Seduced:The Unexpected Virgin(7)

By: Emily McKay

She hissed out a breath through her clenched teeth. Prying her jaw open, she asked, “What exactly is going on here?”

Three heads swiveled in her direction. Christi and Omar smiled broadly. Emma’s gaze darted away nervously like she knew Ana wouldn’t approve.

Ward’s hand stilled midword. Then slowly he turned to face her. His smile was slow, lazy and just a bit smug.

And damn it, yep, there was the maroon, chest-hugging shirt. Just what she expected. It took a hell of a man to make mere denim, cotton and flannel look elegant, but somehow Ward pulled it off. Batman in a tux didn’t look this good.

“Good,” he said. “You’re just in time. We’re brain storming.”

“Where’d the food come from?”

“That little restaurant downtown. What’s it called?”

“The Bistro,” Emma said sheepishly.

“Yes.” He nodded. “Bistro by the Sea. Great little place. I brought the food in.”

“And the whiteboards?” she asked pointedly. Whiteboards had been on their want-to-buy-soon-but-not-yet-in-our-budget list.

His smile broadened. “Guilty as charged.”

There were two of them. They hadn’t yet been installed, but rested against four of the chairs that had been dragged in from the other room. At the top of one were the words What we need. On the other, the words How to get it. Funny, she didn’t see catered meals under either column.

“Wasn’t it nice of Ward to bring us muffins?” Emma asked, her tone overly bright.

“So generous, I hardly know what to say,” she muttered drily.

The skin around his eyes crinkled with barely suppressed humor, as if he read the subtle sarcasm she’d tried to keep from her voice. “You’re welcome.” He gestured toward the bounty on the table—more than any five people could eat in one morning. “Why don’t you pour yourself a cup of coffee and join us. We’re just getting started.”

“I can’t.” She held up the portfolio of documents. “I’ll be spending most of the day in Rafe’s office, so he can sign these papers by tomorrow. Actually, I need signatures from you two, as well.” She slid the folder toward Emma. “If you could sign it before I leave, that would be perfect.”

“I’m meeting Rafe for dinner tonight,” Ward said easily as he crossed to stand directly across from her on the other side of the table. “I’ll take the papers and have him sign them.”

Ana snatched up the portfolio before Ward could take it. “That’s not necessary.”

Still, he reached for it and grabbed the corner. “It’s not a big deal.”

Both of their arms stretched out across the table, each holding an edge of the folder. Suddenly, they were no longer debating which of them would ask Rafe to sign the papers. They were fighting over control of Hannah’s Hope. Letting him take the papers would be admitting she couldn’t do her job. Yet, fighting over it made her seem like a controlling bitch.

She was painfully aware of the others’ gazes bouncing back and forth between them. Aware of Ward’s easy, confident smile. And of the tight strain of hers. She’d already lost the battle.

“Great,” she said, pushing the folder toward him. “Just make sure I have it first thing in the morning.”

Ward set the portfolio down on the table and once again gestured to the empty chair at the table. “Take a seat. I’m eager to hear your thoughts.”

As she lowered herself to the chair, she noticed a crisp blank writing tablet sitting in front of her, a new pen propped on top. A glance around the table showed her that everyone had pads. Christi and Omar had already started taking notes.

As the group tossed out more ideas, she carefully drew a line down the center of the top page and copied Ward’s two headings What We Need and How to Get It.

So, what did she need?

More training.

More time to figure out how to do her job.

Less time with the sexy, but meddling rock star.

How to get it?

Under that column, she had nothing but question marks.

A few hours later—after Ward had taken them all to lunch at the Vista del Mar Beach and Tennis Club—Ana was finally able to retreat into her office to sulk. She maintained no illusions. Sulking was precisely what she was doing. During lunch, Emma had been in her element. Ana had eaten at the club often enough that she was no longer intimidated by the elegant atmosphere and sophisticated food. However, Christi and Omar were duly impressed. She tried to tell herself that enjoying their food was not a sign of betrayal. Her overly sensitive emotions didn’t listen.