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The CEO(7)

By:Victoria Purman

As they pulled up on a Bondi back street, Ava clutched her handbag and her wrap and stepped out of the car onto the footpath. She leaned down.

‘Thank you for the lift, Callum. I’ll see you back at your place.’

He looked at her over the tops of his sunglasses. He reached for the keys in the ignition and turned off the engine.

‘What are you doing?’ God, Ava, try not to screech, will you?

‘I’m waiting.’

‘What for?’

He let out a big sigh, ‘For you.’

Ava’s throat seemed to close over and squeeze all the air from her lungs. She couldn’t find a word to say, so said nothing. And as she walked up her garden path to her house, she willed herself to remember her sister’s pain. She didn’t know the ins and outs of their break-up—Lulu had been so heartbroken that she’d never wanted to talk about it again—but Ava had seen her sadness and heartbreak that night on the sofa. She’d cried for her sister, had felt her pain and despair.

And as the memories of that night came flooding back, there was one thing Ava knew for sure.

Even if he was Callum Malone, even if she had loved him since the first time they’d met, he was the bastard who’d broken her sister’s heart.

And she could never, ever forgive him.

Chapter Three

Well, didn’t Ava Gibson still have that bug up her ass?

She’d stopped to slip off her shoes and was now stomping away from his car towards a big, red brick apartment building, half hidden by tall trees.

As Callum slowly propped his sunglasses on his head to get a better look, he remembered it was a nice ass, too. Of course, he was admiring it in a distracted way. She was his ex-sister-in-law, after all, and still prickly as a desert cactus and snippy as all hell. Nothing had changed on that score. But there was a sway to her curves that would have had any heterosexual man with a pulse taking a second look.

Any man with an appreciation of the female form.

Any man who hadn’t had sex since he’d split up with his wife. He sighed, deep and weary, shook his head ruefully and slipped his aviator shades back on. Man, he missed the company of a woman. He missed their scent, the soft touch of their skin and the sheer feminine presence of someone in his life. He missed knowing that there would be someone waiting when he got home and he sure as hell missed having someone in his bed.

Holy fuck. Had it been so long that even Ava the Terrible was looking good?

When the passenger-side door opened five minutes later, he was surprised. He’d been anticipating a wait of at least twenty minutes, and now here she was, still wearing that snarky look on her face. Callum reached over, picked up his suit jacket she’d sat on, and tossed it onto the back seat.

‘The leather,’ Ava said as she peered inside and pointed to the back seat.

‘You’re dry,’ he noted.

‘But your jacket isn’t,’ Ava insisted.

‘For fuck’s sake,’ he muttered under his breath as he leaned back between the two front seats and flicked his suit jacket to the floor.

As Ava buckled her seat belt, he looked her over. Her hair was still slightly damp, and now hanging in loose waves around her shoulders rather than pulled back into a knot. If he wasn’t mistaken, there was fresh make-up and the smell of fresh flowers filled the car. Her eyes were bright and brown and the lipstick on her full lips a pale pink. She was wearing a simple, sleeveless dress with large flowers and bright colours, which dipped low in front to reveal the curve of her breasts.

Did he look? Hell yeah he did.

Did she notice? Probably, because she slammed her handbag on her lap and said through gritted teeth, ‘Are we going or what?’

Prickly as a cactus. Snippy as all hell.

So many things had changed in his world during the past eighteen months. During the past four days.

But one thing was for certain: Ava Gibson still hated his guts.


Callum was driving way too fast and, as he negotiated a winding, almost hidden road that would rival San Francisco’s Lombard Street, Ava felt her stomach clench with fear. He spun the steering wheel, and as he changed gears she glanced at his forearm, watching the muscles move and tighten. It seemed as if he’d barely slowed down before a garage door opened before them, almost silently disappearing upwards, as if it had sensed their arrival, and Callum manoeuvred into the triple garage. Parked inside was a mud-splattered four-wheel drive, which may have been white a few thousand miles ago.

When he stopped and turned off the engine, Ava exhaled.

‘Thank God that’s over,’ she huffed. ‘Has anyone ever told you that you drive like a maniac?

She heard a low chuckle. ‘You don’t like the way I drive?’