Authors: Linda Cajio
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
2013 Loveswept eBook Edition
Copyright © 1991 by Linda Cajio.
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States of America by Loveswept, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
is a registered trademark and the L
colophon is a trademark of Random House LLC.
eBook ISBN 978-0-307-79901-2
Cover design: Susan Schultz
Cover photograph: © Lóránd Gelner/Getty Images
Originally published in the United States by Loveswept, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House Company, New York, in 1991.
“Are you going to throw that away?”
Miles Kitteridge stopped in mid-toss, the paper still crumpled in his hand. His office door had been flung open with a bang, and standing on the threshold was a woman he had wanted in his bed for years. Catherine Wagner. Hellcat Catherine Wagner.
“It’s two points if it goes in,” he said.
“It’s four if you recycle it.”
He tossed the paper into the wastebasket. It missed. Catherine made a face.
His secretary was hopping up and down behind her. “I’m terribly sorry, sir—”
“That’s okay, Mary.” He gazed into Catherine’s stormy eyes, then finally rose from his chair. “What can I do for you, Catherine?”
She walked into the room, her strides confident. Tall and slim, she moved with a grace that took a man’s breath … and left him wondering if she would move the same way beneath him. Her beige silk skirt and high heels emphasized already very
sexy legs, while her pale orange blouse was open to the breastbone. The lace edge of her modest chemise teased his senses with what was hidden, rather than what was exposed. Her shoulder-length hair was almost auburn in color and thick, enticing a man to touch the strands and see if they would wrap around his fingers like silken threads. Her features were fragile looking at first glance. At the second, one saw the set of her jaw. And at the third, the usually unfathomable expression of her eyes. The combination was always intriguing. But circumstances had always denied him a closer look.…
“Why is my grandfather’s office locked?” she asked.
Miles gritted his teeth at the accusation underlying her tone. “Because it isn’t in use,” he answered. “You know that.”
She bent down and picked up the wad of paper, but she didn’t throw it in the basket. Instead she smoothed it out and refolded it, then tucked it into a skirt pocket.
He grinned. “What else do you recycle in there?”
Her expression was stony—as usual. Once, he had made a mistake with her. Only once. He’d been paying for it ever since.
“Ah, there you are, young man.”
His grandmother swept into the room with a swirl of soft skirts and Chanel perfume. Lettice Kitteridge was silver haired and nearly eighty—and nowhere near ready for the rocker on the porch.
“I cannot believe,” she exclaimed, “that you train your security people to deny your own grandmother the right to see you. They made me show
identification before they would let me come upstairs!”
Miles grinned and walked around his desk to kiss his grandmother’s cheek. “It’s a bank, Grandmother. Not Disney World.”
“And I’m a major stockholder!” she snapped.
“Then come more often, so they know you.” He turned back to Catherine. Now that he was closer, the awareness already stirring his blood began to heat. He forced it away. “What did you need in your grandfather’s office?”
“I need it opened. Please.”
His eyes narrowed. Allan Wagner might have been her grandfather, but that didn’t mean he would open a trustee’s office for her. He had a responsibility as Philadelphia National Bank’s executive director.
“Better show him some ID, Catherine,” Lettice said. “This place is worse than Heathrow Airport! You’re such a prig, Miles.”
Miles snorted. Still, Lettice had a point. As a relative, Catherine did have some right to personal items. He was behaving like an overprotective jerk. Allan had been his friend, and he owed him more than this. There was still a slight problem with her request, however.
He began to explain. “There isn’t anything—”
Catherine interrupted. “Are you refusing to open the office?”
“Well, no.” He began again. “There’s a—”
“Just open it, please.”
He gave up. “If it makes you happy.”
“Fine.” He went back around his desk and opened the middle drawer, taking out a set of keys.
He slipped his suit jacket from the valet and put it on, not bothering to button it. Catherine turned and walked out of the office. Miles followed more slowly with his grandmother. He grinned as he studied the tantalizing stretch of fabric across her thighs and derriere. If ever there was something to go to war over, it was Catherine’s tush.
He’d follow like a lamb to the slaughter.
Catherine slowly let out her breath as she walked down the hall ahead of Miles and Lettice. She’d gone in like a lion, and she had gotten what she wanted. Maybe there was something to a “power” attitude. Her stomach was still flipping after facing down Miles Kitteridge, though. Few did it successfully, she knew. The man could have given Michael Douglas a run for the Gordon Gecko part in
She refused to admit that her blood was pumping hot through her veins for any reason other than a confrontation with the enemy. Miles Kitteridge might have a lean, hard body under his conservative three-piece suit, and he might have a face that was as lean and hard and attractive as the rest of him, but they weren’t a consideration here. Neither were his blue-green eyes that seemed to probe beyond the surface, seeking all of her secrets.
She forced herself to take another deep breath as they reached her late grandfather’s old office. Okay, so Miles was sexy as hell, but she knew what he was really like. A man with no integrity. She’d witnessed that one firsthand. She needed to remember, too, that he was “The Banker” for Wagner
Oil, and in thick as thieves with her greedy relatives.
She had to concentrate on why she was there at Philadelphia National—to find that codicil to her grandfather’s will. Without it, the will would stand as read. With it, she could stop the madness. She had seen what an oil spill could do, and the sight had been sickening. Her grandfather had seen as well, and it had forever changed him. Changed them both. He had wanted the Utah land that Wagner Oil owned turned into a nature preserve. If he had put the land in a trust fund, it would have been protected. Now, unless she found that damn codicil, her family intended to ruin it in the name of Wagner Oil. She knew the codicil existed; Lettice had actually seen it. And the family members knew her grandfather had wanted to preserve the land. That didn’t quite fit in with their strip-mining plans, however. Even her own parents …
Her grandfather’s lawyers didn’t have the codicil. She had also searched her grandfather’s house and his office at Wagner with no success. He had been on the board of trustees for Philadelphia National, and this office was her last hope. Lettice would know it at a glance: that was why she was with her. Catherine smiled. Wouldn’t Miles be surprised to know whose side his grandmother was really on?
Miles walked up beside her to unlock the door. She forgot everything at his closeness. Watching his hands in fascination as they smoothly turned the door handle, she wondered if they would be so expert on her body. The clean scent of cologne and male filled her nostrils. His profile was sharply defined, and she was intrigued by the faint lines
around his eyes, those incredible aquamarine eyes. She knew he was five years older than her twenty-nine. He had been away to college when she was a teenager, then she had gone to college herself by the time he came home. When she returned after graduation, he had been married, and she had been engaged when he got divorced. They’d never had a chance for more than a kiss.…
Abruptly she felt the urge to reach out and touch his face, to feel his mouth on hers, to—
Catherine caught herself at the thought. Lord help her if she was really that desperate for a man that she would consider Miles Kitteridge. It aggravated her to know that he could bring out this kind of reaction in her, after what he had done to her three years ago. Why was it that men like him always appealed to women who should know better? It must be the reformer in the female sex, she decided wryly. Women were loaded with it.
He swung the door open and motioned for her to go in first. He had a funny kind of smile on his face that she couldn’t read.
As she edged past him, he gazed down at her. Every muscle in her body tensed. She had the overwhelming urge to run her hand down the lapel of his gray suit and absorb the feel of soft wool and hard muscle. Ringing through her head was the litany,
I’m not engaged any longer … any longer …
This wasn’t good.
Catherine scooted into the office. She strangled on her sigh of relief when she caught sight of the room.
The bookshelves, the credenzas, the walls, and
the tables were empty. Not a single personal item, book, binder, or picture was visible. Even the top of the cherrywood desk was devoid of a telephone. Her grandfather had been wiped clean.
She strode over to the desk and yanked open one drawer. It was empty, except for a pack of Red Hots. No papers, no files, no nothing. That only confirmed her fears.
Fury shot through her, and she whirled around to face Miles. “What the hell have you done?”
“I haven’t done a damn thing anyone else wouldn’t have done,” he snapped.
“Miles, honestly,” Lettice said. “Can’t you see this was a rude shock for Catherine?” She waved her arm around the empty room.
He frowned at his grandmother. “I tried to tell her, and you, that Allan’s office was empty. Next time I’ll be Avis and try harder, okay?”
Catherine sat down heavily in the leather swivel chair, its tall padded back and winged sides cushioning her in a dark cocoon. So much for a power attitude, she thought, when one didn’t even bother to listen. He was laughing at her now. All the papers, everything, were already back in one of her relatives’ hands. Now she’d never be able to ensure her grandfather’s last wishes were carried out. Why couldn’t he have given the codicil to her in the first place for safekeeping?
“Who did you send everything to?” she asked dully.
“Nobody,” Miles said.
She bolted upright, completely astonished. “Nobody?”
He shook his head. “I asked your uncle Byrne what he wanted me to do with Allan’s personal
things, and he just shrugged at the time. You know the office here was more of a courtesy. Allan wasn’t very active at the bank. I had my secretary file the bank things and pack up the rest.”
She smiled happily. “I like you, Miles. You’re smart, you’re bright, you’re very efficient. So where are the boxed-up things? In the bank basement?”
His eyebrows rose at her change of tone. “At my house.”
Catherine swallowed. His house? She was positive the codicil had been stored here in the office. Where else could it have been? And now Miles had everything at his house. The question was: Did he know what he had? The answer had to be yes.
He was grinning at her. “You can come over this evening and get them if you like.”