“You’re upset because I invaded your territory.” Geena's voice was soft and weary.
“That did upset me.” Matt wasn’t angry now but chose not to say that.
“If I’d only hoped to convince you to go along with my original plan, then coming here would have been obnoxious, but that’s not why I booked those flights.”
“Then why did you?”
“First of all, I realized that Briana isn’t going to let go of this. If you haven’t gone online then you might not know, but she’s come up with a cutesy slogan and she’s plastering it everywhere.”
Okay, this topic might effectively cool his jets. “I’m afraid to ask what it is.”
“Run, Forrest, run.”
“Oh, for God’s sake.” Just as Geena had predicted, he’d been branded a coward. “That’s sickening.”
“I agree, but the plain truth is that you’re not going to be able to ride this one out. She’s portraying your silence and your absence as an admission of guilt and she’s spinning stories about how you lusted after her during the filming of Preston’s Revenge.”
His stomach pitched. “That’s a damned lie.”
“I know it is.”
“How?” Their discussion in her office came back to him along with the anger he’d felt at being wrongly accused. “You weren’t there.”
“No, but I—”
“Geena, you’ve always been a straight shooter before. Please don’t twist yourself into a pretzel because you like my family and you want to smooth things over.”
Her chin lifted and she met his gaze. “That is not the case and I resent your implication.”
“And I’m suspicious of your sudden turnaround! How can you be so sure I’m telling the truth?” He took a step closer. “Maybe I spent every available moment on location trying to seduce her while she valiantly fought me off.”
A flame burned in her eyes, which were definitely green, like he’d thought. “I’m trying to apologize, damn it. You didn’t try to seduce her and you didn’t kiss her outside that café. A gentleman wouldn’t do those things. I allowed the photo to convince me of something I should have known wasn’t true. But I finally figured it out.”
This was turning into an effing roller coaster. “So you’ve decided I’m a gentleman?”
“I didn’t just decide. You’ve demonstrated it from the beginning with your yes, ma’am behavior and your respect for everyone in my office, including the cleaning lady. She made a point of telling me that you showed up late one afternoon after we’d all left and you offered to carry out the trash.”
“Most people, Matt. So obviously you didn’t initiate that embarrassing scene in Burbank and you didn’t hit on her during the filming. It doesn’t fit your profile. It’s not you.”
“God, that makes me happy. You can’t imagine how happy.” Vindicated. Damn, that felt good.
“Because I hadn’t put that together, I insulted your sense of honor. No wonder you stomped out of my office. I’m surprised you didn’t end our business relationship.”
He smiled. “That was my original goal when I thought I’d be escorting you back to town. First I’d get you a hotel room and then I’d fire you.”
“Good thing Rosie asked me to stay, huh?”
“I wasn’t in favor of that, either.”
“Yeah, she robbed you of your chance to fire me.” She gazed at him with an expression that bordered on tenderness. “You can still do that if you want, although Rosie seems to think you need me.”
The warmth in her eyes brought him right back to the thoughts he’d been having until the discussion turned ugly. Drawn by that warmth, he drifted closer, within touching distance. “I probably do need you. I have no idea how to deal with this fiasco. Anyway, I can’t fire you with Rosie around. She’d give me hell for it. The others wouldn’t like it, either. You made some friends in there.”
“Nice to know.” For some reason her glasses misted up. She took them off. “How about out here?”
He was a goner. “I’ve always liked you. That’s why it bothered me so much that you believed I’d caused that scene.”
“I’ve always liked you, too.” She moistened her lips. “That’s all the more reason I should have stopped to think before I jumped to conclusions.”
The gesture caught his attention and he noticed her lipstick had worn off. He’d never seen her without it. Because of that, the natural pink of her bare lips was more arousing than if she’d stripped naked. The sweep of her tongue had left her mouth with a satin sheen that begged to be savored.
“Rosie thinks there’s more to it.”
“More to what?” While he’d been imagining how she’d taste, he’d lost track of the conversation. Lifting his gaze, he saw awareness in her expression and his heart pounded in anticipation. She knew what he wanted. Judging from the way she was looking at him, she wasn’t opposed.
“The kissing incident.” Her breathing quickened. “She doesn’t think we have all the facts and you won’t make those public because you’re too much of a gentleman. I’m inclined to agree. There are lines you won’t cross.”
He searched her expression. “Apparently you admire that.”
“Then maybe we should head inside.”
She swallowed. “We should?”
“Uh-huh. I’m guessing you already have someone in your life.”
“Actually, I don’t.” Her voice was laced with tension. “Why do you want that information?”
“Because I’m two seconds away from kissing you and I’d hate to ruin my sterling reputation.”
Color bloomed in her cheeks. “I promise your reputation’s safe with me.”