Read His Christmas Virgin Online

Authors: Carole Mortimer

His Christmas Virgin (4 page)

BOOK: His Christmas Virgin
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He had decided long ago that none of that was for
him. Not the initial euphoria of falling in love. Followed by a few years of questionable happiness. Before the compromises began. The irritation. And then finally the hatred for each other, followed by divorce.

Jonas wanted none of it. Would willingly forgo the supposed ‘euphoria' of falling in love if it meant he also avoided experiencing the disintegration of that relationship and the hatred for each other that followed.

Mac McGuire, for all she was an independent and successful artist, gave every appearance of being one of those happily-ever-after women Jonas had so far managed to avoid having any personal involvement with.

‘Well?' she prompted irritably at Jonas's lengthy silence.

He should say no. Should tell this woman that he had remembered he already had a luncheon appointment today.

Damn it, it was only lunch, not a declaration of intent!

His mouth thinned. ‘I have an hour free between one o'clock and two o'clock today.'

‘Wow,' Mac murmured, those smoky-grey eyes now openly laughing at him. ‘I should feel honoured that Jonas Buchanan feels he can spare me a whole hour of his time.'

His eyes narrowed to icy slits as he retorted, ‘When what I should really do is take your shapely little bottom to court and sue you for slander!'

Mac's eyes widened and hot colour suffused her cheeks at hearing Jonas claim she had a shapely little bottom, making her once again completely aware of his own dark and dangerous attraction…

If anything he seemed even bigger today, his wide shoulders and powerful chest visibly muscled beneath
the tailored suit and silk shirt, his face hard and slightly predatory, and dominated by those piercing blue eyes that seemed to see too much.

Did they see just how affected Mac was by his dark good looks, and that air of danger?

Perhaps the two of them lunching together wasn't such a good idea, after all, Mac decided with a frown. She could always claim that she had remembered a prior engagement. That she had to go to the Lyndwood Gallery to check on how the exhibition was going—

‘Jonas, I have the letter here from—' The blonde, blue-eyed woman who had entered from the adjoining office, and who Mac instantly recognised as being Jonas's PA, Yvonne Richards—the same woman who had visited Mac a couple of months ago in an effort to persuade her into agreeing to sell her home—came to an abrupt halt in the doorway to Jonas's office as she saw Mac there. ‘I'll come back later, shall I?' She totally ignored Mac as she looked at Jonas enquiringly.

‘No need, Yvonne; Miss McGuire was just leaving,' Jonas said as he stood up, obviously dismissing Mac.

The fact that was exactly what Mac had been about to do did nothing to nullify the fact that Jonas was trying to get rid of her! Without any firm arrangements having been made for them to meet later today to continue this discussion…

‘There's an Italian restaurant two streets over from this one,' she turned to inform him briskly. ‘I'll book a table for us there for one o'clock.'

‘Perhaps you would prefer me to book the table for the two of you?' the blonde woman offered coolly. ‘Mr Buchanan's name is known to the restaurant owner,' she added pointedly as Mac looked at her enquiringly.

Mac gave the other woman a narrowed-eyed glance as
she heard the edge in her tone, recognising that Yvonne Richards, beautiful and in her late twenties, was obviously a typical case of the PA who believed herself in love with her boss. A crush that Mac doubted Jonas Buchanan was even aware of.

Mac gave the other woman a saccharin-sweet smile. ‘That won't be necessary, thank you; I know Luciano personally, too.'

‘Fine,' Yvonne Richards bit out before turning to her employer. ‘I'll come back when you aren't so busy, Jonas.' She turned abruptly on her two-inch heels and went back into the adjoining office, the door closing sharply behind her.

Mac turned back to Jonas. ‘I don't think your PA likes me!'

Jonas's mouth compressed briefly. ‘She hasn't known you long enough yet to dislike you.' Before Yvonne had interrupted them Jonas had had every intention of refusing Mac's invitation to lunch, and he wasn't at all happy with the fact that, between them, Yvonne and Mac seemed to have arranged for him to have lunch at Luciano's at one o'clock today.

Mac gave an unconcerned grin, two unexpected dimples appearing in her cheeks. ‘That usually takes a little longer than five minutes, hmm?'

‘Precisely,' he growled.

She raised dark, mocking brows. ‘Perhaps she just has a crush on you?'

An irritated scowl darkened Jonas's brow. ‘Don't be ridiculous!'

Mac gave an unconcerned shrug. ‘She seems—less than happy at the thought of the two of us having lunch together.'

‘Will you just go away and leave me in peace, Mac?'
Once again Jonas moved to sit behind his imposing desk in obvious dismissal. ‘I'll see you later,' he added pointedly as Mac made no move to respond to his less-than-subtle hint.

‘One o'clock at Luciano's,' she came back mockingly before turning and walking over to the door that led out to his secretary's office.

Jonas's scowl deepened as he found he couldn't resist the temptation to look up and watch Mac leave. To be fully aware of his own response, the stirring, hardening, heated pulsing of his thighs, as he watched the provocative sway of those slender hips and pert bottom beneath fitted jeans.

She was an irritation and a nuisance, he told himself firmly. Trouble.

With a very definite capital T!

CHAPTER FOUR

‘T
HIS
is nice.'

‘Is it?' Jonas asked darkly as they sat at a window table in Luciano's. It was an obvious indication that Mac was indeed known personally to the restaurateur; Jonas had dined here often enough in the past to know that Luciano only ever reserved the window tables for his best and most-liked customers.

Mac was already seated at the table, and had been supplied with some bread sticks to eat while she was waiting, by the time Jonas arrived at the restaurant at ten minutes past one. Not that he had been deliberately late; his twelve-thirty appointment had just run over time.

Everything had seemed to go wrong after she had left his office this morning. His nine-thirty appointment hadn't arrived until almost ten o'clock—which was probably as well when Jonas had spent most of the intervening time trying to dampen down his obvious arousal for Mac McGuire!

He had also found himself closely studying Yvonne throughout the morning as he searched for any signs of that ‘crush' Mac had mentioned. Rightly or wrongly, Jonas didn't approve of personal relationships within the workplace—and that included unrequited ones. Which
meant, if Mac was right, he would have to start looking for another PA. But if anything Yvonne's demeanour had been slightly frostier than usual, with nothing to suggest she had anything other than a working relationship with him.

Resulting in Jonas feeling annoyed with himself for doubting his own judgement, and even more irritated with Mac for mischievously giving him those doubts in the first place!

Consequently, he was feeling irritable and bad-tempered by the time he sat down at the lunch table opposite his perkily cheerful nemesis. ‘Let's just order, shall we?' he grated as he picked up the menu and held it up in front of him as an indication he was not in the mood for conversation.

Mac didn't bother to look at her own menu, already knowing exactly what she was going to order: garlic prawns followed by lasagne. As far as she was concerned, Luciano made the best lasagne in London.

Instead she looked across at Jonas as he gave every indication of concentrating on choosing what he was going to have for lunch.

Every female head in the Italian bistro had turned to look at him when he'd entered a few minutes ago and taken off his long woollen coat to hang it up just inside the door. They had continued to watch him as he made his way over to the window table, several women giving Mac envious glances when he'd pulled out the chair opposite her own and sat down.

Mac had found herself watching him too; Jonas simply was the sort of man that women of all ages took a second, and probably a third, look at. He was so tall for one thing, and the leashed and elegant power of
his lean and muscled body in that perfectly tailored charcoal-coloured suit was undeniable.

His irritation told her that he was also not in a good mood. ‘We don't have to eat lunch together if you would rather not?' Mac prompted ruefully.

He lowered his menu enough to look across at her with icy blue eyes. ‘You would rather I moved to another table? That's going to make conversation very difficult, wouldn't you say?' he taunted.

Mac felt the warmth in her cheeks at his obvious mockery. ‘Very funny!'

Jonas placed his closed menu down on the table. ‘I want to know more about the break-in to your studio on Saturday night. Such as how whoever it was got inside in the first place?' he asked grimly.

Mac shrugged. ‘They broke a small window next to the door and reached inside to open it.'

Jonas noticed that some of the animation had left those smoky-grey eyes, presumably at his reminder of the break-in. ‘You don't have an alarm system installed?'

She grimaced. ‘I've never thought I needed one.'

‘Obviously you were wrong,' Jonas said reprovingly.

‘Obviously.' Anger sparkled in those grey eyes now. ‘I have to say that I've always found people's smugness after the event to be intensely irritating!' She was still wearing the black fitted sweater and faded denims of earlier, the silky curtain of her hair framing the delicate beauty of her face to fall in an ebony shimmer over her shoulders and down her back.

Jonas relaxed back in his chair to look across at her speculatively. ‘Then hopefully I've succeeded in irritating you enough to have a security system installed. Or
perhaps I should just arrange to have it done for you?' he mused out loud, knowing it would immediately goad her to respond with the information that he wanted.

‘That won't be necessary, thank you; I have a company coming out to install one first thing tomorrow morning,' she came back sharply. ‘Along with a glazier to replace the window that was broken.'

His eyes narrowed. ‘You haven't had the glass replaced yet?'

‘I just said I hadn't,' Mac bit back.

Jonas gave a disgusted sigh. ‘You should have got someone out on Sunday to fix it.'

Mac's eyes flashed darkly. ‘Don't presume to tell me what I should or shouldn't do!'

‘It's a security breach—'

‘Oh, give it a rest, Jonas,' she muttered wearily. ‘I'm quite capable of organising my own life, thank you.'

‘I'm seriously starting to doubt that.'

‘Strangely, your opinion is of little relevance to me!' Mac snapped. ‘When I suggested we have lunch to talk about this situation I wasn't actually referring to the break-in.'

Jonas managed to dampen down his impatience as he smiled up at Luciano as he appeared beside their table to personally take their order.

‘I take it you don't have a date this evening?' He mockingly changed the subject once the restaurateur had taken note of their order and returned to his beloved kitchen a few minutes later.

Mac knew he had to be referring to the fact that there was garlic in both of the foods she had ordered. ‘I take it that you do?' she retorted, the Marie Rose prawns and Dover sole he had ordered not having any garlic in at all.

‘As it happens, no.' That blue gaze met hers tauntingly. ‘Are you offering to rectify that omission?'

Mac frowned. ‘You can't be serious?'

Was he? Having spent part of the morning in uncomfortable arousal because of this woman, Jonas had once again decided that, the less he had to do with Mac the better it would be for both him and his aching erection! A decision his last remark made a complete nonsense of.

‘Obviously not,' he muttered.

Mac looked across at him shrewdly. ‘It sounded like you were asking me out on a date.'

Jonas shrugged. ‘You're entitled to your opinion, I suppose.'

‘You “suppose”?' she taunted.

He scowled darkly. ‘Mac, are you deliberately trying to initiate an argument with me?'

‘Maybe.'

Jonas narrowed his gaze. ‘Why?'

‘Why not?' Mac smiled. ‘It's certainly livened up the conversation!'

Jonas knew it had done a lot more than that. He was far too physically aware of this woman already; he didn't need to feel any more so. In fact, he was somewhat relieved when the waiter chose that moment to deliver their first course to them.

What the hell had he been doing, all but suggesting that Mac ask him out on a date this evening? Meeting her for lunch was bad enough, without prolonging the time he had to spend in her disturbing company. In future, Jonas decided darkly, he would just stick to taking out his usual beautiful and sophisticated blondes!

‘The reviews of your exhibition in Sunday's newspapers were good,' he abruptly changed the subject.

She nodded. ‘Your cousin was especially kind.'

‘Amy is a complete professional; if she says you're good, then you're good,' Jonas said.

‘I went to the gallery after seeing you this morning. It seems to be pretty busy,' Mac told him distractedly, still slightly reeling from what she was pretty sure had been an invitation on Jonas's part for them to spend the evening together too. An offer he had obviously instantly regretted making.

Which was just as well considering Mac would have had to refuse the invitation! Going to his office was one thing. Having lunch with Jonas so that they could discuss what was going on with her warehouse was also acceptable. Going out on a proper date with him was something else entirely…

In spite of the fact that Jonas Buchanan was so obviously a devastatingly attractive man, he simply wasn't Mac's type. He was far too arrogant. At least as arrogant, if not more so, as Thomas Connelly, the art critic who had considered her nothing but a trophy to parade on his arm six years ago.

She picked up her fork to deliberately spear one of the succulent prawns swimming in garlic, before raising it to her mouth and popping it between her lips. Only to glance across the table at the exact moment she did so, her cheeks heating with flaming wings of colour as she saw the intensity with which Jonas was watching the movement.

Dark and mesmerising, his eyes had become a deep and cobalt blue. There was a slight flush to his cheeks too, and those sculptured lips were slightly parted.

Mac shifted uncomfortably. ‘Would you like to try one?'

That dark gaze lifted up to hers. ‘What?'

She swallowed hard, feeling strangely alone with Jonas in this crowded and happily noisy restaurant. ‘You seemed to be coveting my garlic prawns, so I was offering to let you try one…'

Damn it, Jonas hadn't been coveting the prawns on Mac's plate—he had been imagining lying back and having those full and red lips placed about a certain part of his anatomy as she pleasured him!

What the hell was the
matter
with him?

In the last fifteen years he had never once mixed business with pleasure. Had always kept the two firmly separate. Since meeting Mac he seemed to have done nothing else but confuse the two, with the result that he was now once again fully aroused beneath the cover of the chequered tablecloth. Hopefully there would be no reason for him to stand up in the next few minutes or his arousal would be well and truly exposed!

‘No, thank you,' he refused quickly. ‘I would prefer not to smell of garlic during any of my business meetings later this afternoon.'

Mac gave an unconcerned shrug of her shoulders. ‘Please yourself.'

‘I usually do,' Jonas said dryly.

‘Lucky you,' she said.

Jonas considered Mac through narrowed lids. ‘Are you saying that you don't?' he taunted. ‘I thought all artists preferred to be free spirits? In relationships as well as their art?'

Mac didn't miss the contempt in his tone. Or the underlying implication that, as an artist, she probably slept around.

It would have been amusing if it weren't so obvious that Jonas had once again meant to be insulting!

Oh, Mac had lots of friends, male as well as female,
both from school and university, but that didn't mean she went to bed with any of them. That she had ever been intimately involved with anyone, in fact.

After that fiasco with Thomas, Mac had become completely focused on what she wanted to do with her life. Which was to be successful as an artist in her own right.

From the time she was twelve years old, and her art teacher had allowed her to paint with oils on canvas for the first time, Mac had known exactly what she wanted, and that was to become a successful artist first, with marriage and children second. She had become slightly sidetracked from that ambition during that brief relationship with Thomas, but if anything the realisation of his arrogance and condescension had only increased that ambition.

‘If you'll excuse me, I need to go to the ladies' room.' She placed her napkin on the table before pushing back her chair and standing up.

Jonas raised dark brows. ‘Was it something I said?'

Mac frowned down at him. ‘That necessitates my needing to go to the ladies' room?' she drawled derisively. ‘Hardly!'

Nevertheless, Jonas was left sitting alone at the table feeling less than happy, both with himself, and with his earlier biting comment. He knew very little about her personal life—the fact that he had an erection every time he was in her company really didn't count! He certainly didn't know her well enough to have deliberately cast aspersions upon the way she might choose to live her private life.

He forced himself to continue eating his own food as he waited for Mac to return.

And waited.

And waited.

After over ten minutes had passed since she'd left the table, Jonas came to the uncomfortable conclusion that she might have walked out on both him and the restaurant!

Deservedly so?

Maybe. But that didn't make the experience—the first time that a woman had ever walked out on Jonas, for any reason—any more palatable than the prawns he had just forced himself to finish eating.

He stood up abruptly to place his own napkin on the tabletop and make his way across the restaurant to the door through to the washrooms, determined to see exactly how Mac had made her escape. Only to come to a halt in the doorway and feeling completely wrong-footed as he came face to face with Mac, who was standing in the corridor in laughing conversation with one of the waitresses.

She looked at him curiously. ‘Is there a problem, Jonas?'

His eyes narrowed. ‘Your food is getting cold.'

‘Oh, dear.' The waitress gave an apologetic smile. ‘I'll talk to you later, Mac,' she said, before hurrying off in the direction of the kitchen.

Leaving Mac alone in the hallway with an obviously seriously displeased Jonas.

Well, that was just too bad!

Jonas had been deliberately insulting before she left the table, and when she'd bumped into Carla as she was leaving the ladies' room Mac had felt no hesitation in stopping to chat; Jonas Buchanan could just sit alone at the table for a few more minutes and stew as far as she was concerned.

She raised dark brows as he stepped further into the
otherwise deserted hallway and quietly closed the door behind him, enclosing the two of them in a strangely tense and otherwise deserted silence. Mac shifted uncomfortably as Jonas walked stealthily down that hallway towards her. ‘I thought you said my food was getting cold?' she prompted, suddenly nervous.

BOOK: His Christmas Virgin
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