First Love, Last Love(3)

By: Carole Mortimer

'I was only—'

'Lauri!' he repeated tautly. He turned to the other man. 'I'm very sorry about this—'

'Sorry!' his niece cut in. 'We're not sorry at all. And we aren't paying for it either. He was—'

'Lauri!' Steve's fingers bit painfully into her arm as he pulled her roughly against his side. 'Just shut up!'

'But he—Ouch!' she cried out as he increased the pressure of his fingers. 'That hurt!' she complained.

'It was meant to. Just behave yourself.' Again he turned to the other man. 'I hope there isn't too much damage to your car, sir.'

'Sir…?' Lauri's mouth fell open as she stared at the owner of the Rolls. 'Steve, is he…?'

'Yes!' he hissed down at her.

'Oh, my God!' she gulped, gazing fearfully at the man she now knew to be Alexander Blair. No wonder he looked as if he owned the place—he did! And she had just accused him of negligent driving, had been thoroughly rude to him in fact. And he didn't look as if he had a very forgiving nature.

Alexander Blair looked at Steve with steady blue eyes. 'You know who I am?'

'Yes, Mr. Blair. I—er—I work for you,' he admitted reluctantly.

'Really?' Dark eyebrows rose. 'And your girlfriend?'

'I'm not—'

'Lauri works for you too,' Steve cut in on her indignant denial. 'I really am sorry about your car, Mr. Blair. If you send me the bill—Steve Prescott, Sales Department—I'll gladly pay it.'

'Very well,' their employer nodded abruptly. 'And in future I would refrain from letting your girl-friend get behind the wheel of your car. I've invariably found that women don't have the concentration for it. I'm sure—Lauri, was it?—I'm sure she had her mind on other things, possibly the clothes she'd be wearing for your date tonight,' he derided.

She gasped. 'Why you—'

'And hot-headed female drivers are the worst of the lot,' he added dryly.

Steve grinned. 'I only let her drive me in today so that she could prove what a good driver she is.'

The first glimmer of humor lightened those harsh features as Alexander Blair looked pointedly at the touching vehicles. 'I would say she has proved the opposite,' he drawled mockingly.

Lauri's temper rose at the condescending look in those startling blue eyes. 'I didn't prove anything—'

'I couldn't agree more,' he cut in scathingly. 'I was going to say anything of the sort,' she snapped, her mouth tight, caution thrown to the winds.

'I still maintain that it was your fault. You—'

'Get in the car,' Steve gave her a threatening glare. 'Go on, get in,' he ordered. 'The passenger side. I'll just sort matters out with Mr. Blair.'

'But, Steven—'

'For once in your unruly life will you do as you're told!'

Lauri flinched at the fury in her uncle's voice, his anger unusual and so all the more effective. 'Yes, Steve,' she bowed her head, studiously avoiding the taunting humor Alexander Blair made no effort to hide. She threw her head back challengingly, walking slowly round to the side of the car that had recently held Steve. She clambered over the low side, not willing to go back round to the door that actually opened.

She glowered at the two men as they talked together, her arms folded mutinously across her chest. Arrogant, condescending, mocking…! How on earth could he be thought the sexiest thing on two legs! She thought he was hateful, very handsome, but hateful nonetheless.

Steve grinned at her as he got back into the sports car, nodding to the other man as he completed the task of reversing the Rolls back into his reserved parking space. The car had a personalized number plate, AB 1, and maybe if Lauri had been given the chance to see this she might have made the connection between her employer and the man who had so haughtily told her the accident was her fault. Her fault indeed! He just hadn't been looking where he—

'Calm down, firebrand,' Steve teased. 'You really will have to learn to control that temper of yours, infant. You simply don't talk to men of Alexander Blair's caliber like that, especially as our livelihood depends on him. He could have turned nasty and sacked us, you know.'

'Just for hitting his stupid car?' she scoffed. 'He couldn't get away with that. It would be unfair dismissal.'

'When you ranted and raved at him like a mad thing?' His eyebrows rose. 'I think he would have sufficient reason for getting rid of you.' He parked the car before helping Lauri out as she slid along the seat. 'He still could, come to think of it.'

'He doesn't know who I am,' she said smugly. 'Only that I'm your girl-friend.' She gave him a scathing look. 'As if I could fancy you!' she dismissed disgustedly. 'Why didn't you tell him I'm your niece? At least then he wouldn't have reason to question my taste in men.'

'You're a cheeky, outspoken little devil, and if you aren't careful someone is going to take you down a peg or two,' he ushered her through the double glass doors that were the entrance to Blair Computers.