“I know we were more than just friends.”
Once Elena Jones had shared an intense entanglement with striking Spaniard Caleb Araya, ending with both their hearts in tatters. Now she’s a successful entrepreneur, and when he rejects a new business proposition, it’s clear Caleb hasn’t forgotten…
When an accident causes the tycoon to lose his memory, Caleb seems to think they are still a couple! Elena wants to help him recover…but will staying in Barcelona with him just put her heart in jeopardy again?
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It was unseasonably hot in Barcelona for February and, what with the adrenaline-spiked blood rushing through her veins and the brilliant sunshine that beat in waves at her back as she alighted from the cab outside Araya Industries’ ultra-modern offices, Elena Jones was just about ready to combust in her made-for-English-weather woollen suit.
After giving her name in the wonderfully cool air-conditioned reception area, she was shown into a meeting room by a rather anxious-looking PA, acutely aware of the sound of her heels clicking loudly on the highly patterned ceramic tile flooring.
Swallowing down a twinge of nerves, Elena accepted the offer of a drink of water from the young woman, who for some reason didn’t seem to be able to look her in the eye, then chose a chair at the head of the imposing twenty-seater frosted glass-topped table, carefully hanging her suit jacket over the back of the sharply stylish but rather uncomfortable-looking chair so it didn’t get crumpled. She wanted to look her absolute best today in the hope it would provide her with the boost of confidence she needed to get a positive result from this meeting.
What was making her most nervous was not knowing how Caleb Araya was going to react to seeing her again after all this time. She was actually annoyed by just how anxious she felt about being out of her comfort zone. After running her own company for the last five years she’d become far better at taking risks and getting a grip on her fear of the unknown, and it took something rather exceptional to faze her now.
Apparently the thought of coming face to face with Caleb again was to be one of those things.
Would he have forgiven her by now?
Her heart gave an extra hard thump in her chest.
He had to have done, surely? What happened between them had been fifteen years ago; he couldn’t still be holding a grudge. He was a businessman after all, a hugely successful one by all accounts, who wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to get in on a profitable deal just because they had a bit of a rocky past.
Staring out of the floor-to-ceiling windows at the busy street below, she remembered how she’d felt the very first time she’d met him during her second year at the University of Cambridge. At the tender age of twenty she’d thought Caleb Araya was the most arresting, ambitious and charismatic man she’d ever met.
They’d been good friends once, able to talk for hours about their passion for engineering and their hopes of making a mark on the world after they’d gained their degrees.
They’d made a strange pair, the two of them, so much so that their classmates had found their friendship a great source of amusement: she a petite, middle class, inner-city-living bookworm and he a hulking bad boy from the wrong side of a small Spanish town.
But away from other people the formerly laconic, gruff Caleb had been playful, gentle and animated. He’d fascinated her with his passion and drive, not to mention his dangerous sex appeal, and had excited her in ways she’d never experienced before.
What she’d most loved about him was that despite having a tough start in life Caleb hadn’t let it beat him down. He’d been determined to better his situation through sheer hard work and making intelligent decisions.
Looking around her now, she could see he’d certainly achieved his goal, and then some. According to the articles she’d read on the Web, his was now the most successful technology and engineering company ever to come out of Spain.
The door in the remarkably fingerprint-free wall of glass that divided the room from the large, plush reception area swung open, letting in the sound of Spanish chatter and she stood up, taking a deep breath and preparing herself to face Caleb with a cool head and a warm smile.
She was determined not to let her shame about the heartless way she’d treated him in the past get in the way of her objective here today.
Hopefully, he wouldn’t let any residual antipathy towards her get in the way of a promising business partnership either.
A wave of nervous tension made her skin prickle as the man himself strode into the room with his PA hot on his heels.
Caleb was just as captivating as she remembered, probably even more so now that he’d grown into his darkly arresting looks and six foot five, broad-shouldered frame. It seemed he’d only built on the animal magnetism she remembered so keenly too. With his dark, hooded eyes and jet-black hair slicked away from his strong-boned face he looked fierce, indomitable and rather dangerous.
No wonder his PA seemed so afraid of him.
The scowl currently marring his craggy features as he approached was so intimidating it made Elena’s heart leap about in her chest.
‘Elena Jones,’ he drawled in that same beautiful gravelly Spanish accent she remembered so well, his voice sounding not so much friendly as vaguely amused.
Her stomach jumped with nerves as he came to a halt in front of where she stood.
Instead of holding out a hand in greeting, he folded his enormous arms, making his shirt sleeves tighten over his bulging muscles, and looked down at her with one dark eyebrow raised, as if waiting for her to explain how she could possibly have the nerve to show her face here.
He hadn’t forgiven her then.