Defiant Mistress, Ruthless MillionaireBy: Yvonne Lindsay
“Since I finished my communications degree,” she answered, deliberately not being specific about when that had occurred.
Tremont nodded before speaking again.
“I understand you completed your master’s with honours—that’s no small feat.”
She fought to conceal her surprise. Given his response he knew full well when she’d attended university. He was just playing her. It was really no more than she’d expected, she reminded herself, and she was prepared.
“That’s right,” she said carefully. “But since you already know all that, why don’t you ask me something you don’t know?”
A flare of blue flame lit in his eyes and he lifted a hand to stroke the edge of his jaw.
“What would it take to win you over, Callie?”
“Win me over? I think you need to be more specific.”
“Now, I know you’re an intelligent woman, and I also know that you’re fully aware of the general exodus of staff from Palmer Enterprises to Tremont Corporation.”
Callie nodded, barely trusting herself to speak for fear that she’d let her anger bubble over.
“I wouldn’t call it a general exodus, exactly,” she managed through tight lips. “Some of us are still loyal.”
“Ah,” he smiled. “Implying that you are unswerving in your devotion?”
“You think there’s a problem with that?” She leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms, uncaring as to what he analysed by her body language now. “Seems you ought to be more concerned about the loyalty of people you can buy.”
Twin creases formed between Tremont’s heavy black brows and his eyes grew distant. This was the real Josh Tremont, she reminded herself. This was the man who cold-bloodedly bought information about Palmer Enterprises and used it to his advantage to underbid or outsupply their clients—bit by bit, year by year, eating away at their success.
“Good point,” he conceded. Before he could say any more, the waiter brought their plates. “Let’s leave this discussion until we’ve eaten, hmm? Wouldn’t want to spoil your appetite.”
Callie allowed herself a short laugh. “It’d take a lot more than conversation to spoil my appetite.”
“I’m pleased to hear it,” he smiled in return. “I enjoy a woman with healthy appetites.”
Callie froze; her fork halfway to her mouth. She had no doubt what appetites he was talking about. Again that image flashed before her eyes, this time though it was her body, her skin that he touched. And, as if he’d reached across the table and stroked his elegant hand across her shoulder and down, she felt her breasts grow full and heavy—her nipples beading into tight points, abrading the soft fabric of her bra.
She was relieved when he skilfully turned the conversation to more general matters while they ate, and she was surprised to find herself enjoying his sharp wit and broad opinions as they ranged across a variety of topics.
It was only after the waiter had cleared away their plates and delivered frothy cappuccinos that Callie began to relax. She picked up her teaspoon and scooped the chocolate off the froth of her coffee. She lifted it to her lips and her tongue darted out to savour the hint of wickedness—her favourite indulgence during the week. Tremont’s next words, however, brought things firmly back to business.
“I want you, Callie, and I’ll pay whatever it takes to get you.”
There it was. The offer she dreaded but knew she had to accept. She remembered her discussion with Irene earlier in the week. Play it cool, she reminded herself.
Callie raised one eyebrow in response. “I already have a job. One I love. With people I respect.”
To her surprise Josh Tremont laughed out loud, the sudden sound turning the heads of the diners around them.
“Oh, you’re good, Callie. You’re very good. It’s not everyone who tries to put me in my place so politely. C’mon, name your price.”
Callie took a sip of her coffee then carefully replaced her cup on its saucer and lifted her gaze to meet his. Instantly she felt the power of his will behind his stare. Were she a weaker woman, or even someone who owed the Palmers any less, she had no doubt she’d have capitulated. But she wasn’t that person and she owed them everything. Nothing he could do, or offer, would change that.