Without a word, she turned away from his desk. In that moment, Alejandro wished he’d also turned away. The sight of her trim waist and voluptuous backside triggered another onset of libido-tugging.
He gritted his teeth.
The timing and circumstance of this attraction to her were abhorrent enough to send him to his feet. He’d vowed a very long time ago never to mix business with pleasure when another deal had disintegrated because of a fleeting liaison with a competitor. He’d been young and foolish enough to imagine one would not affect the other. Although the incident had only temporarily slowed down his meteoric rise, Alejandro had learned the lesson well enough to keep his affairs private and brief.
Dragging his gaze from the shapely legs heading for the door, he strode to the window and stared at the view. Lake Michigan didn’t offer much solace. Like a lead domino falling over, Elise’s image, the feel of their palms touching, the silkiness of her skin, tumbled through his mind. Even the sound of the door shutting barely created a ripple in the sizzling awareness gripping him.
What the hell was wrong with him today? First he’d cracked open the vault of memories he’d vowed never to revisit. Now he was getting hot under the collar because of a woman who should barely register on his radar?
He shoved a hand through his hair and turned around.
Elise Jameson was standing before his desk, her eyes square on his.
‘Unless I’ve grown senile in the last five minutes, I’m sure I told you to leave.’
She exhaled slow and steady. Alejandro was certain it was a composure-gaining technique. He had a feeling he’d need one of those before the day ended.
‘You did. But I’m still here. The way I see it, you’re either going to hire me or we’ll never see each other again. So I need to say this. I wasn’t being emotional. I just didn’t see the point of wasting time with questions to which you already had answers. And yes, my...irritation could’ve been kept on a tighter leash. Give me another chance and you have my word it won’t happen again.’
‘What it are we talking about, just to be certain? The irritation or the emotion?’
The whitening of her knuckles on her briefcase was the only sign that his question had further irked. ‘Either. Both. Whichever you wish.’
He leaned back in his chair. ‘Because I’m the boss?’
‘Because you’re the boss. Once you hire me. But allow me to say one last thing before you make up your mind.’
‘I’m good at my job. You’ll get nothing but the best from me. I promise.’
He shrugged. ‘That’s a good speech. But it’s just a speech. I also
don’t deal in promises.’ Promises were easy to make and easier to break. He’d learnt that lesson with shocking frequency as a child.
Her gaze swept down for an instant before rising again. ‘Finish the interview. Whichever way you want. Then make up your mind.’
The urge to dismiss her was strong. The urge to have her stay was stronger. Alejandro stepped back from examining why. This whole day had been askew from the start.
‘Very well. Sit down, Miss Jameson. But let me make one thing clear.’
She sat back down. ‘Yes?’
‘I never play tricks. I abhor subterfuge of any kind. Remember that before we go any further.’
She nodded and folded her hands in her lap. ‘Understood.’
WHAT THE HELL just happened?
Elise reeled as if she’d just been dragged upside down through an earthquake. Only she wasn’t sure whether she’d survived it or whether what felt like aftershocks were, in fact, another larger quake poised on the horizon, ready to flatten her.
She took another slow, steadying breath.
It was clear the man across the desk from her—the intensely masculine man, whose green eyes tracked her every movement like a spotlight searching for a flaw—was intent on rattling her. Why, she wasn’t exactly sure. She was here to help, after all.
Perhaps it was the air of mistrust fairly vibrating off him. Or her own blaring instincts about being in a predator’s presence that had produced his thunderous frown when she’d walked in.