First Love, Last Love(10)

By: Carole Mortimer


She had no idea which door led to Jane's office, so she had to walk along inspecting all the nameplates. She had just about given up hope of finding the right one when a door opened just up the corridor from her and she could hear the murmur of male voices. Maybe she could ask the way to Jane's office—after all, she wasn't doing anything wrong, and the minutes to nine o'clock were fast ticking away.

A man came out of the office and shut the door after him, bending over the papers he held in his hand. His head might be bent and his face partly hidden, but Lauri would recognize that thick dark hair, wide expanse of shoulders in the tailored cream suit and contrasting brown shirt anywhere. Alexander Blair!

As if becoming aware of someone watching him he slowly raised his head, deep blue eyes widening with recognition. 'You!' he rasped, reaching her side in two long strides. He grasped her arm. 'What are you doing up here?'

'I—'

'Lost your way?' he taunted.

'Certainly not!' Her face flushed angrily. 'Actually, I—I was looking for you.' Oh, what had she said now? But she could hardly tell him the truth, not when she didn't want him to know the connection between his secretary and herself.

His eyebrows rose. 'For me?'

'Er—yes.' Now what did she say?

'Well?' His stance was challenging. 'Now you've found me.'

'Yes,' she acknowledged huskily.

'So?' His eyes were narrowed. 'What can I do for you?'

What could he do? She thought rapidly. 'It's what I can do for you,' she said breathlessly.

'Really?' his voice taunted, a humorless smile to his lips. 'Isn't it a little early in the day to be making those sort of suggestions?'

Her face flushed fiery red at his jibe. 'I didn't mean it like that and you know it!' she snapped.

'Do I? And why should I know that? You seem to have two boy-friends that I know of, possibly more, and I made the mistake of kissing you yesterday. Maybe you've come to continue where we left off.'

'No, I haven't! And I don't have two boy-friends! As for that kiss, you can't think it any more a mistake than I do.'

'That wasn't the impression you gave yesterday,' he drawled.

'Why, you arrogant—! How dare you!' Her hands clenched at her sides. 'You forced me to kiss you back,' she accused. 'I didn't have any choice in the matter.'

'A lady always has a choice,' he taunted. 'Although you could hardly be classed as a lady, not even a young lady, more like a girl really. How old are you?'

Lauri was so startled by the question she replied instantly. 'Seventeen—nearly eighteen,' she added defensively.

His eyes narrowed. 'How nearly?'

'Nearly!' she repeated resentfully. 'Which means you've only just turned seventeen.' He watched the guilty color enter her cheeks. 'I thought so. Aren't you a little young to be doing this sort of thing?'

Lauri frowned. 'What sort of thing?'

'Chasing men, especially one twice your age.'

'I am not chasing—Are you really that old?' she asked insultingly.

His mouth tightened. 'Or you're that young, it depends which way you look at it.'

'That makes you as old as my aunt,' she said thoughtfully.

'Really?' He looked down impatiently at his wrist-watch, a plain gold affair, more indicative of his wealth than a flashy one would have been. People who were as rich as he was never needed to flaunt it, it was just there in their every movement, every word. 'Now what did you want to see me about?'

'Your car,' she feverishly grasped for something to say. 'I—er—I wanted to know if you'd had anything done about it yet,' she explained with a certain amount of triumph, pleased with herself for thinking of something so quickly.

'As it happens I have. But I thought your boy-friend was dealing with that?'

'He isn't my boy-friend!' she said crossly. 'He—he's a friend, that's all.'

'And do all your boy-friends later become just friends?'

She drew an angry breath. 'He's always been just a friend.'

'That takes care of him,' he remarked thoughtfully. 'And the other boy-friend departs at the end of the week. Would that be Saturday?'

'Morning,' she nodded. 'But—'

'Then that leaves you free to have dinner with me on Saturday evening.'

Her eyes became huge in her surprise and disbelief. 'I—I beg your pardon? What did you say?'

'Isn't dinner suitable? Or are you one of these females who makes do with a cracker and an apple?'

'I've always had a healthy appetite. But—'

'Then dinner it is.' He gave another glance at his watch. 'I have to get to a meeting now, so if you'll just tell me where you live I can be on my way.'

Lauri shook her head dazedly, searching his arrogant features for some sign of mockery. The mouth looked impatient, the eyes questioning, but as far as she could see there was no mockery there. 'Who says I want to have dinner with you?' she demanded, annoyed with his assumption in thinking she would agree.