"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, Jared," she said.
No formalities, indeed. "I forgive you, Amanda."
She flinched at that, but only just barely. Someone who spent less time than he did reading people would have missed the slight narrowing of her eyes. Either the forgiveness bit or the pointed use of her first name had irked her. Fine. Only his few friends called him Jared. No one here counted as his friend.
"Well, then. Let's get on with it." She headed down a corridor, her long strides taking her away from him and forcing him to catch up. He took his time doing it. For one thing, she could damned well wait for him for a bit. For another, hanging back gave him a good view of her ass.
Though more slender than the pixie-cat, Amanda had her own curves. She wore leggings underneath a bulky sweater, and her movement sent his imagination into overdrive. Every swing of her hips, no matter how subtle, suggested the rounding of her buttocks. Just the right size to fit into his hands.
By the time she stopped in front of one of the offices, he'd taken measure of her breasts. Small, but firm. And when they'd entered and she'd taken her seat behind her desk, his cock had already begun to thicken and harden in his pants. She bit her lip and shot him a gaze that went right through his chest and down to his groin. Recognition. She knew what was happening between them.
"Please, sit down." Her voice came out as deep as before, but now it had a hint of breathiness as well. She had a husky way of speaking. Something that made her linger for a millisecond on the vowel sounds. Sweet. Seductive.
Before his anatomy embarrassed him completely, he sat and watched her sift through some papers. She didn't make eye contact, but a flush to her cheeks told him she was as aware of his presence as he was of hers.
After a moment, she picked up one sheet and studied it. Her eyes widened as she stared up at him. "This is your wish?"
"To hunt a werewolf. Yes."
"I suppose you've read my dossier," he answered.
"Everyone in R and D becomes acquainted with the histories of our clients," she answered. "You've served as CEO of a number of companies. Now you have your own."
"Government contracts. Top secret, much of it."
She set the paper down and studied him. "Military?"
"Intelligence, mostly." In fact, his agency contacts would take a dim view of his coming here and an even gloomier one if they knew what he'd come here for. None of their damned business. "So you can see why confidentiality is so important."
"We never give away information about our clients." There was that deep tone again. The slow, downward inflection on "clients."
"Then we understand each other," he said.
"Not at all," she said. "What does your history have to do with your wish?"
"Human beings... ordinary people... how shall I put this?"
She stared at him evenly. Assessing him the way he normally did with others. He had no reason to doubt her intellect, but he seldom encountered an equal. Given that, and what her body did to his, she might present a real challenge with more than a little pleasure on the side. Right now, she obviously wasn't going to help him explain himself.
"I want to hunt the greatest predator on Earth. You'd think that would be a human being," he went on. "But average people are motivated by only a handful of things. Once you've figured out what they want, they're really rather boring."
"And so your interest in werewolves."
"What a creature. Imagine. The speed and keen senses of the wolf combined with the mind of the human. What kind of opponent one of them would make," he said.
"Your wish is to hunt one."
"You can't hunt big game these days and, honestly, I have no interest. Animals are dumb beasts, and they belong in the wild."
Another woman might have applauded his kindness. Amanda sat and stared at him out of her startling blue eyes.
"I don't think the authorities would like me hunting people," he continued. "But if WishLabz could create a werewolf for me, I could hunt that without breaking the law."
The room fell into complete silence, and the woman sat across from him like a sphinx, not moving, hardly blinking. After a moment, she leaned back in her chair. "Create a werewolf?"
"You can make magic here, at least according to the people who referred me. I don't know what sort of technology you have. If you can't design a credible werewolf for me, you can refund my money."
"And how would you kill this creature?" she asked. "Shoot it with a high-powered rifle from hundreds of yards away?"
"I didn't say kill. I said I wanted to hunt it."
"Killing the target's the whole point of hunting, isn't it?" she asked.
"One or both of us might die, I'll admit," he answered. "It'll be dangerous sport."
"Sport," she repeated. This time her accent suggested more than a hint of derision.
"I don't expect you to understand."
That got a definite reaction -- one eyebrow arching. "Because I'm a woman?"
"Because you're not in a position of command. I fought like hell to get where I am. Now that I've arrived, I miss the fight."
She nibbled her lower lip for a few seconds. On another woman, the action might have suggested uncertainty. On her, it suggested she needed to gnaw on something and she hadn't decided if he'd be worth the effort.
"So if you don't plan to kill the werewolf," she said finally, "what will you do?"
"Catch and release."
"What the --?" She glared at him. "You do that with fish, not a proud creature like a werewolf."
"My point exactly. Capturing someone with the strength and speed of a wolf and the intellect of a human being is the ultimate challenge."
"Not to mention the werewolf's jaws and teeth," she said.
"I know it'll be dangerous. That's a major part of the appeal."
She ran her fingers along the length of a pen sitting on her desk. Somehow, his cock felt the caress. "You have a death wish."
Actually, death was about the last thing on his mind right now, unless she meant what the French called the little death. Finding out what went on under her sweater ranked far above a trip to the Pearly Gates. Did she wear a bra, or did her breasts peak beneath the cable knit on their own? How long would it take him to make her wet enough to dampen the leggings between her thighs? Still, this was business, and he had to get his libido under control.
"Believe me, I'm not planning on dying for a long time if I can manage it. Just tell me if you can design a werewolf." He reached into his coat pocket to remove the papers he'd brought with him. "I have the specifications --"
"I don't need specs," she interrupted. "I don't have to design anything for you."
He paused, his fingers on the plans. "You're refusing the job?"
"I don't have to design a werewolf for you. I only need to find one willing to put up with... that is, to agree to fulfilling your wish."
"Find a..." he sputtered. "What in hell are you talking about?"
"Werewolves exist, Jared."