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Authors: C. C. MacKenzie

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BOOK: Reckless Nights in Rome
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Something must
have shown in her expression because he moved closer, those
glittering eyes narrowing fractionally as they searched her
face.

Panic had Rosie
retreat against the worktop, a fact which made her tone sharp and
unleashed her inner bitch.

‘Don’t they
serve coffee up at The Hall? Your little harem not bowing and
scraping to their lord and master these days?’ The administration
staff at Ludlow Hall were lovely, and she knew it, but they were
all uniformly young, tall and blonde. And all happily married Rosie
reminded herself. But the poison kept on coming. ‘I’m very busy.
Too busy to waste time with someone like you.’

Fast as a snake
he moved in and placed a hand either side of her on the
worktop.

She closed her
eyes to that marvellous mouth. And God he smelt fabulous.

Rosemary Gordon
never trembled - she didn’t do trembling. But she was trembling
now.

‘Harem? Someone
like me? What the hell’s got into you?’

Since he was in
her personal space, in her face, she grabbed a hold of the spike of
temper like a lifeline.

She smacked her
palm on his wide chest and pushed.

He didn’t
shift.

‘Back off!’ Her
eyes collided with his.

He stepped away
and held up his palms.

‘Okay, what did
I do?’ he demanded.

Her breath
caught in her throat as her heart thundered in her ears.

She couldn’t do
this.

‘Nothing, you
haven’t done a thing. Please, Alexander, leave me alone.’

Why was she
behaving like a moron? The man was looking at her as if she’d grown
another head. Those green eyes were so full of concern she couldn’t
meet them. So she concentrated on that strong manly jaw and
suppressed the insane desire to lick along the edge of it.

She took a
shaky breath. ‘Look, it’s been a bad day, okay?’

Alexander
grabbed her, pushed her into a chair, pulled up another to sit in
front of her and took her hands in his.

Oh, no, no,
no.

His voice went
soft and low, ‘What’s the matter, angel face? Who’s upset you?’

Rosie simply
stared at their joined hands.

He had
beautiful hands, she realised dimly, with long fingers and clipped
nails. His thumbs were stroking her knuckles in a smooth rhythm
that sent her blood fizzing through her veins.

How the hell
was she going to get out of this unscathed?

She shook her
head. ‘I’ve just got off the phone with my mother.’

He gripped her
hands tighter. ‘What’s happened, are they okay?’

The response
was so typical of him; she gave a soft laugh and met his eyes.

‘They’re fine.
She wants me to give her a grandchild, sooner rather than
later.’

He released
her, sat back and grinned.

Rosie decided
she was seriously losing it because as soon as he let her go she
had the sensation of being cast adrift, abandoned even.

‘Who’s the
lucky man?’ The grin turned into a big cheesy smile.

She narrowed
her eyes and stared deep into his. ‘You are.’

 

For a couple
of heartbeats Alexander thought she was deadly serious.

Big eyes the
colour of melted treacle stared into his and he had the weirdest
sensation of drowning. Thick Bambi lashes blinked once, twice and
then she grinned at him, her mood changing in a flash.

‘Gotcha!’ Her
mouth was wide, with a sexy full bottom lip. He’d noticed that
bottom lip many times before and did his level best to ignore it
now, but his mouth watered.

Her hair was
hidden under a white chef’s bandana. He knew those curls, the
colour of glossy jet, usually tumbled around her shoulders, down
her back, and he fought the urge to release them from
confinement.

Running a hand
over the back of his neck, his jaw, he had the peculiar feeling of
stepping into a mine field.

The idea that
she was upset with him, angry with him, still tickled his tail
bone. But he decided to leave it for the moment.

The thing about
Rosie was she could be moody and she tended to take the odd swipe
at him for no apparent reason that he could fathom.

However, she
never held a grudge and whatever he’d done she’d tell him,
eventually.

‘Very funny.
Talking of babies, Julie’s due to return from maternity leave and I
wondered if you could make her a cake. You know, a sort of welcome
back to work cake,’ he explained.

Those dark eyes
sparkled into his and he found he didn’t know what to do with his
hands, so he stood and thrust them into his trouser pockets.

‘Aww, that’s a
lovely idea.’ She rose, crossed to a big black diary and flipped it
open. Picking up a pen she turned to him with big eyes. ‘When do
you want it?’

‘Ah, Thursday
if you can manage it.’

Gorgeous
eyebrows the colour of coal winged into her hairline as she scanned
the busy pages. ‘
This
Thursday?’ Those fabulous eyes turned
to him in amazement and she articulated the words very slowly as if
talking to an idiot, ‘Are you having a laugh?’

Chewing on his
top lip he gave her a shrug and winced as she jabbed the page with
her forefinger. He scanned the pages. She ran the business with
military precision and by the look of things she’d been up since
five-thirty this morning.

‘Ah, I should
have let you know sooner, but the idea came to me today. Sorry,
look, I’ll pop into town and pick up one at the supermarket or go
into the bakery. No problem.’

Those dark eyes
narrowed, that soft mouth pouted even as the stubborn chin lifted.
And he thought, oh crap.

‘That’s what
you think, pal.’ She poked him hard in the chest once, twice. ‘It’s
a good job for you I love and adore your PA or I’d let you
embarrass yourself. Buying a supermarket cake is like buying
wilting flowers from a petrol station instead of taking the time to
go to a florist.’

Those nails
were sharp so he grabbed her hand and decided he couldn’t do
anything right with her today.

‘It’s the
thought that counts.’

Her dark eyes
went icy as she tipped her head to look up into his face.

‘Then the
thought’s cheap. It doesn’t scream ‘I value you’ does it?’

He couldn’t
take his eyes from her mouth. That pouting bottom lip mesmerised,
fascinated him and his pulse, his groin, gave a sharp jolt. Two
things hit him. Her skin was soft, flawless and she smelt amazing.
All warm woman, sweet and fresh with a fruity kick.

Alarm dinged in
his brain. This was Rosie. She was like a sister to him. His
thoughts, his physical response, were totally inappropriate. She’d
deck him if he made a move and rightly so.

He dropped her
hand and took a step back.

Attack
Alexander always figured was the best form of defence.

So he glowered
at her and ran a hand through his hair.

‘I can’t win
with you, can I?’

Her fists on
her hips pulled her pristine chef jacket tight across her pert
breasts and his mouth went bone dry.

Those dark eyes
flashed. ‘Nope. Good thing we always carry emergency stock isn’t
it? I’m a girl. I plan ahead. You should try it sometime. It’ll be
ready for you on Thursday afternoon after five-thirty.’

‘That’s fine,
five-thirty’s fine. Thanks, Rosie, I owe you one.’

Normally he’d
give her a peck on the cheek or lean in for a hug. Not today he
wouldn’t... he retreated instead.

As he opened
the door, he turned to find her still standing there with a strange
look in her eyes. She looked sad. No, bereft. The urge to turn
back, to take her in his arms, shook him up enough to make him
frown at her.

‘Don’t forget
to lock-up behind me,’ he ordered.

As he turned on
the engine, he sent her a wave. She was still staring at him, but
something else was going on with her. She’d been more touchy than
usual around him lately. Perhaps he should have dug deeper? Maybe
she was having man trouble? He’d speak to Bronte. If anyone knew
what was going on it would be his sister. Rosie told her
everything.

And he didn’t
stop to wonder what business was it of his or why he should
care.

 

What was she?
An idiot?

He’d become
overly protective after Bronte had been attacked, which was, Rosie
admitted, fair enough, but she was perfectly capable of locking
up.

And she had
absolutely no business mooning over him and behaving like a total
idiot. What was the point of hankering over something you couldn’t
have?

Skimming over
the lists of her freezer contents, Rosie found a couple of Bronte’s
walnut coffee mocha cakes, a twelve inch and a six inch. Maybe with
a white chocolate filling which, she saw, they had plenty to spare,
she’d make a two-piece and cover them in cream icing piped in pink,
since Julia had had the sweetest baby girl. In fact, she’d make the
whole thing a girly extravaganza. If she got up early over Tuesday
and Wednesday she’d manage it. It could be the start of a new line
for the business. Once the girls at The Hall saw the cake, they’d
spread the word.

Time was money
in her world, so it might not be such a bad deal after all.

The
conversation with Alexander made Rosie frown as she wrote down a
list of ingredients and ideas. Supermarket? She’d give him
supermarket, cheeky bugger. By the time she’d finished, he’d owe
her all right.

All she needed
to do was to find a way to make him pay-up.

 

End of Chapter One -
Run Rosie Run

 

 

 

 

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BOOK: Reckless Nights in Rome
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