EXCERPT Singapore Fling by Alexia Adams

“Sorry I’m late,” Lalita said as she rushed into the boardroom. She took her seat at the opposite end of the table to Jeremy and ran a shaking hand over her hair. Raising her eyes, she met Jeremy’s concerned stare and did her best to paste a reassuring smile on her face. Conversation buzzed around her as she stared out the window. When Lalita noticed a prolonged silence, she pulled herself back to the present. Twenty pairs of eyes stared at her.

“Lalita? I asked if you wanted to make any final comments before we wrap up?” Jeremy repeated.

“Oh…ah…just to thank everyone for their cooperation and hard work in making Evans International a success. In my discussions with the CEO last week, he indicated that we are on track for a record-breaking year and that Asia is leading the corporation in both new products and new partners. Thanks to you!” Lalita concluded with a round of applause and hoped her smile reached her eyes.

Taking her words as dismissal, the men and women gathered around the board table stood, some bowing, some waving to her in farewell. The room cleared and Jeremy perched one butt cheek on the table in front of her. His long, muscular leg blocked her escape.

“Tired?” He searched her face.

“A little, after three nights with meetings running to after ten, then up at dawn to catch the regular European and American conference calls. Thankfully, tomorrow is a slow day, no meetings or calls and we fly to Manila at four in the afternoon.”

“Is there any chance you’ll actually rest tomorrow?”

“Oh, there’s always a chance,” Lalita replied, trying to laugh off Jeremy’s concern. She pushed back her chair and stood to put some distance between them. The heat radiating off his body caused her blood to simmer. His spicy aftershave lured her to lean in closer and see if he tasted as fabulous as he smelled.

Jeremy reached out and grabbed her arm, preventing her from leaving.

“Seriously, Lalita, I’m concerned. You’ve been late for two meetings and left in the middle of three others. You’re distracted and anxious. Is there something happening at head office?”

“No, nothing, everything is fine. And you’re doing a very good job. I expected some resistance to your new ideas, but you present them in such a way that everyone is straight on-board.”

“Nice try, but you can’t deflect my concern. We’re talking about you, not me.”

“I apologize if I’ve been a bit preoccupied. I’ll try to behave in a more professional manner.”

“I don’t care if you lead the next round of managers on a naked conga line through the offices. What’s upsetting you? Surely we’ve spent enough time together that you know you can trust me.”

“Can I? Trust you? You’re the Director of Marketing. Spin is your game.”

“Spin is my job. I’m your…friend, Lalita. Anything you share stays between us. Please, I want to help.”

Lalita stared into his blue eyes for a long time, trying to decide if he was genuine. Jeremy was always on show, his charm entrancing everyone he met. But deep down, she did feel she could trust him. In the two weeks they’d spent together, he had shown real concern for her.

“It’s nothing, just a minor personal problem. It will be resolved in a few days. I’ll try not to let it disturb the rest of your presentations.”

“A personal problem? Are you okay? You’re not ill, are you?”

“I’m fine. Everything is fine. I plan to sleep in tomorrow, shall we meet for lunch?” Lalita scrambled to redirect the conversation. Jeremy stared at her as if he could see into her soul.

“You are the most frustrating woman I have ever met. What will it take to get through that thick, ultra-professional skin of yours?” Jeremy pulled her toward him. Off balance, Lalita put her hands on his chest. Looking up to see what he was about she had just a millisecond before his lips descended and took hers in a rough, passionate kiss.

With a mind of their own, her hands crept around Jeremy’s neck and buried themselves in his hair. The kiss became gentler, teasing, tempting. Jeremy plundered her mouth with his tongue, seeking out the inner essence, her secrets. He wasn’t asking for surrender, he challenged and taunted until Lalita kissed him with every ounce of her strength and passion.

Her self-control sputtered once before spiraling to its demise. Jeremy pulled back a fraction, his breathing as ragged as hers. Sipping at her lips, he then trailed small kisses across her cheek to her ear. He nibbled at her earlobe, his breath hot against her skin.

“That answers one question, at least,” he murmured.

Lalita’s overheated brain tried to make sense of the words. “What question?” she managed at last. Her voice seemed drugged even to her own ears.

“The question of whether or not I had built up our previous kisses in my mind. Whether the passion of five years ago was something I’d over imagined. Or whether it’s true—that one touch from you and my blood turns into molten lava, consuming all rational thought in its path.”

“And the answer is?” Lalita was half afraid of the reply.

“That my memory hadn’t remembered half of the heat. Kissing you is the single most mind-blowing experience of my life and as addictive as the most potent drug known to man. I’m going to kiss you again, Lalita, just to make sure.”

“Jeremy…” Lalita began, but ended on a moan as his lips retraced their way along her cheek and claimed her mouth once again.

A million points of light shattered behind Lalita’s closed eyelids and it took a full thirty seconds before she could make sense of the knocking she heard.

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