Publish Date: March 2014
Laney Morgan may be blind, but she’s no pushover. When Elliot Garvey walks into her life wanting to globalize her family business, she plans to make him work for it.
Work Hard, Play Hard may be Elliott’s motto, but being around the irresistible Laney, he starts to see a new world through her eyes. But he’s here strictly for business…
Until Elliot guides Laney’s hand to his face. They can’t ignore the chemistry, especially the realisation she’s about to be awakened to a world she never knew.
Awakened by His Touch
Elliott Garvey leaned on the bleached timber boardwalk like a seasoned stalker, watching the woman frolicking with her dog where the coastal rock slid down into the aquamarine ocean.
It didn’t matter that this lookout and the long, sandy path leading to it were public, the map in his hands and the occasional sign wired to the fence lining the gravel track in this remote, picturesque spot reminded him very clearly that the property all around him was upper-case P private. So, technically, was the beach below. In fact, it barely qualified as a beach since—private or not—it was only about twenty metres long. More a cove, really, eroded out of the hard rock either side of it, protected and quiet.
Back home they’d have turned this into a boat-launching area, for sure. It was perfect for it.
Then again, back home they wouldn’t have had anything even remotely like this. Where he was from, further north up the coast, the ruling landform was sand, not the stunning limestone rock forms of the Morgan property. The lookout under his feet ‘looked out’ over the cove about twenty metres away, as it happened, but its intended view was the spectacular Australian coastline beyond it. Rugged and raw and beaten to death by pounding seas in the off season.
But today the sea was flat and gentle.
His eyes dropped again.
Judging by the very determined way the woman was not looking up at him, she was either trying very hard to pretend he wasn’t there, spoiling her serenity, or she wasn’t supposed to be there. A tourist, maybe? That would explain the long cotton dress that she’d hiked up her bare legs instead of the swimsuit a local would have turned up in. And clearly this was a tourist who liked to travel with her dog. The soggy golden retriever bounded around her, barking and celebrating life in a shower of droplets, and the size of the lead bundled in the woman’s right hand suggested her dog was a handful most of the time. But right now it just circled her excitedly as she danced.
Danced? More flowed, really. She practically ebbed in time with the soft waves washing onto the beach and retreating again, her feet lightly skipping in the wet sand. The wet bottom of her long summer dress wanted to cling to her legs, but she kept it hiked up, out of the way, as she splashed in and out of the water with her movements. Dipping and twisting and undulating her whole body to music he couldn’t hear.
Out of nowhere, a memory surged into his crowded mind. Of him and his mother, the only trip they’d ever taken away from the city when he was about eight. He’d hung his lean little body half out of the open window of the car she’d borrowed from a friend, overwhelmed to be doing something as exciting as leaving the city, hand-surfing on the wind that whipped past. Riding the current, rising and dipping on it with both hands. Dreaming of the places it would take him if only he were light enough to catch its updraft.
Just as that woman was dancing. There was no wind to speak of down below in the protected little cove, but that didn’t seem to cause her the slightest trouble as she moved on air currents no one else could feel. Not him. Not the still coastal wildflowers lining the tiny sandy strip. Not the barely interrupted surface of the water.
Just her, her dog and whatever the heck drugs she must be on to put her in such a sublimely happy place.
Elliott used his camera lens to get a surreptitious look at her while pretending to photograph the bigger view. Her long hair was as wet and stringy as the golden retriever’s, and not all that different in colour, and the water from it soaked anywhere it touched: the fabric of her strappy dress where it criss-crossed her breasts like a bikini top, the golden stretch of her bare shoulders, her collarbones. It whipped and snapped as she circled in the retreating water, her head tipped back to worship the sun, staring right up into it for a moment.
He adjusted the lens just slightly.
The paleness of her skin and the liberal dusting of freckles across it fitted perfectly with the strawberry blonde hair. Maybe if she did this less often out in the harsh Western Australian sun she’d have fewer marks on her skin. But then, maybe if she did this less often she wouldn’t have that smile on her face, either. Blazing and almost too wide for the pointed shape of her jaw.
He lowered the lens and stepped back, conscious, suddenly, of his intrusion into her private moment. As he did so, the weathered timber under his left foot creaked audibly and the retriever’s sharp ears didn’t miss it. Its sandy snout pointed up in his direction immediately, joyous barking suspended, and it crossed straight to the woman’s side. She stopped and bent to place her free hand reassuringly on the dog’s shoulder but—luckily for Elliott—she didn’t follow the direction of its intent stare.
Not waiting to be busted, he retreated down the lookout steps and along the path to the gravel track where his luxury car waited. The only car here, he suddenly realised.
Ah, well, if Little Miss Lives-Life-on-the-Edge liked to take that skin outside at noon, trespass on private property and stare directly into the sun, then she was probably illegally camped around here somewhere, too.
Either way…? Officially none of his business. He was here to talk the Morgans into taking their company global. Not to police their perimeter security for them.
He had one more shot at this. One more chance to eclipse bloody Tony Newton and his questionable success and get the vacant partnership. Being good—or even great—at your job was no longer enough. He needed to be astounding at what he did in order to win his spot on the partners’ board and cement his future. And Morgan’s was the brand to do it. Newton was too busy schmoozing his cashed-up tech and dot-com clients to notice what was right under all their noses—that Morgan’s was about so much more than honey. Whether the board realised it or not.
And if they didn’t…?
That was okay. That was what they had him for.