He thought he’d missed her when he’d gone to look at the playing pitch for a moment and he didn’t like the momentary sense of panic that thought had generated.
But she was still here.
Now Pascal Léveque stood back with arms folded and surveyed the enticing sight in front of him. A very shapely bottom was raised in the air, encased in the tight confines of a pencil skirt. Its owner was currently bending over hauling a bag out from under a seat. His eyes drifted down. Long slim legs were momentarily bent but now straigthened to their full length, which was long. All the way from slim neat ankles right up to gently flaring hips which tapered back into, again, a neat waist. He wondered if she was wearing stockings and that thought had a forceful effect on the blood in his veins.
He wondered too then what it was about her that had kept him looking, that had kept him here when he should have long gone. What was it that had kept drawing his eye back again and again, uncharacteristically taking his attention away from the riveting match?
That was it. She was different. She was neat. Right from her starchy buttoned up stripey shirt, complete with tie, down to her sensible court shoes and shiny straight hair, neatly tucked behind her ears, a side parting to the left. It was tied back in a small pony tail but he could well imagine that if let loose, it would fall ever so neatly into a straight shoulder length bob, framing her face. And since when had he been into neat? He was famously into seductive, sensual women, women who poured their beautiful curvaceous bodies into clothes and dresses designed to fire the imagination and ignite the senses. Women who weren’t afraid to entice and beguile, using all their powerful charms for his pleasure.
She was shrugging into a long black overcoat now, hiding herself and bizarrely he felt all at once irritated, inflamed and perplexed. What the hell was he doing practically slavering over some vacuous TV dolly bird? He knew that any second now she’d turn around, he’d see that up close her face wasn’t half as alluring as he’d imagined it to be from a distance – with its healthy glow, full glossy lips and doe shaped eyes under dark brows which contrasted with her strawberry blonde hair.
No, she’d turn around and he’d see that she’d be caked in orange make-up, her eyes would flare with recognition – hadn’t she already recognised him earlier and given him those enticingly shy looks? And then he’d be caught. Royally. He was already trying to think up something to excuse his very out of character behaviour when she did turn around. He opened his mouth and suddenly his mind went blank.
Alana had no warning for what or who faced her. That gorgeous brooding stranger was right in front of her. Just feet away. Looking at her. They were standing alone in an eighty thousand seat capacity stadium but to Alana in that moment it shrank to the four square feet surrounding them. And it was then that she had to acknowledge the prickling awareness she’d been dismissing had just exploded into full on shock. The blood seemed to thicken in her veins, her heart pounded in recognition again of some base appreciation of his very masculinity.
He stood with head tilted back, hands in the pockets of his trousers. His coat emphasised his broad shoulders, the olive tone of his skin. But it was his eyes that she couldn’t take her own shocked gaze from. They were wide, dark, intelligent and full of something so hot and brazenly sensual that she felt breathless.
Her hands gripped her notebooks close to her chest and she was absurdly relieved that she was wearing a long coat, feeling very strangely as if this man could somehow see underneath, as if with just a look he could make her clothes melt away. She shook her head, unaware of what she was doing and to her intense relief she found her voice.
‘Excuse me, can I help you? Are you looking for someone?’ Since when had her voice taken on the huskily seductive tones of a jazz singer? Even though they were alone, Alana felt no sense of fear. Her sense of fear came from an entirely different direction.
‘You were looking at me.’
Pascal winced inwardly at the accusing tone of his voice and the baldness of his statement but he was still reeling from coming face to face with her. His recent assumption that she would prove to be entirely unalluring was blasted to smithereens. She was all at once pale and glowing. Dewy. Cheeks flushed red from the cold breeze, or something else? That thought had blood rush southwards with an unwelcome lack of control. Her eyes were a unique shade of light green. Her lips were full and soft, not covered in glossy gloop. He’d never seen anyone so naturally beguiling.
‘Excuse me?’ Alana welcomed the righteous indignation that flowed through her and told herself it wasn’t adrenaline. But since when had righteous indignation made her shake? She’d been right, he was obviously just a tourist looking for a little fun. He’d misconstrued her meaning when she’d smiled at him. Well she wasn’t on the market for that sort of thing. ‘From what I recall you were doing a fair amount of looking yourself.’ She hitched up her chin. ‘I thought I recognised you but I was wrong, so forgive me if I led you to believe that something…more was on offer. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to get back to.’
The man smiled revealing gleaming strong white teeth and Alana felt momentarily dizzy. ‘You misunderstand me. I am well aware that you were working, after all didn’t I just see you interviewing Ireland’s manager? I was making an observation that’s all. And you were looking at me.’
‘No more than you were looking at me.’ She desperately tried to claw back some semblence of control.
He rocked back on his heels and a different light came into his eyes. An altogether more dangerous light. And Alana could see was that she was effectively trapped. The space between the seats was far too narrow for her to even attempt to push past him and the only alternative would be to jump into the next aisle. Far too unladylike and desperate. And in the skirt she was wearing, impossible.
‘So where does that leave us then? We both admit that we were…looking at each other.’
Alana felt unbelievably threatened. She called up her best brisk manner and hitched her laptop bag strap higher on her shoulder hoping he’d take the hint. ‘I’m afraid it leaves us nowhere. Now really, I have to get back to my office and I’m sure you have somewhere far more exciting to be.’
After a long intense moment, to her utter relief he stepped back and indicated with his arm that she should precede him out of the row of seats that led into the press area. Alana gritted her teeth and walked past, but even though she tried to arch her whole body away as she moved past him she was aware of his height which had to be at least six foot four, the sheer breadth of him and an enticingly musky smell.
The smell of sex.
Oh god, what was wrong with her? Since when had she ever thought she could smell sex? And since when was she even aware of what it smelt like? She felt weak in the pit of her stomach but thankfully she was now past him and hurrying back up the main steps to the lift which would bring her down to the ground level and back to reality, away from this twilight zone.
Her silent prayers weren’t answered when she felt his presence beside her, yet he said nothing as the lift doors opened. When he stepped in with her, Alana punched the button, silently pleading for the journey down to be quick. It was excruciatingly intense sharing the small confined space and she practically bolted as soon as the lift juddered to a halt and the doors opened. As she walked towards the main gates at the back of the Hogan stand Alana could see her car parked on the road outside. And then she heard his steps stop behind her.
Of course he’d kept up with her effortlessly, she had the unsettling feeling that she was on a tight leash. He was like a predator indulging his prey, not moving in for the kill just yet. And knowing that, against all rationale in her head, Alana stopped too and turned around. Her heart was still pounding from the close proximity in the lift and she just realised then that she must have held her breath the whole way down.
He was looking at her with those intense eyes. And then he said, ‘Actually I do have somewhere more exciting to be. Maybe you’d care to join me?’
The full effect of his accent washed through her now, as if she’d blocked it out when she’d heard him speak first, being too much to cope with along with everything else. He was absolutely devastating and he was coming on to her. Alana couldn’t believe it. She knew well she was nothing special, she looked like a million other girls. What on earth could this man want with her? Anyone could see he was from another league. Alarm bells rang loud and insistantly.
She shook her head and started backing away towards the gate, and her car, but the physical pull to stay in this man’s orbit was something she had to actively fight against. Simultaneously a sleek dark Lexus pulled up beside them. Clearly his car. His chauffeur driven car which had of course been parked here, in the VIP parking area.
She was shaking her head. ‘I’m sorry Mr…’
‘Mr Léveque.’ Even his name sounded sexy. Purposeful. Important.
‘I have to get back to work.’ She repeated it then as if to drive a point home, ‘This is work for me. Enjoy your weekend in Dublin. There are plenty of other women out there.’ Who won’t be stupid enough to walk away. The voice mocked her. But as she finally turned and walked away she told herself she was glad. He hadn’t looked put out, he hadn’t even tried to get her to change her mind. He was just a rich tourist, over for the match. And she knew all about sports supporters. She used to be part of that crowd, used to be a professional supporter. Not anymore.
Pascal refused to give in to the desire to look to where she was getting into her car as his own swept past and away from the stadium. He couldn’t really believe that she’d refused him. A woman hadn’t walked away from him since…he couldn’t remember when. His mouth thinned. She was right. There were plenty of other women out there. She really wasn’t anything so special.
So why was it that all he could see were those invitingly soft lips? And those huge green eyes, full of changing depths? And that alluring body in its veritable uniform that made his hands itch to rip it off and see what it hid?
He was bored. That was it. And he’d been without a lover for some weeks. He was going to a party tonight, if all he was looking for was a quick lay then he’d get it in spades.
Feeling his equilibrium start to settle again was a welcome relief, because it hadn’t been normal since he’d laid eyes on her, he settled back and relaxed. And then promptly tensed again. All recent justifications out the window. He hadn’t gotten her name. And he didn’t even know if she was married. He couldn’t remember seeing a ring, but now it glared at him. That had to be it. Equanimity rushed through him again. This time he firmly cast her out of his head as a weird, momentary diversion and looked forward to the fast approaching evening and the promise of a fulfilment that was now a dull throbbing ache in his body.