Wife for a Week(48)

By: Kelly Hunter


‘No.’

‘Damn.’ He turned her in his arms, turned so that she was facing him, then lifted his hand to tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear. ‘How can I help?’ he murmured. ‘What do you need?’

No more questions, no more protest, just simple support and it flew like a shaft, straight and true, to lodge itself in her heart. She’d been walking a tight-rope ever since she’d met this man. She’d resisted his warmth and resisted his wit. She’d even resisted his lovemaking for a while. But she couldn’t resist his belief in her. There would be no more balancing on the high wire, not with this man. Silently, willingly, Hallie tumbled into love. ‘What do I need?’ Her lips curved as she wound her hands in his hair and pulled his lips down to meet her own. The answer was obvious.

Right now, right this very minute, she needed him.





CHAPTER NINE




‘I HATE this,’ said Nick five hours later as everyone gathered in the Teys’ kitchen for a final briefing of the plan. ‘I can’t believe I’m letting you do this.’

‘It’s the only way,’ said John Tey. ‘She’s the only one who can cancel the contract. I’m afraid your accompanying her is out of the question.’

Nick scowled. The thought of Hallie facing down professional assassins without him ate away at his stomach like acid.

‘I still think I should be going there on my own,’ said Hallie. ‘Completely on my own.’

‘No,’ he said curtly. ‘You are not going there alone.

If not me, then Kai.’

‘Why drag Kai into it? Or John, for that matter?

This business has nothing to do with them.’

‘No,’ he repeated. ‘You take Kai or you don’t go at all.’

‘Kai will accompany you,’ said John.

‘He’s very capable,’ said Jasmine earnestly.

Hallie sighed and glared at him, glared at them all. ‘Fine, I’ll take Kai.’

Nick met Kai’s steady gaze and a look of silent understanding passed between them. Kai would do everything in his power to protect her. Everything. He’d better.

‘Stop that,’ Hallie told him sharply.

‘Stop what?’

‘That look. The one that says you’re going to tear strips off Kai’s hide if he lets anything happen to me.’

‘You know that look?’

‘I have four brothers,’ she reminded him darkly.

‘And I can honestly say I don’t know how any of them survived your adolescence,’ he snapped.

John Tey smiled. Kai’s cough sounded suspiciously like laughter. ‘I’ve phoned ahead. The meeting is set,’ said John. ‘They’ll be waiting for you at the shop.’

‘Ready?’ Nick asked her quietly.

‘Ready,’ she said with far more confidence than the situation warranted. ‘My negotiating skills are honed and ready to go.’

They ought to be. He, Kai, John and Jasmine had spent the last two hours firing every conceivable question or objection the bad guys might come up with at her and coaching her on her reply. ‘Stick to the plan,’ he said gruffly. ‘Stay with Kai.’

‘Of course.’ Hallie smiled at him reassuringly.

‘And don’t do anything stupid.’

Her eyes narrowed. Her chin came up. He loved that look. ‘Was there anything else?’ she said, heavy on the sarcasm.

‘Yeah.’ He strode over to where she was standing, took her face in his hands and kissed her with enough heat to light up half the city. ‘Be careful.’ He put his hands in his pockets and took a step back before he grabbed her again. Because if he did he knew he’d never let her go.

‘It’ll take twenty minutes to get there,’ said Kai. ‘Another twenty, perhaps, to complete the negotiation. I’ll call when we’re done.’

Nick nodded and watched in tight-lipped silence as they headed for the door. Watched while his stomach roiled for fear she’d be hurt, and his brain informed him that letting her attempt to cancel the hit out of some crazy desire to prove her worth was undoubtedly the worst decision he’d ever made.

It was going to be the longest forty minutes of his life.



It was New Year’s Day and most of the shops were closed. Lucky Plaza was closed as well, but Kai drove directly to loading bay entrance number five, parked the Mercedes beside the huge, corrugated Roll-A-Door and cut the engine.

‘They’re meeting us here,’ he said, nodding towards a wall-mounted security camera. ‘They’ll have seen us arrive. Are you ready?’

Hallie nodded. Her heart was beating a furious tattoo, her hands were clammy, and her lipstick had doubtless been chewed away completely, but she was ready. ‘Wait!’ Her lipstick. She flipped the sunshield of the car down to reveal the small mirror on the other side, fished her lipstick from her Hermès handbag and carefully applied a fresh coat to her lips. Now she was ready.