In the Rich Man's World(7)

By: Carol Marinelli


Maybe it would work in her favour, Amelia consoled herself, flashing her ID at an immaculate, very suitably dressed woman who might have been Clara Mark Two and being shown to a lift out of sight of the main reception area. She showed her ID again, to a gentleman who had more muscles than your average body builder and didn’t even attempt conversation, then her stomach was left on the ground as the lift soared to the heavens, towards the very man himself.

‘Miss Jacobs?’

Yet another clone of Clara was greeting her, but this one introduced herself as Katy, rouged smile firmly in place. Even with a few mils of Botox injected into her forehead this one couldn’t quite hide her surprise at the scruffy-looking woman who had appeared in the office.

‘Mr Mason’s ready for you. I’ll just let him know that you’re here.’ Picking up the phone, she spoke in low soothing tones, clearly for Vaughan’s ears only. ‘Well, if you’re sure,’ she soothed, purring into the phone. ‘In that case I’ll see you in Melbourne next Friday. Have a safe flight.’ She turned her gaze to Amelia. ‘He said to go right in.’

‘Thank you.’ Amelia nodded crisply, attempting blasé, but nerves finally caught up. ‘Could I just use the powder room first?’

‘Of course.’

Even the powder room was gorgeous: white marble everywhere, pump-action soap that was actually full, expensive moisturiser, and a mirror that was way too large in Amelia’s present state. Still, she turned on the hand-dryer full blast and attempted to dry her hair, but to no avail—the heavy waft of lavender as the dryer met her damp hair did nothing to soothe Amelia now! She’d just have to put on her best smile and hope for the best…

Walking back into Reception, Amelia nodded to Katy, who was slowly pulling on her jacket, clearly reluctant to leave her boss in anyone’s hands but her own. Knocking on the door, Amelia swallowed hard, forced a bright confident smile and pushed back her shoulders—not quite as ready as she’d have liked for the biggest moment of her career, but excited all the same.

‘Mr Mason? I’m Amelia Jacobs…’ She strode confidently forward, just as she had rehearsed during the taxi ride, hand outstretched. Her eyes scanned the room in a nano-second, her voice trailing off as her footsteps did the same, staring in utter disbelief at the sight that greeted her.

Vaughan Mason—business tycoon, eternally vigilant man of stealth—lay asleep on the jade leather couch.

Asleep.

And what made it even more inappropriate was how completely stunning he looked.

Dark lashes fanned the even darker rims under his eyes; razor-sharp cheekbones emphasised the hollows of his face. His unshaven chin was for once not set in stone, and that cruel, full mouth was unfamiliar in its relaxed state, lips slightly parted. His tie was askew, shifted to one side, and the bottom of his very white Egyptian-cotton shirt was inching its way out of an expensively belted waistband.

She was assailed with the most inappropriate of feelings, given the circumstance, and felt an almost instinctive need to reach out and touch him, as one might a work of art finally witnessed first hand—to feel the scratch of his stubble beneath her fingers, the cool marble of his skin. His beauty truly daunted her. Not a blemish marred his skin. The only fault, if you could call it that, was the too severe, almost too dark, eyebrows—yet even they seemed fitting somehow, as if some pensive artist had added them, and was waiting in the wings with a charcoaled thumb poised ready to blend them in further the moment she left.

Amelia had the most inappropriate urge to lean over and press her mouth against his, to feel those full lips under hers, to sneak a kiss when no one was looking, climb over the imaginary thick red ropes that separated art from mortals, ignore the mental signs that said ‘Do Not Touch’. And though she never would have dared, never in a million years, it was like standing on a cliff face and wanting to jump—knowing it was treacherous, knowing it would prove fatal, but filled with a yearning all the same to throw caution to the wind and follow natural instincts.

Shaking her head fiercely, pushing impossible thoughts away, she felt a moment of sheer panic.

Panic!

And it didn’t compare to the computer virus, nor even to anything she’d ever experienced in her life to this point.

She didn’t know what to do—literally didn’t know what to do.

Shake him, perhaps? Or go out and knock more loudly this time, pretend she’d never even witnessed this magnate in an off-guard moment?

But why should she? Amelia thought with a flash of anger. Why should she make things more comfortable for him? Why was she standing here feeling embarrassed when it should be Vaughan Mason squirming with shame and embarrassment? Sure, he dealt with journalists all the time, and everyone knew he didn’t stand on ceremony for them, but she’d bet her bottom dollar that if it had been Carter doing the interview instead of her then Vaughan Mason would have at least had the decency to stay awake.