Opposites attract, it is a well-known fact. At times this leads to insurmountable conflict, when at other times, sit back and watch the fireworks.
Steve Tanakis considers himself cool and calmly confident. Head of a fashion business, he needs to be in control of his life and his business decisions. He decides it is time to find a suitable mother for his son. Through with the pain that comes along with passion, he now considers what he wants is an unemotional wife, one who will fit well into his way of life.
Georgie McNamara, assistant designer in his fashion house, is flamboyant, vivacious, and gregarious, the antitheses to his idea of the perfect choice.
The tiny whirlwind turns Steve’s organized lifestyle upside down, somehow worming her way into his, and his son’s life, foiling all his plans to find that uncomplicated wife. Along the way Steve comes to realize there is a lot more to this bundle of feminine trouble than he first thought. Is she more trouble than he can handle?
“There’s no need to be embarrassed. I have put someone to bed before, you know.” He ignored her hostile glance. “You wouldn’t have been happy if I’d left you in the chair, would you?”
That’s precisely what she would rather he’d done, or woken her so she could go home, but she said, “You’re right. Thank you for being so thoughtful. I was waiting up to see how Mrs. Fisher got on, and must have dozed off.” What in heaven’s name did he think when he found her in his domain? “I hope you didn’t think I’d been snooping…in your study. I was looking at your books.”
“And what do you think of my reading tastes?” he asked, a whisper of a smile creasing his sexy mouth.
“Boring, to be precise.” She shrugged at his pained expression. “Sorry, but your tastes aren’t a bit like mine. I mean…I don’t know what I mean,” she blundered to a halt, concentrating on her fruit.
Glancing up, she caught an odd heated look in his eyes which puzzled her. “Why is Jimmy so upset with you?”
“I have to go to Singapore. Jimmy’s displeased because I can’t go away with him for Christmas. He’ll have to go to my parents’ house, which he objects to.”
“I can see his point.” Her face burned and she groaned inwardly.
“We can’t have everything our own way,” he said. “He knows I have a business to run. He’s quite used to me going away.”
Georgie took her eyes off the fruit again to look at him, then wished she hadn’t. She was extremely aware that he’d picked her up, carried her up the stairs and placed her in bed. His hands rested easily on the table and she stared at them dazedly. Those hands had tucked her between the sheets. Feverishly hot she pushed her hair back; lifting it from the slope of her neck. She cleared her throat. “I can see why he’s upset. I guess he’s learnt to accept your frequent trips, but this Christmas holiday seems special to him.”
“It is. I’ve always made sure that we spend two weeks together this time every year. But for once we’ll have to forgo it.” He straightened his shoulders defensively.
“Is money so important you can go off and leave your son at this time of the year? It seems heartless to me.” Georgie clamped her lips together when his face tightened. “I’m sorry. You must think I’m rude. It’s none of my business, but seems a touch cold-hearted.” With a groan she put her fingers over her mouth. Her and her loose tongue!
“Don’t be sorry. I have no argument with the way you speak your mind. I’m inclined to agree with you. Don’t look so stunned,” he said then, his tone soft with amusement. “But this is a huge contract, and means a great deal to me.”
More than your son’s happiness, she wanted to argue, but that would be grossly impertinent. “I couldn’t help overhearing. Jimmy doesn’t seem eager to stay with his grandparents.”
He frowned. “If Grace hadn’t had this accident he could have stayed here, but as it is…” He lifted his shoulders.
“I should be getting home, Lucy will be wondering where I am.” Georgie pushed her chair back and stood.
“Aren’t you going to see Jimmy before you go?”
“No. I really must go.”
“He’ll be disappointed.”
“I think you should be the one to worry about disappointing him, Mr. Tanakis,” she dared to advise.
“Don’t think I’m not.” His beautiful mouth turned down at the corners. “What are you doing over the holiday?” he asked suddenly, surprising her.
“We’re going to Rye. Our Aunt there is our only relative, and we go every Christmas. It’s the only time we see her.” She grimaced.
“Why the face? Isn’t that the ideal spot to spend Christmas?”
“Definitely not. Uncle Sid gets loaded and rakes up memories, then gets annoyed with everyone because they don’t want to listen to him singing. His voice is the pits! He’s Dad’s brother and we feel obliged to go. They didn’t want to know us after our parents died.” She knew how forlorn that sounded. But it was true.
“How would you like to go to my cottage with Jimmy? It’s not far from Rye, and you could drop over to see these people.” He paid his cup an exorbitant amount of attention.
Georgie stared at him. “I couldn’t. There’s Lucy. How will we get to my aunt’s house? There’s no train station nearby.”
“You can take my old station wagon. Then you can drive anywhere you wish.” He fixed her with an intent stare.
“I’ve got my licence, but I’d be too scared to drive your car in case I had an accident.” With a finger she flicked a curl that tickled her ear. His eyes followed the small movement. Flustered, Georgie put her hands behind her back.
“How old is Lucy?”
“Fourteen. She’s… No, I don’t think it would work out.”
“Why not? The car’s insured. Your sister sounds ideal company for Jimmy. You’re obviously used to teenagers and their strange habits.” He grimaced faintly. “More than I can say. Jimmy leaves me stunned at times. How come a woman of twenty-two hasn’t got her own transport in this day and age? I pay you well, don’t I?”
“I like to walk.” She upped her chin. “I only live five minutes away from Sophinia’s and Melbourne has a perfectly adequate public transport system if I wish to go further.”
“What if it’s raining?” He was clearly amazed.
“I love walking in the rain. You should try it. You’d be surprised how refreshing it is.” She grinned.
“I’m sure. So, how about it? I’d be eternally grateful. Jimmy likes you, and he wouldn’t be quite so disgusted with me. I’m sure he’d love your sister, especially if she plays the guitar. You could get a cab to your aunt’s house if you don’t want to drive. It strikes me you aren’t looking forward to spending time with these relatives. You could dodge your uncle’s depressing monologues, and save my face. Did you have anything planned for the rest of the break?”
“Not anything too important,” she said slowly. Georgie rather liked the idea of him being eternally grateful to her. “Lucy and I were going on a few day trips. I was going to make myself a few outfits. I have some brilliant ideas.”
“As unique as the dress you’re wearing?” His eyes wandered up and down her length. But his question didn’t sound exactly complementary.
“What’s wrong with this?” Lifting a handful of chiffon she glanced at it.
“Absolutely nothing. Your taste is incredible.”
Georgie caught his secret little smile as he said that and then her eyes were drawn to his well-shaped and strong hands. Awareness tingled up her spine as her vivid imagination conjured up sexual actions that could be performed by those hands. Abruptly she made for the door, just catching the look of surprise that flashed over his face. “I have to be getting home. Have you seen my handbag? I left it down here somewhere.”
“It’s in the hall cupboard.” He waved a hand in that direction. “Don’t worry, I’ll take you home. Sit down, Georgie, I have a proposition to put to you.” He was back in Boss mode, his tone imperious.
Georgie gulped. “About what?” She’d been propositioned quite a few times and didn’t go much on them.
“Don’t look at me like that. I’m talking about a business proposition.”
Mischief glinted in his eyes as he motioned for her to sit again. Georgie perched straight-backed on the chair, knees primly together.
“If you consider doing this favour for me I might consider inserting one or two of those excellent designs you showed me last week in our next collection,” he said.
“It could be looked on that way. But I should confess I’ve been seriously contemplating using some of your ideas later.”
Steve wasn’t stringing her a line. Her designs were good. They would have to be moderated, for they were too extreme for his buyers. Her last batch of sketches had interested him so much he’d thought about letting her produce a new range for a younger market than the one he now catered for. It would get her out of Greta’s hair and put and end to their blatant clash of opinions.
“Your designing talent is out of this world,” Steve assured her with a straight face. That was true. He might not find her style to his liking, but that didn’t alter the fact she was highly talented. He eyed her frothy turquoise creation.
Steve gazed thoughtfully at her. The morning sunlight caught the highlights in her hair, making it shimmer like streaked silk. Would it feel as soft as it looked? He fisted his hands. He felt hot under the collar, and fascinated by her.