Chapter One

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I took a tentative step into the hotel. Bolstered by an unusual surge of courage, I made my way to the lounge bar and waited as the minutes ticked by, edging ever closer to my interview. It was a high end place and I felt slightly out of my comfort zone. I looked down to the Nikon D4S hanging around my neck and allowed my thumb to gently caress the shutter-release button. Since moving back to Australia's Gold Coast I hadn't had a lot of work, and although I didn't need the money, and this wasn't my normal forte, I was willing to take a step back into commercial just to do something creative. The truth was I was bored out of my mind, but I wasn't sure that was going to matter. Even though boredom filled my days, I'd made a decision the week before, one that meant I might not be available for this job anyway. 

I slid onto a stool at the bar, the place was pretty empty yet still it seemed like the barman was more interested in chatting on the phone to someone called Alice, than in doing his job. His eyes scanned the line of empty seats and landed on me more than once, but as he turned his back on me for the fifth time and explained in detail what parts of her anatomy his tongue was going to explore that night – lucky Alice, that is assuming she liked wet toes – I became restless and aggravated at the same time. Standing up on the foot bars of my stool my aim was to stretch to my full extent- I wasn't tall so I had over the years managed to harness a great number of life hacks in order to work with and not against my pintsized stature – I reached over the bar and extended my fingers until the tips brushed against the tall glasses but I couldn't reach any further. My eyes darted back to the lazy bartender, his shoulder was against the doorframe which at a guess I would say led into their staff room. His posture was relaxed and therefore it looked like he was bedding in for the long haul. With gritted teeth I slunk back down to my stool, jumped off, walked around and grabbed a water from the fridge, I slapped a five dollar bill down next to the cash register and glanced back to the lazy shit, he hadn't moved – definitely a shoe in for employee of the year.

Waltzing back around the bar I gathered my stuff together and settled down at a table in the corner, if I'd heard any more of his conversation I might have spewed a little, God knows how Alice managed to stomach the sugary sweet shit he was pushing, I saw years of therapy in the poor girls' future.

I leant down to my satchel and pulled out my carefully put together portfolio. With twenty minutes still to go, I decided to thumb through my images again.

"G'day Shelia, you want me to get you some amber liquid?"

I blinked and almost snorted with laughter, the unwanted visitor sat to my left, but before I even looked at the man with his completely over the top Aussie slang, I decided to have some fun.

"Naa mate, I'm good this arvo thanks." I turned towards him with a wide grin, ready to take the piss. I almost swallowed my tongue as my brain caught up with my eyes. The man whose body sat no more than eight inches away from mine, made Chris Hemsworth look like The Swamp Thing. I was pretty sure that my tongue had shrivelled up inside my mouth, because I couldn't form a sound as my gaze ate up the sight in front of me. Beautiful clear blue eyes stared up at me from under thick eyelashes, his light brown hair was slightly unkempt, his jawline as striking as his physique, and he had natural sun kissed skin, which only someone who spent time outdoors could have. This man belonged in a Hollywood movie – Thor and Loki's hotter brother.

As I pulled my stare from where he so obviously hid a formidable set of abs and once again reached his face, I realised he was exploring me in much the same way. I was glad I'd finished first, and was able to watch as his eyes travelled from my red Louboutin covered feet, up the black skinny jeans I was wearing, then lingered on my - larger than average for my frame – chest, with my soft pink chemise and red cardigan, his eyes stopped once again at my throat, before finally finding my eyes.

"You're Australian." He said amused.

I laughed hard. "Honestly, does that over the top bullshit act really work?" I asked, deciding to ignore his statement.

After another minute of staring at me with his mouth agape, laughter suddenly rumbled up his chest and filled the air surrounding us. I couldn't help but grin at him. I still didn't know his name, but I felt soaked in his mirth.

"Ahem." The coughed out word from behind had me spinning on my stool, turning around and facing Mr Levett, the man I actually had a meeting scheduled with. I quickly gathered my belongings – and myself – and held out my hand.

"Mr Levett, very pleased to meet you." I offered, professional as always.

"Likewise Ms Alingson." He gave me a small polite smile and his eyes glanced briefly to where the –hotter than Channing Tatum dancing to Pony – guy was standing and quickly dismissed him with his eyes, then promptly turned to walk away. "Shall we?" He asked.

I nodded and stepped in pace with his strides. I didn't have time to ask hottie what his name was, and although I was interested in this job for my own sanity, every step I took away from that guy, felt like a step in the wrong direction.    

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