“I don't need a minder.”
Eliza Burrows stared at the top of the man's dark head, as she waited for him to look up and acknowledge her presence. He continued to tap away at this laptop keys as if she'd already left the room. When it seemed no further response would be forthcoming, she cleared her throat. “I'm not here as a babysitter, Mr. Domhnull.”
“Didn't ask for you. Don't want you,” he muttered, never looking up.
“My publisher is a bunch of scabby bawbag sucking skivers.”
Her lips twitched, but she managed not to smile. Barely. It was nearly impossible not to be charmed by his heavy Scottish accent not to mention, amused by his word choice though. Not that he would have noticed as intent on ignoring her as he was.
“Well, that bunch of dirty testicle sucking idiots—or is it layabouts? Anyway, they hired me to do a job.”
He looked up at that, the intensity in his nearly black eyes almost stealing her breath. Or maybe it was just that he was so much more beautiful than she'd been prepared for. Sure, she'd seen his picture—who at Terra Ink Publishing hadn't? But photographs had not done this man justice. Thick slashes of black brows sat above eyes so dark brown, it was almost impossible to discern the pupil from the iris. Long lashes framed those bright, dark eyes. Eyes that were currently assessing her. But she refused to let him see any weakness.
Instead, she smiled serenely and continued. “And that job is making sure you attend your panels on time and sober—”
He threw up his hands and leaned back in his chair. “Show up guttered one time, and—”
“And,” she continued, “that you finish your book.”
He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest, pinning her with that inky gaze. “So, explain to me again how you're not a minder?”
She refused to look away.
Angus Domhnull was basically the George R. R. Martin of the science fiction world. Well, the super-hot, sci-fi version of George R. R. Martin, anyway. Angus had been working on the final book in his blockbuster series, Dark Nebula Rising, for almost five years. He'd already blown deadline after deadline, and his fans were getting pissed. But not as pissed as his editor and the powers that be at Terra Ink.
So here she was—glorified babysitter—at least, for the duration of this tour. “Technically, my current job title is assistant editor, but I'll be acting as your author assistant,” she said stiffly.
“Soooooooooo…” He drew out the word as he shoved his hand through his unruly curls.
“So, fine. I'm your minder.” She straightened her spine. “I'll do my best to stay out of your hair while you're working, and to make sure you're where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there.”
He stared at her for a moment more, then obviously dismissing her, lowered his head and began typing again.
Stifling a sigh, she opened the file folder she'd been holding and laid several sheets of paper and one of her business cards on his desk. He continued working, pointedly ignoring her.
“That's a copy of your schedule. There will be a car waiting at seven-thirty. If you need anything, my cell number is on the back of the business card.”
Turning on her heel, she walked toward the door of their adjoining rooms.
She looked back at him as he picked up the business card, clearly searching for her name.
“Close the door on your way out.” He laid the card down and glanced up. “Actually, scratch that. I need to be able to pace while I'm thinking—so, leave the door open between the two rooms.”
She blinked at him. “You want me to leave the door open?”
He sat back in his chair and studied her. “Do you have some sort of difficulty with cognitive processing?”
Her mouth dropped open.
“Trouble hearing, then?”
She forced herself to maintain eye contact. “I'm not hard of hearing,” she bit out. “And I'm not stupid.”
“Glad to hear it. On both counts, really.” He glanced down at his screen again. “So, be a good lass, and leave the door open.”
She stared at him, incredulous. “I will not.”
“If you need to pace, you might try the treadmill in the gym, but you're not going to just wander through my room.”
“Your room? I don't think so, lass. I always get adjoining rooms so I can spread out.”
Eliza stared at him and took several deep, calming breaths. Well, they were deep anyway. “I'm going to assume that you didn't read the email Barbara sent.”
“Which one?” Angus dragged his fingers through his hair again, his irritation clearly bubbling to the surface. “There were at least thirty-seven.”
That probably wasn't an exaggeration. Barbara was an excellent editor, but it usually took her multiple emails to say everything that needed saying.
“The one that mentioned that there were no other rooms available. The hotel is completely booked because of the con, and they were going to need to give me the adjoining room. That email.”
He laced his fingers together behind his head as he stared at her, looking as though he was biting back everything he wanted to say. Yeah, well he wasn't the only one.
She fought the urge to let her eyes wander over his arms. Over the way his t-shirt pulled snuggly around his biceps, or the way the muscles corded in his forearms. Forearms she'd have the overwhelming urge to bite if he wasn't such a jerk.
She pulled her gaze away from his arms. “Unless you need anything before then, I'll meet you here at seven-twenty, tomorrow morning.”
He continued to stare at her. Though, at this point, it could really be considered more of a glare.
“Goodnight, Mr. Domhnull.”
“Ms. Burrows.” He nodded once, like an angry widower concluding an interview with a hapless young governess in some gothic novel.
She tried to ignore both the way he rolled the Rs in her name and the displeasure in his tone as he dismissed her. He could go ahead and be as pissed off as he wanted. If he hadn't been such a dick about it, she might have felt bad for him. She knew how difficult it was for some writers to focus when they weren't comfortable in their surroundings. Instead, she took great pleasure in shutting and locking the door to her room.
Annoying brooding man. He needed to go find a moor to stand on. It didn't take much imagination to picture him in the middle of a desolate landscape, greatcoat open and billowing in the wind. She rolled her eyes at herself.
He's a bad-tempered Scotsman. Just because he's hot and has an accent doesn't mean he's your Mr. Darcy. Besides, if he's out being moody on the moors, he's more of a Heathcliff. And no one needs that asshole.
And really, Darcy was a classist snob, anyway. No one needed him, either.