Excerpt from A Dangerous Man
EXCERPT FROM A DANGEROUS MAN
COPYRIGHT © TRACY COOPER-POSEY 2020
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
She turned to face the doors, commanding herself to relax. There were only two controls. Up and down. An express elevator. Her guide touched the top one, and the doors shut instantly.
They were lifted up, swiftly and smoothly, and Kate found herself clutching her backpack strap with anxious tenseness, and willed her fingers to loosen. Really, what could the man do to her? What could either of them do? This was simply a command to attend an audience with the financial kingpin of Perth, and if her guess was right, it was his elaborate way of saying thank-you.
It was a fast trip to the top, but it was enough time for her apprehension to develop a weak strain of indignation, as she followed this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion. Her indignation changed to righteous anger when she considered the manner with which she was being dealt. The arrogance of a man to suppose she would just drop everything and come running at his command!
But you did, didn’t you? The mental voice was cool, and damped some of her hot anger down.
When the doors swished efficiently open, Kate’s anger and apprehension had diminished. The balance of emotions allowed her to study the foyer the lift opened onto with detached, almost clinical, interest.
Cool marble floors and walls, and dim lighting. To the right a set of double doors, with ornate, polished brass handles. She followed the thin art deco line that bordered the doors up … and up. The doors were incredibly tall. Deliberately so, she judged, to impress and perhaps even awe the visitor who dared to cross the threshold.
And it worked, she admitted to herself. The silence, the cold hard surfaces, and the imposing doors—the only doors leading off the foyer—all tended to press down on one’s self-esteem. Those who came with any weakness of spirit at all would be crushed. She wondered why Logan North’s designers had chosen such dim lighting, though. Surely, she thought facetiously, dazzling, clinical spotlights would have more effect?
Her unspoken question was answered when the man crossed the floor to the doors, and pushed them both open in one dramatic sweep. Light—dazzling, eye-watering beams—blazed out at her from the open doorway, and Kate winced, and lifted a hand to shield her eyes.
“Please come in, Miss McAllister,” the driver said.
She stepped forward, aiming for the light, all but blinded. If there had been any obstruction in her way, she would have tripped.
Inside, she stopped, and tried to adjust to the light level. The little man stepped to her side. She looked at him. “Please … the light.”
“My apologies, Miss McAllister. I had forgotten the time,” said another voice. It was rich, deep, and precisely controlled, but recognisably the voice of the man she had spoken to on Monday night. There was a quiet hum, and gradually the dazzling light faded. She could see in front of her a huge expanse of plate glass windows. Slowly crossing their length on motorised pulleys were long elegant curtains. They were light, almost sheer, yet sufficient to cut the glare of the late afternoon sun bouncing off the windows of neighbouring skyscrapers, and also from the surface of the Swan River, laid out below in panoramic proportions.
Kate soaked up the spectacular view before it was completely veiled. She looked around to her right as movement in her peripheral vision alerted her to the speaker’s position.
“The sun always intrudes at this time of day,” he said, “but as no one else has walked through the door for several hours now, I’d forgotten to draw the curtains.”
I bet, Kate thought. She took a breath to steady herself. The blinding effect of the sunlight had thrown her composure a little. She looked at the tall man stepping around the huge desk and walking towards her. Yes, it was Logan North. She recognised him now, both from his silhouette and way of moving on Monday night, and his features from sports television, years ago. Bryan, her younger brother, had been the racing nut in the family. That had been when her mother was still alive.
Before Kate had abuptly left home.
Logan North stopped in front of her, and held out his hand. “Miss McAllister,” he said.
She accepted the offered hand, and prepared herself for a bone crushing grip. Even those men who were prepared to offer their hand to a woman in these days of equality still often couldn’t resist showing their physical superiority by squeezing like a vice.
But Logan North’s grip was simply firm. No nonsense. A simple formality instead of a macho ritual. Instead, Kate found herself looking down at his hand, surprised by the touch of long slim fingers, and the distinct feel of calluses. Yes, calluses, she saw.
“I work on my own cars,” he said. “I have a temperamental Jaguar that gets sulky if anyone else tries to work on it.”
She looked up again, disconcerted that he had identified her glance correctly. She had to lift her chin to look at him, which secretly pleased her. There weren’t many men she had to look up to. He must be about six foot two, she judged, looking into his black eyes. Black Irish, she identified.
The Celtic colouring was unmistakable; black hair, black eyes, thick brows and dark lashes. Fine skin smoothed over high cheekbones, down—abruptly—to a square, sharp jaw. One thick brow lifted in reaction to her perusal, and she dissembled by saying; “Yes, you’re Logan North. You’re the man I saw Monday night.”
“You were in doubt?” he asked, releasing her hand, and motioning her to sit on one of the leather visitor’s chairs sitting in front of his desk. No cute coffee table and conversational grouping for this man. Just him behind his desk, and the visitor in front of him.
She sat, sinking into the luxurious chair, which seemed to curl around her body with expertly proportioned curves.
Logan North, unexpectedly, sat on the edge of his desk in front of her. It forced her to crane her head up to look at him. It was even worse than having him behind the desk, she thought.
“I had a few moments where I didn’t believe your … agent,” she admitted. “How did you find out who I was, Mr. North?”
“Logan. Mr North was my father.”
“How did you find me?” Kate repeated, refusing to be redirected.
“I saw your number plate. I have a friend in the police force, and when I explained I wished to find you and thank you for what you did on Monday night, he supplied me with your name and your employer. From there, I was directed to the university as the place where I could find you during the day. I assume you were delivering pizzas that night?”
“Yes,” she answered shortly, trying to keep track of the dozen questions that had sprung to her mind from his reply. She asked the most pressing question first. “Is that why you have virtually dragged me here? To thank me?”
He studied her, and she thought she could see a hint of surprise in his expression. “Yes, amongst other things. Why do you say ‘dragged’ in that way? Peter didn’t hurt you, did he?”
“No, but he wasn’t pleasant either.” Kate could feel some of the indignation and anger she had felt in the lift return to her now, prompted by the reminder of the man’s arrogant wielding of power. “He blocked my car, and I was told I must come with him because you wanted to see me. I wasn’t given much choice at all. Don’t you ever use the phone? Or write letters? Even a simple card would have done.”
“I see. Then I must apologise for Peter’s oversight. He didn’t fully explain the situation to you. I merely wished to extend an invitation to you to speak with me. There are some questions I wanted to ask you—to clarify the situation, and settle the matter that lies between us.”
Kate felt her anger fade away yet again, this time pushed aside by puzzlement. “I’m sorry?” she said, completely lost. “What matter?”
Logan North crossed him arms. “Why did you stop on Monday night, Miss McAllister?”
“Why? Because of the boys sneaking up on you. One of them had a golf club. They weren’t going to help you—not in that area.”
“And you were? Going to help me, that is.”
Kate was really puzzled now. “Well … yes, I suppose it might have come to that. I didn’t really think about it too much. They were there. You had your back to them. So I stopped, and it scared them off.” She shrugged. “It’s really not such a big deal. I’m not sure I would have been much use to you if they hadn’t turned tail and run. I carry a big industrial torch with me and it makes a pretty good blunt weapon, but there were four of them.”
“And you didn’t know who I was? I was a stranger to you?”
“I couldn’t even see your face. The street light was behind you, which is how I saw the boys, and my headlights were shining in the other direction.” Kate stared at him. “You’re not implying what I think you’re implying, are you?”
He almost smiled. “What am I implying?” he asked.
Kate hesitated before answering him directly. Surely he didn’t suspect her of ulterior motives? He had been a stranger to her. Suddenly, all her anger returned, this time swollen with true indignation now she knew where she stood with him. “That’s the ‘matter’, isn’t it?” she said, standing up. She couldn’t sit still, and she wanted to be eye to eye with him. “You think I stopped to help you for some sort of reward or something, didn’t you?”
“I’ve had some experience sorting out fortune-hunters before,” he replied calmly.
“Coming to the rescue of the famous billionaire? Hell’s bells!” Kate whirled away, stalking in a tight little circle, searching for words to adequately express her disgust. She finished her circuit and stopped, facing him.
“Firstly, Mr. Logan, let me point out that what I did, I would have done for anyone. As far as I was concerned on Monday night you were anyone. I had no idea who you were. And secondly, might I point out that if I had stopped to help with the idea of squeezing some sort of reward out of you, why did I leave again so quickly? Any self-possessed fortune hunter would have at least given you their name and address.”
“Why did you leave so quickly?” he asked.
Kate shook her head, disbelief warring with her indignation. “Because the pizzas were getting cold. It’s an open top Suzuki. The wind chills them off fast, despite the heat-wave.” She looked at him, trying to struggle with the issue from his point of view. “Haven’t you ever had strangers stop to help you before, Mr Logan? Not for material reward, but simply because that’s the right thing to do?”
“Not that I remember,” he said simply.
Kate struggled to deal with that concept. “Never?” she asked.
“No. Although I accept that it does happen, and that you were genuinely trying to help that night. So….” He stood too. “What can I do in return, Miss McAllister?”
This time, she was really astounded. She stared at him. “I beg your pardon?”
“What is it that you need? Clothes?” His glanced flicked down and up her length, taking in her student uniform. “Books? Your rent paid? Name your price.”
Kate clenched her jaw together firmly, and counted to ten, then on to fifteen for good measure, before unclenching her jaw enough to allow her to speak. “You can’t buy me off, Mr. North. I’m not for sale, and never will be. I’m astonished you are attempting it, but then I don’t move in the same circles as you so I’m not used to it. And I’m immensely glad I’m not.”
She shook her head sorrowfully. “I will forgive you for the insult, as you don’t know any better.” She settled her backpack upon her shoulder again. “I want to be returned to my car. Now.” She walked back across to the doors, and stood there, waiting for Peter to escort her back to the lift.
But beyond a satisfying love story, it is a well-written book. It reminded me of why I fell in love with reading in the first place.
This book was a wonderful read. She dangled the happy ending like a carrot until the very last page.
…exceptionally drawn characters
…had me breathless from the first page
I could not help but fall in love with this well-written story and the characters on their path to self-discovery
Kate needs money. Logan craves solitude.
When Kate’s car breaks down for the last time, her delicate financial balance topples, forcing her to reach out to the last man she wants to see: Logan North, the arrogant millionaire who thinks he can buy—or buy off—anyone.
Logan, a former racing car driver and successful businessman, wants to erect a wall between him and the world. Kate’s predicament gives him that chance. Kate will be the perfect shield…as his wife.
This contemporary romance with an edge is part of the Starter Library series, which is only available to readers who subscribe to Tracy’s email list.
1.0: A Dangerous Man
2.0: A Family Affair
3.0: Worlds of Wonder
Books In This Series
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