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Fantasy Girl

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«Fantasy Girl» - Кэрол Мортимер

Carole Mortimer is one of Mills & Boon’s best loved Modern Romance authors. With nearly 200 books published and a career spanning 35 years, Mills & Boon are thrilled to present her complete works available to download for the very first time! Rediscover old favourites – and find new ones! – in this fabulous collection…"I always get what I want.”Adam Thornton’s words struck fear into Natalie Faulkner’s heart. The survival of her modelling agency depends on keeping Adam and his company happy. But when her own sister— the face of Thornton's Cosmetics—puts her firm in jeopardy, Natalie will do anything to save her company.As ruthless in the boardroom as he is in the bedroom, Adam agrees to help Natalie’s firm as long as he gets what he wants. And what he wants most of all is Natalie—as his mistress!
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Fantasy Girl Carole Mortimer

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NATALIE picked up the green receiver as the telephone began to ring on her desk, pushing some of the clutter out of the way to continue making notes on her pad as she took the call. These figures for the Jackson account just couldn’t wait, not if she wanted to get the bill paid and her own outstanding debts dealt with at the end of the month.

Consequently her response into the telephone receiver was a little distracted. But not for long!

‘Natalie Faulkner?’ The husky voice on the other end of the line was definitely male—and definitely angry! It was a voice that put over a wealth of authority and command in just the sound of her name.

Perhaps Natalie should have heeded that tone, but she was still preoccupied with balancing the figures on this account so that it at least looked reasonably correct. Oh dear, she was hopeless at figures. But Dee, her secretary and general assistant—another name for general dogsbody!—had too much to do in the office already, without the added burden of accounts.

‘Yes?’ she replied vaguely.

‘Miss Faulkner,’ the voice was icy now. ‘You may have time on your hands to waste, but I can assure you I don’t,’ the man rasped. ‘I had to rearrange my schedule this morning to fit in your appointment, the least you could have done was turn up here on time.’

To say she was taken aback was an understatement—she was astounded! Just who did this man think he was, that he could call her like this to rant and rave about an appointment they didn’t even have? Her morning was free, she had made sure of that last night before leaving the office, the model agency she ran from this two-roomed office in an ultra-modern office block, the brown-shaded windows giving the building an added elegance from outside. She had checked on her morning being free simply because she knew she had to make the time to deal with the accounts; her own bills had to be paid, not least of them being the rent and upkeep of this office.

Style, that was what she had been told she needed to open an agency like this—the sort of agency that had the best models, the sort of agency that would attract the best clients in town. And style she had here, with the white and silver furniture in both offices, the comfortably white leather chairs for clients, the more practical chair behind her desk in the same soft white leather, the lush green tropical plants that were arranged about the room in abundance. It was all designed to give the impression of wealth and elegance—and it cost her a small fortune.

She could certainly do without complete strangers—for she didn’t know this man, would have remembered that cold grating voice if she had ever heard it before—calling her up to tell her she had a non-existent appointment with them.

Still, she was in business, and maybe this man was a prospective client. She never turned away customers. ‘I think there must have been some sort of mistake,’ she began in a placating voice.

‘If there has,’ he ground out, ‘you made it. Now, with a great deal of more rescheduling I can give you fifteen minutes in an hour’s time. Be here!’

‘I’m not accustomed to repeating myself, Miss Faulkner,’ he rasped in that husky voice. ‘I explained to your secretary last night that it was urgent I speak to you, and that hasn’t changed.’

Dee! Dee had made the appointment after she had left last night—and she had forgotten to tell her. Natalie found the brown appointment book buried beneath the papers on her desk, found the appropriate day, groaning inwardly as she saw the name written down next to ten o’clock. Adam Thornton! That was all she needed. Her most valued client to date and she had missed her one and only appointment with the head of Thornton Cosmetics and Beauty Aids!

She had hardly been able to believe her luck when Jason Dillman, the head of Thornton Cosmetics and Beauty Aids advertising department, had got in touch with her about a Beauty Girl for the new brand of make-up they were introducing. Natalie had been running the agency for about a year, and had enough work to keep ticking over, but the T.C.B.A. contract had been a real feather in her cap, and for the past six months she had been working closely with Jason Dillman supplying the Beauty Girl and other models they needed for their advertising. It was a lucrative contract, even after the models had been paid, and not one she wanted to lose.

‘I’m sorry, Mr Thornton,’ she was aware of sounding breathless, ‘there seems to have been a mix-up this end. I would be pleased to come and see you at eleven-thirty.’

‘Very well,’ he agreed abruptly, and rang off.

The clatter of the receiver landing in its cradle resounded in her ear, and she slowly put her receiver down. Not a very auspicious beginning to her first meeting with the head of T.C.B.A.

! She had known Adam Thornton headed his own company, had even heard Jason Dillman talk of him, but so far she had only dealt with the other man; her role in their advertising was obviously not big enough to attract the attention of the most wealthy man in cosmetics in the country today.

Maybe the successful launching of Beauty Girl, one of her own models, had changed all that? Maybe she was to receive verbal thanks from Adam Thornton himself for finding him exactly the right girl. And there could be no doubting Judith’s success, her photograph displaying the new make-up was appearing everywhere at the moment. And yet Natalie didn’t think that could be it, not when he had sounded so angry. Of course, that could have just been because she hadn’t turned up when he had decided to give her an audience, and yet she didn’t think that was it either. Something appeared to be very wrong, and she only hoped she could smooth it over. She really couldn’t afford to lose the Thornton contract, for prestigious reasons as much as any other. Business had doubled at the agency since Judith had become Beauty Girl.

She stood up, pacing the room, listening for the return of Dee to the outer office; the older woman had gone down to the central copy room to photo-copy several reports. Poor Dee was rushed off her feet too, Natalie knew that, and normally an important appointment such as the one with Adam Thornton would not have slipped her mind.

A frown marred her brow as she continued to pace the room, the accounts forgotten, beautiful enough to have been a model herself, her hair a gleaming black bob framing her face, her skin like magnolia, her eyes neither blue nor green but somewhere in between—aquamarine, some people said, her black lashes long and thick, her nose short and straight, the perfect bow of her mouth painted a vivid red, emphasising its sensual fullness. In fact, she had been a model for a time, but the work didn’t really appeal to her; it didn’t offer enough of a challenge. Well, she had a challenge now, and with one of the most powerful men in the world of cosmetics. Her whole agency could depend on how she put herself over at this meeting.

She checked her appearance in the mirrors that covered all of one wall of her office, making the room appear larger than it actually was and giving an appearance of brightness. Natalie looked as calm and composed as ever, evidence of her model’s training, her figure was slender, although it gave a totally feminine look to the cream tailored suit she wore with the soft black silky blouse, her legs were long and shapely. Yes, she could undoubtedly still o back to modelling if she needed to—but she didn’t want to. She hadn’t liked being used as a glamorous clothes-peg.

She was probably overreacting to the call, it was probably just to discuss Beauty Girl with her, as she had first thought.

She checked her own make-up, the dark shadow on her lids, only the vaguest hint of mascara to her naturally dark lashes, the light foundation to her already flawless complexion, a dark blusher to her high cheekbones, the vivid red lip-gloss to her slightly pouting mouth. The latter needed retouching, and she had just finished doing so when she heard Dee return to her office. Thank goodness, she would have to start for Adam Thornton’s office very soon.

‘Whew!’ Dee put the almost glossy sheets in a disorganised pile on her desk. ‘That damned machine broke down again,’ she wailed, explaining why she had been gone so long. ‘It’s going to take me for ever to get these into any sort of order!’

Natalie could sympathise with the other woman, having experienced the photocopier for herself. ‘I have to go out, Dee,’ she said softly. ‘To see Mr Thornton.’

‘Okay, I’ll just—My God, Mr Thornton!’ Dee turned to her with a stricken face. She was a small blonde woman, very pretty, with a wonderful taste in clothes, the rich rust of her blouse and trousers suiting her perfectly. ‘Oh, Natalie!’ she groaned, closing her sparkling blue eyes in remorse. ‘I completely forgot! He called just as I was leaving last night, and I wrote it down quickly in your appointment book. Tom has this wretched ‘flu bug,’ she spoke of her husband. ‘And what with running around after him all evening, and then—–’

‘Hey, calm down!’ Natalie smiled. ‘No harm done,’ she understated what could turn out to be very awkward for her. ‘We’ve just made an appointment for later instead.’

‘I hope it’s nothing to do with Judith,’ Dee frowned. ‘She missed another photographic session this morning.’

‘Oh no!’ Natalie groaned. Judith’s tantrums were the last thing she wanted to cope with this morning, not on top of everything else.

When Jason Dillman told her Judith had been the one chosen as Beauty Girl she had been a little worried about her unreliability, but he had insisted no one else would do, that it was a direct order from Adam Thornton himself. She couldn’t argue with that.

Dee nodded. ‘Jake called this morning, but you were so engrossed in your accounts it seemed a shame to disturb you. I called Judith’s flat, but there was no answer.’ She shrugged. ‘It’s far from the first time she’s done this.’

‘I know,’ Natalie acknowledged, chewing on her bottom lip. ‘Judith’s turning out to be a problem.’ And she could be the reason Adam Thornton wanted to see her after all, but not for a pat on the back!

‘She’s always been a problem,’ Dee dismissed, sitting down to begin sorting the sheets into order. ‘And I warned you about letting her become Beauty Girl.

Natalie didn’t mind the criticism. She and Dee had struck up a very close working relationship in the eighteen months they had been together, and that was the way it should be. With only the two of them running this agency they very often had to more or less read each other’s minds. They had been in agreement about Judith’s unsuitability to work for Thornton’s, but Jason Dillman had insisted it had to be her, so Natalie had had no choice. Unfortunately it was working out as badly as she had thought it would.

‘I’ll talk to her,’ she sighed.

Dee raised sceptical brows. ‘Will that do any good?’

‘I doubt it,’ she grimaced. ‘But I will anyway.’

When she decides to put in an appearance.’

‘Yes,’ Natalie gave a rueful smile, ‘there is that.’ In the past Judith had only come in to see them when she was getting short of money; the work was always available when she wanted it, but since she had been chosen as Thornton’s Beauty Girl her appearances at the agency had only been social ones, and not very often.

‘I know she means a lot to you, Natalie,’ Dee decided. ‘But I don’t think I’d be crying if she found herself another agency.’

Again Natalie made no comment at the criticism, knowing that it was mainly Dee who had to take the first disgruntled calls from clients Judith had let down, that her own calm to the stormy waters only came after Dee had taken the worst of it.

She wouldn’t be too upset if Judith left them either, she had hoped in a way that Thornton’s would take the other girl over exclusively for an unspecified amount of time. But the contract, drawn up by Adam Thornton’s own lawyers, demanded her services for a year only, and at the end of that year she was free to work for whoever she wanted to. Natalie knew she would come back to her for work, that things were made easy for her there. Not for Judith the effort of a taxing career—work when you have to and play when you don’t, that was her motto—and one she lived by regardless of other people’s feelings. It wasn’t an easy situation for any of them.

Natalie glanced at the plain white-gold watch on her slender wrist. A white-gold bracelet on her other wrist was her only other jewellery, her fingers were completely bare of rings, the nails painted the same vivid red as her lips. ‘I have to go now,’ she looked up. ‘I have half an hour to get to Adam Thornton’s office, that should give me time.’

Dee frowned. ‘But it’s only a few minutes away.’

She nodded. ‘I know. But he was insistent that he could only spare me fifteen minutes at eleven-thirty, so I daren’t be late.’

Her assistant shrugged. ‘I think it will only take you ten minutes, but you go ahead.’ She smiled. ‘Sounds the forceful type, doesn’t he?’

‘At the very least,’ Natalie grimaced her agreement. At twenty-five she wasn’t daunted by much, having confidence in herself and her ability. But Adam Thornton had made her feel like a gauche schoolgirl.

‘I wonder what he looks like,’ Dee mused.

‘Awful—if he’s anywhere near as unpleasant as he sounds!’

‘I found his voice rather sexy,’ Dee grinned. ‘I go for that gravelly sound, it gives an impression of power.’ She grimaced. ‘He’s probably awful, as you said.’

Natalie laughed. ‘Probably.’ She sobered. ‘If Judith should happen to call or come in …’

‘I’ll keep her here,’ said Dee in a hard voice. ‘By force, if I have to.’

Natalie knew the other woman would too, although she put the problem of seeing Judith from her mind, concentrating on what she was going to say to Adam Thornton. She had no excuse for Judith’s behaviour, except perhaps that she had warned Jason Dillman at the time. Not that that was really an excuse, more a way out, and Adam Thornton didn’t sound the sort of man to let anyone out of taking responsibility for their mistakes.

Her MG was parked in the car park beneath the building, and she raised a hand to the man on the gate as she drove the sports car out into the daylight.

Late autumn, the time when all the leaves had fallen from the trees, leaving them bare and grey. The sky was also cloudy and grey, the onset of winter bringing forth an icy cold wind, something Natalie didn’t feel in the warmth of her car.

She drove with a natural ability, her movements in this, as in everything, graceful in the extreme. The epitome of a hard-headed businesswoman she was not, although she could stand out for what she believed along with the best of them.

The trouble was she had no idea what to prepare herself for at this meeting with Adam Thornton! He could want to talk about Beauty Girl, or he could just want to discuss something else completely. Still, she was good at her job, she had managed to convince Jason Dillman of her competence so far, so there was no reason why she shouldn’t be equally convincing in front of the head of the company.

She knew little about the man himself, which meant Adam Thornton either guarded his private life with a vengeance, or else his private life was so ordinary that it wasn’t worth any newspaper writing about it. Natalie decided she liked the second version best; the idea of a middle-aged man with a harassed wife and a brood of children was much less daunting than the frightening picture that had been forming in her mind.

Frightening? She had stopped being frightened of anything the day she turned seventeen and discovered that a glowing smile and shy look from deep aquamarine eyes could melt even the hardest heart, that the soft pleading of her voice could usually get her anything she wanted. Adam Thornton wouldn’t know what had hit him if he proved difficult!

She parked the MG in T.C.B.A.’s private car park, admiring the silver Porsche parked next to it. Adam Thornton, the nameplate attached to the wall read. Her brows rose. Surely a middle-aged man with a harassed wife and a brood of children wouldn’t drive a car like this? It looked as if she would have to revise her thinking somewhat.

Oh, damn the man! She got out of her car, angrily slamming the door to lock it. She didn’t have the time to worry about Adam Thornton, she had a lot of things that needed her urgent attention back at the office, and the sooner she got back there the better.

T.C.B.A. occupied a whole building the size of the one Natalie rented two rooms in. Most of the ground floor was taken up as a reception area, and the heels of her stylish black shoes sank into the sea-green carpet as she walked over to the desk. The girl behind the desk was glamorous enough for Natalie to be able to offer her any number of jobs right here and now. In fact the whole building seemed to be overflowing with beautiful women as she took the lift up to the executive offices, and Adam Thornton’s secretary seemed to be the most beautiful.

‘Can I help you?’ the woman purred, her heavy make-up perfect, just the hint of a wave in her shoulder-length red hair, her eyes were a cool green. Her pale green dress moved silkily against her body as she stood up once Natalie had given her name. ‘Please sit down,’ she invited smoothly. ‘I’ll just go and tell Mr Thornton you’re here.’

Natalie moved with unhurried grace to sit in one of the four black leather armchairs in the luxurious office with the huge poster-size pictures of past advertising on the walls, having no idea how long she would be kept waiting. Ten minutes later she was glad she had sat down, as the secretary was still in with Adam Thornton.

It was a full five minutes after this when she emerged, swaying over to stand in front of Natalie’s chair. She was a woman of about thirty, with a cool sophistication that enabled her to look down her haughty nose at Natalie. ‘Mr Thornton will see you now, Miss Faulkner,’ she drawled, just as if she hadn’t kept Natalie sitting here for the last fifteen minutes.

But Natalie was very aware of it, glancing at her wrist-watch. Exactly eleven-thirty! So it was to be that sort of meeting, was it.

She stood up to follow the secretary, three or four inches taller than the other woman, the heels on her shoes adding extra inches to her already five feet eight inches in height, this fact giving a boost to the confidence that had started to wane during the fifteen-minute wait.

‘Miss Faulkner,’ the other woman introduced with a flourish before leaving the room, closing the door softly behind her.

But introduced to whom? The office looked empty to Natalie. It was the plushest office she had ever been in, with a sitting area to the right of her, with the same deep armchairs as in the office outside, a large drinks cabinet in the same mahogany as the wide desk directly in front of her, a wide black leather armchair with its back turned towards her the only thing remotely out of place. It was smoke spiralling from the latter that told her where Adam Thornton was, although he seemed in no hurry to acknowledge the fact.

Suddenly the chair spun slowly round. ‘You managed to get here this time, Miss Faulkner,’ the deep, gravelly voice mocked harshly, much more effective when not muffled by a crackly telephone line. Dee would have loved it!

Effective was a good way of describing the man himself—or electric. He seemed to fill up most of the wide-backed chair, his height as he sat seeming to indicate that he was extremely tall when standing, the dark grey pin-striped suit fitting smoothly across his shoulders, wide powerful shoulders that tapered to a narrow waist, leanly masculine. But it was his face that was electric, holding her startled blue-green eyes mesmerised. Taken as a whole it was a ruggedly handsome face, dissecting each feature in turn it was the face of a man who looked caged by the bonds of civilisation, it was the face of a savage.

Eyes the blue of an ocean glittered beneath dark jutting brows, a hawklike nose, firmly compressed lips, the cheeks lean and hard, deep lines grooved beside his nose and mouth adding to what she already guessed to be late thirties, early forties, his jaw was square and commanding, the column of his throat rugged, dark hair grew over-long past the collar of the white silk shirt he wore, the grey wings of hair over his temples adding to his distinction. His hands as he leant forward to rest them on the desk in front of him were long and tapered, the fingers on his right hand loosely holding a long thin cheroot, the smoke from which was fast filling the room, the aroma not unpleasant, as wasn’t the subtle smell of his aftershave.

It seemed to Natalie as if she had been looking at him for ever, and yet it had taken only a matter of seconds to notice everything about this man, all the time knowing that she was being subjected to as thorough appraisal herself, the fierce blue eyes giving away nothing of his thoughts.

Her outwardly calm demeanour gave away nothing of the inner jolt she had felt at coming face to face with such a man, although inwardly she was a conflicting mass of emotions. He had the appearance of a leashed tiger, impatient with the bonds of civilisation that meant he had to sit behind this desk, comfortable as it was, and be outwardly polite to someone like her.

But Natalie gave away none of her own feelings, the shock at his appearance, the confusion at his magnetism, meeting his gaze steadily. ‘I’ve already apologised,’ she said smoothly. ‘But if you would like me to do so again …?’ She arched dark brows over aquamarine eyes.

‘That won’t be necessary,’ he dismissed dryly. ‘I’ve already ascertained the fact that you were not informed of our earlier appointment.’

Natalie looked startled. ‘You have?’ she frowned.

He gave an inclination of his dark head, leaning back in the chair. ‘You were surprised by my call, seemed unsure of the mention of our ten o’clock meeting.’ He shrugged. ‘You knew nothing about it, so how could you be anything else? Please, sit down, Miss Faulkner,’ he invited softly.

Natalie sank gratefully into the black leather armchair facing his across the desk, crossing one leg gracefully over the other, uncomfortably aware of the expanse of slim silky leg that was exposed as Adam Thornton rose slowly to his feet, his height seeming to fill the room, well over six feet, as she had suspected, making her feel small and slightly vulnerable.

He moved to sit on the edge of the desk in front of her, his legs long and lean, his thighs powerfully muscled. His eyes narrowed as delicate colour entered her cheeks, leaning sideways to stub out the cheroot in the onyx ashtray with slow, stabbing movements. Suddenly he straightened, his expression harsh. ‘We may as well get straight to the point,’ he bit out, obviously intending to do so whether she wanted to or not. ‘I want the Grant girl taken off the Beauty Girl contract.’

Natalie gasped with the bluntness of the statement, biting her bottom lip as she saw the gleam of satisfaction in his eyes. Damn the man, he had enjoyed disconcerting her! But he also meant what he had said; his expression was inflexible. Her head went back in challenge. ‘Why?’

His brows rose, as if he weren’t accustomed to being questioned about his decisions. ‘Do I need a reason?’ he asked coldly.

She doubted this man ever felt the need to give a reason for any of his actions! And yet she felt she was owed one about such an important matter, and whether Adam Thornton liked it or not, she would have one. ‘I think so,’ she nodded stubbornly.

He looked at her silently for several minutes. ‘Okay, Miss Faulkner,’ he finally shrugged. ‘You can have your reason. Your Miss Judith Grant is having an affair with the head of my Advertising Department, Jason Dillman.’

The statement was delivered calmly, without emotion, and it had all the bigger impact because of that, robbing Natalie of speech. Not that she doubted the truth of what he said, she knew Judith too well for that.

‘My married head of Advertising,’ Adam Thornton added pointedly at her silence.

Natalie closed her eyes momentarily. Judith had pulled some stunts in her time, but this was definitely the worst one to date! She had known how important this Thornton contract was to Natalie, and not only did she not turn up for photographic sessions, she was having an affair with a married employee of Adam Thornton’s, something he obviously frowned upon.

A mental image of Jason Dillman came to mind—tall, a very smart dresser, very good-looking in a film-star sort of way, with blond hair and flirtatious brown eyes. He certainly didn’t give the impression of being a married man; he had asked her out several times when they had first consulted together on the choosing of the Beauty Girl. His over-confident charm hadn’t appealed to her in the slightest, so she had turned him down, little dreaming he had turned his attention to Judith, and with much more success by the sound of it.

But she had to at least attempt to defend the other girl. She felt a loyalty towards her, even if Judith had proved by her actions that she didn’t feel the same loyalty. ‘Maybe she doesn’t know he’s married—–’

‘She does.’ ‘She—does?’ Natalie faltered reluctantly.

‘Yes,’ Adam Thornton confirmed grimly. ‘And if you aren’t careful, she’s going to get your agency a reputation for more than just modelling!’

Natalie paled. ‘What do you mean?’ she gasped, very tense.

The blue eyes taunted as he looked down at her, his mouth twisting mockingly. ‘Use your imagination, Miss Faulkner,’ he drawled. ‘There’s a name for models who supply more than modelling.’

‘How dare you!’ Natalie stood up indignantly, and then wished she hadn’t as she stood only inches away from Adam Thornton, dangerously close, she felt as she moved away jerkily.

‘Oh, I dare,’ he drawled hardly, not at all impressed by her anger. ‘And I want it stopped.’

Her eyes flashed as she looked at him, hating the way he could sit there looking so calm and relaxed when he had just accused her agency, her models, of procurement. ‘Then talk to Jason Dillman,’ she snapped. ‘It takes two, you know.’

‘I’m well aware of the facts of life, thank you,’ he snapped coldly.

She could imagine he was more than aware of them, that he familiarised himself with those facts very often. There was an air of sexuality about the man that seemed to indicate the need to indulge in a regular physical relationship. With his wife…? Natalie somehow doubted he was married; she had an impression of a lone wolf, who only returned to the pack out of necessity and not through choice. That impression of a savage again!

‘However,’ he continued curtly, ‘I feel this matter is your responsibility.’

‘Mine?’ she protested.

‘Judith Grant is your model—–’

‘And you chose her for the job!’

Once again his brows rose. ‘Not me,’ he shook his head, his eyes narrowed. ‘Jason.’

‘But he said—–’


‘Nothing,’ she snapped, flushing at his sarcasm. ‘All right, Mr Thornton, I’ll talk to Judith—–’

‘You’ll do more than talk to her if you want to keep the Thornton business.’ He stood up to sit back in the swivel chair. ‘You either get the girl to stop this affair now, or we drop her as the Beauty Girl.’

‘That would cost you a lot of money,’ Natalie reasoned, knowing the launching of Beauty Girl had cost thousands.

Adam Thornton sat forward, resting his arms on the desk-top. ‘I can afford it,’ he said arrogantly.

‘Look, what does it matter to you?’ she sighed her impatience. Judith was far from the first girl to have an affair with a married man! ‘So they’re having an affair—–’

‘It matters to me, Miss Faulkner,’ he ground out. ‘And I think it should matter to you—or do your models offer extra services?’ He looked at her with cold blue eyes.

Natalie had never felt so angry in her life, her hand itched to make contract with the hardness of his cheek, although she restrained the impulse with effort. Losing her temper with this man wasn’t going to help this situation at all.

‘Well?’ he rasped at her silence. ‘Do they?’

Natalie’s mouth compressed angrily. ‘I believe I require an apology for the insult you just gave to me and the women who work for me.’ She refused to waver under the steely gaze he directed at her.

‘Does that mean the answer is no?’ he mocked.


‘Pity,’ he drawled unrepentantly. ‘I may have had a proposition—for you.’

‘Mr Thornton—–!’

‘All right,’ he put up a silencing hand. ‘If your agency is as innocent as you say it is then I apologise.’ He didn’t look as if the word came easily to his lips. ‘But that doesn’t alter the fact that one of your models is conducting an affair with one of my married employees.’

At twenty-five Natalie should have been past the stage of blushing when a man made a personal remark, and yet she hadn’t expected it from Adam Thornton; their conversation until that moment had been totally removed from themselves. With that one softly spoken comment he had made her totally aware of him, of the aura of sensuality that was part of the fundamental man. And after the insults he had levelled at her today she didn’t like being made aware of him in this way; she considered him the enemy—and he would remain that way! Certainly the less she had to do with him the better.

She collected up her clutch-bag, straightening her shoulders. ‘I’ve told you I’ll talk to Judith,’ she said stiffly as she stood up.

‘And if she won’t listen?’

‘I’ll make sure she does,’ she told him with much more confidence than she felt. She was the last person Judith was likely to listen to. But she had to try!

He nodded dismissal. ‘I’ll leave it in your—capable hands, then.’

Natalie gave one last angry glance at the dark head bent forward as he lit another cheroot, and the man was instantly shrouded in smoke, shielding his expression.

But she was aware of him watching her as she walked to the door, and some of the tension left her once she had reached the relative peace of her car.

But not all of it! How could Judith be so stupid as to get involved with another married man? Only too easily, as she knew from past experience.

It was just after twelve when Natalie got back to the office, and none of the anger or embarrassment she had felt when Adam Thornton made his accusations had left her, although to look at her calm demeanour no one would have guessed at her seething emotions.

Dee looked up from her work as she came into the room. ‘Visitor for you in your office,’ she told her cheerfully.

‘Judith,’ Dee nodded with a grimace.

Natalie strode angrily into her office, closing the door behind her to confront the girl sitting in her chair behind the desk. Her sister, Judith …


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