John Dixon was ten years older than she and quite out of her reach, with his flashy red sports car and his succession of tall, model-type girlfriends that he seemed to change like socks. Their parents had been friends since they moved to Chicago.
Alanis had loved John from afar, absolutely tongue-tied if they ever happened to meet around town, watching him like a lovesick puppy and hanging on his every word. When he had started to flirt with her was still a blurry memory.
She had heard rumors that his last girlfriend, a sophisticated, leggy blonde with the face of an angel and the figure of a goddess, had thrown him over and that he was upset about it, but she hadn't been able to bring herself to believe the hearsay. Who in their right mind would reject John Dixon?
“Alanis. How nice to see you again. I trust you had a good flight?” The deep, dark voice poured over her like liquid fire.“It was fine, thank you,” she responded carefully. As Brody took her small hand in his, his large fingers swallowing hers whole, Alanis forced herself to betray none of the agitation that had taken over her as soon as he had stridden into the hotel's small conference room. On arriving in Germany, she had been met at the airport by an impressive limousine that had swept her in style to the luxurious first-class hotel where she was going to stay. There she had been received with such regard that had left her confused until she'd realized the place was part of a hotel chain that belonged to
While saying that last words, Alanis kinda lost her voice as Brody stood looking down at her, his silver-grey eyes gleaming in the dull artificial light overhead and his face perfectly still. Even if he wasn't speaking, especially when he wasn't speaking, the cold, compelling aura of the man was fiercely strong.“You don't lie very well… Unlike most of the other women, I might add,” Brody replied thoughtfully after a few tense moments had passed. “You'd really find my company so unpleasant? So difficult to endure?”“I-I… It's not that. I'm just…”“Tired?” He cut into her red-faced mutterings with cool composure as the elevator doors glided silently open, and Alanis knew her legs were trembling slightly as she stepped into the carpeted box.“Alanis, you are 28 years of age and free as a bird&he
As they reached the ground floor and the elevator opened onto the luxurious reception area, Alanis smiled coolly, her back straight.“Of course, I relax,” she said. “Often.”“Wow, did I saw a smile?” Brody said looking at her and smiled back. Since she avoided looking back and didn’t answer his laconic remark, Brody kept going.“When?” he challenged quietly.“What?” This time, Alanis stared up at him as he brought her to a halt by turning her to face him, his large hands under her elbows.“When do you relax?” he asked patiently, his voice soft. “I mean really relax, Alanis.”“I… All the time.”
“Red it is, then.” When another waiter handed her the menu, she was immensely thankful to see that it was printed in German, French, and English, although even so most of the dishes were unknown to her. “If I may… I would recommend you the lobster and avocado salad,” he spoke after she had been eyeing the list for a few moments, his voice casual as he kept his eyes on his own menu. “That sounds wonderful.” Alanis nodded her approval, and as Brody spoke swiftly to the waiter in rapid German, the wine waiter came back, his face wreathed in smiles as he poured a small amount of what was clearly a very expensive wine for Brody to taste. Once they were alone again, Alanis forced herself to speak lightly as Brody settled back comfortably in his chair, his strange silver-grey eyes narrowe
“I didn't say that.” ‘Oh, hell! Why can I keep my big mouth shut?’ Alanis thought despairingly. She was going to look like an idiot however this conversation went.“I see... So, you were just enquiring about my ego’s level for the sake of the conversation?” Brody drawled mockingly. “Your own special type of after-dinner conversation, I presume?”“Well… I-I… It…” Alanis had been right. She was looking like the biggest idiot in the Universe. It was time to calm down, bring her stammering voice under control, and straighten her back against the leather seat.“Mr. McLean…”“Seriously, Alanis? Again with this Mr. McLean thing?”
Brody’s voice was grave and Alanis didn't dare glance at his face, keeping her eyes shut as she settled into the car seat, pretending to be very tired. The truth was she had never been more awake in her entire life. Every nerve, every muscle was screaming for release. She kept absolutely still for several minutes until Brody spoke again, his voice silky and cool in the darkness.“Cows I can take, and even the fact that I've put the car in a ditch in the middle of nowhere… I can even get over the fact that there's an important call coming through from Japan to the hotel at midnight, that I won’t be able to take. But what drives me out of my mind is the fact that you're near me, and you’re as rigid as an ironing board. What the hell do you think I might do to you? I thought I'd reassured you earlier that rape isn't my thing!”&
A doctor, returning from an emergency call to an elderly patient, found them just after two, and by three, Alanis was back in her hotel room, lying in the warm, scented darkness, trying to force her mind back into the numbing void she had felt in the car. But it was no good... She watched as dawn began to weave streamers of gold and pink into the night sky, and then rose impatiently, padding through to the luxurious bathroom and standing under the shower for a full ten minutes while she struggled to come to terms with her shattered emotions. As the warm water splashed a velvety path over her face and body, Alanis gave herself a mental scolding that was all logic and full of sense… and didn't help at all. Her brain knew that Brody McLean was a brief hiccup in her life. She also knew that the devastating kiss and embrace in the
The silver eyes narrowed suddenly, but gave no indication of what he was really thinking.“Do you like boats, Alanis?” he asked quietly.“I haven't had much to do with any,” she replied, forcing a bright smile. “Only a little rowing boat when I was younger, which wasn't quite in the same league as the McLean cruisers!”“I never thought about you and a rowing boat in the same sentence… Quite interesting.” He straightened slightly in his seat, his voice interested but casual.“Was it yours?” She blinked slightly, suddenly aware that she didn't want to continue the conversation but unable to think of a way to deflect him from this trip into her sad past.“No, it was my dad's,” Alanis replied carefully. “He liked