The Billionaire Bodyguard(5)

By: Sharon Kendrick



She thought about making some clever remark about equality, but something cool and implacable in his eyes told her not to bother, as if he didn’t really care what she thought. For a woman used to men hanging on her every word, it was certainly a change.

He got out and came round and opened the door for her, pulling it back with difficulty, for snow was piled up against it.

‘Be careful,’ he warned. ‘It’s cold and it’s deep. Just follow me, okay? Close as you can and quickly as you can. And do exactly as I tell you.’

It was most definitely an order.

He seemed to know exactly where he was going, even though Keri could barely make out what was lane or field or sky or hedge. She panted slightly as she stumbled into the blinding whiteness. It was an effort to keep up with him and he kept having to stop, turning to look at her, the slanting eyes narrowing.

‘You okay?’

She nodded. ‘I’m being slow, aren’t I?’

You’re a woman, and you aren’t trained up for this kind of stuff. ‘Don’t worry about it. Fingers not freezing too badly?’

‘Wh-what fingers are they?’ She shivered.

He laughed then, an unexpected and oddly musical sound, and his breath made frozen clouds in the air. ‘Not long now,’ he promised softly.

As she teetered behind him she wondered how he could be so sure. Swirling flakes of snow flew against her face, shooting into her eyes and melting on her lips. The boots she had thought comfortable were only so in the context of a short stroll down a London street. Her feet felt as if they had been jammed into sardine cans and her toes were beginning to ache and to burn. And her fingers were freezing—so cold that she couldn’t feel them any more.

She had never been so aware of her body in such an aching and uncomfortable way, and with the unfamiliar feelings of physical discomfort came an equally unfamiliar fear. What if they couldn’t find the place he had claimed he had seen? Hadn’t she read newspaper reports of people freezing to death, or getting lost in conditions not unlike this?

A shiver quite unconnected to the cold ran through her. Why hadn’t they just waited in the car and sat it out until morning? At least they would have been easily found there. She bit her lip hard, but scarcely felt it, then he stopped suddenly.

‘Here!’ he said, and a note of satisfaction deepened his voice into a throaty growl. ‘I knew it!’

Keri peered ahead, her breath a painful, icy gasp which shot from her lungs. ‘What is it?’ she questioned weakly.

‘Shelter!’

As she came alongside it, it loomed up before her like a spectre. It didn’t look either warm or welcoming. It was a very tall building—almost like a small church—and the path leading up to it was banked high with snow. There was no light whatsoever, and the high windows were uncurtained, but at least it was shelter.

And Keri did what any woman would do under the circumstances.

She burst into tears.





CHAPTER TWO




JAY narrowed his eyes and gave her a quick, assessing look. How like a woman! The Canadians had at least five different descriptions for snow; the Icelanders countless more—and so it was with women and their tears. They cried at the drop of a hat, for all kind of reasons, and it rarely meant anything serious. And these, he surmised, were simply tears of relief.

He ignored them.

‘There’s nobody home,’ he said, half to himself. If indeed it was somebody’s home.

The tears had taken her off guard. She couldn’t remember the last time she had cried, for that was one thing her job had given her, in spades—the ability to hide her feelings behind a bright, professional smile. She supposed she should be grateful that he hadn’t drawn attention to them, yet perversely she felt short-changed because he hadn’t attempted to comfort her—even in a small way—and she scrubbed at the corners of her eyes rather defensively, with a frozen fist. ‘How can you tell?’ she sniffed.

Explaining would take longer than going through the motions, and so he began to pound at the door with a loud fist. He waited, but, as he had known, the place was empty.

‘Stand back,’ he said tersely.

‘Why?’

‘Because I’m going to have to get us inside.’

Keri eyed the door, which was made of strong, heavy oak. ‘You’re planning to kick the door in, are you?’ she asked disbelievingly.

He shook his head, half tempted to give a macho display of strength just to show her. ‘No, I’ll jimmy the lock instead.’

‘J-jimmy the lock?’ It wasn’t an expression she was familiar with, but she could work out what he meant. Alarmed, Keri took a step back and very nearly lost her balance, but he didn’t appear to have noticed that either. ‘You can’t do that! That’s called breaking and entering!’

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