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Just To Be With You (Page 5)

Again, she smiled, but this time, entirely different kinds of sparks were the reason. The kind that had made her feel warm and flushed and tingly all over every time she’d thought about Ian Sullivan during the past few months.

She’d wanted to know if her memories of the instant connection she’d felt between them in the vineyard had been real. After only fifteen minutes with Ian in his office, she knew the answer.

Yes, the sparks were real…and getting hotter by the second.

Especially after he’d said his terse No to her request, and she’d moved closer to ask him why. Maybe, she acknowledged, it was a little bad of her to get such a kick out of provoking him. But how could she resist the way his eyes lit with heat and emotion that he couldn’t seem to contain around her? Her appearance had clearly shaken up his otherwise neatly ordered life. Even her red heels and sparkly earrings had seemed to grate on him, as if bright colors were expressly not permitted in the Sullivan Investments headquarters.

During the first couple of hours she’d been waiting in his office, she’d pulled up her script on her phone and read through it another two times. After having gone over it more than a hundred times already, she’d hoped to finally find the clue to her character’s soul that she’d been looking for. Alas, the glorious aha moment she so badly needed remained elusive. Frustration at spinning her wheels had her closing her script in momentary defeat and turning on one of Nicola’s pop songs in her headphones that never failed to lift her spirits.

She hadn’t planned on Ian finding her listening to music, but perhaps it had been the perfect way to greet him, she thought as he opened the back passenger door of Ford’s Tesla for her. Sexy as sin in his dark suit, he somehow managed to look rough and rugged even beneath perfectly tailored wool. Plus, he smelled amazing, like a pine forest in the cool of night. But what had sent her heart racing even faster was when he’d put his arms around his sister and held her tight, pressing a kiss to the top of Mia’s head, his expression one of pure love. Now, as he slid into the backseat beside her, she realized he was carefully holding the bouquet of flowers that had seemed so out of place in his office, obviously intended for his mother.

“Look who I was lucky enough to find in Ian’s office,” Mia said to her fiancé as she got into the front passenger seat beside Ford and gave him a kiss on the lips.

“Tatiana,” Ford said as he turned to greet her, “it’s great to see you again so soon. Have you started filming your new movie already?”

“Not quite yet. I’ve got a couple of weeks until we begin, so I’m still in character-research mode.” But since she didn’t want to admit that she’d just run into the first role she couldn’t figure out, darn it—and her brain wasn’t exactly working at top speed anyway with Ian sitting so close—she asked Ford and Mia, “How are things going for the two of you?”

She relaxed in the supple leather backseat while Ford and Mia quickly filled her in on what they’d both been up to since she’d last seen them. Throughout, however, Ian sat stiffly beside her. She wouldn’t be surprised if he was still irritated by her request to shadow him, but something told her she wasn’t the only reason for his unease.

Tatiana had personally been witness to the horribly awkward moment when Ian had first met Ford. The rock star had been secretly making out with Mia in a storage room at Marcus and Nicola’s wedding. Tatiana would never forget the fury she’d seen on Ian’s face when he’d thought Ford was taking advantage of Mia. Things had continued to be strained when they’d all been seated at the same table during dinner and toasts, and just as she had on that day, Tatiana wanted to try to help smooth things over with everyone. The problem was, she didn’t yet know Ian well enough to do whatever would have helped to set him at ease.

In order for Tatiana to do her job well in front of the cameras, she not only needed to look deep into other people’s personalities, she also had to look inward at her own. As a result, she knew herself to be both curious and impulsive. Which meant that, in the months since meeting Ian at the wedding, she simply hadn’t had the self-control to keep her curiosity about him at bay. A few quick online searches had been enough for her to learn that his marriage to Chelsea Adrienne, a flawlessly beautiful blonde even by Hollywood standards, had ended several years ago. Since then, he’d been photographed with a series of equally stunning women at various events, all of them tall and dark-haired and willowy, with cool expressions.

While stopped in downtown traffic, the light of a street lamp enabled Tatiana to study their combined reflections in her window. Ian was dark and brooding and possessed such masculine beauty that it was no wonder stunning women flocked to his side. And as for her…well, tall and dark, willowy and cool were pretty much the exact opposite of her green eyes, reddish-blond hair, and lush curves.

Fortunately, as an actor, her slightly off-center looks had helped set her apart from the thousands of other women vying for parts. On a personal level, however, she honestly didn’t have enough experience with men to know if off-center could ever have a chance of competing with stunning.

When they arrived at the Sullivans’ house, Ian got out, then held the back passenger door open for her again. Regardless of how badly he might want to keep a distance between them, he had been raised to be a gentleman.

She’d walked the red carpet in front of hundreds of cameras many, many times. But her nerves had never been quite this high, and though the rain had finally stopped falling on their drive, she stumbled in her heels on the wet bricks of the driveway. Ian caught her against him before she could go down, and the strength and the heat of his body against hers, along with the potent fragrance from the bouquet she’d just accidentally crushed between them, actually had her gasping aloud.

They’d done nothing more than shake hands at the wedding. And though he’d been easily affectionate with his sister, Ian had been careful not to touch Tatiana in his office, not even to shake her hand.

But now, as she stood for a few perfect seconds in the circle of his arms on his parents’ driveway on the cool, damp Seattle evening, Tatiana felt more warmth, and more arousal, from one accidental touch and the intensity of his gaze, than she ever had with another man.

Is this the real reason you don’t want me to shadow you? she silently asked him.

When his eyes darkened even further—and his grip tightened on her waist as if he wanted to draw her closer right before he abruptly released her—she was almost positive he’d just given her his answer.

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