Torrey arrived at the course an hour early, first stopping in at the pro shop to pick up a dozen Titleist Pro-V1’s for Julian Grant.
In the locker room, she did a little double take as she eyed Krista Janssen, Annie O’Malley, and another caddy she didn’t know. The women were in various states of undress, changing into their golf outfits. Krista combined a beautiful, narrow face with a trim, model-perfect body. Annie had a devilish smile to go along with her long, flame-red hair and leggy figure. Torrey knew Annie from the Desert Oasis, where she danced part time in the girlie revue High Rollers. The third caddy was a short, dark-eyed, dark-haired Latina beauty who reminded Torrey of Eva Longoria.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out the clients had chosen three of the hottest-looking chicks on the web site. But why then had Julian Grant picked her? These gorgeous women were in a different league when it came to sex appeal.
As she dumped her athletic bag on a bench in front of the lockers, Torrey said hi to Krista and Annie and introduced herself to the girl she hadn’t met, Julieta Rodriguez.
“You must be our fourth,” Krista said, her perfect eyebrows arching a little.
“So it seems,” Torrey nodded, trying not to feel defensive. “Two o’clock, four high-tech dudes from California, right?”
“What’s up with these guys, anyway?” Annie wondered, threading her long ponytail through the back of her Nike ball cap. “Four straight days on the best courses in town? They must be total golf nuts—not to mention loaded.”
Torrey pulled a pink Nike visor down onto her brow. “They’re loaded, all right. I Googled some research over the weekend. These guys started OverTheEdge Games from scratch, right out of MIT. When they took the company public three years ago, the stock went through the roof. The market cap’s up to twenty billion, and they say all the founders are worth close to a billion each.”
Krista looked confused. “I didn’t understand a thing you said, Torrey. Do you mean these guys are all billionaires? I like the sound of that.”
Torrey winced. “That’s exactly what I mean.”
“Wow. This is going to be amazing.” Julieta flashed a sly smile. “I’ve never met a dot-com billionaire. We should get the best tips ever.”
Torrey checked her watch. “It’s quarter to two. We can’t keep the gentlemen waiting.”
The four caddies walked side-by-side to the practice green. After a few minutes of small talk, Torrey started to wonder why there was still no sign of the clients. Every few seconds she glanced toward the men’s locker room on the far side of the clubhouse. Her anxiety grew as she realized they were going to be late for their scheduled tee time.
Finally, four tall, good-looking men—all apparently in their early thirties—emerged from the locker room. Fully loaded golf bags hung over their shoulders. She recognized Julian right away. The tallest, he led the pack as they approached with long strides. As she studied his lanky but powerful frame, she had the sudden feeling that the front of the pack was exactly where Julian naturally belonged.
“Ladies, please accept my apologies for our late arrival. It’s inexcusable that we kept you waiting here.” Julian flashed a crooked but charming smile that practically knocked Torrey off her feet. He glanced over at the tee box. “I’m afraid we’d better get right over there. I see the marshal is looking for us. We can do introductions after we tee off.”
Torrey scrambled to compare the real Julian Grant to the photo he’d emailed last week. That picture had revealed a handsome man whose toughness had leaped off the screen. But seeing him in the flesh, she realized the formal photo hadn’t captured a lighter side of the man—a man whose quirky grin softened his dark features and whose courtly manner probably reduced women to boneless heaps of quivering flesh.
“Let’s go, Torrey,” he urged softly as he brushed one big hand across the small of her back. She almost jumped out of her skin as the heat of that glancing touch whipped through her, penetrating the most sensitive parts of her body.
Good Lord, what was that all about?
She sucked in a deep breath and forced her suddenly weak legs to follow the sexiest man she’d ever met.
The marshal smiled as the four golfers and their caddies hustled up onto the tee. “Don’t worry about being late—the foursome behind you cancelled. You can take your time,” he said generously.
“That’s good, but we want to apologize, anyway,” Julian said, offering the man his hand. “There’s no excuse for being late for a tee time.”
The frowning glance Julian directed at the lanky guy beside him left no doubt in Torrey’s mind as to who had been responsible for their tardiness. The man—who looked too cute for his own good—grinned and raised his palms in silent acknowledgement of his guilt.
Julian turned back to the caddies, an easy smile replacing his frown. “All right. I’d like to introduce these gentlemen and myself, and thank you for agreeing to caddy for us this week. We know some of you had to rearrange your schedules to accommodate us, and we’re grateful. So, the four of us are from Mountain View, California. Our company is called OverTheEdge Games, and we’re in Vegas for the Software Expo and some great golf. I’m Julian Grant.”
“Head honcho and chief ball-buster, as if you couldn’t tell already,” the lanky guy piped up.
Julian’s lips thinned as he turned to the other man. “And this unfortunate example of stunted maturity is Josh Wade.”
Josh’s grin widened. “That’s the nicest thing he’s said about me all week.” He shook hands with each of the caddies. When he got to Krista, his eyes raked up and down her body without the slightest hint of embarrassment. Krista responded to his leer with a coy smile.
O-kay. Torrey forced herself not to roll her eyes. Josh was obviously the dickhead of the group. There was usually one in every foursome.
Julian turned to the broad-shouldered, black-haired man standing beside Josh. “Next to Josh is Michael Clark.”
Michael was a five-alarm hottie. He looked utterly gorgeous in lemon yellow pants with a matching belt and a white cotton golf shirt that was molded to his deeply-tanned torso. Julieta clearly couldn’t take her eyes off him.
“A great pleasure to meet you, ladies,” Michael purred, bending at the waist to give the women an extravagant bow before he kissed each of their hands.
“A true gentleman,” Julieta gushed as she smiled into Michael’s dark, bedroom eyes.
“And last, but certainly not least, is Brendan Morris.” Julian indicated the fourth man, a little stockier than the others, but almost as handsome as Michael.
“Company bean counter,” Josh jumped in.
Julian shot him another withering look. “Shut up, Josh, so the ladies can introduce themselves.” He directed his devastating smile at her. “Torrey, would you like to begin?”
She jerked a bit, suddenly realizing she’d been locked on to Julian like a targeting laser. God, the man was mesmerizing, even when doing something as mundane as introductions.
And no wonder. He stood at least six-three and packed around two hundred well-toned pounds. His chiseled jaw, though clean-shaven, was accentuated by a dark shadow. Combined with wavy black hair, deep brown, heavy-lidded eyes, and sculpted cheekbones, it produced the hard, don’t-mess-with-me look of his photo. Torrey ran her eyes from his broad shoulders to the tanned biceps stretching the fabric of his Nike golf shirt, on down to his powerful hands. His tailored slacks clung perfectly to his lean hips and long legs and screamed money, as did the silver Rolex watch on his left wrist.
“Um, hi. I’m Torrey Green.” Oh God, she sounded totally lame.
Krista, Annie and Julieta introduced themselves, and the golfers and caddies paired up. Torrey reached for Julian’s bag, holding it upright with one hand while she offered him the box of golf balls she’d bought at the pro shop.
“I picked up your balls, like you asked me to.” Torrey smiled.
“You can pick up my—” Josh started, but Julian cut him off with a glare. “Don’t, Josh. Just don’t.”
“Who’s got the honor?” Torrey hastily interjected. If they didn’t get moving, it could be a very long afternoon. The blazing Las Vegas sun already threatened to bore holes through her skin, and the first tee lacked even a sliver of shade to hide in.
“Julian,” Michael said. “It’s our tradition.”
Torrey pulled the cover off Julian’s oversized metal driver. She’d been admiring the clubs when she wasn’t busy admiring their owner. Brand new Callaways, just like Phil Mickelson’s, only right-handed. Sweet.
As he reached for the driver, Julian’s fingers brushed hers. He looked straight into her eyes for a long moment before firmly gripping the club’s shaft. It took a second for her to register that she’d kept her grip tight as their hands touched, not loosening it instantly as she normally would. He didn’t tug the club from her hand; he just smiled and waited until she let go.
When he turned away, Torrey exhaled a shaky rush of breath. His look had surprised her—shocked her, even. It was more than a look of simple curiosity. For that brief moment, Julian had eyed her the same way a cat—a big, sleek jungle cat—assesses his prey.