He reminded himself of that fact as his chauffeured limo pulled up to her apartment building that evening, an irritably large proportion of him anticipating her presence.
He shook himself free of the low sizzle in his stomach and stepped out. Seeing the unlatched main doors, a different type of irritation surged. He pressed her buzzer none too gently.
‘I’ll be right down.’
Since he wasn’t sure whether the lift functioned with any efficiency tonight, he kept his attention between it and the stairs, flatly refusing to acknowledge the rising thrum in his blood.
Heels on the stairs alerted him to her mode of descent. She arrived at the top of the last flight of stairs and his heart rate increased.
She wasn’t smiling.
In fact she appeared distinctly nervous.
Yet, she was captivatingly breathtaking.
Her chocolate-brown hair was swept to one side of her face and pinned at the back in a loose style that left several tresses falling free to caress her neck. Her knee-length dress, made of dark green material, skimmed her hips but hugged her breasts and left her shoulders bare. A simple necklace drew attention to her slim neck. In one hand she held a wrap and purse, her other hand clinging to the rail as she came down. He wasn’t aware he’d moved until she paused on the stairs. Her gaze met his as she slid her hand into the one he held out.
‘Thank you,’ she murmured.
‘De nada. Breaking your neck before the first course is served would be extremely bad form.’
A hint of a smile appeared. ‘Wow. Two jokes in one day. Do we need to notify record keepers in some obscure office?’
He found his mouth curving. ‘Best not. We wouldn’t want to incite any unnatural disasters.’
A full-blown smile appeared. Something vibrated in the region of his chest. Keeping her hand in his, he led her to his car, choosing not to mention the state of her lobby security. Or lack thereof.
And if a part of him suddenly wished their dinner involved two less people, he brushed it away under the guise of it being a temporary aberration.
* * *
They arrived at Millennia, one of Chicago’s most lauded restaurants, ahead of Jeff and Mindy Stoneley, for which Elise was just a tiny bit grateful. It gave her a chance to gather herself. To deliver a much-needed pep talk that involved not getting carried away with what was happening tonight.
This wasn’t a date.
It was business.
She was doing work for which she was being paid.
PR work held many facets. Fact. When she was a newly employed member of Jameson, her parents had inundated her at all hours with absurd requests before she’d finally put her foot down.
‘You’re frowning. Is the venue not to your liking?’
‘What? Oh, no. It’s not that. This is great!’ She noted the gushiness in her voice and dialled it down. ‘I’m sure your clients will appreciate it.’
Alejandro’s narrow-eyed speculation didn’t abate. ‘But something disturbed you just then.’
She tried to wave it away. ‘I was just remembering some of the things I had to do when I started working at Jameson.’
‘Are you referring to the incident you didn’t wish to speak of before?’ he asked, still narrow-eyed.
Her heart missed a beat, the thought that she’d nearly spilled her guts to Alejandro earlier today stabbing discomfort through her. Determinedly, she pushed it away. ‘No. I meant something else,’ she murmured, fervently hoping he’d let the matter drop.
at doesn’t compare favourably to this?’