His to Keep (Beauty and the Brit)(10)

By: Terri Austin

“His bark is worse than his bite.” Amelia poured tea through a strainer and into a china cup.

“Actually, my bite is lethal,” Iain said.

“Only to those who deserve it. Sugar or milk?”

“Neither, thanks,” Brynn said. “How long have you worked for Mr. Chapman?”

“Iain,” he corrected.

Amelia shot him a hasty glance but didn’t respond. She poured a cup for Iain and handed them each a napkin—a heavy linen one, embroidered with a blue half-moon in one corner. She said nothing else, picked up the tray, and departed.

Iain and his assistant had been silently communicating. Brynn wondered what they’d been saying and why Amelia wouldn’t answer a simple question. Being left out made Brynn feel awkward. She filled the silence by sipping her tea—oolong, the high-end stuff. An office with a view, the handmade suits, the expensive tea—Iain Chapman had some serious swagger. “What does Blue Moon do?” she asked.

He looked at ease, sipping tea, the linen napkin draped over his knee. “You mean you don’t know? For someone who’s here to teach me the ways of leadership, you seem to be caught flatfooted.”

Swallowing, she made an effort to pull herself together. “I wasn’t expecting to facilitate a course today.”

“Facilitate—another useless word. And why weren’t you prepared? That’s the first official rule of business. Always be prepared.”

“Actually, that’s the Boy Scout motto.”

He lifted one shoulder. “It’s a good one.”

Brynn sighed and set her cup on the low coffee table. “I am unprepared. You’re right, it’s not very professional of me.”

He glanced at her over the rim of his cup. After taking a sip, he set it next to hers. “You want to know about Blue Moon Corp.? My mate, Marc, and I are Blue Moon. We buy things. We own things.”

“What do you own, exactly?”

“We invest in clubs and restaurants. We own stores, rental property, car parks, etcetera. If there’s something we fancy, we buy it. If it doesn’t exist, we create it.”

Judging from the opulent office, he was very successful. Iain had a right to his healthy ego. Still, that arrogance could be toned down a notch or two—it might make him more relatable. Maybe Brynn could help him with that. “Let me ask you a few questions.”

“Fine, then it’s my turn to ask you questions.”

“What kinds of questions?” The warmth in his honey-colored eyes told Brynn that he wasn’t talking about business practices and management techniques. Those eyes looked right through her, like he could actually see her. Brynn had spent her twenty-four years staying on the sidelines of life, but there was no blending into the background when he looked at her like that. “I don’t feel that’s a good idea.”

“I think it’s bloody brilliant. I want to know everything about you, Brynn Campbell.”

She cast her eyes downward, as though by not looking at him she could make herself invisible. “There’s nothing to know. I’m probably the most boring person you’ve ever met.”

He laughed then, and that caught her attention. Keeping her head lowered, she lifted her eyes. He had angled toward her, exposing that sexy dimple. In laughter, it deepened, lengthened. To see him smile like that, to watch his eyes crinkle in the corners and his face soften a bit…it left her dazed.

Robbed of breath, she became a statue when he reached out and fingered that stupid strand of hair that would never stay in a ponytail. He gently yanked on it and edged closer. That’s when she noticed the tiny flecks of amber dotting his light brown irises. Frozen by his proximity, Brynn couldn’t have moved away if she wanted to.

“I think you’re fascinating, pet. And I believe in fair play, so I’m telling you now, right? You and I, Brynn—we’re going to be lovers.”

She was shocked at his frank words, and for one small moment, Brynn actually believed him. The mere thought of it sent a ripple of excitement coursing through her entire body. Then, as she gasped for air, sanity returned, reminding her of all the reasons why that could never happen. Lots of good, sound reasons. Leaning back as far as she could, Brynn pressed her spine into the armrest of the sofa. “I don’t think so, Mr. Chapman.” Her voice sounded warbley and uncertain, but Brynn had managed to say no. Kind of. It lacked conviction, but at least she’d refused. She considered that a victory.

“Fuck me, I do love a challenge.”

Hell no. That wasn’t her intention at all. Brynn didn’t want him to see her as a challenge. She wasn’t going to give in, either. She couldn’t. Her self-esteem couldn’t handle someone like him. If a man that powerful and aggressive discovered she couldn’t orgasm with a partner, could rarely even orgasm on her own, he’d probably see it as his manly duty to fix her. And when he failed, it would be one more humiliation Brynn could add to the list. No thanks. Not interested.