Book: The Master Undone
Series: Inside Out #2.5 (A Novella)
Author: Lisa Renee Jones
Once my flight lands in New York, I’m anxious to get to the hospital. I quickly make my way to the baggage claim and locate my carousel.With some fast footwork I’m at the front of the crowd and I’ve just snatched my single piece of luggage, besides the one hung over my shoulder, when I hear, “Mr. Compton?”
I turn to find a pretty blonde standing before me, her long, silky hair draping the shoulders of her pale pink, primly cut suit jacket. I arch a brow at her. “And you would be?”
“You are the Mark Compton, correct?”
“I’m Mark Compton,” I confirm, wondering where this is headed.
“I thought so. I recognize your picture from Riptide.” Her perfect pale cheeks flush.“Oh. Sorry. I should introduce myself.”
She offers me her hand. “Crystal Smith, the new head of sales for Riptide, and thrilled to be working at one of the most prestigious auction houses in the world.”
I don’t reach for her hand. But my need to avoid touching her isn’t control, it’s weakness—and I hate weakness. I close my hand over hers. “Nice to meet you, Ms. Smith.” My palm warms, and I don’t want to be warmed by this woman, or by any woman I haven’t chosen as a submissive.
Her lashes lower, and I know she’s hiding her reaction to the touch. Despite myself, I am intrigued. Even more so when, almost instantly, she smoothly recovers and her lashes lift, her eyes directly meeting mine. Any sign of whatever she’d felt is gone.
Impressed by her rapid recovery and quick control, I’m surprised by how reluctantly I release her hand. I’m rarely reluctant about anything.“Since when is it the duty of the sales manager to pick someone up at the airport?”
Her brows dip and she gives a delicate snort.“It’s not like you’re just anyone.You’re your mother’s son.”
I inwardly cringe at the sore spot she’s hit. I love my mother, but there’s a reason why I opened my gallery across the country.“She ordered you to pick me up.”
Her lips curve. “Your mother’s as feisty as ever from her hospital bed.”
“I’m not surprised,” I manage tightly. Just thinking of my mother in a hospital bed creates a dull throb in my gut. “She’s impossible to say no to, even for me.”
“I thought for sure her pride and joy would be the one person who could.”
Fighting a wave of something dark I’d rather not name, I struggle to maintain my normal steely composure.“My mother is the only person I can’t say no to.”
She gives me an odd, quizzical look.“The only person?”
“Yes, Ms. Smith.The only person.”
She frowns.“I’m sorry,” she says, and then waves me toward the door.“My car’s parked in a fifteen-minute spot.We’d better run before I get towed.” She turns and starts walking, expecting me to follow.
I stare after her. She’s sorry? What the hell does that even mean, and why do I have this intense need to race after her and ask, when I never run after anyone?