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Hands On

Written by Clare Connelly

Chapter Three

IT IS MY TURN TO assess him. I narrow my eyes without realizing it, staring at him long and hard. Why doesn’t he want me to take this job?

Is it because he thinks I won’t be able to do it? Pride fires my hackles.

Or is it because he’s a sexist, misogynistic bastard who thinks only a man could possibly fulfil the role he’s offering? No, it can’t be that. He’s got one of the most gender-balanced workforces out there, and was an advocate for equal pay well before it was a hot-button topic.

Or is there another reason?

I stand, not letting my gaze drop from his for even a moment. “I won’t.” I move towards him, and see the way he sucks in a breath, holds it, before pushing out of his chair, bringing himself to his full height. I extend a hand. “I want this job, Mr. Grant.”

For a moment, I think he’s not going to take my hand. I wait, the air around us beats with silent expectation. My fingertips tingle, waiting, wondering.

I am aware of everything. Of every noise, movement, and smell. I am hypersonic.

A rustle of fabric precedes his movement. He pushes his hand forward. Our palms connect solidly; his fingers wrap around mine and his thumb finds the sensitive patch of flesh bridging fingers to thumb. Warmth spreads like wildfire, ravaging me completely. I do not show the effect the simple touch has on me.

I hold my ground and he holds his.

It is over in seconds. We have shaken hands and then we are separate again, two human beings who do not know one another.

“Fine,” he says with a shrug, as though we’ve just agreed to split a cab. “Let’s give it a go.”


Gemma Picton.

I stare at her résumé and see only her face in my mind. Her bright blue eyes, shaped like almonds, and the way they’d seemed to see right inside me.

A sigh rips through me and I reach for my baseball on autopilot and pass it from one hand to the other, feeling the red stitching with the pad of my thumb.

There is nothing wrong with her. Quite the opposite, in fact. She pretty much ticks all the boxes for what I want, professionally. Her academic results are exceptional. She’s clearly very bright. Not to mention her career history which has seen her ascend the ranks of enormous corporations faster than just about anyone. She’s obviously determined.

So why am I scouring the damned thing with a fine-tooth comb, looking for a reason not to hire her?

I like a challenge.

I’m more than a challenge, though.

I’m a mess.

And I suspect Gemma is going to work that out in no time flat.

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Clare Connelly

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