She looked out over the snow at the busying slopes as she stirred the contents of her mug. ‘I’m just saying that I’m not the one who got caught on a rooftop in New York, in the middle of a snowstorm, naked.’
He went to interrupt but she lifted her hand. ‘And I’m not the one who decided the best way to pick a new car was to buy one in every colour.’
He sat back. ‘Oh, yeah, that.’ He shrugged his shoulders. ‘The first one...I’m not admitting to. The second? Well, maybe...but not every colour. I definitely didn’t get the yellow.’
‘The yellow? Why not? I would have thought that matched your sunny personality?’
He threw back his head and laughed. ‘Oh, snarky Samantha. I like it. Can I see more, please?’
She stood up. ‘There’s lot’s more where that comes from. Now, come on. I take it you want to ski down? I can catch the cable car back down and meet you there. I can do this all day.’
He shook his head. ‘Actually, I planned on finishing after my third run. I come early so I can ski before the slopes get busy. I have other things to do.’
‘Like what?’ She was feeling hopeful. Maybe they would go into Innsbruck and see a little of the city.
Something flickered across his eyes. It looked like he was about to say something then the shutters slammed down and he stood up.
‘Look, Sam, I’ve done what you asked. I’ll finish my ski run and meet you once more at the bottom of the mountain. After that—that’s it. I don’t need to tell you every minute of my day. You work for me, remember?’
He picked up his hat and gloves and stalked away, leaving Sam stunned.
What on earth had just happened there?
FOR THE FOURTH day in a row, Mitchell failed to meet her when he should have.
She was ready to erupt. It was like dealing with a child, not an adult, and she was getting sick to death of it.
She’d never met a rock star before, but she’d worked with enough kids to understand when someone wasn’t taking things seriously. When someone was running scared.
She stepped out of the cable car. It was five o’clock in the evening. For the fourth day in a row, Mitch had skied the slopes in the morning and disappeared without a backward glance in the afternoon. It was driving her crazy.
Had he really no respect for her and the job she was doing?
She wandered around the Seegrube station, trying to spot his red jacket. She’d almost given up hope when she heard his laugh. His deep, hearty laugh.
She rounded the corner to the terrace. She really hadn’t expected to find him here, but as time had marched on she hadn’t really known where else to look.
And there he was. Not a blooming care in the world. Laughing and drinking with a group of guys she’d never seen before.
She blinked. Drinking. Drinking beer.
The red mist started to descend around her. She’d reached her limit with this guy.
She walked straight through the middle of the drinking buddies. ‘Mitch?’
A silence fell over the group, quickly followed by a snigger then a low whistle.
Samantha ignored them all. ‘You were supposed to meet me back at the house at four.’
Four days in a row. Four days in a row she’d sat and stared at four walls in his luxury chalet while he’d been who-knew-where. It made her mad. It made her seethe.
She might have agreed to work over Christmas but that didn’t mean she didn’t miss her family—didn’t miss her mum. At least for the last two years she’d always felt useful. She’d been kept busy with Daniel and his family and that had stopped her missing her mum too much. But this? This wasn’t working for her at all. Her patience had finally run out. It didn’t matter how much she needed the money right now, being treated like crap and having her professional advice ignored was the last straw.
He looked more than a little stunned. Embarrassed by her. ‘Give it a rest, Samantha,’ he murmured, trying to appear casual.
‘Snarky girlfriend,’ came the murmur behind her.
She tilted her chin. ‘No, Mitchell. I won’t give it a rest. We had a meeting. That’s the fourth day in a row you’ve blown me off. It’s about time you started to take this seriously.’ She pointed at the bottle in his hand. ‘Beer, Mitchell? Really?’ She paused, conscious of the audience around them. She glared at him. ‘You and I need to talk. Now.’
Mitch felt the blood rush into his cheeks. He wasn’t embarrassed—well, yes, actually, he was. But the rush of blood was due to the fury building in his chest.
He stood up and grabbed hold of Samantha’s wrist and pulled her behind him. He could hear the yelps and cat calls from the snowboarding guys. The shouts of ‘Being whipped’ and ‘Under the thumb’.
He walked quickly, rounding the corner away from the crowds, away from the bustle of people exiting the cable cars, and pulled her up next to him.
‘Don’t you ever do that to me again!’
She didn’t even flinch. ‘Likewise.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ All he wanted was a bit of peace. A bit of privacy. These few weeks were supposed to be his holiday. His chance to kick back and relax before the tour. If he wanted to have a beer with a few friends, then that’s exactly what he would do. And he certainly didn’t need Samantha Lewis’s permission for that.
‘I’m sick of this. It’s about time you started to take this seriously. I can’t help you get your diabetes under control if you don’t follow my instructions. These first few weeks are vital. This is the time we need to iron out any problems.’
She was serious. Her pretty face was marred by a frown. And she had a weary look in her eyes. But he was too angry to care.
‘Right now my only problem is you.’
‘Then I’ll say it again. Likewise. This isn’t working for me, Mitch. I’m ready to pack up and go home and spend Christmas with my mum. Why waste my time here? Why waste my time on you? You don’t deserve it. You don’t care. So why should I?’ She looked him up and down. ‘I’m not here because I like you, Mitch. I’m not here because I’m a fan. I’m here because I’m paid to be.’
He got it that she was mad. He just didn’t expect her to slam dunk him like that. Nothing like getting to the point.
‘Who are you to tell me I don’t care? Of course I care. I care about my tour. I need to be well to go on tour. That’s why you’re here, Sam. To make sure I’m fit enough to do the tour. But I don’t need to report in to you every second of the day. I’m entitled to a private life of my own. And I certainly don’t need you to babysit me.’
She sighed and shook her head. ‘Actually, you do. That’s exactly what I’m being paid for right now.’ She folded her arms and stared off into the distance. ‘That’s it, Mitch. I can’t say you’re fit for your tour. I don’t think you’re taking this seriously at all. It would compromise my professional competency if I said you were fit when you clearly aren’t.’
She looked him squarely in the eye. ‘I won’t do it. You might want to put your health at risk, but the nurse in me won’t allow that to happen. You won’t tell me where you’re going or what you’re doing. I can’t help you monitor your levels or plan your meals or insulin doses. I’m not prepared to keep banging my head against a brick wall.’ She lifted her hands. ‘You just don’t get it. I don’t actually care what you’re doing or who you’re doing it with. I just need to know. I need you to work with me. I need you to care.’
The penny dropped like a hammer to the head. She thought he was sneaking away every afternoon for some secret rendezvous with a lady. He tried not to smile as he imagined how she thought he was expending his energy.
And as much as he hated to admit it, she had him. He needed her. He needed her to sign him off as fit for this tour.
He let out a
sigh of exasperation. He hated everything about this. He had never explained himself to anyone. Starting now, at this stage in his life, was unthinkable.
‘I’m done, Brody. Book me on the next flight home.’ Her voice was subdued, almost whispered. She was staring out over the landscape with those killer blue eyes and a resigned look on her face. He’d pushed her too far.