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Gray Quinn's Baby

By:Susan Stephens

Gray Quinn's Baby
Susan Stephens

       CHAPTER ONE




MAGENTA yelped with alarm as a scuffed biker's boot slammed onto the  ground within inches of her feet. 'What the hell do you think you're  doing?' she exploded, frantically clutching the armful of documents  threatening to spill from her arms.

Taking off his helmet, the man shook out a mop of inky-black hair. He  was exactly the type of man you didn't want to see when you'd had the  day from hell and looked like you'd been dragged through a hedge  backwards: gorgeous, cool, and commanding. He had 'danger' flashing  round him like neon lights.

'Well?' Magenta demanded furiously. 'Do you always ride a motorcycle like a maniac?'

'Always,' he drawled.

'I should report you.'

Eyes the colour of a storm-tossed ocean laughed back at her.

And she would report him, Magenta determined, just as soon as she sorted  out the flat on her car, along with a million and one other things.

Such as her father deciding to retire and sell his shares to some  stranger without a word to her. Such as saving her colleagues' jobs from  this unknown predator. Such as wanting to get back to her team and  their fast-moving, retro ad campaign set in Magenta's favourite era, the  sixties.

'Do you mind?' she said, trying to skirt around the man's monstrous, throbbing machine. 'Some of us have work to do.'

'Is that why you're leaving the office early?'

'Since when are my working hours your concern?'

The biker shrugged.

Magenta's glance swept the car park. Where was the security guard when  you needed him? She had been loading up the car with things she intended  to finish over the weekend in her own time-not that she was about to  explain that to this guy, who looked like he spent his weekends in bed.  And not alone.

'You're leaving me?' he demanded as she made a move to continue on her way.

'Somehow I'm managing to drag myself away.'

What was he doing in the car park of Steele Design anyway? Was he a courier? 'Do you have a package?'

His grin made her cheeks blaze red. She had to watch her words in  future, Magenta concluded. They were about the same age-maybe he was a  year or two older-but his eyes held infinitely more experience. 'If you  don't have anything to deliver, this is private property and you should  leave.'

He raised an eyebrow.

Oh, good. He was really impressed by her command of the situation.

The biker's self-confidence was making her edgy-that and his manner,  which was cool, when she was fuming. Some men were just comfortable in  every situation and this man was clearly one of them.

A sharp flurry of snow kept her hurrying along but the man's laugh was  warm and sexy on her back. 'What's so urgent you can't spare a moment to  chat?' he called.

She stopped and turned to confront him. 'Not that it's any business of  yours, but I am going inside to put on the clothes I wear in the gym so I  can change the tyre on my car.'

'Can I help you?'

'No.'

Perhaps she should at least have thanked him for the offer.

Now she felt guilty?

Settling the helmet on his head again, he revved the engine. 'You're going?' she said, perversely wanting him to stay.

Powerful shoulders eased in a careless shrug.

Why exactly was she driving him away, when he was the most interesting  thing to have happened in a long time? Because she had more sense than  to prolong the encounter, Magenta reasoned, crunching snow underfoot as  she started on her way again. But, instead of riding off, the man kept  pace with her, scuffing his boots on the surface of the road as he kept  the engine purring along in neutral. 'Haven't you gone yet?' she  demanded.

'I'm waiting to see you in gym clothes.' He grinned.

She huffed at this, all the time trying to work him out. He was dressed  too casually to be a businessman and his voice was low and husky with an  accent she didn't recognise. Perhaps he was a mature student; there was  a college across the road.

'I could give you a lift.'

I bet you could. A face and body like his could give any woman a lift.  But something about him warned her that this was a man who could switch  in the blink of an eye from humorous and warm to the modern-day  equivalent of Genghis Khan-and she'd had all the aggravation she could  take for one day.

'You are one stressed-out lady. Don't you ever relax?'

Was he kidding? Who had time to relax? Plus, she shouldn't even think  about relaxing while this guy was around. He looked too fit, too  dangerous. 'My car is shot. Bust. Broken. What part of that should  entice me to relax?'                       
       
           



       

'Like I said, I'd be happy to give you a lift.'

She might have given his well-packed leathers a thorough inspection and  found them more than to her liking, but she didn't know him from Adam.  'I never accept lifts from strangers,' she informed him, tilting her  chin at what she hoped would pass for an unapproachable angle.

'Very wise,' he said, calmly wheeling along at her side.

'Don't you ever give up?'

'Never.'

Her heart was thundering. Why?

She was heading off towards the side entrance and the employee lockers  where her gym clothes were stowed, and was looking forward to closing  the door on his arrogant face … right up to the moment when he gunned the  engine and rode away.

She stared after the streak of black lightning until it disappeared at the end of the road, feeling … wistful.

Well, she'd blown it, so it was no use crying over lost opportunities now.

Had there been something special about him-an instant connection between them? Or was that the wanderings of an exhausted mind?

Far more likely, Magenta decided. The biker could have insisted on fixing her tyre if he'd really wanted to.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Women like her, Magenta concluded, women  who accepted equality as their right and who scowled if a man so much as  offered to open a door for them.

Having retrieved her gym clothes from her locker, she threw them on,  together with a warm jacket and a scarf. Returning to her car, she  lifted the cover concealing the spare …

No spare!

She stared in disbelief at the empty space, and then remembered her  father saying something about a puncture a few months back. They had  matching cars, which at one time Magenta had thought cute. Not today;  her father must have told the mechanics to help themselves to her spare  and had forgotten to ask them to replace it.

It was her own fault for not checking.

The business was falling down around her ears, she might not even have a  job after Christmas and she was crying over a flat tyre. Pressing back  against the car, she shut her eyes, waiting for the tears to stop  threatening. Finally, having convinced herself it was no use worrying  about something she couldn't change, she decided to go inside, get warm  and call a cab. Or she could always catch the underground; there was a  tube station near her house.

And here came the security guard. Hurrying over to him, Magenta explained she would call someone to come and rescue her car.

When she returned to the office her father was ready to leave, to sign the deal to sell his shares.

'I thought you'd gone,' Clifford Steele complained, checking the angle  of his silk tie. 'No family members muddying the water until this new  man has settled in and I have his money in the bank-those are the  rules.'

'And I was obeying them. I was just loading up the car when I discovered  I had a flat. And guess what?' Magenta added dryly. 'I don't have a  spare.'

'Call a cab,' her father advised without a flicker of remorse. 'Can't  stay,' he added, wrapping a cashmere muffler around his neck. 'I'm off  to sign the final papers. Just make sure you're out of here in case  Quinn decides to come and take a look at his latest acquisition.'

She heard the note of resentment in her father's voice and kissed his  cheek. It couldn't be easy selling out to a younger, more successful  man. Clifford Steele might be high-handed, and his extravagance might  have brought the company to its knees, but he was her father and she  loved him and would do nothing to risk his comfortable retirement. It  was up to her to sort the mess out now in an attempt to try and save her  colleagues' jobs.

If the new owner allowed her to.

Gray Quinn might not keep her on, Magenta realised anxiously. Thanks to  her father's outdated belief that men ran businesses while bricks and  mortar provided better security for a woman, she owned the building but  not a single voting-share.

'As you're still here, make yourself useful,' her father instructed.  'I'm sure the men would like a cup of coffee before you go. So you're a  senior account exec,' he added with impatience when he saw her face.  'But no one makes a cup of coffee like-'

'A well-trained woman?' Magenta suggested, tongue-in-cheek.

'Like you, I was about to say. You work too hard, Magenta, and you take  yourself far too seriously. Stress isn't good for a woman your age,' her  father commented in his usual tactful manner. 'If you're not careful it  will give you wrinkles. You should take a break-get a decent night's  sleep.'

'Yes, Dad.' Her father might have stepped straight out of their sixties  campaign, when men had a high opinion of themselves and women were still  working out how to let them down lightly, Magenta mused wryly. 'That's  just the way it is', her father was fond of telling her whenever she  complained he was a dinosaur. 'That's just the way you are', she always  amended fondly.                       

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