Chapter 2

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Kirsty noticed that the man was quite tall and that he carried himself with confidence and pride. He was dressed in an expensive-looking business suit and the colour suited him. He looked way too far out of her league.

He stopped right beside her table and held out his hand.

"Good afternoon," he said pleasantly. "My name is Derek Gibson. I hope you don't mind if I join you?"

Kirsty shook his hand. His flesh was warm and made her fingers tingle with awareness. She was too shy to look at him directly.

"Go ahead," she replied, gesturing toward the empty seat across from her. Her voice sounded far away, maybe because her heart was pounding so much.

It wasn't until Derek sat down that Kirsty realized how attractive he was. He had an air about him, an indescribable quality that demanded respect and attention. His shoulders were broad and he had wavy brown hair. His eyes were a deep blue. And they were looking directly into hers. She was momentarily mesmerized by them.

"Do you come here very often?" he asked curiously, his voice sounding gentle yet firm at the same time.

Kirsty shook her head.

"I haven't seen you here before," she said, thinking that she would have noticed him if she had seen him before.

Derek smiled, showing perfect white teeth. His smile took her breath away, but she tried not to show it.

"I'm here on business," he replied.

The waiter then arrived with her tea and his coffee. When they were again alone, Derek asked her some more questions about her job as an accounting clerk and her late parents, who had died in a storm while deep-water fishing. She felt nervous about all the questions and answering them. She did not know what he wanted.

As if reading her mind, he suddenly said, "You are wondering why I'm here, aren't you?

She tried not to nod, but it was difficult. "I must admit, Mr. Gibson, your.....approach has caught me a little off guard," she said softly, trying not to offend him.

"Please call me Derek," he replied, smiling at her with his eyes. "And what is your name, if I may ask?"

She felt silly for not introducing herself earlier.

"It's Kirsty," she replied, "Kirsty McLaren."

"That's a pretty name," Derek observed. "It suits you."

His comment made her blush. If he noticed her reddened cheeks, he did not remark upon it. Instead, he made small talk, asking her about tourist attractions in town and what she liked about the hotel. She told him how much she enjoyed the marble fountain in the lobby. He made a comment about fountains in Italy and seemed quite knowledgeable about things. Kirsty was impressed by his intelligence. He had obviously been well educated, yet he did not brag about it  and he accepted her opinions as though they were important to him. She wondered what he did for a living.

Before Kirsty had a chance to ask him anything more about himself, she realized that she would have to leave if she wanted to get back to her office on time.

"I'm afraid I have to leave now," she said regretfully, picking up her reader and gathering her things together. "It's been a pleasure talking to you."

Her sincerity appealed to Derek more than her appearance did, if that was possible. He could tell she did not want to leave, so he said, "Can't you stay for a few more minutes?"

Kirsty shook her head.

"My boss will be very angry if I'm late," she replied, her voice suddenly full of bitterness. She thought of all the times Mrs. Templer pointed out her tiny mistakes and never gave her credit for doing anything correctly.

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