Darren G. Burton
Published by Darren G. Burton at Kindle
Copyright © 2013 Darren G. Burton
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The Author asserts the moral right to
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Cover Design: Darren G. Burton
Author's Note: All characters depicted in this work of
fiction are 18 years of age or older.
Read the other books in the series:
Alpine Nights (Jessica's Seduction #2)
Summer Heat (Jessica's Seduction #3)
Jungle Fever (Jessica's Seduction #4)
Wedding Jitters (Jessica's Seduction #5)
Honeymoon (Jessica's Seduction #6)
As she always did before getting out of the car and going into work, Jessica checked her appearance in the rear view mirror. Taking a tube of pink lipstick from her bag, she gave her upper lip a quick touch up. An errant strand of blonde hair was tucked behind her ear, then she got out and headed towards the glass entrance doors of the office building.
Jessica had worked at Frost Global for the past six months. Her job at Reception wasn't exactly exciting by any means, but it wasn't without its challenges either; especially when those phones were running hot.
The offices of Frost Global were on the top floor of an office building in Southport and took up the entire level. She greeted security on her way through the foyer and pressed the call button for the elevators. The doors to the one on the left opened immediately and she stepped inside, pressing number 12. The doors slid silently shut and the lift started to rise. She fidgeted with her hair on the ride up, which was a habit of hers, and was still doing so when there was a chime above indicating she'd arrived at her destination.
When she walked towards the large reception counter that swept around in a wide arc, she saw Sophie was already manning her post and was busy conversing with a guy in a black suit. The man had his back to Jessica, so she couldn't determine who he might be. Jessica entered behind the counter on the opposite side to where Sophie and the man were chatting. She stowed her handbag on a shelf underneath and glanced at her co-worker and the stranger.
The man was very good looking, his face deeply tanned as if he'd just returned from an adventure in the tropics. His hair was dark brown and short, with just a slight wave in the fringe. He had a prominent jaw and cheekbones, and there were smile lines at the corners of his mouth and eyes. The suit he wore looked expensive and was well-tailored for his broad-shouldered frame. Sophie seemed almost smitten by him as he held her gaze with penetrating blue eyes. When the stranger shot Jessica a look, Jessica felt her heart stutter for a couple of beats. The man offered her a smile and when Jessica returned the smile, hers was more like a grimace. She took a deep breath and absently flipped through some paperwork on the desk to appear to be doing something.
"Thanks, Sophie," the man said in a warm, deep voice. He slapped his palm on the counter top and walked off into the offices.
Sophie seemed to have a permanent grin etched on her face. She looked at Jessica and said, "Hi, Jess."
"Who was that?" Jessica wanted to know.
"Are you kidding me?" Sophie was genuinely astounded. "That was Preston Frost, the boss's son. Haven't you ever met him?"
Jessica shook her head. "Uh, uh."
A look of comprehension washed over Sophie's face then. "No, you wouldn't have. You've only been here what, six months? He's been abroad all that time on assignments."
"Isn't he some sort of super duper photographer or something?"
"Yeah, he does travel photography and fashion shoots."
"Then what's he doing here?"
"Zachariah Frost has gone on vacation. Remember? Didn't you get the memo?" Jessica nodded. "Preston's going to be looking after things while his father is away."
Jessica was dubious. "Does he even know anything about the industrial refrigeration business?"
Sophie shrugged. "Who the hell knows? Or cares, for that matter? He's good eye candy to have around for the next month, don't you think?" Again Jessica nodded. Sophie's smile returned. "I'm sure business will survive and you won't find yourself out of a job. If that's what you're worried about?"
"I'm sure you're right," Jessica agreed. "Coffee?"
"Would love one."
One of the phones rang then and Sophie swooped on it to answer the call while Jessica headed into the nearby kitchen.
The kitchen was spacious as far as office kitchens went. There was even room for several tables and chairs and a small black sofa in the corner. Jessica busied herself making two coffees, her mind elsewhere. For some reason she couldn't shake the image of Preston Frost from her mind. It wasn't just his good looks that she was dwelling on. There was something else about him, something intangible. She found herself hoping she got to see more of him as the day progressed and she felt strangely excited by that prospect.
The kettle boiled and clicked off automatically. Jessica poured steaming water into the two mugs and stirred in generous amounts of milk. As she washed up the spoon in the sink, once more the vision of Preston Frost popped into her mind and gave her a heart flutter.
She frowned at herself for feeling more like an infatuated adolescent rather than a grown woman of twenty three.
Back at reception she placed a mug on the counter in front of Sophie, who was still busy chatting on the phone.
"I will let Mr Frost know as soon as he returns from overseas," Sophie was saying into the receiver. "Okay. Yep, okay. Will do. Have a good day." She hung up the phone and took a sip of her coffee. "It's already started, Jess. We're going to field a million calls from people wanting to speak to the boss."
"We'll just have to palm them off onto his son," Jessica said simply.
Sophie looked uncertain. "I don't want to bother him too much with calls to his father."
"Why the hell not? That's what he's here for, isn't it? To run the place while his dad's away?"
"I suppose so."
"Well, that's what you said."
Jessica shook her head, not sure why Sophie seemed reluctant to bother the boss's son with business. It was a mystery to her. Did Preston have her under a 'do not disturb me' spell or something? As far as she was concerned they were all here to work, including him.
For the next half an hour Jessica was busy answering phone calls while she slowly drank her coffee. By the time the phones were silent for a few minutes and she swallowed the last mouthful, she made a face because it was stone cold. She put the cup down heavily with disgust.
The phone rang again and Sophie answered it. She said 'yes' into the receiver a few times, then slowly replaced it in its cradle. Turning to Jessica, she said with a raised eyebrow, "Preston Frost would like to see you in his office." She said the word you like it left a bitter taste in her mouth.
Jessica was a little surprised. "Me? Now?" Sophie nodded. "Did he say why?"
"Right now." Sophie eyed her quizzically. "You seem a little nervous about it. I think you fancy him."
"No. That's not it."
"O...kay then," Sophie was doubtful Jessica was being completely honest. "Best get to it, girl, and see what he wants." She added under her breath, "Wish it was me he wanted to see."
Jessica left Reception and entered the main office area. A lot of the offices were just cubicles in an open room divided by partitions. The big wigs of the company had private offices down the back, with views of the city skyline. Zachariah's office, the one now occupied by the prodigal son, was located at the rear of the floor and offered views of the Broadwater.
When she arrived at the door she paused to straighten out her black skirt and matching jacket. As usual she adjusted her hair, then took a deep breath and knocked.
Preston's deep voice boomed from the other side. "You may enter."
Strange terminology, she thought as she opened the door and stepped inside.
The office was spacious, with wood panelling on the sides, a bookshelf that ran all the way to the ceiling, and floor to ceiling windows at the back with views of Surfers Paradise to the south, and the gleaming water of the Broadwater just across the street. Hundreds of boats were moored on the other side, and several jet skis cut paths through the water. Preston Frost was seated at the large glass desk near those windows. A laptop was flipped open in front of him. Currently he was chewing the end of a pen while studying something on the screen. After making her wait in uncomfortable silence for a good thirty seconds, he stood up, smiled and extended a hand.
"I don't believe we've officially met. I'm Preston Frost, son of Zachariah." Jessica shook his hand and felt a surge of electricity spark between them as their flesh met. She simply nodded her greeting. "Please. Take a seat," he offered.
Before sitting Jessica pulled down on the hem of her skirt so it wouldn't ride up her thighs when she was seated. She got comfortable in the plush leather chair, clasped her hands casually on her lap so her body language appeared relaxed - which was in complete contrast to how she felt inside - and waited for the man to state his business.
Preston averted his attention away from his laptop now, picked up a file from the desk and leafed through its contents. From the sticker on the front of the beige folder, Jessica saw that it was her employee profile.
"So your name is Jessica Wilde," he said and smirked. He penetrated her with his blue eyes, the smirk still in place. "Do you live up to your name, Miss Wilde?"
"If you mean, am I a wild child? No, not really."
"That's a shame."
What's with this guy? Jessica wondered. What did he want with her? She found she couldn't stop staring at him as he read through her file some more. He certainly was handsome. Probably had girlfriends all over the world via his frequent travels. Despite her obvious attraction to him, she didn't plan to be his local squeeze while he was in town.
"Are you single, Jessica?" he asked finally.
She eyed him with immense suspicion now. "What's that got to do with anything?"
He shrugged rather nonchalantly. "I just like to know where everything stands. It could be important."
"It's none of your business."
"You're single," he said with surety and a nod.
Jessica could have slapped herself for sounding so defensive with her answer. Talk about giving it away without having to even mouth the words.
Idiot! she silently cursed.
"As you are probably aware, Jessica. Can I call you Jessica?" She nodded. "I'm stuck here for a month while my father's away. To be completely honest I'm not all that keen on running the show for the next four weeks."
"Do you even know anything about the refrigeration business?" Jessica interrupted him.
Preston leaned forward with his elbows on the desktop and gave her his most charming smile. The twinkle in his eyes momentarily had her mesmerized. "I know everything about this business. From a very early age my father had me involved from the ground up. He wanted me to learn everything about his empire so that when I graduated from university I could work by his side and one day eventually take over the operation when he retired.
"Only problem was it never really interested me," he went on after a brief pause. "Sure, I studied business, but my real passion was always photography. I've been an avid photographer from the age I could first hold a camera steady. I'm basically self-taught in every aspect, although I have done some short courses in the craft, and in the use of Photoshop."
"So, how did you land such a sought-after job as a travel photographer?" Jessica wondered.
"Luck," he readily admitted. "Frost Global did an air-conditioning job for a major magazine publisher, and one of their rags happened to be a world travel publication. Rather reluctantly my dad pulled some strings for me and I got the position." He shrugged, leaned back in his chair and stared off into space for a moment, as if his mind was wandering far off lands. "I mostly work freelance now, and do quite well out of it. I also do some fashion shoots when I'm stable somewhere for a while. It helps when you have contacts all over the globe."
"Sounds like a wonderful life," Jessica said, failing to keep a hint of jealousy out of her voice. "This is all very enlightening, Mr Frost, but what do you want with me?"
He smiled again. "Firstly, I insist that you call me Preston. Calling me 'Mr Frost' makes me sound like I'm as old as my father. He's mid-fifties. I'm only twenty eight. Second," he held her gaze again, "I want you to be my personal assistant while I'm chained here for the next month."
"And what exactly does that entail?" Jessica eyed him warily.
"Oh, I don't know. Running a few errands, fielding a few of my calls, accompanying me to meetings." He shrugged. "Whatever I come up with at the time. And if you're single - which you obviously are - then you will have more freedom to accompany me to various outings and social events. Partners tend to hamper those things just a little." He shrugged, glanced out at the view, than back at Jessica. "I can't blame them. I wouldn't want my girlfriend hanging out with someone like me."
Jessica wasn't sure what to make of that last part, so she ignored it. "I work on Reception. Sophie needs me out there. She can't handle all the incoming calls and media on her own."
"You can still help her out. I won't take up all of your time. And if I need you to be out of the office for a while, I'll assign someone else to man Reception with her. I'm the boss. I can do anything."
This guy sounds a bit arrogant, Jessica mused. And he sounds like he couldn't care less about his dad's business. What did he really want with her? That was the burning question. Her gut instinct - female intuition, or whatever label one wanted to put on it - was telling her it was more than mere work that Preston Frost had planned for her.
"By the way," Preston said. "When I asked you to be my PA, that wasn't a request." He held her gaze again until she almost unconsciously nodded her ascent. "Great," he said and stood up. "We'll start this little arrangement tomorrow. Right now I have to head out and meet up with some friends."
Without waiting for Jessica to vacate his office, Preston was out the door and striding towards the elevators.
It was mid-spring, so still quite light when Jessica left the office at five-thirty that afternoon. She drove south along the Gold Coast Highway through peak hour traffic, heading towards the multitude of highrise buildings that made up the Surfers Paradise skyline.
An idiot in a Holden ute cut right in front of her and she angrily blasted her horn and braked. When they stopped at a traffic light she saw the guy looking at her in his rear view mirror. He smiled and waved over his shoulder, making Jessica's blood boil. She felt like getting out of the car and punching him. However, incidents of road rage weren't her thing, so she kept the impulse in check.
Her mind wandered back to her meeting with Preston Frost that morning. Images of him had kept popping uninvited into her mind all day long and she'd found it very difficult to focus on work. He never did come back to the office, probably spending the day hanging out at the beach or with his mates or something.
Or taking photos of scantily-clad, gorgeous women.
For some reason that thought bothered her just slightly, so she quickly swept it from her mind, changed lanes and sped down the outside of the congested traffic.
A full moon was already rising over the ocean to her left; big, bright and yellow. The features on its surface were so clear and pronounced she felt like she could reach out and touch them. Traffic braked ahead as she admired the moon and she was forced to hurriedly stomp on the brake pedal, pulling to a halt just inches from the car in front of her. While she waited for a red light to change, her phone buzzed and beeped, indicating she'd received a text message. Jessica picked up the phone and groaned as soon as she saw who it was from. Despite her reluctance and aversion to the sender, she quickly read the text, made a face, then tossed the phone down onto the passenger seat as she drove off from the lights.
She didn't head straight home. Instead, she fortuitously found a vacant parking space along the Esplanade and killed the motor. When she got out, she paused for a moment to stare out over the ocean at that amazing moon once more. When she'd had her fill she wandered through the crowd down Cavill Mall.
Jessica was meeting up with Marco for a bite to eat. He was a close friend she'd known since high school and it would be good to catch up with him. It had been a few weeks. She saw him sitting alone at a table outside Charlie's Cafe. His round, bald head was easy to spot. The guy wasn't naturally bald, just preferred to shave off his frizzy dark locks. He was half Australian and half Pacific Islander, giving him a solid build and skin that had a perpetual sun tan. He grinned when he saw his friend approaching and Jessica found herself wishing her teeth were as perfectly white as his always seemed to be. Even his occasional smoking failed to discolour them in any way.
Marco stood up and hugged her with his one hundred plus kilogram frame. It was like cuddling a big friendly bear. As usual he smelled good, never one to leave home without either spraying on the deodorant or some after shave.
"How have you been, Jess?" he asked her as they both took a seat.
Jessica brushed strands of hair away from her face before answering. "Good, good," she muttered with a nod.
A waitress came and took their order. Both Marco and Jessica decided to have one of Charlie's famous chocolate milkshakes. As for food, Marco went with a burger and chips while Jessica chose some toasted fingers; which was basically a toasted cheese sandwich cut into thin sections.
A noisy crowd had gathered just outside the restaurant, where a street performer was currently busy juggling three very large knives. The night was warm and pleasant and Jessica breathed deeply of the air, a slight hint of salt in the breeze.
"Still single?" Marco inquired.
"Yep, I sure am. You?"
He nodded. "You haven't heard from Geoff since you broke up with him?" Marco shot her a look of concern, his big brown eyes searching her face. He placed a reassuring hand on her forearm and Jessica felt his warmth flood through her. His touch was comforting and always had been.
"No, but Caitlin's been sending me text messages the past few days. I haven't answered any of them."
Their milkshakes arrived and Jessica immediately took a sip from the tall aluminium cup. Yum!
Marco grimaced and shook his head. "What's that bitch want?"
Jessica shrugged. "Probably wants to unload her guilt, I'd say. She sent me a text on my way here, pleading with me to talk to her because we're friends."
Marco snorted with derision and gulped a mouthful of chocolate milk. "She stopped being your friend the minute she fucked your boyfriend."
It had been a month now since she'd found out Geoff was being unfaithful to her with one of her best friends. Jessica had immediately dumped the pair of them and hadn't spoken to either one of them since. She didn't plan to change that status anytime soon, either.
"Just ignore her," Marco suggested and eyed his arriving burger and chips hungrily as the plate was placed on the table before him. He proceeded to drown his chips in tomato sauce, then had an extended glance at some girls walking by down the mall.
Jessica grinned and slapped him on the shoulder. "What are you doing checking out women? You supposed to be gay."
"No harm in looking," he said and stuffed a chip into his mouth. "Besides," he swallowed, "I haven't completely made up my mind yet. Maybe the pendulum swings both ways for me?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Are you telling me you're bi now?"
"I could be."
Marco shrugged and continued to eat, reminding Jessica that she had her meal still untouched in front of her. She picked up one of the crispy fingers and ate it whole, washing it down with more flavoured milk. They ate in silence, both lost in their own thoughts for a while. Jessica's were a mixture of Caitlin, Geoff and Preston. Why was he always in there? Still, better to think about him than to dwell on visions of Geoff and Caitlin naked in bed together.
She shuddered and wiped her lips on a napkin.
"I met the boss's son today for the first time," she confided.
"Is he good looking?" There was a glint in Marco's eyes. "Can I meet him?"
"Yes, he is good looking, and no you can't meet him. Hands off. Besides, I'm sure his pendulum doesn't swing your way."
"I could convert him."
"Um? No. I'd prefer it if you didn't go there."
Marco grinned. "So you're a teensy bit keen on him then?"
Jessica shook her head. "I wouldn't say that, but he's good eye candy to have around for the next month. I'm going to be working closely with him by the sounds of it."
She then filled Marco in on the day's events regarding Preston Frost and her new role of PA. When she'd finished they ordered a round of cappuccinos.
Marco had a wicked look in his eyes now. "I wonder want Mr Frost junior has in store for you, Jess? Hmm...interesting."
The coffees arrived before Jessica could reply and she busied herself spooning the chocolate-coated froth off the top and swallowing it. Her phone vibrated on the table beside her. Before she could pick it up Marco had seized it and was scrolling through her messages.
"It's Caitlin again, isn't it?" she said. Marco nodded, preoccupied with sending Caitlin a lightning-fast reply. "What are you writing?" Jessica wanted to know.
He replaced the phone on the table near her resting elbow. "I just told her to fuck off."
"I could have done that."
"Yes, but you're ignoring her. I signed the message off with my name." He picked up his coffee and sat back with a look of immense satisfaction. "I love being a bitch."
Jessica was up earlier than usual the next morning, showering and taking meticulous care with her personal appearance. She was always well-presented, but today she seemed to be making and extra effort.
Why? she asked herself as she looked in the bathroom mirror and applied eye liner.
Her blue eyes were surprisingly bright and clear, considering she'd stayed up late chatting and drinking red wine with her flatmate, Amy.
Next she painted her lips with hot pink lipstick, just going slightly over the edges to give them a fuller look. A coating of gloss was applied on top of that, and her eyes were finished off with a thick application of black mascara. Jessica then went into the bedroom and checked herself out in the full-length wardrobe mirrors.
Today she had opted for a navy suit, with pants rather than a skirt. A short-sleeved white blouse showed between the lapels of the jacket, and a thin gold chain with a love heart pendant hung down from her neck, coming to rest just above her cleavage. The necklace was a gift from her ex, and she stood there wondering if maybe she should get rid of it.
Jessica was happy with her slim figure. Realistically she didn't do much to stay in shape. Her diet wasn't always the best, and exercise for the sake of it was not high on her priority list. So far she was lucky. No matter what she ate, or what she did or didn't do, she always seemed to manage to maintain roughly the same weight, give or take a kilo.
She did a pirouette in front of the mirror, slipped into some black heels, then ducked back into the bathroom to spray on some Armani Mania perfume. Once more she adjusted her hair, then left the bedroom.
Down the short hallway she passed a closed door. That was Amy's room. She was still asleep, not needing to get up for work for another couple of hours. In the living room sun streamed in through the glass balcony doors. Jessica walked over to the windows and gazed out over the skyline of Surfers Paradise. Her apartment was on the fifteenth floor of one of the many highrise buildings and she had an unimpeded view of the beach. The smooth ocean surface shimmered under the morning sun, and she felt herself wishing she had the day off so she could go down there and enjoy it. She liked the beach, the soft sand between her toes, a bit of light suntan and a swim in the cool water.
She shrugged and turned away from the window. Maybe on the weekend.
Jessica didn't normally eat much in the way of breakfast, so she just grabbed a muesli bar from the kitchen cupboard, slipped a red handbag over her shoulder, grabbed her car keys and left the apartment. She chomped on the muesli bar as she rode the elevator alone down to the basement level car park. When the doors slid open she made her way over to a little red Hyundai Getz, unlocked it remotely and got in behind the wheel.
As she drove north towards Southport, Jessica wondered what lie ahead for the day. She had mixed feelings about working closely with Preston Frost. Sure, he was pleasant to look at, and that was a plus, but he came across as arrogant, and possibly a little chauvinistic.
Or was she just being too harsh and judgmental? After all, she didn't know him at all.
Jessica shrugged and switched lanes. Traffic slowed to a crawl - which it often did at this time of the day - as she approached the bridge that would take her into Southport. Eventually she made it to the offices of Frost Global on Marine Parade and pulled into the parking lot. Looking in the rear view mirror, Jessica checked that her hair and make up were in order, then she got out of the car and headed inside the building. Once on the twelfth floor she found Sophie already manning the reception desk.
"Your boyfriend's not in yet, Jess," Sophie said with a smile. Jessica knew she was joking, but there was still an edge of sarcasm to her voice.
"He's not my boyfriend," she said. "I'm assuming you're referring to Preston Frost?" Sophie nodded. "So when is he coming in? I'm supposed to be working with him today."
"Don't know," said Sophie as she arranged various items on the counter top. "I haven't heard anything from him. Guess you'll just have to slum it on Reception with me until he gets here."
Jessica went into the kitchen and made a couple of coffees. When she returned to Reception, Sophie was busy taking an order from a new client. She placed the other woman's coffee on the counter in front of her, then sat in her own chair and busied herself confirming some appointments with the tradespeople. At eleven thirty her mobile phone rang. She didn't recognise the number that came up on screen, but when she answered she discovered it was Preston Frost.
"I'll be there in fifteen minutes," the boss's son said. "Make sure there is a coffee waiting for me on my desk when I arrive. I have it strong, with two sugars and a good dash of milk."
He hung up before Jessica had a chance to get a word in.
"Who was that?" Sophie wanted to know, obviously noticing the unimpressed expression on Jessica's face.
"Preston," Jessica almost spat the name. "He'll be here in quarter of an hour and he wants me to have a coffee waiting for him."
This piece of news brought a rather satisfied smile to Sophie's face. "Well, being his coffee bitch is a very important part of PA work."
"Don't rub it in. Besides, we make coffees for his father, don't we? So I don't see the difference."
What was bugging Jessica was Preston's attitude, speaking to her over the phone just now like she was his personal slave or something. She didn't respond well to that. However, when he was due to arrive, she went and made him his coffee and took it into his office, where she sat at his desk and waited. Outside, the view through the huge glass windows was resplendent. Boats cruised the placid waters of the Broadwater and a jet ski cut a path between them.
Jessica was aware of a presence in the room then and she turned to see Preston standing in the doorway smiling at her. Why did his smile make her heart flutter? she wondered as she stood up.
"Please." He waved her down. "Sit. Relax."
She watched as he moved in behind his desk and took a seat. Today his suit was a charcoal colour, beneath which he wore a shirt that was the faintest of pink hues. The collar was knotted with a white silk tie. Preston eyed his coffee a moment, picked up the mug and took a sip.
He nodded with satisfaction. "Perfect."
For some reason Jessica felt relieved that she'd made his coffee right.
Preston stood up and scanned her with his eyes. "Why are you wearing pants today?" he asked, frowning. "I prefer to see you in a skirt, or a dress."
Jessica returned his frown as she felt her blood simmer. "What I wear to work is completely up to me. We're not issued with official uniforms, and so long as I'm appropriately attired, how I dress is none of your business."
He held up his hands in surrender and sat back down. "Okay, okay. Chill." He cupped his hands around his coffee mug for a moment and stared into it. Suddenly he broke into a smile and fixed her with a blue-eyed stare. "Feisty. I like that in a woman. You're not a pushover, which makes you a challenge. I enjoy a challenge."
Oh, great, Jessica sighed inwardly. He enjoys a challenge. But at least he seemed to get the message that she wasn't going to be some submissive doormat.
Preston opened up his laptop. "Right. Let's get some work done, shall we?"
For the next hour Jessica helped him with writing letters and emails that had absolutely nothing to do with the refrigeration business. It was all photography related. Some emails were sent off to contacts and potential clients overseas, while a letter was drafted for a tender on an upcoming fashion parade on the Gold Coast, in which Preston was hoping to be the event's official photographer.
When they were done, Preston stood up and said, "Right. Let's go to lunch." He took off his jacket and hung it over the back of the chair.
"What about work?" Jessica said, remaining seated.
"We need to eat. And you get a lunch break here, don't you? I'm sure my father's not that much of a slave driver."
"But we haven't actually done any work," Jessica insisted.
"Sure we have." Preston loosened his tie and undid the top button of his shirt. "We've done the important stuff. Time for a break. We can take care of Frost Global later."
Jessica sighed, got up and followed Preston out the door. As they passed by Reception, Jessica grabbed her handbag. Sophie was busy on the phone.
"We're just going out to lunch," Preston quipped as he headed for the exit.
Sophie gave Preston a dark look, then offered Jessica a withering glance. Jessica just shrugged and joined Preston in the hallway, where he had the elevator waiting.
Downstairs they jumped into Daddy's car, which was a bronze-coloured Mercedes AMG convertible. Jessica had never driven in Zachariah's car before, and she was only too happy to take a ride. It was a lot flashier than her Toyota Corolla.
"Where are we going?" she asked as Preston sped down the highway.
"Broadbeach. Get out of Southport for a while."
The top was down and any semblance of having perfectly neat hair anymore had gone out the window. Jessica enjoyed the wind on her face and the warm sun on her skin. It was a perfect spring day on the Gold Coast. Couldn't be better. Preston took the Esplanade through Surfers Paradise. To the left the beach was packed, to the right the streets were crawling with tourists from all over the country and the globe. Once in Broadbeach they had to circle around the main precinct a few times before they found a convenient parking space. Jessica then followed Preston down the main street, which was jammed with restaurants, cafes and trendy bars. The place was buzzing with the lunchtime crowd, and Preston continually greeted people as he walked by.
Did he know all these people? Jessica wondered. Or was he just very friendly? He spent most of his life abroad apparently, so surely he couldn't personally know them all.
They took a seat at an outdoor table of an Italian restaurant called Alfredo's. A waitress hurried over, greeted them and handed them menus and the wine list. Preston studied the selection of wines while Jessica removed her sunglasses and perused the food.
"Do you drink, Jessica?" he asked.
"Sure, but not much in the daytime."
"You'll have a wine with lunch though?"
"Sure. You choose. I'll have what you're having."
Preston signalled the waitress over. "We'll have two glasses of the Barossa Shiraz, thanks."
"Will you be having an entree today?" the waitress asked as she scribbled on her pad.
"Yes, some Bruschetta."
The waitress hurried off to take an order at the next table, then returned to the kitchen. Preston fixed Jessica with his blue eyes as she continued to scan the menu.
"See anything you like?" he asked her.
She looked up at him. I do see something I like, she thought, but I presume you're talking about food. She said, "I might just have a lasagne and salad."
"Lunch is on me, by the way. You did good work today."
Jessica smiled a little uncertainly. "I've hardly done any work today."
"You've helped me with some important stuff."
"But only your work," she pointed out. "Nothing to do with Frost Global."
Preston nodded and smiled. "Like I said, we'll take care of some of that after lunch."
Their wine arrived, followed soon after by the Bruschetta. The waitress took the orders for their main meals, then Jessica helped herself to a slice of the crispy bread and took a bite, washing it down with a sip of shiraz. She felt Preston's eyes on her again and she looked at him. Once more he was smiling.
"What?" she said.
"I was just thinking how sexy you look as your lips sip that wine," he was honest.
Jessica felt herself blush a little. "Don't be ridiculous."
"You're very attractive," he added. "But I'm sure you already know that. Men would be telling you that all the time, I'm certain. Not to mention ogling you as you walk by. I saw a few doing just that as we walked to the restaurant. Can't say I blame them. Poor buggers. Probably all wishing they were me."
Jessica sipped more wine and placed her glass down firmly on the table. "I'm not your girl. Whether I like it or not, we're working together. Nothing more. I intend to keep our relationship purely professional. I'm not going to be your piece of flesh to devour for the four weeks you happen to be in town."
He still smiled, his blue eyes sparkling in the afternoon light. "We'll see," he said rather cockily.
Jessica shook her head and glared across the table at him. "I'm not easy and I'm no slut. I want you to understand that."
The smile gradually slipped from his face as he nodded and held up his hands in supplication. "I understand."
"If you start making advances towards me at work, then I could have you for sexual harassment in the work place."
"I'll have to make sure I see you outside of work then," he said simply.
Jessica said nothing for a while. As arrogant and as self-assured as Preston seemed to be, Jessica found herself feeling excited about the prospect of seeing more of him outside of work. She got to thinking about his transient lifestyle then, and she decided to question him about it.
"So," she began after another bite of Bruschetta and a sip of wine, "do you actually live anywhere?"
"Good question." He smiled and shook his head. "Not really. When I'm in Queensland I usually stay with my parents. I have a lot of friends around the country who can put me up as well. Overseas I own a bunch of timeshare places. Majorca, London, the Maldives, the States and Canada." He shrugged. "There's no real place I call home. But I like my free and easy lifestyle."
"I don't know if I could live like that," Jessica said. "No fixed address. Where do you keep all your possessions?"
"I don't have that many, other than clothing and camera gear."
"So before you came back here to watch over your dad's business, where were you?"
"I was working on a freelance assignment for National Geographic in Africa, photographing lions in Kenya, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and elephants in Zambia."
"It was. I was there for over two months and getting paid handsomely to live the adventure of a lifetime."
"I'd love to do a safari in Africa one day," Jessica said, her mind starting to wander.
"Where have you travelled so far? Have you been overseas?"
She nodded. "A couple of times. I've done the mandatory Bali trip. I've also been skiing in Japan."
Preston leaned forward on the table and bit into some Bruschetta. "Oh, really? Whereabouts in Japan?"
"In Hokkaido, the north island, in an area called Niseko."
"I know it."
"Have you been there?"
"Uh, uh. Some friends of mine went snowboarding there a couple of years back. They said it was brilliant. It's on my list of places to visit. I'd just rather go there if I had some work on there. You know, the killing the two birds scenario." He shrugged. "I'm not much of a skier, though." He fixed his eyes on hers. "You like skiing?"
"Yeah. I'm still a bit of an amateur. I've only skied twice, once in Mount Hotham in Victoria, and last year in Niseko. It's fun, but kind of hard work when you're learning." She sipped some wine just as their main courses arrived. "You've never been skiing?"
Lasagne and salad was placed in front of Jessica, and she marvelled at how well stacked the dish was. Whenever she cooked up one of those frozen supermarket lasagnes, it always came out looking like a plate of mush. Preston's plate of chicken risotto with shaved parmesan smelled delicious. When the waitress had gone again, Preston answered Jessica's question.
"I've never really tried skiing. I went to a ski resort in the French Alps some years back, but I was only there for a few days to photograph a snowboarding event. I did try one beginner's lesson that went for a couple of hours, but I don't know if skiing down a slope about as steep as this table top really counts as skiing."
"Sure it does. Do you think you would ever do it again?"
He nodded. "Probably. I might try snowboarding next time, though. That looks more like my thing. I surf, so snowboarding might come more natural to me than trying to control two skis wanting to go in different directions."
Jessica smiled at that. "It's just practice. Skiing's not that hard once you get the hang of it."
They fell silent for a while and enjoyed their meals. Jessica's lasagne was scrumptious, and the salad complimented it quite nicely. She finished every bit of it and downed the rest of her wine.
"I probably should have ordered a white wine with mine," Preston said as he dabbed his lips with a napkin. "White goes better with chicken. Would you like dessert?"
"No, thanks," Jessica said with an adamant shake of her head. "I'm way too full to eat anything else."
They left the restaurant, took a drive down the coast, then eventually drove back to Southport, arriving at Frost Global by mid-afternoon. Jessica found Sophie swamped with phone calls, so she quickly went to her aid. A half an hour later when the phones finally stopped ringing, Sophie glared at Jessica.
"If he's going to have you all to himself for hours every day," Sophie snapped, "then he needs to get someone else out here to fill in for you. I haven't had a chance to have any lunch or even go to the loo."
"Sorry," Jessica offered. "I'll talk to him. You go take a break."
Sophie slipped away without another word, none too happy with life at the moment. The phone rang and Jessica swooped on it. It was Preston.
"Can you come into my office? I need to talk with you about something."
"I can't right now. I'm covering for Sophie so she can have some lunch. She really needs help out here if I'm not going to be here half the time."
"We'll talk about that when you come in to see me. Come as soon as she gets back."
Sophie was gone for the better part of three quarters of an hour. The minute she returned to Reception, Jessica announced she had to go see Preston. Sophie answered her with another glare, but said nothing.
"What's so important?" Jessica asked as she closed the door to the boss's office. She took a seat opposite Preston, who was busy staring at his laptop screen watching YouTube videos.
"Wanna go to a party tonight?" he asked and winked at her.
Jessica sighed and shook her head. "Is that all you wanted to talk to me about? You could have asked me that over the phone before."
"So," he said and sat forward, tenting his hands on the desktop. "Is that a yes?"
"No, it's not a yes. I appreciate today's lunch. It was really nice, but it's Tuesday night. I don't normally go to parties on a week night."
Preston looked genuinely surprised. "Why not?"
"Because I have to work the next day."
He waved a hand nonchalantly. "Don't worry about that. Just start a little later. I won't have your pay docked. Besides, it won't be a late one tonight."
"What's the occasion?" Jessica wondered, actually surprised that she was starting to entertain the idea of going to a party with this man.
"No occasion. Just some friends getting together."
Jessica considered it for a while. "Okay," she agreed, "but on two conditions. You get someone to help Sophie, and you promise I won't be home late."
"Deal," Preston beamed. "Wear something nice and I'll pick you up at eight."
Jessica got up. "Don't you want my address?" she said when she reached the door.
"I already have it."
"I think you quite like this guy," said flatmate Amy after Jessica told her about her day.
It was seven thirty and she was ready to go. She had on a black cocktail dress and matching high heels. The dress had a split up the right hand side, sexily showing off a bit of thigh and hip. Her nails were painted pink, as were her lips. Jessica sipped from a glass of white wine and shook her head.
"Not really. Not in that way," she said.
Amy gave her a dubious look, her green eyes searching Jessica's.
"Come on, Jess. I know you. You fancy him. You said he's hot, didn't you?"
"Yeah, but looks aren't everything. He's nice enough in some ways, but he's just very arrogant and presumptuous. That's what puts me off."
"Stop thinking relationship all the time. You need a break from that. What's wrong with just having a bit of fun with a guy?" Jessica shrugged. "You probably need it. Get your mind off Geoff and Caitlin."
Jessica waved her away. "I'm over that."
"No you're not. Just have some fun. Trust me. This Preston guy is obviously a bit keen on you."
"But what if I end up falling for him? What then? He disappears back overseas in a month and I'm left with a broken heart...Again."
"Then don't fall for him."
Jessica drained her glass and stepped into the adjoining kitchen to pour another. "That's easy for you to say. You want another drink?"
Amy joined her in the kitchen and Jessica topped up her glass for her.
"Even if I did get involved on a more casual level," Jessica said, "I might just be rebounding from my relationship with Geoff."
"How can you be rebounding if it's not serious, and Preston's not serious?"
"Just go with the flow, have some fun and see what happens. That's about the best advice I can give you. But if you're really worried about it, then keep away from him."
"Hard to do when I'm supposed to be his PA."
"I meant on a personal level." Amy sipped from her glass and smiled at Jessica. "I have a feeling you won't do that, though. You want to spend time with him, I can tell."
Jessica shrugged and said nothing.
Right on eight o'clock Preston was buzzing her intercom and Jessica took the elevator to the ground floor to meet him. He was dressed smart-casual in Versace blue jeans and a white V-neck shirt, left untucked. His feet were encased in shiny black leather shoes. A thick silver chain hung around his neck and his chunky watch looked expensive. His smile lit up the darkness as Jessica stepped out of the foyer and into the parking area, where the Mercedes was waiting. He greeted her with a quick kiss on the cheek and she didn't mind that.
"Do we need to stop off somewhere and buy alcohol?" Jessica asked as Preston manoeuvred the car onto the highway and drove south.
"No. There'll be plenty there."
"Who will be at this party?"
"Just some friends."
"Will you know everyone there?"
"I doubt it. I probably won't know most of them."
"You seemed to know just about everyone in Broadbeach today," Jessica pointed out.
"Yeah, but not intimately," Preston explained." Many people I just know enough to say hello to. That's all. Most are merely casual acquaintances."
Jessica grinned. "And here I was assuming you were popular."
They drove south to Broadbeach, where the Mercedes turned right and headed west for a while. Soon they were driving through the well-to-do streets of Clear Island Waters. Preston came to a stop behind a group of cars that were crowded outside a particular house. Jessica could hear dance music emanating from within the two storey structure. It wasn't overly loud, but certainly nudging towards party volume.
She still wasn't sure if she was in the mood for a mid-week party, but the wines she'd had with Amy had given her a nice warm buzz, and she figured a few more drinks wouldn't hurt. Just so long as she didn't have a late one.
She followed Preston through the front yard, the path lined with small flower gardens, and entered the open front door. The music was much louder once they were in the spacious living area, with its high ceiling and curved staircase leading spiralling to the upper level. A quick glance around and Jessica calculated there were about twenty or so people in the room, with a fairly even mix of males and females, the age range somewhere between early twenties and mid-thirties. She felt many eyes on them as she waited for Preston to introduce her to some of the guests, but he didn't appear to be familiar with them. His face lit up when a couple came out of the kitchen, armed with bottles of champagne, which they placed on a table covered in glasses.
"There are my friends," he said to Jessica and took her by the arm, guiding her over to them. "Blake. Heather." He shook hands with Blake and kissed Heather on the cheek. "This is my friend, Jessica. We work together."
Both Blake and Heather looked Jessica up and down with what she determined to be rather hungry eyes. Hopefully she had that wrong.
"You always did have exquisite taste in women," Heather said with a smile, her white teeth sparkling as resplendently as the diamond necklace that hung around her neck.
The couple looked to be about the same age as Preston. She didn't know how old Preston was, but guessed him to be late twenties. They were casually dressed, but their attire looked expensive. Blake had blond hair, spiked up at the fringe with some product, while Heather's hair was jet black and gleaming with health.
"Champagne?" Blake queried, holding up a bottle of Krug.
Expensive stuff, thought Jessica, and she found herself nodding, eager to try a glass for the first time in her life. She'd had Moet and she'd tried Mumm once, but never Krug. Blake poured her a glass and handed it to her. Jessica sniffed it first and got some effervescent bubbles up her hose for her troubles. She then took a sip.
"You like?" Blake asked, eyeing her expectantly.
She nodded again. "I like very much." She took another sip. "I could get used to drinking this." Jessica laughed then. "If I could afford to buy it."
"Blake's an old school friend of mine," Preston explained once he'd been handed a glass of bubbly. "We've known each other since the first year of high school." He drank some champagne and studied the glass as if watching the bubbles rising to the top. "His beautiful wife, Heather, I only met a year ago. How have you been, by the way?"
"Really good," Heather answered with a radiant smile.
She certainly was a stunning looking woman, Jessica mused. Her husband was quite good looking as well, but paled in aesthetic comparison to Preston. She moved unconsciously closer to Preston then, until their arms were touching and she could feel the warmth emanating from him.
"Her clothing line is going great guns," said Blake. "Really taking off. Some of the big retailers are showing a keen interest in stocking her label. She's going to end up rich."
"Richer, Darling," Heather corrected her husband.
The lives of the affluent, Jessica thought with a hint of envy.
She'd barely drunk half her glass when Blake topped it back up for her. At this rate she'd be pissed in no time.
Over the next half an hour Blake and Heather introduced the pair to some of the other guests. Most seemed to be couples, with several attractive single women thrown into the mix. When Preston spent some time chatting gregariously with a hot little blonde number, Jessica strangely felt some tingles of jealously surge through her veins. She knew the truth then. She was really starting to like him in that way, despite the fact that his attitude sometimes peeved her.
The woman Preston was chatting up had a partner, so Jessica decided to get a bit of her own back by giving him all her attention. She sat down on the arm of the chair the man was seated in and smiled at him.
"Hi. I'm Adam," he offered and returned her smile.
"I'm Jessica, but most people call me Jess."
"Makes sense. What's your partner's name?"
"Preston." It was Preston who answered. The men shook hands, then Preston's focus returned to the guy's girlfriend.
"He's not my partner," Jessica made the point. "We work together. We're just friends."
"Fair enough," said Adam. He took a sip from a glass filled with what looked like a scotch on the rocks. "So, you enjoy the lifestyle?" His brown eyes searched her face.
"What lifestyle is that?" She wasn't sure if he was referring to life on the Gold Coast, or what.
"You know," he said. "The lifestyle." As if that clarified anything. "These kinds of parties and what goes on."
Jessica pulled back just a little and very nearly got to her feet. What the hell did he mean?
Adam suddenly laughed, his keen eyes flickering between Jessica and Preston. "You really have no idea, do you? Didn't Preston tell you?"
"Tell me what?" Jessica demanded.
Adam clammed up. "Nothing. It doesn't matter."
"It does matter. Tell me what?" Jessica repeated.
Adam shook his head and sipped from his glass. "You'll find out soon enough.
Jessica didn't have to wait long for the true nature of this party to be unveiled. She was on her third glass of Krug when things started to heat up.
A couple sitting on the lounge opposite began kissing rather passionately, with lots of tongue and fondling of body parts. The pair seemed oblivious that anyone might be watching and Jessica figured that was probably the point; to have people watch, or even join in. The woman spread her legs as the man ran his hand up her thigh. Her dress hitched up to her hips and Jessica almost let out a startled gasp. She was wearing no panties and Jessica had a clear view of her shaven pussy. She was obviously aroused as the lips glistened with moisture in the light of the room. The man probed several fingers between those lips and they disappeared inside, bringing a long moan of pleasure from the woman.
Jessica couldn't quite believe her eyes as another man approached the lounge, unceremoniously unzipped his pants and produced possibly the biggest cock Jessica had ever laid eyes on. It throbbed as he dangled it in front of the woman's face.
"Suck it," her partner encouraged her as he got down on his knees and buried his face between her thighs.
The woman did. She gripped the offered dick in her left hand, opened her mouth wide and took half the length down her throat. She now had the man gasping with pleasure as she gave him head, occasionally breaking for air and to let out some moans of her own.
Jessica was shocked and mesmerised at the same time. She didn't want to watch, kept telling herself to look away, but she couldn't. It was all so surreal. A minute later she realised other couples were getting their gear off and starting to indulge. Oral was happening all around and partners were being swapped. She even saw Blake and Heather engaged in a three way with one of the single women. Blake had his pants down and was penetrating the woman while Heather straddled her face.
"Now do you get the picture?"
Jessica finally managed to peel her eyes away from the lusty scene and looked at Adam. Once again he was smiling, this time with a definite gleam of arousal in his eyes. Jessica glanced down at his lap and saw the outline of a throbbing hard-on beneath his pants. Preston, seemingly not noticing anything that was happening around him, was still busy chatting about his global adventures with Adam's girlfriend.
"Take me home," Jessica said. When Preston didn't respond, she added sharply, "Now!"
He looked at her, then took in the scene that was unfolding - one piece of clothing at a time - around them. He smiled and shook his head.
"Oh, Jesus," he said and then laughed.
Jessica stood up, snatched up her handbag and stood in the midst of the sexually-charged room, waiting. Preston eyed her, then nodded and they headed for the door.
Once in the car and driving away from Clear Island Waters, Jessica said, "How could you? Of all things, taking me to a swinger's party. I can't believe you did that."
Her outburst caused him to laugh again.
Preston said, "I didn't know that's what it was."
"Honestly. I had no idea it was going to be like that." He glanced at Jessica and repeated, "Honestly."
"I don't believe you." Inside Jessica was seething even more than she was letting on. "You've known Blake since high school. It was his party. How can you sit there and tell me you had no idea they were swingers?" She turned and faced him, the wind blowing her blonde hair all about her face. "And they wanted us to swing with them. God!"
Preston gave an adamant shake of his head, his expression serious. "I didn't know. Blake was never into that kind of thing before. It must be something to do with Heather. It must be her vice and he's gotten involved in the lifestyle to please her. I haven't seen them for a year, and I've only met Heather a couple of times before. Remember?"
"I feel sick after seeing that. What were you hoping for? That I'd get all turned on and ride you in front of all those people? You're sick."
"You still don't believe me," Preston stated the obvious.
"Just shut up and get me home."
When the Mercedes came to a stop outside Jessica's building, she got out, slammed the door and walked into the foyer without a word. As she rode the elevator to the fifteenth floor, she realised it wasn't just the fact that he'd taken her to a swinger's party that was pissing her off.
Despite herself, she had actually gotten just a little turned on back at the house. Not that she wanted to indulge with swingers. But something about the scene had awakened her dormant desires and she found herself wanting Preston even more.
A few days had now passed and on Friday morning Jessica was once again manning the Reception desk wi