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Hands On

Written by Clare Connelly

Chapter Six

“OH, JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.”

I don’t know what’s worse. The pain from my stubbed toe or the fact the jerking movement caused me to drop my coffee cup straight down, landing it hard against my breasts. The heat from the drink spreads over my chest at the same moment Jack Grant presses the buzzer to my hotel. At least, I presume it’s Jack Grant. It’s not like the doorbell sounds any different than it would if it were a doorman or Ed Sheeran, but it’s five minutes before I was expecting him and it’s so like him to be early.

“Just a second,” I call.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

I look in the mirror and wince at the image I make. The beautiful cream blouse that I’d teamed with a pair of wide-bottomed pants is never going to be the same again. I doubt even my superstar drycleaner, Artie, will have any luck with this.

Shit.

I spare a glance at my wristwatch and shake my head.

I have the outfit I wore yesterday. There’s nothing for it; I’ll have to get changed. Damn Jack for suggesting we come to Paris about an hour before his private jet was ready to take off. Damn him for telling me only once we were on the plane that we’d be meeting with the French President.

This has been his form for weeks.

Itineraries that I have double and triple checked, prepared for, anticipated, have been swapped at the last moment. There is very little rhyme or reason to how he operates. There are instincts and connections and he is peripatetic and confusing, and yet he is also brilliant and energizing.

The doorbell rings again and I grind my teeth together. Of course Jack Grant won’t wait.

I stride to the door quickly, already undoing the top button of my shirt.

“Hi.” I’m curter than I intended to be but, then again, I’ve just spilled boiling-hot coffee down my front, ruined a very nice, very expensive shirt, all about forty minutes before our meeting with the French President. I’d say that’s a good reason to be more than mildly stressed, wouldn’t you?

“Gemma?” His eyes drop to my shirt and heat spreads right to my hairline. “Your shirt is… wet.”

“Oh, is it? Jeez, I hadn’t noticed,” I snap sarcastically. “I need ten minutes. I’ll meet you in the foyer.”

“No.” He shakes his head. “I need to go over some of the figures with you. We’ll have to talk while you get changed.”

My mouth drops. “Oh.”

“It’s okay,” he says, his smile sending barbs of warmth and awareness shooting through me. “I won’t look. Scout’s honour.”

“I think you have to have been a member of the Boy Scouts for that to work.”

“And you think I wasn’t?”

I pull a face. “I’d hazard a guess…”

“Then I guess you’ll just have to trust me.” His wink is anything but trustworthy.

“Fine,” I grumble, pulling the door wider and stepping back. “Face that way.” I point towards the back wall of the room, willing myself to ignore the enormous bed as I pass it. “And keep your eyes shut.”

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Clare Connelly

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