Hot, Sexy & Bad(3)

By: Judy Angelo



All Arie knew was she would not stop until she knew exactly who her mystery man was and why the heck he’d sparked such a reaction in her. Lena would just have to live with it.



***





Bella. That was the word that came to mind as Rome’s eyes locked with the deepest blue ones he’d ever seen. The woman was staring at him with a wide-eyed gaze, a hint of a smile on her lips, a smile that seemed only for him. It was as if they shared a secret from which they’d excluded the rest of world, and that secret was sexy as hell.

As soon as she saw him watching her she dropped her gaze and headed back to the hallway, her long blonde ponytail bouncing behind her. Within seconds she’d disappeared into the shadows.

Who the devil was she? She’d stared at him with open candor, a look of admiration in her eyes and a smile on her lips. She was throwing him an invitation, that much was clear, and he planned to accept. He wouldn’t be a man if he didn’t.

Wanting to ask about her, he was leaning over to speak to his second-in-command, the chief operating officer of the US division, when he heard his name being called. Damn. Time to head to the podium. As award dinners went, he was expected to give a speech where he would congratulate all the winners and motivate those who had room for improvement. He’d done more than his fair share of these and he hated them. Public speeches were not his thing but, knowing how important they were, he did them anyway.

To the applause of his employees he stood and, looking around the room, he gave them a practiced smile. It was one that had served him well in the past and it would do for tonight, too.

As he approached the front the clamor rose and when he climbed the platform and stood behind the podium he had to hold up a hand to quiet them down. “Welcome, team, and thanks for coming out to support your colleagues as we recognize their efforts and achievements.” The applause went up again, with some of the sales reps patting the winners on their backs. “As I promised at our last meeting, because we exceeded the year’s sales target, for our next award banquet the entire team will be flown to the island of Grenada."

That was when the applause got really raucous with not just hand clapping but lots of table banging, whoops and cheers. It took a while before Rome could get them quiet enough so he could finish his speech.

As owner and CEO of a successful multinational corporation he was used to this, not just in the United States but in his European, Asian and Latin American divisions as well. He was happy when his teams did well and he was even more so when it was time to reward them for a job well done.

It took another fifteen minutes before he was finally able to return to his seat, handing over to the senior vice president of sales who would hand out the trophies. All the time he’d been on stage his eyes had been roaming the room in search of the mystery woman who had caught his eye.

And it had been in a big way. He couldn’t believe how distracted he’d been on stage, addressing his staff with only one part of his brain while the rest of him focused on locating the blue-eyed blonde.

And then he’d found her. Toward the end of his speech she’d returned to the banquet hall and stood watching him and this time she did not drop her gaze, not even when his eyes met hers. He’d locked gazes with her as long as would go unnoticed but even when he’d turned his attention back to his audience he was one hundred percent aware of her. There was just something about this woman that he could not shake. And, truth be told, he didn’t want to.

Now, freed from the stage and all the attention that came with it, he leaned toward his COO again. “I need some information,” he said, his voice low, “on one of the servers.”

Tom Billich frowned. “A server? Is there a problem?” He began to look around the room as if searching out the server in question.

“There’s no problem, Tom. There’s just some information I think she may have, information that could prove useful to us.” Rome chose his words cautiously. Regardless of his position as CEO – in fact, because of it – he had to tread very carefully, making his interest seem nothing but professional.

Tom’s face cleared. “Can you describe her?”

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