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Kuchenne koszmary Gordona Ramsaya / Kitchen Nightmares

Lion of Caledonia(8)

By: Caro LaFever

A heavy silence fell in the huge room, broken only by the thrashing of the wind outside and the crackle of a low flame in the fireplace.

The silence continued.

Jen kept her focus on her breathing.

“They call me the Dragon of Waverly and I take the title seriously.”

Jumping in her seat, her fingers fluttered on the keys.

“I would advise anyone to take the title seriously as well. I didn’t burn a thousand dreams and char a thousand hearts without knowing and relishing what that meant for my future reputation.”

All she could take in was the way the words rolled off his tongue in a vivid, fierce stream of emotion.

Silence fell again, and she found herself gazing in dumb fascination at her employer.

His predator eyes gleamed with frustration. “Did ye get that?”

What she got was this man was lethal in so many ways she couldn’t count. Lethal in his keen intelligence. Lethal in his physicality. And now, lethal in his talent.

“Ye didn’t.” Striding to the front of the desk, he leaned over to stare at her empty screen, his hand wrenching though his hair as if ready to pull the mess out. “Did ye?”

“No, I’m sorry.” Her breath caught in a familiar knot in her throat.

“Ye don’t understand.” He leaned in farther, his eyes glowing with the hot heat of inspiration, and the smell of him enveloped her in its crisp, deep scent. “Every word is precious. Ye have to get every word.”

“Okay.” Her shaking hands hovered on the keys. “Start again.”

A low rumble of irritation came from across the desk. “Usually I can’t remember what I say.”

Sod it. Had she already ruined her chances at finding the ring before she’d typed one word? “I’m sorry—”

“But I’ve had the beginning of the story in my head for a while.” He paced back to the African masks. “I’ll say them again. This time don’t miss one word.”

“Right. I won’t.”

She hoped.

The rich roll of the words streamed from him like he held a river of legends inside him, just waiting for a chance to flood out. She focused on keeping up with him and before long, she found herself enraptured with the world he created with only words. Her fingers flew across the keyboard, catching each sentence and word and vowel.

“That’s enough for today.”

She typed what he said onto the manuscript before realizing they didn’t fit his story. Jen glanced over.

Cameron Steward stood in the hazy light of the window bay, exactly as he had when she entered the room hours ago. His hair still bristled around his head like a mane of a wild man. His shoulders hunched as he gazed towards the loch.

“You’ll have the rest of the day off.” Turning, he marched to the double doors leading into the great hall. “But be here tomorrow.”

“Yes, si-”

“On time.” His statement slashed through her disobedient use of his title and the slam of the door behind him put a stinging punctuation to his demand.

The air in the room seemed to drain, like all life had been sucked out at his departure.

Jen dropped her hands into her lap and gazed at the words dancing on the computer screen. They capered and leapt off the page in a choreographed adventure that stirred her heart and mind.

He was lethal.

Yet he was also magic.

She hadn’t read any of his six thrillers. Reading wasn’t one of her big hobbies; she’d much rather be in the gardens getting her hands dirty. Yet she couldn’t wait to find all of his books and dive into the thrill of his words.

There had to be a copy of each one in this big, old library of his, wouldn’t there?

Pushing back her chair, she stood and groaned when her muscles clenched. She’d been typing for four hours without a break and yet, until now, she hadn’t noticed the time. She stretched on her tiptoes, then leaned down, planting her palms on the floor between her feet.

Every muscle yelled. Her stomach joined the protest by grumbling.

Her memory came back to life and reminded her why she was here.

She took in a deep breath. She wasn’t here to read tall tales. She was here to steal. And she was right here in his library. Could it be possible he kept the ring here?

“Ms. Douglas.” The housekeeper’s voice came from the open door.

Jen jumped up, embarrassment flooding her cheeks at getting caught with her arse in the air. Another realization flooded her—she’d lost her chance to search for now.

“At Mr. Steward’s direction, I’ve put your lunch in your room for ye.” The older woman gave her a frosty stare.

“Thank you.” She tried a tentative smile.

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