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'Just leave the coffee on the side, Donald, thanks.' Hawk called out from his bathroom to his English factotum, after he'd heard the other man knock on his bedroom door before entering. 'I'll be out in a couple of minutes,' he added, as he continued to towel-dry his hair after taking his morning shower, not expecting an answer; Donald Harrison was efficiency personified, and Hawk congratulated himself once again for having found the man ten years ago.
He continued humming to himself as, draping the towel about his shoulders, he took a couple of seconds to contemplate the view from his bathroom window, relishing the blanket of snow that swept across the whole of the foothills towards the Canadian Rockies, which he could see towering majestically in the distance.
Home. It was a stark contrast to the warmth he had left behind in Los Angeles yesterday; he'd been able to feel the biting cold as soon as he stepped out at Calgary airport last night. But Hawk had dressed with the Canadian weather in mind, his sheepskin jacket, faded denims and the boots that had seemed so out of place in Los Angeles ideal for the refreshing coldness that he'd known he would find here.
He instantly felt part of the impending festive season now that he had the weather to go with it. It was unthinkable for him to even contemplate spending Christmas anywhere else but here. No matter where he was in the world, he always flew back to what had once been the family home for the holidays.
His parents now lived in Florida, as the warmth there was much kinder to the arthritis his father suffered after years of working on the land. They would arrive in three days' time at the five acres and house that were allthat remained of the family farm. Hawk's younger sister and her husbandthe city slickerwould fly in from Vancouver at the weekend, with their two young children.
No doubt the scores of female fans who avidly followed the movie career of Joshua Hawkley would find his family Christmas a pretty tame affair, probably imagining him instead to be on some Caribbean island, soaking up the sun on a golden beach and drinking piña coladas with a half-naked female at his side!
The half-naked female didn't sound half bad, but the rest of it could take a hike.
He turned to study his reflection in the slightly steamed-up mirror over the sink, rubbing the dark stubble on his chin as he debated whether or not to shave. He decided not; he had three more days before the parents arrived to just wind down and relax after all the razzmatazz that had gone along with attending his latest movie premiere last weekend, and not shaving was part of that process.
No doubt his mother would have some comment to make about his longer hair, though, he acknowledged ruefully as he looked at the dishevelled damp locks that rested on the broad width of his shoulders. He was due to start filming the long-awaited sequel to The Pirate King next month, and had grown his dark hair in preparation for the part.
If they could find a replacement leading lady, that was. A five months pregnant female pirate captain wouldn't exactly look right, and Hawk's schedule was such that filming couldn't be delayed until after the baby's birth.
Oh, wellthat was the director Nik Prince's problem, not his. Hawk shrugged dismissively to himself as he strolled through to his bedroom.
'Donald, I think I mightwho the hell are you?' Hawk rasped. He came to an abrupt halt in the bathroom doorway to stare across the room at the young woman standing in front of the window and drawing back his bedroom curtains.
There was no mistaking that she was a woman. Her long red waist-length hair gave that away, flowing down the slen-derness of her spine the colour of rippling fire against a body-hugging black sweater.
But even without the hair it was impossible not to recognise that the tall, leggy figure belonged to a female. Her skintight black denims were doing everything they could to prove the point, Hawk saw with a frown.
At the same time he knew there shouldn't be a female tall and leggy or otherwisewithin several miles of here!
Rosie had turned at the first sound of the unmistakable, sexily husky voice of the actor Joshua Hawkley, taking in a sharp breath as she found herself gazing upon his nakedness.
Joshua Hawkley, thirty-five years old, the most sought-after film star in the world for over a decade, was standing in front of hergorgeously, gloriously and magnificently naked!
Her throat felt dry, her lips and tongue numb, as she continued to stare at him with wide green eyes.
She had never been the sort of teenagerhad never been allowed to be the sort of teenager!who'd hung posters of pop and film stars on her bedroom wall. But if she had, this man would definitely have had pride of position!
Joshua Hawkleyor simply Hawk to his friendsat a height well over six feet, had a body Adonis would have been envious of: his shoulders were wide and muscular, and dark hair grew on the broadness of his chest and down over the flatness of his stomach to
A sudden rush of saliva moistened her throat and mouth as she found it impossible to remove her gaze from his perfect manhood.
As if becoming aware of the avidness of her gaze, Hawk moved one hand to casually pull the towel from his shoulders before draping and fastening it about his waist.
Rosie blinked, as if waking from a spell, before dragging her eyes back up to his face. Colour warmed her cheeks at the knowing smile curving those sculptured lips in a face that could haveshould havebeen carved by Michelangelo. A face dominated by cobalt-blue eyes above a long aquiline nose, that lazily smiling mouth and the strongly squared jaw. Long dark hair, damp and dishevelled after his shower, did absolutely nothing to dispel his air of masculine perfection, only adding to his ruggedness.
'I have absolutely no idea how you got in here,' Hawk bit out impatiently as the girl continued to stare at him unblink-ingly. 'But I seriously advise you to get yourself out again!' he added, with none of the tolerance he usually felt towards his more enthusiastic female fans.
This was his bolt-hole, damn it, and it shouldn't even be public knowledge, let alone accessible to some desperate woman who had got in here because she either wanted to share his bed or use a relationship with him to acquire a movie role!
How on earth had she got past Donald?
The girlfor she was no more than that, Hawk was sure, despite her height and the fullness of her breasts and those curvaceous hipsmoistened the sensual softness of her pouting lips.
Her eyes, between lush dark lashes, were a deep, mesmerising green, her nose was small and pert, and covered with a smattering of freckles and her chin was stubbornly pointed in a heart-shaped face. And all of her elfin beauty was surrounded by that long flame of pre-Raphaelite-style hair.
At any other time, Hawk knew, he would have found her untamed beauty fascinating. But not when she had invaded the privacy of his home. Not just his home, but his bedroom, for heaven's sake!
'If you aren't out of here in two minutes I'll have no choice but to forcibly remove you,' he warned her harshly, and he ran an impatient hand through his tousled hair, his previous good humour having completely evaporated, to be replaced by impatient anger at this girl's intrusion.
She moistened her lips a second time before speaking, those green eyes huge and haunting. 'If you would just let me explain, Mr Hawkley' Her voice was throatily soft, her accent distinctly English.
'Keep your explanation and just get out of here!' he cut in irritably, his gaze narrowing suddenly as he saw the tray bearing a cafetière and coffee cups on the bedside table. She must have brought it in with her. 'Where's Donald?' he rasped suspiciously.
'That's what I was trying to explain,' Rosie answered, with some relief.
'You were?' His stance was challenging now, muscles rippling as he folded his arms across his chest.
He really was as gorgeous as he looked on screen, Rosie acknowledged slightly breathlessly, and his semi-nakedness made him more immediately so in the intimacy and privacy of his bedroom.
But it was also pretty obvious from Joshua Hawkley's comments that he was in complete ignorance of who she was or what she was doing here. That Donald hadn't told his employer that she was even staying here.
Joshua Hawkley's aggression was understandable now that she realised he had thought she was an intruderan over-enthusiastic female fan?in his home.
She shrugged. 'MyerI don't know if you noticed, but Donald wasn't at all well yesterday when he picked you up from the airport ' She grimaced as Hawk gave a puzzled shake of his head. 'No? Well, this morning he woke up shivering and with a high temperature. I think he probably has the flu,' she finished.
Three things became obvious to Hawk from that statement.
First, this girl knew exactly who Donald was, and so wasn't an intruder at all.
Second, she had come to an abrupt halt after beginning her statement with 'My'
And third, perhaps she didn't need to complete it. She had obviously been around to see what Donald had looked like when he woke up that morning !
In the light of those realisations, Hawk re-evaluated the young woman standing beside his sleep-tousled bed.
She looked vaguely familiar to himas if he should know her Where had he seen her before? He knew he had never met her.
And obviously she was here to see Donald
She had to be in her early twentiesbut then Donald was only in his early forties. A twenty-year-odd age difference wasn't an insurmountable barrier.
Hawk had never found the need to discuss Donald's private life with him, but he supposed that his assistant must have one. He knew that the older man liked to listen to classical music, and that when their schedule allowed Donald took off to go to live concerts in one part of the world or another.
But, despite his cultured tastes, there was still no doubting that Donaldeven with his prematurely white hairwas still an attractive guy, and in possession of all normal male needs.
Even so, Donald could have warned Hawk that he had invited a female guest to stay when Hawk had returned home last night. Donald had arrived two days earlier, so that he could prepare and warm the farmhouse for his employer's arrival.
Hawk scowled, feeling at something of a disadvantage now, after his first assumptions about this lady. 'Does Donald need to see a doctor?'
'I don't think so.' Rosie shook her head, somewhat relieved that Hawk wasn't probing for intimate details of her relationship with his long-term employee. 'I've given him some medication to bring his temperature down, so he probably just needs to go back to sleep for a while. Something he's loath to do without speaking to you first,' she added. The reason for Donald's urgent need was becoming obvious now that she knew of this man's ignorance regarding her identity.
Joshua Hawkley gave a terse nod. 'I'll get dressed and come straight through.'
'Iyes. I'll make fresh coffee, shall I?' she asked with a grimace, as she picked up the untouched tray she had brought in earlier.
Hawk felt a brandy might be more beneficial after the jolt of unexpectedly finding this woman in his bedroom, but as it was only ten o'clock in the morning coffee would have to do. 'That would be great,' he accepted briskly, turning away, eager to put some clothes on so that he could go and speak to Donald.
He pondered the fact that if Donald had relationships, then he had never brought any of his women home with him before. But at the same time Hawk recognised it was the holiday seasona time when everyone wanted to be close to somebody.
Which meant he would probably have to accept Donald's red-haired and wildly beautiful friend staying for a while.
A thought he found strangely disturbing
The fresh coffee had barely finished percolating when Joshua Hawkley entered the cosy warmth of the open-plan kitchen, with its green and white tiles and oak cabinets.
'The medication seems to have served its purpose,' he drawled, as Rosie turned to give him a guarded look. 'Donald is already asleep,' he elaborated. 'Which means that any explanations will have to come from you,' he finished dryly, and he moved to sit on one of the stools at the breakfast bar, looking across at her enquiringly.
He was a little less overwhelming now that he was wearing a navy blue sweater, faded denims and scuffed cowboy boots, Rosie acknowledged. But only a little; the dark good looks that so captivated cinema audiences, that held millions of women in his thrall, were no less disturbing in reality, and the long length of his hair was giving him a piratical appearance.
Which was probably the idea, Rosie allowed, knowing he was due to start filming the sequel to his previous million-dollar box office hit The Pirate King some time in the New Year.
She deliberately turned away from his piercing blue gaze to pour his coffee into a waiting mug, playing for time, not really sure how much Donald would want her to tell his employer. The fact that Donald hadn't told Hawk anything about her at all only increased her reluctance!
'Pour yourself a cup and join me,' Hawk invited huskily, once she had placed the steaming mug of black coffee on the breakfast bar in front of him, along with milk and sugar.
After all, just because she was Donald's friend it didn't mean she had to wait on him.
Hawk watched her through narrowed lids as she reluctantly complied with his suggestion, the movements of her graceful hands economic, her slender body willowyapart from the pert fullness of her breasts as they thrust against her sweater.
For all that he had been surprised to find her here, Hawk certainly couldn't fault Donald's taste in women!
He waited until she had seated herself on the stool opposite, her gaze not quite meeting his, before speaking again. 'Perhaps we should start with your name?' he invited mildly.
It shouldn't have been a difficult question, but nevertheless Hawk sensed her hesitation, the slightly searching look she gave him before answering.
'Rosie,' she finally told him, those graceful hands wrapped around her coffee mug as if drawing strength from its warmth.
Hawk kept his expression deliberately mild. 'Rosie what?'
'Look, Mr Hawkley.' She looked up at him, obviously seriously uncomfortable with his questioning. 'I really think you should talk to myDonald about this.'
Again Hawk heard that hesitation after 'my'
'My' what? Friend? Lover? What?
Hawk found himself with an overwhelming curiosity to know the answer to that question.
So he waited, knowing from experience that an expectant silence on his part would eventually bring a response. He didn't have to wait long.