So who have we got?’ Daniel moved the conversation firmly back into the work-related sphere. ‘Who’s Mr Limo?’
Daniel looked over at the assembled group. Ms Limo stood out like a diamond in a field of coal. Flares of heat flashed over his skin. Bloody hell! Gorgeous didn’t come close to describing the petite blonde. What was a woman like that doing here? Especially dressed like that. Black skinny jeans, some sort of designer jacket and high-heeled black boots. Long, loose blonde hair cascading halfway down her back. Where did she think they were going? A shopping trip down the Champs-Elysees? Helicopter extraction looked like an inevitability.
‘Great,’ he said, under his breath. ‘I take it you haven’t completed the gear check yet.’
‘Just about to start.’ Jade glanced back at the group. ‘Don’t worry. I’ll sort her out.’
‘No. I’ll do it. You do the family. I’m the one who’s going to have to tell her she can’t come. There’s no way she’s walking dressed like that.’ He shook his head. This would be the first time he’d have to turn a client away for not being properly prepared. He was very, very clear in the instructions for the trip. No proper gear? No trekking. Full refund. ‘What’s her name?’
‘Okay, let’s get this done and get going.’
He strode over to the woman. God, she was beautiful. Then she hit him with her gaze. The air didn’t stir, but it felt as if he’d been hit by the force of a tropical cyclone. Green eyes. Bright green like emerald moss sparkling with morning dew. He blew out a long, slow breath. Probably best to remove her from the trip. Physical attraction to clients was a no-go zone.
‘Hi.’ He extended his hand. ‘I’m Daniel Black.’
She took his hand and shook it with surprising firmness.
‘Madison Mills. Pleased to meet you. I—’
‘Sorry Maddie, but you aren’t appropriately dressed for this trip.’ He employed his best commander voice. The one he’d always used with new recruits to make sure the question of who was in charge never needed to be asked.
‘As you can appreciate, we have strict stipulations about the appropriate gear and this . . .’ He indicated to her outfit. ‘It is . . . well . . .’ He wanted to say ‘ridiculous’. ‘It’s not suitable for this rugged terrain.’
That should do it. Bye bye Ms Millionaire.
But she didn’t flinch. She didn’t move. Instead she gave him a sweet, sweet smile that made his guts flip.
‘First.’ She held up her index finger. ‘It’s Madison, not Maddie. Second.’ Another delicate finger. ‘My assistant booked this trip and, knowing her as I do, I’m sure that backpack over there has everything I need. Her American accent possessed a New York edge with a touch of Southern belle. It enveloped him like the light, refreshing spray from a waterfall. He took a step away from her intoxicating mist.
‘And third, if you could outline exactly what I need to do to meet your criteria, I’ll be ready in five minutes.’
He narrowed his eyes. Okay, that was unexpected. He had been sure she’d capitulate. She didn’t belong here. And ready in five minutes? Yeah right. They’d be halfway to the plateau before she’d be ready to leave.
‘Well, let’s start with your gear check. Your pack should weigh no more than seven kilos. You’ll have to be changed in five minutes; that’s when we’re leaving. Unfortunately, Madison, if you’re not ready, I’ll have to arrange transport to take you back to Launceston. I’m sure you understand we can’t delay the trip for one person.’
‘Oh, don’t worry,’ she said, flipping her lush blonde hair over her shoulder. A hint of spicy perfume teased his nostrils. ‘I’ll be ready.’