The uncompromising italian(8)

By: Cathy Williams


The leather was warm from where he had been sitting, and the heat seemed to infiltrate her entire body as she took his place in front of the computer screen. When he leaned over to tap on the keyboard, she felt her breathing become rapid and shallow and she had to stop herself from gasping out loud.

His forearm was inches away from her breasts and never had the proximity of one person’s body proved so rattling. She willed herself to focus on what he was calling up on the screen in front of her and to remember that she was here in a professional capacity.

Why was he getting to her? Perhaps she had been too long without a guy in her life. Friends and family were all very good, but maybe her life of pleasant celibacy had made her unexpectedly vulnerable to a spot of swarthy good looks and a wicked smile.

‘So...’

Lesley blinked herself back into the present to find herself staring directly into dark, dark eyes that were far too close to her for comfort.

‘So?’

‘Email one—a little too familiar, a little too chatty, but nothing that couldn’t be easily ignored.’

Lesley looked thoughtfully at the computer screen and read through the email. Her surroundings faded away as she began studying the series of emails posted to him, looking for clues, asking him questions, her fingers moving swiftly and confidently across the key board.

She could understand why he had decided to farm out this little problem to an outside source.

If he valued his privacy, then he would not want his IT division to have access to what appeared to be vaguely menacing threats, suggestions of something that could harm his business or ruin his reputation. It would be fodder for any over-imaginative employee, of which there were always a few in any office environment.

Alessio pushed himself away from the desk and strolled towards one of the comfortable, deep chairs facing her.

She was utterly absorbed in what she was doing. He took time out to study her and he was amused and a little surprised to discover that he enjoyed the view.

It wasn’t simply the arrangement of her features that he found curiously captivating.

There was a lively intelligence to her that made a refreshing change from the beautiful but intellectually challenged women he dated. He looked at the way her short chocolate-brown hair spiked up, as though too feisty and too wilful to be controlled. Her eyelashes were long and thick; her mouth, as he now saw, was full and, yes, sexy.

A sexy mouth, especially just at this very moment, when her lips were slightly parted.

She frowned and ran her tongue thoughtfully along her upper lip and, on cue, Alessio’s body jerked into startling life. His libido, which had been unusually quiet since he’d ended his relationship with a blonde with a penchant for diamonds two months ago, fired up.

It was so unexpected a reaction that he nearly groaned in shock.

Instead, he shifted on the chair and smiled politely as her eyes briefly skittered across to him before resuming their intent concentration on the computer screen.

‘Whoever’s sent this knows what they’re doing.’

‘Come again?’ Alessio crossed his legs, trying to maintain the illusion that he was in complete control of himself.

‘They’ve been careful to make themselves as untraceable as possible.’ Lesley stretched, then slumped back into the chair and swivelled it round so that she was facing him.

She stuck out her legs and gazed at her espadrilles. ‘That first email may have been chatty and friendly but he or she knew that they didn’t want to be traced. Why didn’t you delete them, at least the earlier ones?’

‘I had an instinct that they might be worth hanging onto.’ He stood up and strolled towards the French doors. He had intended this meeting to be brief and functional, a blip that needed sorting out in his hectic life. Now, he found that his mind was stubbornly refusing to return to the matter in hand. Instead, it was relentlessly pulled back to the image he had of her sitting in front of his computer concentrating ferociously. He wondered what she would look like out of the unappealing ensemble. He wondered whether she would be any different from all the other naked women who had lain across his bed in readiness for him.

He knew she would—instinct again. Somehow he couldn’t envisage her lying provocatively for him to take her, passive and willing to please.

No. That wasn’t what girls with black belts in karate and a sideline in computer hacking did.

He played with the suddenly tempting notion of prolonging her task. Who knew what might happen between them if she were to be around longer than originally envisaged?

‘What would you suggest my next step should be? Because I’m taking from the expression on your face that it’s not going to be as straightforward as you first thought.’