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"Kyle Jessop is a monster!"
This was the first thing she heard, as a young woman came tearing down the steps almost knocking her off her feet. Oh, great, she thought, looking around her at the figure running down the street. This was all she needed considering the amount of mental preparation and courage it had taken her to come here to meet with Kyle Jessop. Suddenly, she noticed a plump gray haired woman standing at the top of the steps looking at her. She beckoned to her with one hand. Elizabeth managed to complete her journey up the stone steps. Her stomach was in knots.
"Ms. Abbot, I presume," she said. "I'm Winnie Jessop. I believe you are here to see my stepson, Kyle."
"Yes. Good day, Mrs. Jessop."
Elizabeth took one last look over her shoulder. The wailing woman had disappeared from sight. The older woman took her arm and led her into the house. She paused at the threshold and lowered her voice.
"I apologize for that," she said, shaking her head. "Kyle had to let her go today. I just didn't have the heart. She was stealing from us."
Elizabeth didn't know how to respond to that. It was the first time she had ever been inside the Jessop house. She looked around in wonder. As a child she had imagined what the interior of this house looked liked. It was grand with the floors of marble so shiny she could see the reflection of her shoes in it. But then, why shouldn't it be? The Jessop family had controlled this town for as long as she could remember.
Bringing herself back to the present she continued to follow Samuel Jessop's wife down the long corridor. She couldn't help noticing the window that ran the length of thewall from floor to ceiling, and beside it a carved staircase with a brass banister curving upward. There was one oil painting hanging in the hall, a picture of a meadow in the sunlight. Elizabeth stared at it mesmerized, until she became aware that the woman was waiting for her.
Elizabeth was led off past the long staircase into a tastefully decorated room with a small fireplace in the corner. There was wood and the smell of leather everywhere. Along the left side of the wall was an extensive library with aligned books. Directly ahead was a large, beautifully finished walnut desk with a brown leather office chair. Behind the desk, was a window that looked out onto a spacious lawn. Off to the right were two tan leather chairs separated by a round oriental carpet. The only thing that looked out of sync was the pile of file folders strewn across the desk.
"Take a seat," the woman told her. "Kyle will be with you shortly."
Elizabeth sighed and sat down. Although she had grown up in the same town with Samuel Jessop's son, Kyle, she hardly remembered him. He was a few years older then she was, and after his mother had left town Samuel Jessop had sent Kyle away to boarding school. Winnie Jessop was Samuel's second wife. Trying to concentrate on the town gossip was not making her feel any more relaxed.
Elizabeth rose from one of the chairs and went to look out the back window. To the right of the house was a full sized tennis court and on the left was one of the most beautiful flower gardens she had ever seen. In the distance beyond the tennis court was what looked like a large swimming pool. Turning around, her eyes strayed back to the many files on the desk. She wondered how many other people in town were in the same position as she was. Were all their names in those files? Maybe if they came together to fight the Jessops…
She moved toward the desk and lifted the corner of one of the files. Bending over she raised the cover just a little more. Then she jolted upright as she heard the sound of a deep male voice.
"I believe it's easier to read if you take the papers out of the folder."
Gasping, Elizabeth jerked away from the desk knocking several of the folders off in the process. Her face flushed with embarrassment as her eyes settled on the man who had entered the room. He was very tall with the build of an athlete, and his very presence seemed to make the room shrink in size. He was dressed casually in blue jeans and a tee shirt, but everything about him reeked of power. He had eyes and hair as black as coal and the sleekness of his muscular built reminded her of a leopard on the prowl. The only feature about him that spoke of some vulnerability was his mouth. The bottom lip was slightly fuller than the top, giving it a quality of sensuality that was intoxicating. She felt like such an idiot, like a child caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar. He moved forward, muscles bulging across his taunt chest as he held out his hand to her.
"Miss Abbot?" he said, lifting an eyebrow. "I'm Kyle Jessop."
She took his hand briefly. There was something unnerving about his touch. "I would like to explain..." she began, her face burning with shame.
He shook his dark head and stooped down to pick up the files. He was right in front of her, barricading her in the corner behind the desk. He stood up to his full height. He had to be over six feet tall. He towered over her five-seven frame. Holding the files in one strong, bronzed hand he regarded her with his dark eyes, as if he knew that she was uncomfortable and was enjoying it. He ran his eyes over her, taking in her shoulder length blond hair and her light blue eyes framed with thick black lashes. He moved his eyes over her long, tan legs and the tailored navy skirt she wore. It didn't appear as if he had any intention of moving. A smile played around that mouth.
"Please," he said, waving an elegant hand toward the two chairs on the other side of the desk.
She expected him to move out and give her space to walk. Instead, he turned his body sideways allowing just enough room for her to squeeze past him. She turned her back to avoid his gaze and slipped past. As she did, she couldn't avoid brushing up against his hard body, her buttocks coming in contact with his thighs, her back against his broad chest.
Copyright © 2005 Laura Davis