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Two's Company

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«Two's Company» - Кэрол Мортимер

9 to 5 MEMORANDUM To: The Reader From: Carole Mortimer Subject: The Black Sheep and the Scarlet Woman It is being drawn to your attention that Juliet's boss has left her half his company – and all his troubles. Carlyle Properties is near bankruptcy, and Juliet has to share her inheritance with Liam Carlyle, his estranged son, who has already assumed that Juliet seduced his father!What Liam doesn't know is that Juliet was once engaged to Simon, his despised younger brother. One thing is for sure: Juliet has decided to work with Liam to save the company, but as for his notion that his father should have left him everything – including Juliet… . She wants a strictly business affair!
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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Excerpt

Dedication

Dear Madam

Title Page

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Copyright

You’ve never had a boyfriend?"

He eyed her disbelievingly.

Just the one. Simon. But he had died. And she hadn’t allowed herself to love anyone since him.

Liam’s mouth twisted. “You seem to be taking a long time finding an answer to that question,” he taunted.

She drew in a deep, steadying breath. She had no intention of owning up to a boyfriend, because she had no intention of talking about Simon. Certainly not to this man.

“Why is my personal life of interest to you, Liam?” She used his first name deliberately now, the familiarity putting them back on an equal footing. “Our discussion is merely on a business level,” she reminded him firmly.

He calmly met the challenge in her gaze. “I like to know all there is to know about the people I do business with."

For the attention of the Reader

Dear Madam,

Re: 9 to 5

We have pleasure in drawing your attention to our new series of stories with company settings. You have written to us at Harlequin Presents on many occasions to tell us how much you enjoy office romances. So, it is at the top of our agenda to give you six sizzling months of business affairs.

Because you’re the boss and we work to give you nothing but the best, the first vacancy in the 9 to 5 series is filled by your very favorite author, Carole Mortimer. We can guarantee that her story of Juliet and Liam, as they struggle to save their company and not to fall for each other, will entertain and enthrall you right to its very end.

9 to 5: it’s the business!

Sincerely,

The Editor



Two’s Company

Carole Mortimer



www.millsandboon.co.uk

CHAPTER ONE

‘YOU’RE standing in the way of my view.’

Juliet turned towards the source of the voice, startled out of her early morning reverie by its intrusion, even more startled when she saw the man frowning across at her as he lay on a lounger on the patio a short distance away.

She had been totally unaware of anyone else’s presence as she stood near the sea-shore staring out across the calm water, the beauty of the sunrise reflected on that water also lost on her as she wondered how much longer she was going to have to stay here. To most people it wouldn’t have been a hardship to stay on at this exclusive hotel on the paradise island of Majorca, but Juliet wasn’t most people, and she wasn’t here to enjoy herself!

And she certainly wasn’t in the mood to put up with what she considered to be this man’s rudeness; he might have paid to stay in this hotel too—as she knew, very much so!—but the cost of his hotel suite didn’t give him exclusive rights to the view.

Grey eyes surrounded by long dark lashes flashed a warning of her displeasure at being attacked in this way. ‘I thought the view belonged to everyone,’ she snapped back, putting up a hand to push the heavy swath of her blazing red hair back over her shoulder, having left her own suite earlier without bothering to secure it at her nape as she usually did.

She had been on the island almost a week now, and she found the nights the most difficult to deal with. She had no trouble keeping herself occupied during the day, but at night she would fall into a troubled sleep for a couple of hours, and then wake up at about three o’clock in the morning unable to go back to sleep again.

She had taken to going for long walks along the sea-shore as soon as it became light, and this morning had been no exception.

Two more days, she had decided on this morning’s walk, and then she would give up her vigil and go back home to England. She was solving absolutely nothing by staying on here anyway; the person she had come here to see just wasn’t going to put in an appearance, and she might as well accept that.

The man stood up from the lounger, tall and lithe in a black T-shirt and fitted denims, his over-long hair glinting golden in the sunshine, eyes the blue of the water lapping in front of them, and squinted in the bright early morning sun as he stared across the width of his patio-area at her.

It was only just after six o’clock in the morning, too early for any of the other hotel guests to be up and about, and Juliet was suddenly aware, as the man walked towards her, of just how alone the two of them were. And he didn’t exactly sound friendly, either; in fact, he was distinctly hostile!

As he came to stand just in front of her Juliet realised exactly how tall he was, dwarfing her five feet two in height by at least a foot, making her even more conscious of her own vulnerability alone on the sea-shore with him.

‘The view does belong to everyone,’ he murmured in that husky voice. ‘I was just surprised to see someone else out and about this early in the morning.’

And that gave him the right to be rude to her? As far as apologies went it wasn’t exactly effusive, but then this man gave the impression of rarely, if ever, making apologies for anything!

Up close like this he looked to be in his late thirties, had a ruggedly handsome face, dark lashes surrounding those sharply alert blue eyes, his nose long and straight, his mouth a sculptured curve, the chin square and powerful. And he was looking down that long nose at her now, no matter how pleasant his words just now might have sounded.

Juliet shrugged, her own clothing similar to his except that the T-shirt tucked into the narrow waistband of her jeans was navy blue in colour. She looked very small and slight next to his much more forceful physique.

‘The morning is the most beautiful part of the day,’ she dismissed—although at three o’clock in the morning she hadn’t been quite so sure about that!

‘I happen to agree,’ he nodded, still looking at her with those piercing blue eyes—eyes that seemed to miss nothing.

For all that he was dressed casually he didn’t look like the usual holiday-makers Juliet had so far seen at this exclusive hotel. Most of them, including the men, were more interested in making a fashion statement with their clothing than actually relaxing and enjoying the sun and the sea, and this man gave the impression that he didn’t give a damn about fashion, that he dressed for comfort, and to hell with what anyone else thought about the way he looked. Even that slightly waving golden-coloured hair was unfashionably long. Although she could be making a complete misjudgement—she very often did—and later on, when he was joined by his fashion-conscious wife and spoilt teenage children, she would know that she had!

‘Well, if you’ll excuse me…’ She gave him a bright dismissive smile before turning away.

‘No,’ he said abruptly from behind her.

Juliet turned with a frown; what did he mean, no?

‘I ordered coffee a few minutes ago,’ he smiled, revealing even white teeth, his eyes crinkling at the corners.

It was amazing the difference that smile made to his face; he no longer looked remote and slightly daunting, and certainly not hostile. But, nevertheless, Juliet was still somewhat perplexed by his manner.

‘Why don’t you join me?’ he offered smoothly.

Her grey eyes widened. Really, she had just met the man, and he had been distinctly rude from the first, and now he had the nerve to ask her to join him for coffee. ‘Wouldn’t your wife think that rather odd?’ she returned with sweet sarcasm.

She had kept herself very much to herself since her arrival here, resisted all the attempts of the other guests to try and include her in their activities. She was very much a loner anyway, so that hadn’t been difficult for her to do; she certainly had no intention of joining this man for coffee—or anything else.

His mouth twisted. ‘I don’t have a wife,’ he told her drily. ‘And even if I did I can’t see anything wrong in my asking you to join me for a cup of coffee!’

Colour warmed Juliet’s cheeks at what she sensed was his mockery. Maybe she was being a little overcautious, but her experiences of life so far had taught her to have very little trust in other peopleespecially some lone man she had accidentally met like this.

‘I don’t—’

‘Could you put the tray on the table, please? And bring another cup.’ The golden-haired stranger talked past Juliet and over her shoulder, and as she turned she could see the waiter arriving with his tray of coffee things. In fact, it wasn’t just coffee; there were rolls and croissants there too.

And he was obviously a man used to giving orders and expecting them to be obeyed, she thought as she watched the waiter putting the tray down on the table on the patio before going off to get the second cup.

‘Come and sit down,’ he offered now, strolling back on to his patio with long, easy strides. ‘Would you like something to eat?’ He indicated the rolls and croissants. ‘There’s plenty here for two.’

Juliet gave him a perplexed frown. She hadn’t exactly got around to refusing his offer of coffee, but it must have been obvious to him that she had been about to do so when the waiter arrived. And yet he was choosing to ignore that. He had also put her in a position where it would look very churlish of her to refuse the offer now.

She joined him on the patio to his suite with some reluctance, the man waiting to resume his seat until she had made herself comfortable in one of the four chairs arranged around the table, and choosing the one directly to her left rather than the one opposite which she had been hoping he would opt for.

‘Nothing to eat for me, thank you,’ she refused stiltedly, not exactly comfortable with this situation; she felt as if she had been coerced into it, and it didn’t sit well with her normally self-sufficient nature.

He gave her a considering look. ‘You look as if a few pounds in weight wouldn’t do you any harm.’ He arched pointed brows at her almost boyish figure.

Juliet was well aware of the fact that she was probably more slender now than she had ever been in her twenty-seven years, and that it didn’t exactly suit her to be this thin, but she certainly didn’t appreciate this man telling her so. ‘Just coffee, thanks,’ she told him abruptly, intending to drink up as quickly as possible and make her escape.

But as he nodded before pouring the steaming hot brew into the waiting cup she knew that that wasn’t going to be immediately possible, not unless she wanted to make a complete idiot of herself by scalding her mouth in her haste! She added plenty of cream when he placed the cup in front of her, but even so she knew it was still going to be too hot to drink just yet.

‘I’m Liam, by the way.’ He looked at her enquiringly.

‘Juliet,’ she muttered into her cup, just as unforthcoming, before taking a hesitant sip of the steaming liquid. It was as hot as she had suspected, and she put the cup back down again, resigned to spending more time than she wanted in this man’s company.

‘Thanks.’ He smiled dismissively at the waiter as he arrived with the other cup and saucer. ‘Are you here on business or pleasure?’

Juliet looked up at him sharply as she realised that he was once again talking to her. ‘Business?’ she echoed tautly.

He shrugged broad shoulders, relaxing back in his chair. ‘There are plenty of business opportunities here. Even this hotel is up for sale.’

And she hardly looked in a position to buy one of the Carlyle hotels! ‘So I believe,’ she answered non-committally. ‘Is that why you’re here?’ she returned challengingly.

He shook his head. ‘This is purely a pleasure trip for me. I was just curious about you; you don’t look the usual type to book into an adventure playground like this one.’ He raised questioning brows at her.

Juliet bristled with indignation. What ‘type’ did she look? Oh, he was right, of course, but even so…!

And he hardly looked like the bored socialite in search of the sun—a description which seemed to fit most of the guests here. ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time.’ She shrugged dismissively.

Liam nodded. ‘Thinking about a holiday and actually taking one are two different things, aren’t they?’ he said drily.

‘But you’ve only just arrived here—I mean, I haven’t seen you around for the last week,’ she explained awkwardly, that colour back in her cheeks as she realised that she had given away the fact that he was the sort of man she would have noticed if she had seen him before. But she would have done; he was hardly the type of man to be overlooked in a crowd, let alone here at this hotel! Nevertheless, she felt a little embarrassed at having acknowledged the fact.

‘I arrived last night. As you said, it seemed like a good idea at the time,’ he added grimly. ‘Now I’m not so sure.’

‘You’ve hardly given yourself time,’ Juliet pointed out.

Liam looked at her over the rim of his coffeecup, having ignored the cream and sugar to drink it black. ‘How long have you been here?’ he drawled.

She shrugged. ‘Almost a week.’

‘And?’ He arched blond brows.

She suddenly realised the point he was making. ‘I didn’t come here with the intention of enjoying myself,’ she snapped irritably.

He sat back once again. ‘No? Then you are here on business?’

This man was altogether too curious, too probing, too damned direct! ‘Perhaps,’ she returned non-committally, trying the coffee once again, just wanting to drink it and be on her way back to her own suite of rooms.

‘I’m not that daunting, am I?’

She looked up sharply to find that Liam was watching her, amusement dancing in those deep blue eyes now as he looked pointedly at the halfempty cup in her hand. Juliet put the cup back in its saucer with a clatter. ‘I think I should get back to my suite now. I would like to shower and change before breakfast,’ she told him stiltedly.

He nodded. ‘Join me for lunch?’

She stiffened defensively. ‘No, I——’

‘We’re both on our own, Juliet,’ he cut in reasonably. ‘It’s ridiculous for the two of us to eat alone.’

She stood up abruptly, her hair falling loosely over her narrow shoulders, a blaze of red in the sunshine. ‘I prefer to eat alone, thank you,’ she snapped. ‘And I’m certainly not here for a pickup!’ She was breathing hard in her agitation.

Liam appeared unmoved by her outburst, looking at her consideringly. ‘I didn’t for one moment think that you were,’ he finally said softly.

Juliet gave him one last frowning look before turning on her heel and hurrying away across the garden to the main entrance of the hotel, very conscious as she did so that he was watching every step of her departure.

She began to breathe easily again once she was inside the reception area, although the haste of her steps didn’t lessen as she hurried over to the lift and waited impatiently for its arrival to the ground floor. Not that she thought for one moment that the man, Liam, would follow her; she just felt completely disturbed by the whole encounter, wanted to get to the privacy of her own suite as quickly as possible so that she could begin to relax her jangled nerves.

Not that Liam had been the first man to show some sort of interest in her since her arrival here. There had been several other single men in the complex who had obviously seen her as a prime target for a holiday romance, although she hadn’t thought any of them particularly had romance in mind, more like a bed-partner for the duration of their stay! But she hadn’t been interested in any of their overtures, and she certainly wasn’t interested in Liam’s either.

It wasn’t that he wasn’t an attractive man—she would be fooling herself if she didn’t acknowledge that—but she wasn’t interested in a relationship of any kind, of any duration, with anyone.

She had come here for quite a different reason, and after six days of waiting she had to accept that it had been a wasted journey. It had been made out of desperation anyway—a last-ditch attempt to locate and talk to Edward Carlyle before it was too late. The problem was that he had made it very clear that he didn’t want to talk to her, that he had nothing to say to her, and it had been a purely accidental comment, made by the secretary she had plagued for days for information of his whereabouts, which had made it possible for her to know that he would be on the island of Majorca at this time to meet a prospective buyer for his hotel. This hotel.

Instead of showering and changing as she had said she was going to she lay on the bed staring up at the pristine white ceiling. Time was running out, and she just didn’t know what to do to stop everything collapsing around her ears. Edward Carlyle was the key, she knew that, but she also knew he had every intention of letting things collapse.

She had never met the man, but she knew of him from his father, William, knew that the two men had argued years before, with Edward leaving the family and the family business with a vow never to return to either. And now that family business was in danger of falling. Without Edward Carlyle’s intervention, that was exactly what it was going to do. And so far he had proved impervious to her request that the two of them should meet to discuss the matter.

She had been stunned when on William’s death two months ago, his will had revealed that he had left Carlyle Properties jointly between Juliet and his remaining son Edward, his younger son having died several years earlier. As William’s personal assistant Juliet obviously knew how to run the company, but with a completely joint ownership between herself and Edward Carlyle, an exact fiftyfifty split, it was impossible for her to make any major decisions without the approval of the other partner. And Edward Carlyle refused even to acknowledge her letters, let alone come to England and talk over the running of the business.

It was deliberate, Juliet was sure of that. She knew that even though his father was now dead Edward Carlyle must still harbour feelings of anger towards William, that the family rift was still there despite the death of one of the participants. Edward Carlyle was going to let his father’s property business fail simply by being indifferent to its existence!

Obviously, with the success of his own chain of exclusive hotels all over the world, Edward Carlyle didn’t need Carlyle Properties, but Juliet felt a sense of loyalty to William to keep the company going. He had done so much for her, she didn’t want to let him down now…

She had tried what had amounted almost to camping out in Edward Carlyle’s head office in England, the luxurious suite of offices from where he supposedly ran the hotel chain. But it had transpired that he spent little time there, preferring to be actually in the hotels themselves to ensure their efficient running.

And no wonder, if this hotel complex was anything to go by; in the six days Juliet had been here she had quickly realised how easy it would be to become used to the attentive luxury of a place like this! There was everything one could possibly need here to ensure every comfort. Except Edward Carlyle himself!

Unfortunately the property business was still a difficult thing to be in, and William had only just managed to salvage the company three years before when the market had collapsed around a lot of people’s ears. Things were starting to pick up again now for anyone who had actually survived that collapse, but, even so, decisions still had to be made very carefully. And without Edward Carlyle’s agreement Juliet couldn’t make any at all

She turned over on the bed with a pained groan. She had to find Edward Carlyle. She just had to. Two more days and she would go back to England and start her search for him all over again. While there was still time she wasn’t about to give up. She couldn’t! She owed it to William not to…

She hadn’t even been aware of dozing off, but she knew that she must have been asleep for some time when she rolled over on the bed to see the bright sunshine blazing through the doors that led out to the balcony of this first-floor suite. A quick glance at her watch revealed that it was after eleven o’clock. Almost lunchtime, and she hadn’t even had breakfast yet!

As usual, there was a buffet lunch being set out in one of the gardens when Juliet ventured downstairs almost an hour later, having showered and changed into a cotton sundress of a bright red colour that somehow managed not to clash with the blaze of her now confined hair, a tortoiseshell slide loosely securing its curling length at her nape. It had been strange, a week ago in England, packing all her summer things to bring away with her; in early November in England it was already cold and wintry.

The man, Liam, was the last person she wanted to see as she approached one of the tables placed about the garden near the buffet. He was seated at another table a short distance away, watching her with narrowed blue eyes, still wearing the faded denims but having put on a short-sleeved shirt of the same sky-blue colour as his eyes. His hair looked even more golden in the bright midday sun, his skin tanned a dark bronze.

No doubt, like a lot of the other guests here, he spent a great deal of time sitting around in the sun doing nothing but improving his tan, Juliet thought disgruntledly as she put her laden plate down on the table and sat down abruptly, carefully avoiding looking across at Liam as she did so.

She no longer felt hungry as she looked down at the salad and fruit on her plate. What was she doing here? This wasn’t her sort of place at all; these weren’t her sort of people either. God, it was all such a waste of time, and——

‘I should eat that if I were you,’ murmured a familiar voice from above her. ‘You look as if a puff of wind might blow you away!’ Liam added grimly.

Juliet had looked up at him at the first sound of his voice, and her face became flushed with irritation now as she heard his last comment. ‘I would hardly have selected the food if I didn’t intend eating it,’ she bit out tautly, deliberately picking up her fork at his taunt to stab at a piece of melon and put it pointedly in her mouth, meeting his gaze challengingly once she had done so.

‘Fruit and salad…’ He was shaking his head as he lowered his lean length into the seat next to her. ‘It’s hardly going to pile on the pounds, is it?’

She swallowed the piece of melon, almost choking on it as she realised she had forgotten to chew it. ‘I don’t want to “pile on the pounds", thank you!’ she finally managed to snap.

Liam sat forward, his elbows resting on the table beside her, the hair on his tanned arms a golden blond too. ‘It may be fashionable to be thin, Juliet,’ he said softly, ‘but most men prefer a woman they can actually hold on to.’

She gasped at his familiarity; didn’t this man know how to take a hint? It must be perfectly obvious to him by now that she didn’t appreciate his intrusive company. God, she had told him bluntly enough that she wasn’t in the market to be picked up. But maybe that fact alone was a challenge to him, she wearily acknowledged; he looked like the sort of man who would relish any sort of challenge offered to him!

Well, she had said it, and she meant it; she had much more important things to do here than become the plaything of a man like Liam. ‘I really don’t care what “most men prefer",’ she told him with sweet venom. ‘Now, if you wouldn’t mind, I would like to eat my lunch in peace.’ She looked at him pointedly.

‘Don’t mind me.’ He relaxed back in his chair, folding his arms across his chest to watch her with narrowed blue eyes.

That was hardly what she had meant and he knew it! What was she supposed to do now? Because she had no intention of eating her lunch with this man sitting there watching her every move.

‘You——’ She broke off, looking past him to the table where he had been sitting minutes earlier.

A woman was now sitting at the table, looking across at the two of them enquiringly—a beautiful woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties, her blonde hair short but perfectly styled, make-up expertly applied. And she was obviously waiting for Liam…He hadn’t wasted much time since his arrival here; breakfast with Juliet, lunch with this other woman! And the other woman, with her slightly voluptuous figure, looked exactly the sort of woman a man could hold on to!

Juliet turned back to Liam. ‘I believe your luncheon guest has just arrived,’ she informed him directly.

He turned to glance casually over at his table, lifting his hand to the woman in an acknowledging salute, before turning back to Juliet. ‘Perhaps I’ll see you later,’ he said huskily as he stood up to leave.

Not if she saw him first! Avoiding this persistent man was going to make these last two days of her stay even more of a trial than the previous six had been. But maybe not, she thought with a grimace as she saw the way the beautiful blonde woman looked up and smiled at him as he joined her at the table; he looked as if he might have his time filled quite adequately by her. Thank God!

Men, especially of the type she guessed Liam to be, were not something she wanted in her life. She didn’t want any man in her life!

Except Edward Carlyle. She desperately needed to have him in her life, in the life of Carlyle Properties—otherwise there wasn’t going to be a company at all.

That thought put her totally off eating any more of her lunch, and she put the fork down, the food untouched—except for that piece of melon she had so defiantly eaten when Liam had been sitting with her.

She wanted to leave, having totally lost her appetite, but she was very conscious of the fact that if she did so Liam would no doubt watch her going.

What difference did it make if Liam watched her leave? she irritably admonished herself, standing up determinedly; it was none of his business whether or not she ate her lunch!

She walked past the table where he sat with the attractive blonde woman, her head held high. Deep in conversation with his luncheon companion, he didn’t even glance her way.

And Juliet was even more annoyed with herself for even thinking that he would have noticed her departure!

There was something so very beautiful about Majorca in the evening. The sunset brought into focus all the beauty of the orange-pink stonework of the buildings that were prevalent on this lovely island, of the hotel itself as Juliet walked along the sea-shore towards it on her way to dinner, bathed in the pink glow of sunset.

If only she could be like the other carefree holiday-makers here just wanting to enjoy themselves. But it seemed like years since she had been carefree. If she ever had been!

There had been years of being in foster care and then several more years of being out in the world on her own. Before meeting Simon…

At the thought of him she brought her thoughts to an abrupt halt. She hadn’t thought of him for years; refused to think of him. It was all too painful…

Then why was she thinking of him now? She frowned. She knew why. That man, Liam, in some way reminded her of Simon. Oh, not in his manner; Liam was much more self-assured and powerful than Simon had ever been. Simon had been so weak. But their colouring was the same; Simon had been blond as Liam, with the same deep blue eyes. He had been almost as tall as the other man too.

Maybe that was one of the reasons why Liam had evoked such a strong response within her; she could usually handle any advances made to her without feeling as if she was running away! But Liam had made her feel defensive from the first. And now she knew the reason why. He reminded her of Simon, the man she had once loved so deeply…

And, having realised that, Juliet found it was not conducive to her peace of mind that Liam was the first person she saw when she entered the hotel dining-room half an hour later. He was seated alone at a table near a window that overlooked the tranquil bay of this beautiful resort in the north of the island, his luncheon companion noticeably absent. And he looked devastatingly attractive in a white dinner-jacket and snowy white shirt with a white bow-tie, his blond hair brushed back from his face, his eyes deeply blue against his tan.

Juliet looked quickly away from him because he seemed to sense her gaze on him and turned in the direction of the doorway she had just walked through. Probably he had been expecting the beautiful blonde from lunch; he was obviously waiting for someone, as his table was set for two people. And the other woman would probably want to make a grand entrance when she did arrive— unlike Juliet, who just wanted to reach her table as quickly as possible, away from that piercing blue gaze which she could feel was watching her every move now.

The black dress she wore was plain but stylish, fitting neatly to the smooth contours of her body, showing the extent of her shapely legs beneath its knee-length hem. Her hair, the long red curls wilder than usual from the slight breeze that had blown up this afternoon, was loosely confined at her nape with a black slide this time, her make-up light, her lip-gloss a light peach colour.

She had checked her appearance before she’d left her suite, and knew she looked elegantly attractive rather than showily sexy—the way she had always liked to look when she had acted as William’s hostess during business dinners. It was a style of dress that made her feel comfortable. But not so with Liam watching her so intently!

She kept her gaze on the back of the maitre d’ as he took her to her table, looking to neither left nor right of the elegant candlelit dining-room as she did so, not wanting even inadvertently to meet the gaze of the man Liam.

‘Good evening, Juliet.’

She looked up at the sound of his voice, her eyes widening as she realised that the maitre d’ had left after showing her to the table Liam occupied. Liam was standing now as he looked down at her with amused blue eyes.

She shook her head, colour darkening her cheeks. ‘There seems to have been some sort of mistake…’ She looked about her self-consciously.

‘No mistake, Juliet,’ he assured her smoothly, coming around the table to pull back the chair that was placed opposite his.

She frowned up at him, making no move to sit in the chair. ‘But I don’t want to have dinner with you,’ she blurted out bluntly.

‘Oh, I think you do, Juliet,’ he murmured derisively, that amusement still in his dark blue eyes.

She looked up at him indignantly. ‘I most certainly do not!’ she snapped. ‘What happened to your companion from lunch? Didn’t it work out?’ she scorned with obvious sarcasm. Really, this man was extremely arrogant to have assumed that she would be willing to have dinner with him, even going so far as to tell the maitre d’—obviously, because the other man had shown her to this table without hesitation!—that she would be joining him. Well, she had no intention of doing so!

The amusement gone from his eyes now, his gaze narrowed. ‘Sit down, Juliet,’ he told her softly, but nevertheless in a voice that brooked no further argument.

No doubt he was uncomfortable with the attention—albeit discreetly—that was being directed their way from the other diners in the room because of her obvious reluctance to join him at his table. Probably this had never happened to him before, Juliet realised disgustedly.

Her gaze was steady as she looked up at him, grey eyes cool and calm. ‘I told you, I don’t want to have dinner with you,’ she said evenly, her voice lowered.

Liam straightened, his expression grim now. ‘And if you remember I said that you do,’ he returned challengingly.

Her eyes widened now. He really was the most…! ‘Maybe this arrogant approach works with some women,’ she snapped indignantly, ‘but it certainly isn’t going to work with me! Now, if you’ll excuse me…?’ She looked at him pointedly as he stood firmly in the way of her walking away from the table.

‘Certainly.’ He stepped back. ‘But I was under the impression,’ he added softly as she turned away, ‘that you wanted to talk to me.’

Juliet turned back dazedly. ‘I can’t imagine how you ever gained that impression,’ she said incredulously. ‘Other than bluntly telling you I don’t care whether I ever set eyes on you again, I’ve done everything I could to show you that I’m not interested in whatever you have in mind. You really do have the most monumental arrogance, Mr…Liam!’ Her eyes flashed her anger as she glared up at him.

‘The name is Carlyle, Juliet,’ he told her softly. ‘Edward William Carlyle,’ he added pointedly. ‘Are you still of the opinion that you don’t care whether you ever set eyes on me again?’ He coolly returned her gaze, his brows raised mockingly.

.

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