The Wedding(6)

By: Emma Darcy

Never in her life had Tessa felt more conscious of being a woman, or more conscious of a man being a man. The tension that tightened her nerves had nothing whatsoever to do with proving her competence as a secretary. It was the way Blaize Callagan kept looking at her!


At precisely eleven-thirty, Blaize Callagan collected Tessa from his secretary’s office. They were driven to the helicopter in a stretch limousine. He read documents all the way.

Her awareness of him would lessen, Tessa told herself. However, she couldn’t help noticing that his fingers were long and supple. Occasionally he rubbed his thumb over their inner pads as his hand was poised ready to turn another page. The soft tactile movement was somehow disturbing. So was the tangy scent of his after-shave lotion in the close confinement of the car.

He said nothing to her and Tessa felt constrained not to break his concentration. Once the conference started she would be busy enough, she decided, so she might as well relax while she could. Except that was proving utterly impossible.

The fine woollen fabric of his trousers was stretched tightly across his thighs. She wondered if he worked out at a gym. Powerful muscles weren’t formed and maintained without some kind of exercise. Tessa knew that from her aerobics class. On the other hand, Blaize Callagan might get all the exercise he needed elsewhere. Although Grant—the two-timing fink—didn’t have hard muscular thighs like that, so perhaps Blaize Callagan did work out at a gym.

Three other executives were standing by the helicopter when they arrived. One of them was Jerry Fraine. He stared at Tessa, his eyebrows shot up, his mouth twitched, he passed a hand across his face, then he quickly swung toward the helicopter. His big burly shoulders visibly shook.

Whether it was a result of prolonged nervous tension, Tessa didn’t know, but she had to swallow an impetuous giggle herself. Jerry had never seen her look so prim and proper and professional. And the glasses, of course, had been a joke between them. She hoped, when he recovered his composure, he would appreciate the effort she had made on behalf of her image. After all, it was for Jerry Frame’s benefit as well as her own. Not that it seemed to be working very effectively. So far Blaize Callagan didn’t seem to see her as a career professional. Only as a body. A female body.

The conference was being held at Peppers, a highly reputable country hotel in the Hunter River Valley. It was set among the famous vineyards that produced some of the best Australian wines. Although it was about two hundred kilometres from Sydney by road, it was little more than a twenty-minute flight by helicopter.

Tessa had never been to Peppers, and she had never been in a helicopter, either. As soon as she saw the executives climbing aboard, she knew she had a problem. No way in the world was she going to be able to take the high step into the cabin in her narrow skirt. She heaved a deep sigh and looked at Blaize Callagan. He met her glance with a wickedly knowing gleam in his dark eyes.

“I’ll lift you,” he said.

Tessa burned. “Thank you,” she bit out.

The pilot had already taken their attaché cases from them to stow in the baggage area. Tessa expected Blaize Callagan to hoist her up from her waist. He didn’t. Before she even approached the step to the cabin, he swooped and lifted her right off her feet and into his arms.

“Nice body weight, Miss Stockton,” he remarked appreciatively.

“Thank you, sir,” Tessa whispered as she tried to recapture her breath.

One arm was around her thighs. His other arm was around her shoulders, with a hand coming perilously close to curling under her arm to the outside swell of her breast. She was pressed against a broad and unrelenting chest.

“Look after yourself, do you, Stockton?”

She looked him straight in the eye, blazing gold meeting devilish black. “I try to keep in trim.”

“Good work, Stockton. Try to keep it that way.”

“Oh, I will, sir. I will.”

His mouth wore that funny quirk as he carried her forward and lifted her into her cabin seat with all the case in the world. He really had very sensual lips. Tessa felt he knew just what to do with them and used them accordingly. To taunt, tease, excite or provoke. Right at this moment, she felt very provoked. And teased. And taunted. And if she was totally honest with herself, treacherously excited. He certainly was a very strong man.

He released her smoothly, without the slightest suggestion of taking any liberties, and Tessa was left wondering if he was playing games with her or not. She concentrated on fastening her seat belt until he was settled in the seat in front of her, next to the pilot. She wished she had bought a pantsuit. She was almost sure he had enjoyed touching her like that.