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The Billionaire Bodyguard

By:Sharon Kendrick

The Billionaire Bodyguard
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.                       
       
           



       

'I was asking how long it will take us to get back to London.'

Jay  narrowed his eyes at the road ahead. The snow was getting heavier  now.  The skies were pale grey, so pale that it was impossible to see  where  the falling, swirling snow ended and the sky began. Trees loomed  up as  they passed-skeletal brooms so inhospitable that you could not  imagine  them ever bearing fruit or leaves or blossoms.

It was tempting to  say that if she hadn't wasted so much time then they  would be well on  their way now, but he didn't. It wasn't the job of  the driver to offer  anything in the way of opinions, which took more  than a little  self-restraint on his part.

'Difficult to say,' he murmured. 'Depends.'

'On  what?' Something about that lazy, drawled air of assurance was  making  her prickly. What kind of driver was he, anyway, if he couldn't  throw in  a rough estimate of their time of arrival?

He heard the faintly  impatient note in her voice and hid a smile. He  had forgotten what it  was like to be subordinate-to have people tell  you what to do and to ask  you questions and expect you to answer, just  as if you were some kind  of machine.

'On how bad this snow gets,' he said, frowning  suddenly as he felt the  treacherous slide of the front wheels. He slowed  right down.

Keri stared out of the window. 'It doesn't look that bad to me.'

'You think so?' he murmured. 'Well, that's okay, then.'

He  had a faint, almost American drawl, and for a moment she thought she   detected a mocking note of humour underpinning it. Suspiciously, Keri   stared at the unmoving set of his broad shoulders. Was he making fun of   her?

Through a gap in the thick curtain of dark fringe which  flopped into  her eyes Jay could see the tiny frown which pleated the  smooth, pale  perfection of her forehead. 'Would you like the radio on?'  he  questioned, as soothingly as he would to a maiden aunt who was in   danger of becoming fractious.

He was making her  feel … uncomfortable, and she couldn't quite put her  finger on why.  'Actually,' said Keri, very deliberately, 'what I would  really like is  to get some sleep, so if you wouldn't mind … ?'

'Sure. No problem.'  Jay hid a smile which vanished as he drove further  into the winter  dusk. The flakes of snow had changed from being the  innocent ones of  storybook pictures-now they were small, and he knew  that they would have  the bite of ice behind them. The wind was gusting  them into bitter  white flurries so that they looked like swarms of  white bees.

He  glanced in the mirror again. She had fallen asleep. Her head had  fallen  back and her hair was spread out behind it, like a shiny black  pillow.  The blanket had slipped down and the slit in her skirt meant  that her  long legs were sprawled out-pretty much the longest legs he  had ever  seen on a woman. Legs like that could wrap themselves round a  man's neck  like a deadly snake. Deliberately, Jay averted his eyes from  their  coltish display and from the tantalising glimpse of lacy  stocking-top.  This drive was going to take longer than he had  anticipated-far better  she slept than distract him.

But the weather was distraction  enough. The narrow lanes became more  precarious by the second, with the  snow falling heavier and heavier,  and as night closed in the darkness  hid the fall from sight and the car  began to slow as it encountered the  first drifts.

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