Authors: Delphine Dryden
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
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Snow Job Copyright © 2008 Delphine Dryden Edited by Kelli Kwiatkowski.
Cover art by Dar Albert.
Electronic book Publication December 2008
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take you to court. You know that.”
No greetings, no smal talk. She charged in with guns blazing, just like the last time and every time before that.
Karl just sat and watched as Elyce made her impassioned case. She hated him for that, for his unshakeable calm, his amused little smile, the way his shirt framed his broad shoulders in that distracting way. She knew the sleek haircut that tamed his tawny-gold curls back from his firm, even features probably cost more than her last tank of gas—and she hated him for that too.
“Elyce. Nice to see you too,” he replied smoothly when she had lost enough momentum to pause for air. “Get you something? Coffee?”
“No thank you.”
He stood up, and up and up, al six foot three of him.
Moving to the door with athletic grace, he closed it behind her after giving his secretary a nod of dismissal. Closing the two of them in together.
“Now,” he said from directly behind her, making her jump in surprise, “why don’t we skip the preliminaries and just get to the real issue?”
She felt frozen to the spot, barely able to speak as she felt his hands slide up her arms, trailing over the fabric of her jacket so lightly she could almost ignore it. But not quite.
“The real issue? The real issue is your plan to develop along the Tahoe inlet. There are two species of threatened fairy shrimp that—”
“Bul shit,” he said, but with a certain amount of humor.
His grip tightened just above her elbows and he pul ed her back against him decisively.
Was it his size, she wondered with the tiny part of her brain that could stil think, or was it something to do with pheromones? Karl did what no other man ever could—
make her feel tiny, even with her lanky, five-foot-nine frame.
Overpowered, submissive. Girly.
And in bed…
“I’m here to talk about the shrimp!” she insisted, wresting herself away from his hands and turning to face him with a glare that had sent lesser men running from her presence. Karl returned her gaze calmly, smug and self-assured.
“Have you even read the proposal or are you just working off assumptions?”
“I don’t need to read your proposal to know that turning a fragile ecosystem into a residential neighborhood is—”
“It isn’t a plan for a residential neighborhood, actual y.”
His voice was casual, but his slate-blue gaze was hard.
Something in his tone spoke of having reached a bottom line, of having limited patience for the current conversation.
Karl stepped to the side of the room, pouring himself a drink from a crystal decanter at the lavish bar that dominated that wal . His motions were easy and sure, his tal frame favored with the lean, elegant muscularity of a jungle cat. Elyce had to pry her eyes off his butt, which was showcased magnificently but tasteful y in his tailored trousers.
“What do you want, Karl?”
“What do you mean? You’re the one who barged into my office and started talking. Or did you think I had my company put together a big development deal someplace with a fragile ecosystem just in the hopes of luring you here to argue with me about it?”
Elyce wouldn’t put it past him. “There’s no argument, Karl. You go forward with this and we sue. The next time I see you wil be in a deposition.”
He put his drink down and moved toward her as if to open the door. When he brushed past her, Elyce could swear she felt sparks fly between their bodies. “Fine then.
Thanks for the friendly warning, Mrs. Nash. Sorry…I meant Ms. Anderson.”
“What the hel do you want, Karl?”
“You know what I want.” There was no humor this time, no softness. Only sex and steel, and Elyce felt the familiar thril sprint down her spine, the old warmth pooling between her thighs. She hadn’t moved from where she stood and Karl hadn’t actual y opened the door.
“I have to go.”
“Then go.” Stil the door remained closed. And then he was behind her again, hands on her waist this time, tugging her off balance until her weight was supported by him from shoulder to hip. The fit was too familiar. She caught herself curving into his body and forced herself to straighten up.
“You picked a sensitive area like this for your project, and you honestly expect me to believe you didn’t know I’d be breaking down the door?” She clenched her teeth, breathing through her nose. It was a mistake. She had wanted calm, and instead she was treated to the smel of Karl’s aftershave, subtle and warm and spicy.
“I won’t say I didn’t expect that. But no, it wasn’t a deciding factor in the location. A fringe benefit maybe.
Have you real y not read the proposal? We have a preliminary impact statement.”
Trust Karl, she thought, to make the phrase “preliminary impact statement” sound like a proposition. Or maybe, just maybe, that was only in her own mind. But his hands, cupping her elbows then sliding upward, were not only in her mind. His thumbs and forefingers gently encircled her upper arms. Big hands…long fingers that knew every inch of her.
“Make a rotten meal. Way too smal . Nice and crunchy though.”
She twisted away from him and sidestepped his grasp, making her way toward the door. “Visiting in person was a mistake. I felt I owed you a warning and now you’ve had it, so I’m leaving.”
“Oh come on, Elyce, I was just—”
The door closed between them with the expensive thud of solid wood and Elyce stalked out of the wel -appointed reception area, only pausing to smile wanly and wave back at Karl’s secretary—before realizing the woman had just cal ed her “Mrs. Nash” yet again.
, she told herself, stepping into the gleaming, mahogany-paneled elevator.
. Or at least it would be again, soon.
The lobby was empty except for a bored security guard, who barely glanced Elyce’s way as she crossed the marbled expanse between elevator and street door. Her unaccustomed high heels clattered too loudly on the polished surface, making her feel self-conscious. As she stepped out to the chil y street, a sudden shaft of winter sunlight caught the chrome plaque by the door, forcing her to squint and shield her eyes until a stopping bus blocked the beam. Once the glare was gone the name of the company was revealed, etched in tasteful black against the silver background.
Nash & Booker Development, Ltd.
The sidewalk was already crowded with pedestrians making their way out to cars, to commuter vans, to wherever they needed to go in the evening. In the streets, the cars had started to inch out of parking garages, clogging the thoroughfares, honking and spewing angry fumes into the atmosphere. Rush hour in San Francisco—
just like rush hour in any other big city but with more hil s.
It was a long walk to the garage where Elyce had parked her little hybrid car, and she eyed the bus in front of her for a moment. She was general y in favor of supporting public transportation whenever possible. In this instance, however, she thought the walk might do her some good.
Frowning down at her feet, she dug into her overstuffed satchel and came up with a pair of flats. Once she had exchanged them for the uncomfortable heels, she sighed in immediate relief and lit out down the sidewalk with her mood already somewhat improved.
* * * * *
Their honeymoon had been nothing short of spectacular. Worn out from the exhausting three-year grind of law school and the bar exam, frazzled from the strenuous planning that had preceded their lavish society wedding, Elyce had basked in the warm twin glows of the Caribbean sunlight and Karl’s bril iant smile. As had so often been the case when they were dating, Karl had scoped out the location in advance. He had been to Belize before so he already knew the best beaches and which tourist traps to avoid. He knew where to find everything from a formal five-star meal right down to that ramshackle hut on the sand that only the locals knew about, where they served the best food in town. The waiters in both places fel over themselves to be helpful, because Karl just brought out that response in most people.
Not that Karl’s planning or authority came as any surprise to Elyce. Real y, it had been the same since the first time they met, when Karl was a third-year law student a t Boalt Hal in Berkeley and Elyce was just finishing her first semester there. He had spotted her across the room one evening in the library, and immediately strode over and introduced himself with a charm that couldn’t help but win her over.