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Мортимер Кэрол

Freedom To Love

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«Freedom To Love» - 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…Taming the playboy…When Katy Harris finds herself with no alternative but to share her holiday in the Canadian Rockies with dynamic—and exceptionally gorgeous!—photographer, Adam Wild, she’s determined to resist this playboy’s powerful charms…As much as she’d like to be more than just Adam’s ‘flavour of the month’, Katy knows it’s impossible. A resolute bachelor, Adam is cynical about love and values his freedom above all else. But can Katy show Adam that there’s more than just freedom that can bring happiness…?
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Freedom to Love Carole Mortimer

www.millsandboon.co.uk

Table of Contents

Title Page

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

Copyright

CHAPTER ONE

KATY knew she had made a mistake about this holiday as soon as the plane took off from Heathrow. She was on her way to Calgary, one of Canada’s fastest growing cities. She had wanted to see the country for so long that when Gemma and Gerald had suggested she accompany them she had jumped at the chance.

‘But surely I’ll just be in the way?’ She had tried not to show her excitement.

‘Probably,’ agreed Gemma, her sister of twenty, the elder by two years, callously. ‘But you know how old-fashioned Mum and Dad are. They’ll never let Gerald and me go alone, even if we are getting married in a couple of years.’

Katy hadn’t relished the idea of being taken along merely as a smoke-screen to her parents, and her reluctance must have shown.

‘Oh, do come,’ Gemma added persuasively. ‘You know you’ll love it out there.’

Canada beckoned, all that beautiful unspoilt country, and yet sharing it with Gemma and Gerald, her sarcastic boy-friend, didn’t appeal at all.

‘It’s the only way you’ll ever be able to go,’ Gemma had told her cruelly. ‘Your job as Dad’s receptionist doesn’t exactly pay well. Gerald and I will be paying for the camper, all you’ll have to find is the money for your air fare and some spending money.’

‘Only!’ Katy scorned. ‘Even that’s out of my budget.’

‘All right!’ Gemma was becoming angry now, her green eyes narrowed. ‘I’ll help you pay for your air fare too, okay?’

Gemma must really have been desperate to have made such an offer, but Katy knew she could never accept it. ‘I think I can just scrape through,’ she refused the offer. ‘If you really mean it about the camper?’

‘Of course we do.’ Gemma’s eyes glowed now. ‘You’re an angel, Katy!’

That wasn’t what her parents had called her when the idea was put to them. ‘Oh, if Katy’s going then that will be all right,’ her father agreed unhesitantly to the idea. ‘Katy’s sensible. She’ll see that no harm comes to you.’

Ever since she was a child Katy had been called the ‘sensible’ one, and she hated it! It wasn’t even true. She was the one who at five had been playing ‘Dare’ with Gemma and had fallen off the diving-board at the local swimming-pool and had nearly drowned; she was the one who at ten had been balancing on the handlebars of Gemma’s bicycle and had fallen off and knocked out her front teeth; she was the one who at sixteen had believed the married man who was giving her a lift home when he had told her he had run out of petrol as the car came to a halt on a deserted road. She was also the one who had ended up walking the five miles home when she realised his intention of seducing her.

And now here she was on this jumbo jet, setting out on an eight-and-a-half-hour flight to Canada when she hadn’t ever flown before. Talk about going in at the deep end! And Gemma and Gerald didn’t seem to give a damn about her welfare, totally engrossed in each other as they whispered and chatted together.

Katy was petrified, staring straight ahead as she felt the plane leave touch with the ground, her stomach seeming to be about four feet below the rest of her body and having great difficulty in catching up. Her fingers dug into the armrests; the one to her left seemed harder than the right.

She looked down to see her nails digging into the arm of the person sitting next to her, a definite male arm covered in faded denim. Oh no, she had done it again!

Her grey eyes slowly raised to meet the deepest blue eyes she had ever seen, the lashes thick and dark, as was the over-long hair, the skin a deep mahogany, the features seeming to be carved from granite. He was the hardest-looking man Katy had ever seen, possibly in his mid-thirties, those deep blue eyes the only redeeming feature against the hawk-like nose and firm forbidding mouth, the body lean and muscular, the denims he wore old and faded, matching the partly unbuttoned shirt he wore. He looked wealthy, despite the easy arrogance with which he wore the casual clothing, his whole bearing one of haughty assurance.

Katy realised she was still digging her nails into him. ‘Sorry,’ she quickly removed her hand, ‘I didn’t realise what I was doing’ She gave a nervous laugh. ‘Silly to be frightened. I feel all right now.’ And strangely enough she did; the plane seemed to be on an even keel, giving her stomach time to catch up with the rest of her body. ‘I’m sorry about your arm. Did I hurt you?’

Blue eyes looked her over coldly for several long seconds, as if the man were surprised at her having spoken to him. ‘No,’ he answered finally, turning slightly in his seat, and if not actually turning his back on her giving a very good impression of it. He closed his eyes just for good measure.

Katy glared at him angrily. Rude, arrogant man! Digging her nails into him had been an accident, the least he could have done was acknowledge her apology. And yet by the look of the even rise and fall of that wide muscular chest, he had already fallen asleep. She felt dismissed by an expert.

She unfastened her seat belt when told to do so, accepting the orange juice the air hostess brought round minutes later, knowing her stomach was still too shaky to take the alcohol offered.

The air hostess looked at the sleeping man at Katy’s side. ‘Would your husband care for a drink, do you think?’ she asked her politely.

Katy flushed, glancing nervously at the face that appeared cold and hard even in sleep. ‘Er—I—I’m not——’

Suddenly the man sat up, moving with quiet grace and favouring the air hostess with a slow sensual smile, his eyes appreciating her slim beauty. ‘I’ll have a Scotch, thanks. And just for the record, I’m not her husband. I’m not her father either,’ he drawled, his voice as English as Katy’s own, only more so, indicating a private schooling.

‘Sorry about the mistake, sir.’ The air hostess gave him a dazzling smile back and handed him his drink before going on to the next row.

He turned to look at Katy. ‘Well?’ he quirked one dark eyebrow.

She blushed as she realised she was staring at him, watching in amazement as he drank the whisky straight down without even a wince. The first and only time she had ever tried the spirit it had seemed to burn all the way down to her stomach.

‘Sorry,’ she mumbled, turning away and pretending an interest in the rather silly lovers’ talk Gemma and Gerald were indulging in. They had been served by another hostess on their side, and it appeared that as they were sitting in a row of four seats Katy would continue to be grouped with the arrogant stranger at her side all during the flight.

As they had taken off just after midday it wasn’t long before they were being served lunch, but the man at Katy’s side only opened his eyes long enough to refuse his meal. Katy had to admit she was a little piqued by his attitude. Okay, so she was a little young for him to interest himself in, but she wasn’t exactly unattractive.

Her hair was what Gemma cattily called the colour of fudge, although she preferred to say caramel-coloured, her eyes wide and grey, her nose small and to her relief, un-freckled, her mouth wide and smiling. Her complexion was good too now, the hated teenage spots had seemed to fade the year before, as had her puppy fat, leaving her tall and slender.

Perhaps this man would prefer to sleep than eat the food, although Katy didn’t think it anything like the cardboard food she had been led to expect; it was in fact quite enjoyable. Or maybe this man was just trying to cut down on calories, perhaps that was how he managed to stay lean and firmly muscled when most men his age would be well on their way to middle-aged spread. Whatever his reason his eyes stayed firmly closed as those around him ate their meal, the first excited chatter beginning to die down as the long flight stretched in front of them all.

Once again the man at her side seemed to know when the drinks were being brought round, although this time he opted for coffee, several cups of it, black. The air hostess, a girl probably in her late twenties, returned to him again and again to see if he required anything else. And by the invitation in her eyes she clearly meant anything.

Katy pointedly ignored the man, although this left her fairly isolated, shut out by her sister and Gerald, and determined not to even notice the man on her other side. She was glad therefore when the film came on the screen in front of her, a screen that appeared to be the back of the painting that had recently been displayed there. She had hired the earphones from the’ air hostess at the start of the flight, intending to listen to the radio later, but the film would be much more interesting. Besides, it would take up a couple of hours of the flight.

The film was one that had recently toured the cinemas, one that she hadn’t had the time to go and see. It looked strange without the necessary sound.

She looked down for the place to plug in her ear-phones, realising she should have thought to do it before the window-blinds were lowered and the lights dimmed. Where on earth was the hole for the other end of her earphones?

Impatient fingers pushed her hand away as she sought frantically for the right place, dealing with the plugging in within a matter of seconds. Katy looked up shyly to thank the man she had so far thought rude and arrogant.

He was watching her with narrowed eyes, eyes that no longer seemed deeply blue but were glacial. ‘Are you always this helpless?’ he asked contemptuously.

She flushed. ‘I——’

‘Don’t bother,’ he impatiently dismissed her reply. ‘Just watch your film. Maybe then I’ll be able to get some rest without your fidgeting about beside me.’

‘I wasn’t fidgeting!’ Katy told him indignantly, looking about them almost guiltily as she realised other people could hear this conversation. Luckily no one was listening, all seemingly engrossed in the film, and so all other sound was blocked out. ‘Anyway,’ she added resentfully, ‘you’ve been sleeping since we left London.’

‘Sorry!’ His sarcasm was blatantly obvious. ‘I wasn’t aware I was here to entertain you.’

‘You aren’t,’ she blushed.

‘Thank God for that!’ He leant his dark head back, closing his eyes again. ‘Idiotic females, particularly young ones, bore me silly.’

‘Ooh!’ Her mouth set mutinously.

He opened one eye to look at her. ‘Shut you up?’

‘Yes!’ Katy snapped.

‘Good.’ He smiled, closing his eyes again.

Well, really! Katy stuck the ear-phones on, turning the sound down as it roared into her eardrums. For all the notice she took of the film, or the dialogue, she might just as well not have bothered. She was too angry and upset to concentrate on anything at the moment. This man must have taken lessons on how to be unpleasant, he was so good at it.

She shot him a resentful glance, having to admit an unwilling attraction to his dark good looks. It was probably his looks that enabled him to be this highhanded with her; most people, particularly women, would forgive him anything. So might she have done if he had turned the charming smile on her that he had given the air hostess. But he had decreed her too young for his attention, and had dismissed her from his mind accordingly.

The film was almost halfway through when she realised her orange juice and after-lunch coffee were taking their toll on her. She could see the sign for the toilets; the only trouble was, she couldn’t get out. Gemma and Gerald were engrossed in the film and wouldn’t thank her for disturbing them, and the sleeping man at her side would thank her even less.

After another half an hour of moving restlessly about in her seat, giving up any attempt to concentrate on the film, she was feeling desperate. She had to get up, the question was whose wrath was she going to evoke by asking them to let her out.

‘For God’s sake, woman!’ the man at her side exploded, sitting upright in his seat to glare at her with angry blue eyes. ‘Don’t you know how to sit still?’

‘Of course I do!’ Katy was angry herself now, having put up with his boorishness long enough. ‘But it isn’t easy when you want to go to the loo!’ She blushed at having to talk about such intimacies to this stranger.

‘Why the hell didn’t you just say so?’ he snapped, already beginning to stand up to let her pass.

She drew a deep angry breath. ‘Maybe because I knew this would be your reaction. You are without doubt the rudest man I’ve ever met!’ With this comment she flounced off.

Her bravado lasted her as long as it took her to reach the privacy of the toilets, staying there much longer than she needed to because she dreaded returning to her seat. She took her time over renewing her make-up and tidying her hair, finally bracing herself to go back and face that awful man.

The blinds had been lifted and the lights were fully back on, and people were wandering about the plane talking to each other. Kate almost heaved a sigh of relief as she saw the seat next to hers was empty.

‘What’s his name?’ Her sister turned to look at her.

Katy looked startled. ‘Whose?’

Gemma gave her an impatient look. ‘The man sitting next to you. I’m sure I’ve seen him somewhere before. Gerald thinks he has too.’

Now she came to think of it he did look slightly familiar, although she felt sure she wouldn’t have forgotten him if she had ever met him before. He wasn’t the sort of man you could forget! ‘Why should I know his name?’ she asked tersely.

‘You seem to have been talking to him.’

Talking? What they had been doing certainly couldn’t be called talking, it was more like an argument. ‘A few casual words,’ she evaded. ‘Nothing as revealing as names.’

‘Yours wouldn’t reveal much,’ Gemma scorned, turning back to her boy-friend.

Charming! Katy was surrounded by them. She had even been dismissed as a nonentity by her sister now. She was getting a definite feeling of rejection.

The long length of her arrogant stranger coiled down into the seat next to her and she forced herself not to even look at him. She wasn’t risking any more rebuffs from him. She stared rigidly down at the paperback in her hand, not taking in a word of it.

‘You aren’t safe to be let out on your own,’ that silky voice taunted as he bent to retrieve something off the floor. ‘Here,’ he held out her purse to her. ‘It is yours, I presume?’

Katy paled, almost snatching it out of his hand. All her money was in here, all her travellers cheques. The only things she had kept separate were her passport and her return air ticket. ‘Thank you,’ she said breathlessly. ‘I—It must have fallen out when I got my book out.’

‘Obviously,’ he said dryly. ‘Is someone meeting you at the other end?’ he added thoughtfully.

Her eyes widened. ‘I beg your pardon?’

Her reaction seemed to amuse him. ‘I wasn’t propositioning you. But you don’t appear to be safe to let cross the road, let alone the Atlantic,’ he said insultingly.

‘No one is meeting me,’ she answered stiltedly. ‘I happen to be going to Canada on holiday—with my sister and her boy-friend. They’re sitting the other side of me,’ she added at his sceptical look.

He glanced around her, sitting back with a shrug. ‘She’s nothing like you to look at.’

Katy knew that, had always known that Gemma was the beautiful one of the family. Gemma was honey-blonde where she was caramel, had deep green eyes where Katy’s were grey, and her sister had never been troubled by spots or puppy fat, seeming to the younger Katy to have always been slim and petite.

‘I know that,’ she snapped at this man. ‘But that doesn’t make it any less a fact that she is my sister.’

‘Prickly little thing, aren’t you?’ he taunted. ‘Rather like the wild rose the Canadians are so fond of.’

‘Are they?’ Katy frowned.

‘Mm,’ he nodded. ‘Especially where we’re going. Alberta is its home. It’s very common up there on the mountains just below the timberline.’

‘Timberline?’ she echoed dazedly.

‘Tut, tut, tut,’ he mocked, seemingly fully awake now, and even more taunting than he had been before. ‘You haven’t done your homework on Alberta. I take it you intend touring the National Parks there?’

‘Yes,’ she nodded.

‘Then you should know that the timberline is where it becomes too cold up in the mountains for the trees to survive, they just suddenly stop growing, hence the term timberline. Make sense?’ he quirked an eyebrow questioningly.

‘Oh yes,’ her eyes glowed. ‘Thank you.’

‘Don’t mention it,’ he dismissed. ‘Your name wouldn’t happen to be Rose?’

She shook her head. ‘Katy—Katy Harris.’

‘Shame. Rose suits you so much better.’

‘I don’t think so,’ she said crossly. ‘I don’t consider it prickly just because I don’t like your taunting behaviour.’

‘Was I taunting you?’ He sounded amused again.

‘You know you were.’

‘Maybe.’ He frowned. ‘Where’s your boy-friend?’

She flushed. ‘I don’t have one,’ she told him resentfully.

‘No? So it’s just a cosy little threesome, is it?’

‘I don’t like your implication,’ Katy snapped. ‘Gemma and Gerald are engaged to be married. It was very kind of them to invite me on this holiday with them.’ She knew that kindness hadn’t entered into it, but she wasn’t about to tell this man that.

‘Gemma and Gerald!’ he taunted mockingly. ‘How nice.’

‘God, you’re sarcastic!’ She turned her back on him, hearing his throaty chuckle behind her.

What an unpleasant creature he was! But how dangerously attractive, with that wicked gleam of amusement in his blue eyes, albeit cruel amusement.

‘You lucky devil,’ Gemma told her in a fierce whisper. ‘Gerald and I have just realised who you’re sitting next to,’ she explained at Katy’s puzzled look. ‘Well, Gerald realised it first,’ she grudgingly admitted.

‘Well?’ Katy asked patiently.

‘He’s Adam Wild!’ Gemma announced triumphantly.

‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ Katy instantly dismissed the idea. ‘He would be in the first class, not back here with the rabble.’ Adam Wild was the top photographer in England, usually specialising in photographs of beautiful women, both clothed and unclothed. He was also rich enough not to have to travel in economy class.

Gemma scowled. ‘Maybe there weren’t any first class seats left. Anyway, you were talking to him for some time just now, didn’t he tell you his name?’

‘It wasn’t that sort of conversation.’

Her sister sighed. ‘Trust you to miss an opportunity like that! Well, if he talks to you again find out if we’re right.’

‘I don’t intend talking to him again. I don’t like him.’

Gemma gave her a pitying look before turning away, and Katy knew she had gone down even further in her sister’s estimation. But surely this man couldn’t be Adam Wild? He was dressed so casually, for one thing, and as she had pointed out to Gemma, he was hardly likely to be sitting here.

Minutes later the air hostess came round with their afternoon tea, and Katy gratefully accepted the refreshing cup of tea that went with the light fare. She almost dropped her cup as she heard the girl call the man at her side ‘Mr Wild’, and as it was she spilt some of the hot liquid over her denims. It was him—Adam Wild!

She looked at him with new eyes, seeing the lines of dissipation and cynicism beside his nose and mouth, the worldly air that encircled him despite his casual clothing. God, no wonder he had coldly dismissed her; she was passably attractive, but the women he photographed were beautiful and sophisticated.

‘It’s soaking into your denims,’ he turned to her to remark patiently.

‘I—I beg your pardon?’ Katy jumped nervously as he spoke.

‘Your tea—you’re spilling it all over you.’ He took her cup out of her unresisting fingers and began mopping her up with his paper napkin. ‘Couldn’t you feel it dripping down on you?’ he asked, as if she were a particularly stupid child.

‘I—er——’ She licked her lips nervously, completely overwhelmed as he touched the inside of her thigh, purely to mop up the liquid, of course. ‘Yes,’ she nodded vigorously.

He shook his head. ‘Then why the hell didn’t you stop doing it?’

‘I—I—You see, Mr Wild, I——’

‘Ah,’ he nodded understanding, ‘you know who I am.’

‘I heard the air hostess,’ she confirmed, wishing he would stop touching her like that.

‘And you would like to take your clothes off for me.’ He finally sat back, discarding the tissue paper with a certain amount of disgust.

‘Certainly not!’ Katy gasped.

He studied her critically for several minutes. ‘You’ll never make it on the face alone. The bone structure is good, but it isn’t enough on its own. The clothes would have to come off. I’m sure that under that loose shirt and denims there’s a beautiful body just waiting to show itself.’

‘And I’m sure there’s no such thing!’ she told him indignantly, the totally assessing look in his eyes making her feel like wrapping her arms protectively about herself. ‘I’m not taking my clothes off for you or any other man!’

‘Why not?’

‘Why not? Because—well, because I—I don’t even know you!’

Once again he seemed amused by her. ‘What difference does that make? I think you could be very photogenic. Are your eyes really grey or is it my imagination?’

‘They’re grey,’ she snapped confirmation.

‘A lovely smoky grey. And hair the colour of toffee.’

‘Caramel!’ Katy corrected crossly.

He shrugged. ‘Okay, caramel. And there’s a beautiful body under all those clothes, right?’

‘Mind your own business!’

‘Beautiful bodies, female ones, are my business.’ He pulled a card out of his denim shirt pocket and handed it to her. ‘When you get back to London give me a call and we’ll try some practice sesssions.’

‘Practising for what?’ she asked spitefully.

His mouth hardened, his eyes glacial. ‘I’m thirty-six years old, give me sense enough not to chase after schoolgirls!’

‘I’m not a schoolgirl. I’m eighteen.’

‘Wow!’ he taunted sarcastically, picking up the card she had put on the arm of his seat and bending forward to put the card down the open vee of her shirt, leaving it nestling between her breasts. ‘If the rest of you looks as good as they feel,’ he removed his hand, ‘then I think I may be able to put some work your way.’

‘You can keep your work!’ She took out the card and ripped it into tiny pieces in front of him before putting it in the ashtray. ‘And anything else you have to offer.’

‘Okay,’ he shrugged. ‘If that’s the way you want it.’

‘It is,’ she told him firmly.

She didn’t know whether she was relieved or not when he finally seemed to fall asleep again. Her thoughts were much too chaotic for her to even attempt to sleep herself. No man had ever touched her so intimately, and especially so publicly. Colour flooded her cheeks as she remembered his suggestion that he photograph her nude.

‘Well?’ Gemma turned to her expectantly.

Katy didn’t even pretend not to know what her sister meant. ‘You were right, it is him.’

‘I thought so!’ Gemma’s eyes sparkled excitedly. ‘What did he give you just now?’

It had been too much to hope that Gemma hadn’t seen that interchange! ‘Just his card,’ Katy revealed reluctantly.

’Just his card?’ her sister repeated dazedly. ‘And did I see you rip it up?’

‘You did. I have no desire to be photographed in the nude.’

Gemma spluttered with laughter. ‘He wanted to photograph you?’

‘My body,’ Katy corrected disgustedly, his remark that she would never make it on her face alone still rankling.

‘And you turned him down?’

‘Of course I did,’ she said crossly. ‘I told you, I don’t want him photographing me.’ She didn’t like his totally analytical gaze, didn’t like the way he had dismissed her face and instead assessed her body as photographable. She pitied his wife if he had one—how awful to be stripped down to the bare bone, so to speak. After all, no one was perfect, and this man was more than qualified to pick out any blemish or imperfection. ‘Besides,’ she added, ‘you know it isn’t possible. And Mum and Dad would never allow it.’

‘If Adam Wild wanted to photograph me I wouldn’t let Mum and Dad stop me,’ Gemma said scornfully.

‘And Gerald?’ Katy asked dryly.

‘It wouldn’t bother me.’ He sat forward to answer for himself. ‘I might get quite a kick out of seeing my girl-friend’s picture in a centrefold.’

It was the sort of stupid remark Katy would have expected from him. Despite his fair good looks, Katy had always considered Gerald one of the silliest men she knew. Part of her dislike could be due to the fact that he had first started dating Gemma when Katy was going through the worst of her puppy fat and spots stage, and he had never forgotten it. He had teased her unmercifully then, his barbs often cruel and hurtful, and he still did so, every chance he could. Katy stayed away from him whenever she could.

‘Gemma didn’t get the offer,’ she reacted strongly to him. ‘And I have no intention of taking it up.’

Gerald’s brown eyes passed over her scornfully. ‘I can’t see what the man saw in you,’ and he turned away.

‘Idiot!’ Gemma snapped at her resentfully, before she too turned away.

‘Tell him I have a thing about firm uptilted breasts,’ remarked a soft taunting voice from next to Katy.

She spun round, her eyes wide with indignation. ‘What did you say?’ she gasped.

Adam Wild gave her a lazy smile, a completely relaxed look about him as he slouched down in his seat. ‘I like nicely rounded bottoms too,’ he added outrageously. ‘So you pass on both counts.’

Katy glared at him. ‘How do you know that?’

‘I watched you as you walked to the loo,’ he informed her calmly. ‘I’ve always thought tight denims a good figure revealer. Of course, I couldn’t see your legs, but——’

‘Leave my legs out of it!’ she said fiercely.

‘But I’m sure they’re equally curvaceous,’ he continued as if she hadn’t spoken.

‘How awful to look at every woman through the eyes of a camera,’ Katy snapped, ‘to always see the faults. I pity your wife,’ she voiced her thoughts of a few minutes ago.

Adam Wild gave a throaty chuckle, suddenly appearing younger than his thirty-six years. ‘I’m not married, Katy,’ he said with humour. ‘And never likely to be.’

‘Too choosy, I suppose,’ she said insultingly, surprised at her own vehemence towards this man. She didn’t normally take violent dislikes to people.

‘Too much choice,’ he told her insinuatingly. ‘There are too many girls only too eager to give their all if I’ll photograph them. Sometimes I take them up on that offer. So you see, I don’t always see the faults.’

Katy hated the way those deep blue eyes were laughing at her. ‘Tell me, Mr Wild, why are you sitting back here with us lesser mortals? Wouldn’t you have been more comfortable up the front with your own sort?’ Her sarcasm was unmistakable.

‘Miss Harris,’ his voice was deceptively mild, his eyes no longer laughing, ‘until the general public decided to take me to their bosoms about fifteen years ago, I belonged with the “lesser mortals”. And that was your description, not mine,’ he added hardly. ‘Besides, what does it matter where I sit when all I want to do is rest?’

‘I suppose that’s because you took one of those girls up on their offer last night!’

His eyes suddenly appeared flinty grey, and Katy wondered how she had ever thought them a deep blue. ‘I’m not so old that a night of love physically exhausts me,’ he told her harshly. ‘I just don’t happen to have slept for seventy-two hours.’

‘Three nights of love!’ she taunted.

‘Miss Harris, go to hell,’ he said calmly.

Katy was prevented from answering by the sudden request to fasten seat belts, and the dropping of the aeroplane as they approached Calgary. She had that terrible feeling in her stomach again, only this time it was worse. Her nails dug into the arm-rest, luckily not Adam Wild’s arm this time, but her panic just seemed to be getting worse.

She heard an impatient sigh beside her and a male hand, palm upwards, came into her vision. She didn’t stop to think that this was Adam Wild offering her comfort, that he was the man she had taken an instant dislike to; all that mattered right now was that he understood how she felt and was trying to help her.

Her hand crept into his much larger one, his long tapered fingers closing about hers. His thumb rubbed rhythmically over the back of her’ hand, soothing away some of her panic and making her feel secure when moments ago she had felt near to hysteria.

‘Thank you,’ she said huskily once they had come to a standstill outside the airport building. ‘I—Thank you,’ she repeated weakly.

‘Don’t mention it.’ Already he was standing up to depart. ‘I won’t ask any payment for it, so you can stop looking worried.’

Colour flooded her cheeks. ‘I didn’t think you would! And I wasn’t looking worried.’

‘Then perhaps you ought to,’ he remarked with humour. ‘Your sister and her boy-friend have just departed down the other aisle.’

Katy turned startled grey eyes to see he was in fact correct. Gemma and Gerald hadn’t even told her they were going, and now they were almost out of the plane. She scrambled to her feet, almost falling over in her panic.

A hand came out to grasp her elbow. ‘Calm down,’ Adam Wild advised her. ‘They won’t have got far. It usually takes some time to get through Customs. Come on,’ he pulled her out into the aisle beside him, ‘I’ll take you through.’

‘There’s no need——’

‘There’s every need,’ he insisted. ‘During our brief acquaintance I’ve come to realise that you’re incapable of doing anything without something going wrong.’

‘That isn’t true——’

‘I don’t have the time to argue, Katy. Nearly everyone else is off the plane. Now, come on.’

Katy let herself be led towards the exit, furious with her sister and Gerald for leaving her at the mercy of this sarcastic man.

The air hostess who had served them during their flight was standing at the doorway. ‘I hope you both enjoyed your flight,’ she smiled at them both, although the smile was brighter as her gaze rested on Adam Wild. ‘I hope you weren’t too uncomfortable, Mr Wild. I’m sorry there were no first class seats available.’

‘That’s all right,’ he returned the smile with lazy charm. ‘I just needed a seat, I didn’t care where.’ He manoeuvred Katy so that they departed together, striding along and pulling her with him.

‘So you did try to get in first class,’ she accused in a fierce whisper.

He shrugged. ‘I tried.’

‘You do realise that the hostess was one of those girls making an offer,’ Katy scorned, having trouble keeping up with his pace, but the hand on her arm not allowing her to lag behind.

‘Too flat-chested,’ he dismissed callously. ‘A beautiful face, charming manner, but no bust.’

Katy became angry for the other girl. ‘How would you like it if you were discarded because you had too little—too little———’ She couldn’t think of a male equivalent, at least, not one she could say to this man!

He looked down at her, one eyebrow arched mockingly. ‘Too little …?’ he prompted tauntingly.

‘If you were found lacking!’ she amended crossly.

He shrugged. ‘I’ve had no complaints so far,’ he told her calmly.

‘Well, really!’ Katy pulled away from him to join one of the queues of people waiting to pass through the Canadian passport control.

She was immediately pulled out of the queue to stand beside Adam Wild. ‘Not that one,’ he told her. ‘Not unless you have a Canadian passport. You don’t, do you?’

‘You know I don’t!’ She glared at him with angry grey eyes.

‘Then you won’t get very far standing there. It happens to be for Canadian citizens only.’

‘Well, I didn’t know that!’

‘You do now.’ He looked down at her. ‘What hotel are you staying at in Calgary?’

She eyed him suspiciously. ‘Why?’

‘So that I know which area to avoid on my way through.’ He gave a throaty chuckle at the indignation on her face. ‘You have to admit, you’re a bit of a disaster.’

‘I admit no such thing. Just because I’ve made a few mistakes——’

‘A few!’ he scorned. ‘You can’t seem to do anything without getting into trouble.’

‘I can,’ she defended. ‘But this is my first time on an aeroplane. I was nervous, frightened on occasion,’ she said with remembered embarrassment. ‘I think that’s ample excuse for those few mistakes I made.’

He shook his head impatiently. ‘Your first time in the air and you choose to fly to Canada!’ He gave her a scathing glance. ‘You could have been sick for the whole of the flight. I suppose I would have had to cope with that too,’ he finished disgustedly.

‘I didn’t ask for your help. I could have managed perfectly well on my own.’

‘Oh sure,’ he scorned. ‘You’re the epitome of cool efficiency.’

Hot colour entered her creamy cheeks. ‘And you’re the arrogant bighead I would have expected you to be! Just because I’m a little inexperienced about dealing with airport officials and——’

‘Inexperienced!’ he mocked. ‘You’re like a babe in arms. And it looks as if your sister has already gone through. Will she wait for you?’

‘Of course she will!’ Katy was still angered by her sister’s desertion of her. Some holiday this was going to be if Gemma and Gerald were going to keep leaving her out like this!

‘I hope so,’ the man at her side said grimly, ‘because I simply don’t have the time to help you out of another disaster. I’m being met.’

‘You have friends in Canada?’

‘A few,’ he nodded.

‘Female friends,’ she said knowingly.

‘Some,’ Adam Wild smiled.

‘Will she mind my being with you?’

‘She——? Oh, I’m not being met by a she, Katy. And I’m sure Jud won’t mind seeing you with me, in fact he’ll probably enjoy it.’

‘I see.’

‘Disappointed?’ he bent his head to whisper against her earlobe. ‘Would you have enjoyed being the cause of trouble between a girl-friend and myself?’

‘I might have done.’ Katy’s head was back challengingly.

He shook his head, smiling. ‘Why on earth you were blessed with such tranquil grey eyes I’ll never know. They’re at complete variance with your stormy nature.’

‘I don’t have a stormy nature,’ she snapped, immediately contradicting the statement. Blushing, she turned away.

Once they had shown their passports and collected their luggage, Katy’s brand new case, and Adam Wild’s battered holdall, they made their way outside to the curiously empty airport.

A tall man with deep red hair and laughing blue eyes detached himself from several people standing outside and made his way towards the man standing confidently at Katy’s side.

‘Adam!’ He shook his friend’s hand with unconcealed pleasure. ‘Glad you could get back so quickly.’ His accent was distinctly Canadian.

Adam grinned at him. ‘I always like to finish what I start. God protect me from jealous women!’ He grimaced.

Jud turned to look pointedly at Katy. ‘This isn’t——’

Adam laughed. ‘Good God, no!’

‘In that case … I’m Jud Turner,’ he introduced himself to Katy.

She couldn’t help returning the open friendliness of this man. ‘Katy Harris,’ she divulged shyly, still wondering what Adam Wild had meant by his remark about ‘jealous women’. Jud Turner obviously knew the answer because he hadn’t questioned the remark. She turned to Adam Wild, her smile instantly fading. ‘Thank you for your—help,’ she said reluctantly, politeness calling for some acknowledgement of the assistance he had given her. ‘If you’ll both excuse me, I have to join my sister.’

Adam nodded. ‘Take care, Katy,’ he advised with ill-concealed humour. He took another of his cards out of the breast pocket of his denim shirt. ‘Don’t tear this one up,’ he warned. ‘Call me when you get back to London.’ He put the card in exactly the same place as he had the first one.

Katy’s cheeks flamed, and she would have liked to have slapped that taunting smile off his face. Instead she removed the card and with one last glance in Adam Wild’s direction she walked off, her head held high.

‘Pretty girl,’ she heard Jud Turner remark.

‘Passable,’ Adam Wild drawled. ‘It wasn’t her face I was interested in.’

‘It never is,’ his friend returned.

Katy heard the two men laugh together and anger flared within her. So she was just a body to Adam Wild, just a faceless piece of flesh and bones that he thought photographable. God, she hated him!

.

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