Until He Met Meg

By: Sami Lee

Chapter One

‘Cab’s taken, love.’

Meg Lacy glanced first at the bored-looking taxi driver who had spoken, then at the expanse of empty seat beside her. She’d had a long and gruelling day, not to mention a cold and wet one. She sounded as irritable as she felt. ‘Taken by whom? Mr Invisible?’

The driver’s glare came at her through the rear vision mirror. ‘No. By that guy.’ He pointed a thick index finger out his window.

Meg peered out to see a man in a grey suit crossing the street, his long-legged strides purposeful but by no means hurried, despite the light sprinkling of rain that fell on his dark head. He possessed the aura of a man who rarely had to rush anywhere simply because people invariably waited for him.

People like her cab driver. ‘He’s still crossing the street,’ Meg pointed out. ‘I was waiting at the taxi rank. I was first in line, he wasn’t even in the line. Therefore, this is my cab.’

The cabbie lifted his hefty shoulders. Nothing in his lined, jowly face hinted at a willingness to help a damsel in distress. ‘He gave me a wave as I pulled in. I waved back. A non-verbal agreement exists. It’s his cab.’

A stubborn streak kept Meg from alighting. She returned her attention to the man approaching the taxi. He was tall, easily over six feet, and solidly built, with thick brown hair swept back from a strong, chiselled face. He reached the passenger door and slid into the back seat with an air of entitlement that further rankled Meg.

‘Rose Bay please,’ he told the driver, without so much as glancing in her direction.

He was impeccably dressed, a crisp white shirt and light blue silk tie tastefully complementing his charcoal suit. Expensively dressed, Meg noted, shooting a narrow-eyed look back at the driver. ‘Already anticipating the tip?’ Non-verbal agreement my foot.

The man beside her glanced her way. Meg felt his gaze searing the side of her face. She turned to face him, but was unable to read the expression in his eyes — eyes that were a soft, velvet brown rimmed by a fine band of gold.

Meg stared back, hoping she was able to project an air of unswerving self-assurance. It was more difficult than she would have liked with her heart doing a funny dance in her chest. ‘Excuse me, but this is my cab.’

‘It’s not, Miss,’ the driver interjected.

‘It is.’

The man beside her arched a brow, still staring at her with those dark eyes. After a pause he told her, ‘I’m afraid I have a family emergency.’

His voice was deep and resonant, unquestionably authoritative. Meg almost apologized and got out of the car. Her fingers curled around the door handle before she remembered her objection. She set her jaw, furious that she had allowed a naturally autocratic demeanour to influence her actions for even a moment. Had she learned nothing in the last six months of independence?

She stared the suited man down and fibbed. ‘I have an emergency too.’ A date with a hot bath and a trashy novel.

After the most arduous and dismaying day of job-hunting Meg had ever had the misfortune to experience, her feet were protesting inside her high heels and her body, still damp from the earlier downpour she hadn’t managed to evade, was shivering beneath her too-sheer cotton blouse. Her attempt to dry out beneath the automatic hand drier at a fast-food restaurant had been woefully unsuccessful.

To continue the ill luck, Meg had just missed her bus and it was about to rain again. As much as she adored Sydney — the hustle and bustle, the expectation in the air that anything could happen at any moment — she’d had more than enough of it for today. She had a throbbing headache and longed for the comfort of bed.

‘I see,’ the man beside her said at last. The sound of his voice washed over Meg like a warm bubble bath on this cold afternoon; the bubble bath she would dearly love to have if she ever made it home. Unexpected heat spiralled through her, combating the persisting chill of her soaked skin. Her gaze was drawn to the strong, bold line of his jaw. It was dusted with the barest hint of five o’clock shadow, the only mark on his otherwise immaculate appearance. She noted the squared width of his shoulders beneath the suit jacket. She didn’t think padding lent him that shape.

His eyes still regarded her levelly and to her horror Meg felt herself begin to blush at being caught assessing him as a man. Hurriedly she tore her gaze from his. She completely forgot why she was arguing. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘I suppose I should go.’

She grabbed the door handle again, but the man stopped her. ‘Wait. Perhaps I can drop you off on the way.’

Meg turned back with a wry smile. ‘I don’t think so.’ The poky flat she shared with another girl in Camperdown was not on the way to the exclusive suburb of Rose Bay.