Taming the Last St Claire

By: Carole Mortimer

CHAPTER ONE


‘SO, ARE you going to stand there all morning looking down your superior nose at me, or are you going to do something useful and offer to carry one of these boxes up in the lift for me? ‘

Gideon closed his eyes. Counted to ten. Slowly. Breathed in. And then out again. Even more slowly. Before once again opening his eyes.

No, Joey McKinley was still there. In fact she had straightened from bending over the boot of her car, parked two bays down from Gideon’s own in this private underground car park, and was now peremptorily tapping the sole of one three-inch stiletto-heeled shoe against the concrete floor. He knew this woman would become the bane of his existence for the next four weeks, if this situation was allowed to continue.

Joey McKinley. Twenty-eight years old, five foot four inches tall, with short, silky red hair that somehow wisped up and away from the heart-shaped beauty of her face, challenging jade-green eyes, and a creamily smooth complexion with a soft sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her tiny nose, her lips full and sensual. The leanness of her obviously physically fit body was shown to advantage in a smart black tailored business suit and a silk blouse the same jade-green colour as her eyes.

‘Well?’ his own personal nemesis challenged, that impatient tapping of her shoe against the concrete floor increasing as she looked across at him with auburn brows arched over those mocking green eyes.

Gideon drew in another deep and steadying breath as he considered the numerous ways in which he might cause his older brother Lucan pain for having placed him in this untenable position in the first place. Not enough to do any serious damage, of course. But a little pain? Gideon felt no qualms whatsoever about that. Lucan obviously felt a similar lack of concern about Gideon’s welfare, having inflicted this woman on him without a second’s consideration.

It was something Gideon had been contemplating for the last thirty-six hours, in fact. Ever since Lucan had informed him, at his wedding reception on Saturday evening, that when Gideon took over as temporary chairman of the St Claire Corporation for the month that he and Lexie were away on their honeymoon, he had arranged for Joey McKinley to take Gideon’s place as the company’s legal representative.

Gideon’s assurances that he was perfectly capable of fulfilling both roles had made absolutely no impact on his older brother. He’d also ignored Gideon when he’d confessed he had his doubts that he and Joey McKinley could work together.

Gideon respected the woman as a lawyer, having heard only positive comments from other colleagues concerning her ability in a courtroom, but on every other level she succeeded in making his hackles rise.

That red hair was like a shining beacon in any room she happened to be in, and she had a husky and sensual laugh that, when released, had every male head in the vicinity turning in her direction. She had been wearing a dress the last two times Gideon had met her—firstly, an ankle-length sheath of a maid of honour gown in a deep jade colour at her sister Stephanie and his brother Jordan’s wedding, almost two months ago, and a red knee-length dress at Lucan and Lexie’s wedding on Saturday. The latter should have clashed with the bright copper cap of her hair, but instead it had just seemed to emphasise the natural gold and cinnamon highlights running through those strands.

The black business suit she was wearing today should have looked crisp and professional, but somehow…didn’t. The jacket was short and figure-hugging, and the top three buttons left unfastened on the green silk blouse she wore beneath enabled him to see the tops of full and creamy breasts. The fitted knee-length skirt showed off an expanse of her shapely legs.

In other words, Joey McKinley was—‘You know, I’ve seen paint dry quicker than you appear to be able to make up your mind!’ she called out.—a veritable thorn in his side! He drew in another controlling breath in an effort to force the tension from his body. ‘Do you always have to be this abrasive?’ Silly question; he knew her well enough by now to know that she always said exactly what happened to be on her mind at the time. Something that Gideon, a man who always measured his words carefully before speaking, found disturbing to say the least.

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