‘This is the extension,’ He guides me through to a new section of the mansion. ‘This is where I need your help.’ he adds, halting at the mouth of a corridor that leads to a further ten rooms.
‘This is all new?’ I ask.
‘Yes, they’re all shells at the moment, but I’m sure you’ll remedy that. Let me show you.’
I’m way past shocked when he takes my hand, tugging me down the corridor to the very last door. Inappropriate! His hand is still clammy, and I’m sure mine is trembling in his grip. The arched brow on a slight grin he flashes me, tells me I’m right. There’s some sort of super charged current flowing through us – it’s making me shudder.
He opens the door, directing me into a freshly plastered room. It’s vast, and the new windows are sympathetic to the existing property. Whoever built this did an excellent job.
‘Are they all this big?’ I ask, flexing my fingers until he releases my hand. Does he behave like this with all females? It’s really off putting.
I walk into the centre of the room, looking around. It’s a good size. I notice another door. ‘En-suite?’ I ask as I wander over and enter.
The rooms are huge, especially by hotel standards. A lot could be done with them. I would be excited, if I wasn’t so concerned with what’s expected of me. This is no Lusso. I exit the bathroom, finding Ward leaning against the wall, his hands in his trouser pockets, his eyes all hooded and dark as he watches me. My God, the man is sex on legs. I’m almost disappointed that traditional doesn’t feature in my design history. It’s of no interest to me at all.
‘I’m not sure I’m the right person for this job.’ I sound regretful. That’s okay, because I am. I’m regretful that I can’t pull myself together. He looks at me, those sludgy eyes stabbing at my defenses, making me shift on my heels.
‘I think you have what I want.’ he says quietly.
WHOA! ‘I’ve always dealt in modern luxury,’ I look around the room again, slowly dropping my eyes back to him. ‘I’m sure you would be happier working with Patrick or Tom. They deal with our period projects.’
He considers me for a second, does that head shake thing and pushes himself away from the wall by his shoulder blades. ‘But I want you.’
‘You look like you’ll be very good.’
An involuntary rush of breath escapes my lips at his words. I’m not sure what to make of that statement. Does he mean for my design skills or something else? The way he’s looking at me, tells me it’s the latter. He’s a bit bloody confident.
‘What’s your brief?’ I ask, because all other words fail me. My colour is rising again.
A smile tickles the corners of his mouth. ‘Sensual, intimate, luxurious, stimulating, invigorating…’ He pauses to gage my reaction.
I frown. It’s not the usual brief. Relaxing, functional or practical were not mentioned at all. ‘Okay, anything in particular I should allow for?’ I ask. Why am I bothering with these questions?
‘A big bed and lots of wall hangings.’ he states on a husk.
‘What sort of wall hangings?’
‘Big, wooden ones. Oh, and the lighting needs to suit.’
‘Suit what?’ I can’t help the confusion in my tone.
He smiles, and I dissolve on the spot in a hot pool of hormones. ‘Well, the brief, of course.’
Oh God, he must think I’m something else. ‘Yes, of course,’ I look up, seeing chunky beams spanning the ceiling. The building is new, but they are no faux beams. ‘Do all of the rooms have them?’ I return my eyes to his.
‘Yes, they’re essential.’ His voice is low and seductive. I’m not sure how much more I can take.
I grab my client briefing pad to start making notes. ‘Are there any particular colours I should work to or against?’
‘No, knock yourself out.’
I flick my head up to look at him. ‘Excuse me?’
He smiles. ‘Go for it.’
Oh, well, I won’t be knocking myself out on anything because he won’t be seeing me here again. But I should get as much information as possible so I can pass it to Patrick or Tom, with at least a bit of willingness.
‘You mentioned a big bed. Any particular type?’ I ask, trying to remain professional.
‘No, just very big,’
I falter mid-note, slowly looking up to find him watching me. It’s making me stupidly nervous. ‘What about soft furnishings?’
‘Yes, lots.’ He starts walking towards me. ‘I like your dress.’ he whispers.
Holy shit, I’m out of here! ‘Thanks,’ I squeak, making for the door. ‘I have everything I need.’ I don’t, but I can’t stay here any longer. This man is like a sensory drain on me. ‘I’ll get some designs together.’ I exit into the corridor, heading straight for the gallery landing.
Bloody hell, when I woke up this morning, this was the last thing I expected. Posh country mansion – with a painfully handsome owner to round the package off – is not part of my regular daily routine.
I find my way to the top of the stairs, bolting down at a stupid rate, considering the tan stilettos I have on. I hit the parquet floor, wondering how the hell I got here. I’m a mess.
‘I look forward to hearing from you, Ava.’ His husky voice rolls over my flesh as he joins me at the bottom of the stairs, putting his hand out. I take it in mine for fear that if I don’t, he may well clench me and place his lips on me again.