Sage hurried along behind Jake as he forged a path through the media
toward the back door. Alex hurried along behind her, fending off
the hordes that tried to get too close.
“Ms. Dumont!” a reporter shouted, shoving a microphone in her face.
“What do you have to say about what’s going on here?”
comment,” she muttered as Jake shouldered the man aside.
“The students are here to show their support for democracy in the
Middle East,” shouted a female reporter wearing a KTRK TV badge.
“Are you sympathetic to their cause?”
comment.” Sage kept moving, Jake clearing the way, Alex backing him
“Ms. Dumont!” The first reporter caught up with her again and
shoved the mic back into her face. “Some of these people are
protesting the business you’re doing with a country they feel is
oppressive. How do you feel about Marine Drilling spending American
money in the Middle East?”
Jake grabbed the microphone out of the newsman’s hands, nearly
knocking him off his feet. “The lady told you she has no comment.”
He shoved the mic back so hard the man jerked backward out of his
way. Tentatively, the reporter reached out and took hold of the mic,
and they continued toward the door.
Jake stepped inside and hauled Sage in after him. Alex followed,
and the security guard closed the door.
“You okay?” Jake asked her.
nodded, but she was trembling, her mouth cotton dry. “I hate this.”
“Maybe you should call off the deal and let the Saudis go back
shook her head, wishing she could do just that. It wasn’t going to
happen. “I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I invited the sheik and
his family to Texas. I’m not going to abandon them.”
Approval shown in his face. “I didn’t really figure you would.”
Catching hold of her arm, he urged her toward the bank of elevators
in the lobby. Through the thick mirrored glass walls of the
building, she could hear the demonstrators outside, arguing and
shouting back and forth.
“Unless you need me,” Alex said, “I’ll see you Thursday.”
“Thanks, buddy,” Jake said and Alex headed out to his car.
Sage stepped into the elevator and Jake followed. “It’s getting
worse instead of better,” she said.
Jake pushed the floor-twelve button. “It still may cool down.”
they may start killing each other.”
mouth edged up. “There’s always that chance.”
Sage stood beside him in the elevator. Even in her high heels, he
towered above her. She felt feminine and safe in a way she never
thought of the sheik’s daughter, A’lia, beautiful and sheltered.
Living in a gilded prison. As lovely as she was, there was a
sadness in her dark, exotic eyes, something that seemed to reach out
to Sage in some way. In the cousin, Zahra, Sage had sensed no
underlying disquiet. It made her wonder if she could be wrong and
A’lia was happy.
Whatever the truth, it was none of her business. She was determined
to make a multi-million dollar deal, save a boatload of money for
Marine Drilling, and prove to her grandfather she was capable of
running the company when Michael Curtis retired next year.
entered her office, accidentally brushed against Jake’s thick chest
as he held open the door, and his eyes locked with hers. A jolt of
electricity shot through her, made her legs actually feel weak. It
was ridiculous. He probably had the same effect on every woman in
Except she had never seen him look at another woman the way he was
looking at her.
Another little curl of heat slipped through her. There was no
question Jake wanted her. Every time he looked at her, it was
boldly there in his eyes. And yet she couldn’t accuse him of
overstepping the boundary between them.
What she couldn’t understand was this burning desire she felt for
him. It had never happened before, not even in her more carefree
days when she was in college. She’d had boyfriends. She had even
slept with a couple of them. But there was none of the gnawing
hunger she felt when she looked at Jake.
wasn’t like her. She was serious and dedicated. She didn’t lust
for a man.
amended that. She had never lusted for a man before. It appalled
her to realize how much she lusted for Jake.
you keep looking at me that way, I might break my rule.”
face went warm. She knew exactly what he meant. He wanted her but
he wouldn’t touch her unless she was free.
turned away from him, forced her feet to carry her over to her desk.
went well today, I thought,” she said, forcing her mind toward
“You did great,” he said, and there was none of the heat she had
heard in his voice before. “The sheik is well educated. Speaks
English like a native, the son, as well. Makes everything easier.”
“Khalid and Roshan were both schooled at Oxford.”
nodded. “I’ll be coaching Red a little more this afternoon. I
noticed he has a habit of crossing his ankle over his knee when he
sits too long. I’ve warned him it’s a major insult to show a Saudi
the bottom of his shoe.”
“Red may not have a university degree but he’s smart. He’ll
remember what you tell him.”
seems like a good man to have on your team.”
“He’s a very good man. I considered asking one of the VPs, either
Charles Denton or Jonathan Hunter, but they’re both very busy with
their own jobs and extremely competitive. I wasn’t sure how much I
could trust them. Red worked for Ian for years before he started
working for me. He’s loyal to a fault.”
“That was my take on the guy.”
what about Thursday? Looks like the sheik is going to let his
daughter go shopping with us. Probably her cousin Zahra will come
“She’s got to have a male relative along,” Jake said. “I have a
hunch we’re going to have a small army going with us to the mall. I
called yesterday and made arrangements with Saks and Neiman Marcus.
They’re going to provide a private salon.”
Sage grinned up at him. “That’s a good start--considering you’re a
man--but not nearly enough. I’ll have Will phone Cartier, Gucci,
and Tiffany’s. The sheik and his crew already own enough Vuitton to
open their own shop, so we can probably leave them out.”
that might be exactly the place they want to go.”
sighed. “You’re right. They sell a lot more than just luggage.
I’ll have Will let Vuitton know we’ll be in.”
“For that caliber of buyer, the smaller stores will close the doors
while we’re in there.”
“I’m sure they will. Just think of all the money we’ll be
bringing into the
Jake grinned. “Maybe we ought to march around with a sign that
says, Marine Drilling--Spending Saudi Money in America.”
Sage laughed. “Maybe.” Her laughter slowly faded. “They’ll be
safe, won’t they?”
gaze shifted, darkened. “They’ll be fine. More importantly, you’ll
be safe. I promise you that, Sage.”
when she looked into those blue, blue eyes, she knew he would keep
Knew that if he had to, Jake Cantrell would protect her with his