Close to Home: Part 2
Singhasan Battisi

The Billionaire Bodyguard

By: Sharon Kendrick

CHAPTER ONE




HE DIDN’T say much, but maybe that was best. There was nothing worse than a driver who talked.

Keri settled back in the soft leather seat of the luxury car and stared at the back of the man in the driving seat in front of her. No, definitely no talker he—more the strong, silent type. Very strong—judging by the broad set of those shoulders—and very definitely silent. There had been little more than a nod when he had picked her up from her London flat early that morning, and very little since.

Keri shivered. Outside the snowflakes continued to flurry down—big, fat, splodgy things which melted on your cheeks and clung like stubborn confetti to your hair.

She pulled her sheepskin coat tighter and huddled into it. ‘Brrr! Could you turn the heater up a little? I’m absolutely freezing.’

His eyes intently fixed on the road ahead, Jay flicked a switch. ‘Can do.’

‘And would you mind putting your foot down? I want to get back to London some time tonight.’

‘I’ll do my best,’ he said equably.

He would drive only as fast as conditions demanded, no more and no less. Jay’s face was hidden, but he flicked a glance at the rearview mirror to see the model sliding a pair of fur-lined gloves over her long fingers. If she had been able to see him she would have seen the unmistakable look of irritation on his face. Not that his irritation would have bothered her, of course—even if she had picked it up. He was simply the driver—employed to cater to her every whim and keep close watch on the priceless chandelier of a necklace which had been dripping exquisite diamonds from her long, pale neck during one of the coldest afternoons of the year.

He had watched while the stylists and the photographers and all their assistants had fussed round her, and had observed her blank, almost bored look of compliance as she had let them. He had been pretty bored himself, if the truth were known. Watching a magazine-shoot seemed to involve one hell of a lot of waiting around. The waiting he could deal with, if there was a good reason for it, but this had seemed like a complete waste of time.

To Jay, it had seemed crazy that a woman would agree to wear a flimsy evening dress outdoors on a bitterly icy day. Surely they could have recreated a winter scene inside the warmth and comfort of a studio, and made his job easier?

And then he had seen the Polaroids, and suddenly he had understood. Before the camera she had come alive—and how. He had given a long, low whistle and the photographer’s assistant had flashed him a conspiratorial smile.

‘Gorgeous, isn’t she?’

Jay had studied them. Sure, she was exquisite—just like the diamonds themselves, if you liked diamonds, which personally he didn’t. Framed by the sooty fall of her loose hair, her face was pale as a dusting of frost, her eyes as dark as the bare charcoal branches of the trees. Her lips were full and red—painted crimson, like rich ruby wine—and they parted into a shape of sheer, moist provocation. The thin silver gown had added to the wintry feel of the photograph, and it had clung like sparkling hoar-frost to her body, to the firm, high breasts and the curving bottom.

But she’d looked as if she had been made from ice, or wax—too perfect to be true and not real at all. If you pricked a woman like that, would she bleed? he wondered. If you made love to her, would she cry out in wild, uninhibited passion—or would she just smooth down that perfect hair and flick it back over her shoulders?

‘She’s okay,’ he had drawled, and the assistant had given him another understanding smile.

‘I know what you mean.’ He’d shrugged. ‘Not just a case of out of our league—she’s probably never even heard of our league!’

Jay had nodded and turned away, not bothering to correct him—the day he decided a woman was out of his league would be the day he failed to draw breath. He was here to do a job and get away as soon as possible. He shouldn’t even have been there in the first place, and he had a date that night with a cool dream of a blonde he had been fighting off without quite knowing why—only tonight he had decided that maybe it was time to throw in the towel.

A slow smile of anticipation curved his mouth.

‘How long, do you think?’

The model’s voice cut into thoughts which were just threatening to get erotic, and her question didn’t really help.

‘How long is what?’ he questioned.

Keri sighed. It had been a long, long day and, if the truth were known, she would have liked nothing more than to go home to a hot bath and then curl herself up with a good book instead of go out on a dinner date. Not that dinner with David would be anything other than enjoyable—it always was. True, he didn’t set her pulses on fire, but he knew that and he didn’t mind a bit. Well, that was what he said—but Keri couldn’t help wondering if, deep down, he was quietly working on a campaign to make her change her mind. And she wouldn’t, of course. David fell firmly into the category of friend and was stuck there, and that was probably best. Lovers—at least in Keri’s limited experience—tended to be bad news.

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