Read The Taste of Magic Online
Authors: Gina Rosavin
"But my wife…"
Adrian held up his hand. He would deal with the older witch himself. Dimitri was needed in other ways. He imagined Kat's reaction when all was revealed. She would not be pleased, but he was sure by then, she would be so deeply in love with him, she would remain at his side. "Let me worry about your wife. The time is fast approaching. Learn what you can and report back to me. I'll let you know when I plan to begin."
Dimitri nodded. "Yes, Master."
* * *
Katerina looked up at the knock. Her assistant, Beata, waited in the doorway for permission to enter.
"What is it?" Katerina asked, saving her file before she gave Beata her full attention.
"I'm not sure. Jacobson just went into Hargrid's office, and he didn't look happy. I'm hearing all kinds of rumors."
Katerina scowled. She'd also heard the rumors someone was interested in buying out KNT. She didn't believe it, but if her supervisors were suddenly holding secret meetings, something was definitely going on.
"Close the door," Katerina said. "What did you hear?"
Beata took a seat. "He was muttering something about 'deal better come through, retirement, and get ugly.'"
Katerina closed her eyes briefly. She'd seen this while she worked for a securities firm in New York. Whenever a company like KNT was about to be bought out or reorganized, top management always made sure to get themselves a large cut of whatever deal was being made, not caring whether the employees left behind would even be able to keep their jobs. Damn, this was not good.
"All right, let's not panic. There could be something else going on. Besides, any takeover, if that's even what it is, would have to be approved by the Communications Ministry. KNT is not in financial trouble, which lessens the probability. Whoever would do this can't close the deal without that approval, even if management and shareholders agree."
Beata shook her head, her eyes hollow. "I heard the approval's already come through."
Beata looked away. "I can't say."
"Tell me." She didn't have time to play guessing games now, she had to find out if this was true. Her job could very well depend on it. Before Beata could respond, there was another knock. The door opened and Edmund Jacobson, Katerina's supervisor, stepped inside.
"Katerina, could I have a word?"
"Of course, come in, Edmund. Beata, get my presentation over to Lufthansa. I told them I wanted an answer by the end of the week."
When Beata had left, Katerina turned her attention to her boss. "Lufthansa is looking for a good deal on some prime advertising space. I think I've put together something we'll all like. Would you like to see it?"
Edmund shook his head. He studied her, and she felt oddly uncomfortable with the concern she read in his hazel eyes. She enjoyed working with him, he'd been a good boss who gave her the freedom to make the deals the way she needed to. But she sensed she wasn't going to like what he was about to say.
"Katerina, there's been a reorganization. You're being transferred to Market Research."
She stared at him in surprise. "What? Since when?"
"Since this morning." He tossed a paper onto her desk. She picked it up and perused the organization chart. There was her name, listed under Market Research Group.
"Edmund, how is this possible? Why wasn't I consulted about this?"
"It all happened rather fast. Hargrid's retiring. His replacement is bringing in some new people for this division. Some of us will stay, but others, including you, are being transferred. I'm sorry."
The sincerity in his voice made her almost regret the rising anger. She noticed for the first time how old he looked. His dark hair was liberally streaked with gray and deep lines etched from the corners of his eyes. Despite the bitter taste in her mouth about being forced to give up the job she loved, she forced her irritation aside.
"Who's the new person?" she asked.
"Haven't met him yet. He'll be here sometime next week. It won't be as bad as you think, Beata will go with you, and a few others. Look, I know this isn't exactly what you expected when we hired you, but be patient. Use your skills, your creativity to impress everyone. I know you can do it, and you'll get a chance to come back again."
"But Edmund, Market Research? There's got to be something else, anywhere else. How about Planning and Financials? Certainly there's something there I can do."
Edmund nodded. "Maybe there's an idea. That could work, and you're definitely better suited. I'll talk to Hargrid and see if I can at least get you over there."
"That would be great. And then I can audit the hell out of them until they beg me to come back to sales."
Edmund laughed. "All right, I'll let you know."
When her supervisor left, Katerina turned her attention to her email. Hargrid retiring would silence the takeover rumors, but it didn't make her feel much better. The thought of a new sales team taking over what she'd worked so hard on made her stomach roll with resentment. Proving her capabilities as a salesperson and team leader hadn't been easy, and she wasn't about to let it go without a fight.
It was as if none of her efforts mattered. Anger strengthened her resolve. She depended on Jacobson getting her into Financial. She hadn't been joking about the audit. She would be back in sales in no time.
Katerina placed her napkin on the table and sat back as the servant cleared her place. She looked up. Adrian had not taken his gaze from her throughout the meal. He had actually dined with her this time, though he hadn't eaten very much. Katerina was sure he planned something. She could see it in his eyes.
"Is something troubling you, my dear?" he asked.
You, she thought. Aloud, she said, "No, why?"
"You seem tense."
"Just work stuff. There's been some re-organization going on. My sales group is being broken up and we're all a little tense."
She detected a hint of a smile, though he was otherwise careful to keep his thoughts from showing. Yes, he was definitely up to something, and she was sure now it was related to KNT. But she knew she would get no answers. Not now. In the morning, she would make a few calls.
"At least you still have a job."
Katerina nodded, holding his gaze. He revealed nothing. "True. But I really like working in sales. At least my boss made sure I was able to get a position in the Financial Group."
"Are you pleased?"
"It's better than Market Research."
He smiled as he stood, and walked around the table toward her, holding her chair as she stood. He took her hand and led her to the ballroom. She gaped at the small orchestra awaiting them.
"Adrian? What's this?"
"I arranged some entertainment for the evening. Would you care to dance?" He nodded to the musicians, who immediately began to play.
"You arranged…who are they?"
"I sponsor many students of the arts, these are a few of my beneficiaries."
Katerina arched an eyebrow. "Beneficiaries, or…other such devotees?"
He shrugged. "Does it really matter now? Come, the music awaits us." He opened his arms.
Unable to prevent a grin, Katerina went into his embrace and allowed him to lead her around the room in a formal minuet. She was breathless when the music stopped and barely had a moment to gather herself when they began to play again, this time a Strauss waltz.
"It's called Vienna Blood." Adrian anchored her tightly against him.
"Appropriate," she replied. She held his gaze as he led her about, their bodies moving together in perfect time to the haunting and seductive music. By the time the music ended for the last time, she felt as though she'd been whirling through the clouds. Adrian drew her still closer as he dismissed the musicians. She was pressed tightly against him, and tilted her head back to meet his gaze. The fire she saw there left her aching for him already.
Instead of kissing her, as she expected, he released her, took her arm and led her through the glass French doors to the terrace. For several moments, they stood cloaked in the darkness, looking over the town nestled at the foot of the mountain.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" His voice was soft, almost a whisper.
"The night. The sheer beauty to be found in the shadows, and the moonlight glistening from above. The plaintive cry of the owl, the soft whisper of the wind as it moves about the trees."
She stared into the night, watching as the breeze-ruffled leaves created dancing slivers of moonlight upon the ground. A raven called in the distance, and Katerina turned toward him. A soft smile played upon his lips. He breathed deeply, closing his eyes as he savored the rush of air. He opened his eyes again and sought her gaze.
"Can you feel the seductive call, the promise of all the glory to be had in savoring its power and secrets?"
His words slipped over her senses like silk, and suddenly, she could feel the siren's song of the night beckoning, a glorious lure she couldn't resist. She stepped closer. His fingers traced her face, the touch setting off sizzles of wanting in her veins.
He slowly lowered his head, his kiss a feathery caress which left her clinging helplessly to him, wanting more. As if sensing her rising ardor, he kissed her again, deeper, letting his tongue play softly across her lips. She sighed as his hands roamed restlessly over her back, finally coming up to rest lightly on her shoulders. He eased her away. His fingers trailed along her jaw and throat, his gaze locked on hers. She tilted her head back, still holding his gaze, caught in the mesmerizing promise she read there. His fingers continued to move lower, stroking lightly along her chest, seeming to draw each shuddering breath from her. His touch, cool and gentle, left her with a rapidly growing ache.
For several moments, as his fingers stroked across her, she couldn't move. His touch stirred her senses to fever pitch. His gaze held hers, and she could do nothing but remain motionless in his embrace, willing to give herself to his every whim.
"Kat," he crooned softly, "come with me."
She couldn't deny him, she wanted him to keep on touching her like this forever. The world faded away as he lowered his mouth to hers, kissing her tenderly, slowly moving his lips over hers, leaving her trembling. The gentle seduction wreaked havoc with her body, and she arched against him.
Through their clothes, she felt his arousal, and the flames spread throughout her.
"See what you do to me? Kat, you cannot deny what is between us." His voice was hypnotic, entrancing. She couldn't resist. His knee slipped between her legs, pressing against her core. She moaned and her head fell against his shoulder.
"That's it," he murmured in her ear. He moved his leg, and she gasped and shuddered against him. He chuckled, a triumphant sound which cut through her dazed mind. Reality seeped into her awareness, and the inferno began to cool.
She lifted her head, and met his gaze. Those clear blue eyes held a hint of victory, mingled with the fire of passion. He brought a hand up to stroke her cheek and she couldn't help but turn into the touch, her eyes closing at his tenderness.
"Kat, you cannot deny me any longer. Come with me."
She opened her eyes. Suddenly she was afraid, afraid of the intensity, the hunger she read in his gaze. He sighed, the glint in his eyes fading slightly, as if he sensed her withdrawal. He probably read her mind, knew of her doubts. With a last caress of her throat, he slowly backed away. She was chilled without his arms around her.
"It would seem I was wrong again." His tone was cool, reserved.
She bit her lip. "I'm sorry, I'm just not…"
"You still cannot trust me." He pierced her with his cold gaze, arching one eyebrow.
She shrugged. "I-I can't help it. Knowing what you are…"
"What I am is a man who is getting tired of this sport. Kat, I have made no secret of my desire for you. And nor have you. Yet you continue to play a dangerous game, I'm afraid. My patience is wearing thin."
"Adrian, please understand. Do you know what it's like to be so enthralled by someone who could destroy you in the blink of an eye? Do you have any idea how frightening it is to give up such control? And if I give in to you, Adrian, I give up my soul. I can't."
His face softened, his eyes warming. He reached up and lightly ran his fingers across her cheekbone. "I don't want to control you, Kat. I want to savor your energy, the fire in you. It's what makes you so appealing."
When he said that, she almost threw herself at him. But she forced herself to remain still. She had too many doubts to be able to let herself go totally this time. Not yet. She lowered her head.
"I should go. I think we both need a little break."