Huntington franchise is unmatched. I feel like I can breathe here.”

That was exactly the kind of thing he was hoping to hear her say. “I agree. They do a beautiful job at carrying the natural and even sensual elements throughout the public rooms and the suites. It’s easily the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at.” And was the very reason he alone had to take care of this little task. He didn’t trust this opportunity in the hands of anyone else.

Motioning for her to walk ahead of him, he couldn’t resist slipping his hand along the small of her back to direct her to the desk. She sucked in a breath and her chest rose, revealing the top swell of her breasts at the V of her jumpsuit.

He wouldn’t deny finding her long waves of hair or her soft, supple skin tempting to his fingers. The color of both were that of the honey his mother liked to sweeten the family’s homemade citrus tea with.

“All settled, la meva amiga?” he asked.

Yawning behind her room keycard, she nodded. “I am, thank you. I have no reason to be tired, but traveling always does this to me.”

He checked the time. “Get some rest. Would you meet me for drinks? I’m here for a few days, and I’ll be a familiar face as you plan exactly how you want to tackle that agenda of yours. Maybe I can give you some suggestions from a local. Besides, we’ll have to schedule that tour.”

She looked at him through narrowed eyes. Her mouth twisted in thought.