An Irresistible Bachelor

An Irresistible Bachelor by J. R. Ward Read Free Book Online

Book: An Irresistible Bachelor by J. R. Ward Read Free Book Online
Authors: J. R. Ward
doubt that.” She shook her head, wondering if she was ever going to learn to think before she spoke to the man. “Listen, I—”
    â€œI’m hurt, Ms. Burke,” he murmured. “Or may I call you Callie?”
    She rolled her eyes. He didn’t seem hurt. In fact, he looked perfectly content as he munched on his breakfast.
    If this guy has a tender ego, Callie thought, I’m the tooth fairy.
    She gave it another shot. “No offense, but I’m really just interested in the painting.”
    â€œWell, maybe I want to learn a little more about you.”
    â€œYou know my professional background. What else is there?”
    He shot her a dry look. “You don’t like to talk about yourself?”
    â€œNot to you, no.”
    â€œAnd why is that?”
    â€œBecause I have a feeling that anything I say might be used against me.”
    He laughed, a big, easy sound. “I’m not the police. You’re not a criminal. At least as far as I know.”
    As he smiled at her, she made busywork by spreading cream cheese on the bagel. “So about Nathaniel—”
    â€œYou are bound and determined not to enjoy breakfast with me, aren’t you?” he said laconically.
    â€œI can’t imagine I’d enjoy anything with—” She flushed as he sent her a sharp look. Waving her hand in the air, as if she could erase her words, she muttered, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
    He considered her for a moment. “You’re very honest. And you don’t let yourself get pushed around, do you?”
    Callie’s mouth almost dropped open. Both because he seemed to approve of her candidness and because he was so off base.
    How little he knew, she thought, putting the knife down. She’d had to absorb the fallout from her mother’s emotional theatrics for years. She’d accepted being relegated to a shameful footnote in her father’s life without ever challenging him or telling him how much it hurt. Hell, she’d taken the brunt of Stanley’s peevish nature day after day without sticking up for herself.
    But Jack Walker didn’t need to know all that. And she was quite content to relish his misunderstanding in private.
    â€œWhy is it so important that I work for you?” she asked abruptly.
    He picked up his cup and she saw his gold cuff links flash.
    â€œWe all need a start in life,” he said. “You’ve worked hard and you deserve a chance to make a name for yourself. You’ve interned with some of the best in the field, but you need to branch out and do something that’ll get you noticed. Make your mark.”
    It was sound advice and a generous inclination on his part. But she didn’t know him and he didn’t owe her, and that meant the pat explanation didn’t hold water. She wondered if Grace had said something. Was he doing this as a favor to her?
    â€œWhat did Grace tell you about me?” she asked.
    He regarded her evenly. “That you’re a friend of hers. That you’re talented. That it was important to her for you to have a chance at this project. Why?”
    â€œNothing.” She tried to sort through the implications of Grace having a hand in her career. She appreciated the support, although she’d have preferred to get the job solely on her own merits. But maybe she had. Jack Walker didn’t seem the type who’d hire anyone on the basis of sentimentality.
    And now she better understood why he’d tracked her down.
    â€œIs there a problem?” he asked as she stayed silent.
    â€œI just don’t want to be a charity case,” she blurted.
    He frowned and then laughed.
    â€œThen you’ll be pleased to know that my lack of philanthropic interest is legendary. You’ve got the credentials and you’re going to work for every penny. My money’s far too important to me to have it any other way.” He gestured at

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