TESS TREMAINE tapped out the chorus of ‘Like a Virgin’ on the gleaming granite floor of Graystone Enterprises’s thirty-eighth-floor San Francisco reception area and focused on the opaque glass door to Nathaniel Graystone’s inner sanctum.
A lead weight the size of a football sat in the pit of her stomach. The exact same lead football that had sat there more than a decade ago, when she’d been fifteen, sporting gelled magenta hair and a nose ring, and had watched her father’s face go red with anger.
The good news was the purple spikes and the nose ring were gone. Her hair was now her natural honey blonde, currently twisted into a sophisticated chignon. The bad news was Tess Tremaine, wild child, wasn’t as dead and gone as her once dreadful fashion sense.
She might have lost the bad attitude and the bad hair, acquired a decent wardrobe and a whole new layer of sophistication, eventually crossing the Atlantic to pursue a career as one of the most sought-after freelance event planners, but underneath the poise, the professionalism and the designer clothes still lurked that attention-seeking little tart.
Tess crossed her legs, smoothed a shaky palm down the seam of her pencil skirt and started to tap her heel against the granite again—earning a flicker of a frown from Graystone’s perfectly groomed PA.
The lead football turned into a block of cement as she gazed out of the glass wall to her right at the vertigo-
inducing view of the Bay Bridge.
For the first time since that long-ago scene in her father’s study, she didn’t have a clue what to do next. No amount of tough talk, hard work or careful restyling would erase that one act of insanity at the Galloway after-party six weeks ago. Of course, at the time she’d been emotionally raw, or she never would have fallen for Graystone’s focused attention so easily.
Under any normal circumstances she would have been flattered by his interest, but she would have remained dignified and aloof—and completely sober. But that night hadn’t been normal circumstances.
Dan had dumped her, after thirteen months of dating, and she hadn’t seen it coming. He’d accused her of being frigid. And while that might actually be true—because sex with Dan had been about as exciting as watching wood warp—she’d still been angry and hurt and confused. Surely their sex life wasn’t the only thing that mattered? Didn’t compatibility and companionship count for anything?
And Dan’s timing had been impeccable, because no sooner had he dropped his bombshell, than she’d had to dash off to assist with one of the Bay Area’s biggest events of the year.
So she could cut herself some slack there, but not nearly enough.
Maybe she’d been hurt and angry and out of kilter, but that still didn’t excuse the two glasses of champagne she’d guzzled on an empty stomach as soon as she’d arrived or the way she’d so quickly become intoxicated with Graystone’s industrial-strength testosterone once her hosting duties were over.
She should have kept her eyes and her hands to herself. She should never have flirted with him, she should never have encouraged him, because it had been obvious as soon as he had arrived in his imposing black tuxedo, with his little coterie of yes-men and women, exuding power and authority and a potent danger, that a man like Graystone could eat a frigid party planner like her for breakfast.
But then the reckless little tart of her youth had put in an appearance—and everything she’d worked so hard to bury since that day in her father’s office had come fizzing back to life.
Her heel stopped in mid-air as she recalled Graystone hoisting her up against the door of the utility closet behind the Skyline’s kitchens as if she weighed nothing at all, and thrusting heavily inside her, filling up places that Dan had never even come close to touching.
Heat welled up and washed through her.
Don’t think about that now. You’re in enough trouble already.
Yes, the experience had been short and sweaty and far too sexy. So sexy in fact she’d been limp and sated and virtually comatose before she’d come to her senses and shot out of the closet so fast she’d left her knickers behind.
Tess blinked as another residual hum of heat flashed through her memory.
Unfortunately, forgetting Graystone and their brief, but not-brief-enough encounter wasn’t going to be that straightforward.
Sweat dampened the collar of her blouse at the thought of seeing Nathaniel Graystone again after the way she’d run out on him.
Don’t think about that either.
She tapped harder on the tiles and ignored the pointed glance from the PA. What were the chances he’d even remember her? He’d no doubt been through a long list of easy conquests since they’d hooked up at the Galloway launch. The man had been a sexual dynamo that night.