My Dad's Best Friend (A Touch of Taboo #3) - Katee Robert Page 0,1

a once-over. I started this trip looking like a put-together business woman in a slim button-down white blouse, a pencil skirt, and reasonably low heels. I even stopped to freshen up twice—at the rental car place and on the ferry before we arrived at this island. For all the good it did me. No doubt I look like a drowned rat now.

Jonas’s gaze lingers on my breasts before he jerks his eyes to mine. “I don’t suppose you’ll get in your car and go home if I slam the door in your face?”

I could threaten to call my father, but that’s like giving up. It doesn’t matter how close he and Jonas are, how often they talk on the phone, how many golfing trips they take throughout the year. That’s between my father and him. This is business.

I lift my chin. “It’d be a shame if I made a scene and irritated all your neighbors.” There are only a house or two within sight, and none are close, but it’s the best threat I can come up with.

He narrows his blue eyes. “I seem to remember you being a lot sweeter the last time we had a conversation.”

I really, really hope the chill of the rain is hiding my blush. Sweeter. That’s one way to describe the fact that the few minutes we were alone I’d stared up at him like a rabbit facing down a tiger. Except a rabbit shouldn’t want to be devoured by the tiger. I’d all but thrown myself at him, at least as much as I was capable of at the time with my flickering courage, and he’d carefully, politely, coldly rejected me.

A lot’s changed in six years. I really hope that I’ve changed, too. “I’m not leaving until you hear me out.”

“The answer is no.”

“You haven’t heard the pitch.”

Jonas curses and steps back. “Just stay there for a second. I don’t want you dripping all over my floors.”

“Your care and kindness are noted,” I say drily.

As he moves out of the way, a blast of warm air hits me and I shiver. I hadn’t realized how cold it is out here until now, and it’s like once my body has registered the feeling, it cascades over me all at once. I glance overhead at the ominous dark clouds. It rains all the time in the Pacific Northwest. That’s what everyone says. Surely this storm isn’t as worrisome as it seems? I have a flight to catch tonight, and I have absolutely no desire to be stuck in Seattle.

Jonas returns with a large towel and hands it to me. “Here. Now get in here and give me your pitch so you can leave.”

Stepping into the house is like being enveloped in a warm hug. The cozy vibe the outside gives is exponentially stronger in here. I study the room, trying to pinpoint exactly what he’s done to create this intense feeling. It might be the large leather couches carefully arranged around the fireplace, its chimney the focal point of the room as it stretches from floor to ceiling, made entirely of river rock. Or maybe it’s the vaulted ceilings overhead and the thick rug covering the hard wood floors.

“Take off your shoes.”

I step out of them automatically, but I’m starting to register just how soaked I am. My stockings rub against my skin in a way that sets my teeth on edge and my skirt and top are sodden. Damn it, this isn’t how I wanted to have this conversation.

This isn’t even the conversation I wanted to have, but my personal feelings don’t matter right now. Neither does that holiday party six years ago or the sting of rejection I can still feel. The company is my priority, and it’s more important than my pride. I’m done being safe, which means it’s time to put everything on the table and hope it’s enough to convince Jonas to change his mind.

2

I follow Jonas around the corner, bypassing a staircase to the second floor, and into his kitchen. It’s just as cozy as the rest of the house. White cabinets, dark marble countertops, a few key pops of color to keep it from feeling cold. I frown at the gray subway tile backsplash. “Did you design this place?”

“Yeah.” He puts an old fashioned tea kettle on the gas stove and turns it on. “Too much of a control freak to do otherwise.”

Just more evidence of how adaptable he is as both architect and designer. He obviously wanted

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