Authors: Helen Grey
Tags: #steamy sex, #bad boy, #hot guys, #secret past, #journalist, #billionaire romance, #sexy secrets
A leather sofa and coffee table to the left, a desk with a couple of leather chairs in front of it for guests in the middle, and a small bookcase, a couple of filing cabinets, and a small table with an espresso machine on the right. A small door in the corner of the office probably led to a private bathroom.
The desk was large, also equipped with a flat screen computer, wireless keyboard and mouse, a stack of folders, and a blotter that held only an open day-planner kind of agenda. A nice leather office chair was turned to face the window. A male voice spoke from it. All I saw of Blake Masters was the top of his head over the back of the chair.
“I’ll check on it this afternoon. If you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment… yes, I’ll call you later this evening to let you know if I want any changes.”
“Can I get you anything to drink? Some coffee or tea perhaps?”
I glanced at the receptionist and shook my head, smiling a thank you. “I’m good.”
She gestured for me to take one of the chairs in front of the desk. “He’ll be finished in just a minute,” she whispered. “Let me know if you need anything.”
“I will, thank you,” I whispered back, taking a seat in one of the chairs in front of the desk. I had just settled in, placed my satchel on my lap and glanced once again out the window at the view when the chair spun around. Whoa.
Blake Masters looked even better in person than he had in the photograph from my assignment packet. How could somebody be so ruggedly good-looking were the first words that popped into my mind. The close-up view offered me a better look at his features. Gorgeous light blue-grayish eyes rimmed with thick lashes. A slash of dark eyebrows above. Luscious black hair, thick and full, the kind that made you want to just run your fingers through it. Wide lips that curved slightly upward at the corners, as if he were about to smile. A five o’clock shadow on his cheeks even though it was only mid-morning.
He wore a t-shirt that stretched at the confines of the fabric. Broad shoulders. Well-developed chest, obvious from the outline of his pecs through the thin material. He placed the phone down on the blotter and rested his forearms on it, causing me to tug my gaze from his chest and down. His biceps bulged and I swallowed hard. He interlaced his fingers, that slight movement causing the thin muscle fibers in his forearm to twitch.
I tried to keep my calm, tried not to blush, but it was hard not to. Those piercing blue-gray eyes stared right at me, assessing me as carefully as I assessed him.
“You ready to go?” he asked without preamble.
“Ready to go?” I repeated the words, not sure what he was talking about. “Ready to go where?”
Masters gave me an impatient look. Then a once-over. What the hell? Was that attitude? True annoyance? What?
“Your editor didn’t tell you.”
It wasn’t a question but a statement. As he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest, I was briefly distracted by the play of muscles, but then his words sunk in. I frowned, felt like I was on the outside looking in, which at the moment left me feeling rather stupid. “Didn’t tell me what?” I asked, my own voice now tinged with impatience.
“You’ll be accompanying me when I go up north to inspect the new property I just purchased.”
I stared. Accompany him? Up north? A new property? My eyes widened in surprise, then I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. How in the world could Angela neglect to offer me this crucial bit of information? I didn’t have an overnight bag packed. No toothbrush, no clean underwear, no nothing.
Masters sighed and then glanced at the clock mounted high on the wall over the filing cabinets. “I’m due to leave in twenty minutes.”
No way could I get to my apartment, pack an overnight bag, and be back in twenty minutes. A myriad of emotions raced through me. Annoyance at Angela for not mentioning this bit of information. I also felt more than a little perturbed about the way Masters was looking at me. It wasn’t my fault that I didn’t know. Was the plan for the interview to be over before it even started?
Blake rose from his chair and placed his hands on the desk and leaned forward, his eyes riveted to mine. “You can wear that. You probably don’t need much anyway. I’m sorry, but I can’t wait. My itinerary has been set. You should be able to find some clothes more suited to the outdoors once we get there.”
I didn’t know what to say. “I’m sorry, Mr. Masters—”
“Blake,” he interrupted.
“Blake,” I said, nodding. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but I wasn’t told that this would be an overnight trip or I would have been prepared.” I was glad I had decided on slacks. At least I hadn’t opted for the skirt.
“Nothing to do about it now,” he said, stepping from around the desk.
I stood as well, my heart thumping and my mind racing. Good thing I didn’t have any pets or goldfish to feed. I wasn’t sure if Angela’s failure to tell me about the overnight trip was accidental… or was it possibly on purpose? I didn’t know why it would have been on purpose. As far as I knew, I hadn’t done anything to get on her bad side.
I was surprised to realize how tall Blake was. He had to be at least a few inches over six feet. I was no slouch at five-seven but he was quite a bit taller than me. Of course, I was wearing flats, but still. His shoulders seemed wider, his chest broader, his arms longer. It wasn’t like I was intimidated, not really, but I was a bit nervous about going off with him. Would anyone else be coming along?
“You’re not afraid of flying, are you?”
He stood in front of me, his legs slightly spread, his arms once again crossed over his chest as he gazed down at me, assessing me in much the same way I’d just assessed him. For the second time. I clutched the satchel to my chest, not sure how to reply. Flying wasn’t exactly my favorite mode of travel, but I’d only been on an airplane a couple of times.
“Where exactly are we going?” I asked, avoiding the question.
“Southern Oregon,” he said shortly, then gestured for me to exit through the office door in front of him. As we stepped from his office, he spoke to his receptionist.
“Jill, we’re off. If anything comes up, or if Matt needs anything, give me a call. If I don’t get reception, I’ll just call later this evening when we get to the ranch.”
Ranch? I watched as Jill smiled and nodded at Blake, and then offered me a small hand wave. I offered an uncertain smile in return.
I could do nothing but tag behind him as Blake strode down the hallway, passing numerous doors as he headed for the exit sign. The door opened onto a stairwell. He took the steps quickly and I hurried after him, grateful once again that I had opted against a skirt and heels.
“My ride’s at the Commodore Heliport,” he said as we reached the ground floor. He quickly stepped toward a heavy metal door and opened it. We emerged in the parking garage beneath the building.
I said nothing because the comment didn’t require a response, my mind still spinning. At least I had my laptop, thank goodness for small favors, but I felt uncomfortable flying, period. Especially flying anywhere with him, alone. I supposed I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. There might be others waiting for him on the plane, no, helicopter. It couldn’t be a long flight, not if he was taking a helicopter. I had no idea how fast a helicopter could go. I’d never ridden in one before, no idea what to expect. It couldn’t be worse than flying, could it? Not that I was petrified of flying, but I didn’t like the feeling of air turbulence or the feeling I got when an airplane banked. I lost my sense of equilibrium.
“There’s my Jeep,” he said, pointing.
I glanced at him in surprise. Why had I just assumed that he probably had a fancy car and a driver to transport him around the city? I followed him, taking in those wide shoulders, the tapered waist, and those long legs. He had a nice butt too. Some men didn’t have a butt. Blake’s was nicely formed. I imagined it was as muscular as the rest of him. Unbidden, I wondered what he would do if I reached out and pinched one of his cheeks. Not that I would. Never! But the idea of it amused me nonetheless.
When I got a better look at his Jeep, my eyes widened in surprise. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Not a Jeep Liberty, not a Jeep Cherokee, no, but one without a roof. It had no doors, a roll bar, low sides, and big wheels. It was mud splattered, well-used, and scary looking.
“Climb on in,” he said, gesturing toward the front seat.
I quickly slung the strap of my satchel over my other shoulder, the strap now draped across my chest. I shifted the bag and scrambled inside, using the handle on the dashboard to help me in. I’d barely settled into the seat and buckled myself in before Blake started the engine, shifted from neutral into reverse, and began to back out of the parking space. He glanced at me just as he shifted the car from reverse into first gear.
“Hang on,” he said.
I was just about to ask why when the Jeep shot forward. I grabbed for the roll bar with one hand while the other reached out to clutch the handle on the dash, where a glove compartment would typically be located. We shot up the ramp from the garage level to street level. I squelched my fear, as barely stopping, Blake pulled out into traffic. We shot forward once again.
The wind blew through my hair and stung my eyes. Cars honked. Seagulls screamed. With the shift of every gear, I bit back a cry of alarm as we headed east toward the waterfront. Maybe it just felt faster because I was exposed to the open air. The wind whipped my face as we topped one of San Francisco’s famous hills. I barely stifled a scream as the tires left asphalt and we careened over the crest and then shot downward. I bounced off my seat and nearly bit my tongue.
My knuckles white, I turned to stare wide-eyed at this maniac. His gaze, however, was calm but riveted to the street ahead of us as he made his way through the sparse traffic, around a cable car, and then shot through a yellow light at an intersection.
I’d barely caught my breath after that one when he made a sudden turn onto Lombard. At least I thought it was Lombard. I lost my grip on the dash handle and reached out with my left hand, thinking to grab onto the console between the seats. My hand landed on his upper thigh instead, so close to his groin I thought I felt… in that brief instant when my hand clutched desperately for something hard and firm, I felt his thigh muscles tense in surprise beneath my fingers. Hard as a rock.
I pulled my hand away as if I had just been burned, stammered an apology, but Blake wasn’t paying the least bit of attention. Unfortunately, that brief moment of contact was all I could think about as he sped his way down the street until we got to Van Ness. The Maritime Museum of San Francisco was just ahead, but I barely caught an eye full of that before he made another turn into the Fisherman’s Wharf District, and then we zoomed past Pier 45, heading for Pier 39.
By the time Blake pulled next to a large hanger at the heliport, I was breathing heavily, my face was hot, my hair was a mess, and I was trembling from top to toe with a surge of adrenaline that had my heart pounding hard. When the death trap finally pulled to a stop, I stared out the windshield for a moment, amazed we had gotten here in one piece.
I swallowed and glanced at Blake. He gazed back at me, a ridiculously innocent expression on his face. All I could manage was to lift my eyebrows. He said nothing, and I didn’t either. After that hair-raising drive through the city, I was actually looking forward to planting myself in a soft leather seat in a private helicopter.
He wordlessly led the way around the side of the hanger and toward the open door in front. As we rounded the corner, I saw the chopper waiting on the tarmac. A nose wheel in front and two wheels just rear of the center. My eyes widened in amazement and admiration. It was gorgeous, black on the bottom, silver on top, its sleek nose ending in a sharp point. The shape reminded me of a great white shark.
I glanced up at Blake, who was grinning down at me in pride. The smile transformed his features. I could’ve stared at him all day long and not grown tired of it. I pulled my eyes away and returned them to the chopper and nodded. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”
“It’s an Agusta Westland. AW109 Grand Versace,” he told me.
Versace? They made helicopters too?
“Agusta Westland designed it with the Italian fashion moguls. She tops out with a speed of one-hundred-seventy-seven miles an hour and has a nearly six-hundred-mile range,” he said proudly. He led me toward the door to the cabin and opened it. What I expected was certainly not this. I’d never flown in a helicopter, but imagined the typical bubble with the front seat for the pilot and copilot, the cramped seats right behind. No, this was far from it. This one had luxury interior seating for six. Gorgeous upholstered seats with pull-down cup holders. Plush carpet on the floor, interior sidewalls like the inside of a luxury car or a limo. Black and gray upholstery, the carpeting a complementary silvery-gray.
“Make yourself comfortable,” he said, gesturing for me to climb inside. “You can take any seat you want. You’re my only passenger today.”
I climbed inside, not really surprised that it had a new car smell. I wondered how much something like this cost. Millions of dollars at least. The door closed and I leaned forward to watch outside of the window as Blake quickly made his way back into the hangar. I supposed he was talking to the pilot and would join me in the cab, or whatever it was called, in a few minutes. I pulled the strap of my satchel from around my shoulders and set it on the floor at my feet while admiring the interior, my fingers tracing gently over the soft leather upholstery.
When I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, I glanced back out the window. I watched Blake approach the helicopter carrying a clipboard. He began to make his way around the aircraft, stooping closer to look at this or that, making notations on the clipboard. I waited patiently for him to open the door and join me in the cab. Instead, he moved to the front of the craft. Shortly, he opened the pilot’s door and climbed in, but left the door open.
I stared in stunned dismay as he placed a clipboard on the copilot’s seat and pulled the headset from the console, placed it on his head, and then reached once again for the clipboard. As he flipped switches, my heart once again trip-hammered. Maybe he was just doing the pre-check, but I was getting a funny feeling.