Merger By Matrimony

By: Cathy Williams

She could feel his presence next to her like a strong, electrical current, hot and lethal, radiating out towards her.

‘I didn’t intimidate you, Miss Felt, did I?’

‘Actually, it would take more than you to intimidate me, Mr Ross.’ She reluctantly glanced sideways to him and met his eyes with as flat an expression as she could muster.

‘Callum. Please. If we’re to do business together, we might as well be on a first-name basis. Destiny…’ The insolence was there again, softly underlining his slow, velvety pronunciation of her name. She’d dealt with all manner of danger in her life. Real danger. Danger from animals on the many occasions when she’d accompanied her father along the dark river in their piragua, to get deep into the heart of the forest to tend to someone. Danger from illnesses with the power to kill. She would not allow him to get under her skin now.

‘It has not yet been established that you will be doing business with my client, Mr Ross. Whilst I appreciate that your plans to take over Felt Pharmaceuticals were dashed by Abe’s untimely—’

‘Perhaps I could have some privacy with…Destiny, Derek?’ He tore his eyes away from the tall, striking blonde incongruously dressed in her multicoloured frock—if it could be called a frock—and briefly focused them on the man ineffectively glaring in his direction.

From the minute he’d heard about the existence of a woman who had landed her unexpected prize catch, the catch that he had worked ruthlessly to secure for himself only to see his efforts reduced to rubble, he’d been looking forward to meeting her. Looking forward to a seam-free, ludicrously easy deal. He’d had no doubts that a woman plucked from the wilds of a Panamanian forest would readily agree to the terms and conditions meticulously drawn up for the sale of the company. He had been curious, but not unduly worried by the temporary hitch in his plans.

Having met her the evening before, he was really still not unduly worried, but his curiosity, he’d discovered, now exceeded his original expectations.

Despite his resolve to talk business in as restrained a manner possible, he found that he was itching to be rid of Derek and his patter. Destiny Felt had unexpectedly stirred something inside his jaded soul and he wanted her to himself. Alone.

‘I don’t think that that’s a very good idea, Mr Ross.’ Valiant words, Destiny thought, but Derek was looking very twitchy. ‘My client needs protecting…’

‘Do you need protecting?’ Once more the blue eyes enveloped her.

‘I think what Derek means is that I’ve only skimmed the surface of the proposal you had in effect with my uncle. He doesn’t want to see me taken advantage of.’

‘I should think not!’ Derek sounded horrified.

‘Oh, nothing could be further from my mind.’ His low laugh was not reassuring. In fact, it just upped the tempo of her already skittering pulses. ‘So now we all understand each other. I’m not about to take advantage of your client, Derek, so you can leave us alone for a while to discuss matters in privacy.’ There was a hard edge to his voice now, although his body was still relaxed and his smile didn’t falter.

‘It’s all right, Derek,’ she said, releasing him from his state of nervous tension before he exploded all over his pristine mahogany desk. ‘I can take care of myself. If I need you, I can always give you a shout.’

‘This is all highly unorthodox,’ he faltered, fumbling with his tie and frowning disgruntledly but standing up anyway.

Callum shot him a soothing look from under his dark lashes. At least Destiny, watching him covertly, suspected that it was meant to be soothing. In reality, it just seemed to make Derek even more jittery. Or maybe that was the intention. She’d never had any opportunity to see first-hand how power, real power, worked. She was learning fast.

Her body was rigid with tension as the door closed behind her buffer and Callum slowly positioned his chair so that he was completely facing her now.

She looked at him steadily. For the second time in as few days, she felt utterly disadvantaged in what she was wearing. It had never really occurred to her that the highly coloured clothes she’d brought over with her would make her stand out like a sore thumb in a country where everyone—certainly everyone in the Wilson legal firm—seemed to be attired in shades of black, brown or navy blue. No wonder the man thought that she was a push-over.

‘What’s Derek told you about me?’ he drawled, linking his fingers together on his lap and stretching out his long legs in front of him, so that they were very nearly touching hers, which she had tucked protectively under her chair.

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