Ash Colby scowled at his watch. He took a shallow breath, uncrossed his legs, and propped his elbows on his knees. The motion brought pain surging across his temples. The migraine had been with him for the last two hours. Although he would have loved to blame it on the humidity of Singapore’s late September monsoon season, Ash knew his current circumstances had led to the headache jackhammering against his skull. The fact that he’d just gotten off a seventeen-hour flight from San Francisco wasn’t helping either.
Ash rubbed a hand across the back of his neck before glaring at the secretary seated behind the modern walnut desk to his left.
“He knows I’m waiting, right?” Ash snapped.
John Peace sighed and nudged his smart, black-rimmed specs up his nose.
“Yes, Ash. Luke is aware that you’ve been waiting a while.”
“Forty fucking minutes is not a while, John,” Ash said between gritted teeth.
“Language, Ash,” the secretary murmured.
Ash looked around the chic marble and wood waiting room overlooking a panoramic vista of the dazzling city and sun-kissed bay beyond the glass wall behind the secretary’s desk.
“There’s no one else here.”
John ignored Ash’s acerbic observation and studied him steadily.
“You look a bit peaky. Would you like some water?”
Ash scowled. He knew the secretary was only trying to be helpful, but he was past caring at this point.
“No, I don’t want fucking water, John. I want to know why my lord and master has summoned me all the way here from Stanford five days before term starts.”
Ash couldn’t help grind his teeth as he recalled the terse phone conversation from two days ago. The motion exacerbated the band of tension gripping his head and raised his ire further.
“Luke would like to see you,” John had said coolly when he’d called Ash at eight on a Sunday morning.
Ash frowned as he walked through the front door of his condo. He dropped his gym bag on a chair and headed to his bedroom.
“What’s this about, John?” he said, irritated. He sat on the edge of the bed, kicked off his shoes, and fell backward onto the sheets. “And when did he get back to San Francisco?”
John hesitated. “He isn’t in San Francisco.”
Ash blinked at the ceiling before slowly sitting up, his incredulity quickly turning to anger.
“Wait a minute. You’re telling me Luke is in Singapore and he wants me to go there to see him? Fuck no!” he growled.
John sighed. “This is important, Ash. You know Luke wouldn’t make such a request unless it was an urgent matter.”
Ash rubbed a hand across his eyes and swallowed hard. There was no denying the truth in the secretary’s words.
Luke Rutherford, Ash’s former guardian and the current custodian of his rather substantial trust fund, was not a fickle man.
Ash inhaled shakily and tried to quell his rising temper. “Can you at least tell me what this is—”
Someone took the phone from John.
Ash froze when Luke came on the line.
“A car is coming to pick you up in thirty minutes. Pack a bag and be ready. The jet’s already at the airport.”
Ash stared blindly ahead as the line suddenly went dead. He listened to the dial tone for a stunned moment before flinging the phone across the room and throwing himself back on the bed. A cry of rage left Ash’s lips as he raked his hands through his hair. Despite the fury and frustration burning in his veins at Luke’s outrageous command, Ash could not help the shudder of awareness that raced through him after hearing Luke’s voice.
It had been over a year since they last spoke.
For one insane moment, Ash considered not obeying the man who quite literally owned him, body and soul. The man he had been in love with for as long as he could remember. The man who had broken his heart and shattered his dreams five years ago, on the night of Ash’s seventeenth birthday.
The thought of the possible reprisals Luke would visit upon him if he did not get on that plane sent a quiver of apprehension through Ash. The guy was capable of anything. Just as Luke had promised, the car arrived promptly at eight thirty and Ash lifted off from San Francisco International Airport an hour later.
Ash sighed, his thoughts returning to his current predicament as he leaned back on the expensive Barcelona chair and propped his feet on the coffee table. He ignored John’s disapproving stare and indicated the walnut door opposite from where he sat with a jerk of his head.
“So, who does he have in there? Must be someone damn important if he’s ignoring me for this long.” Ash paused. “Not that the asshole doesn’t ignore me on a regular basis anyway.”
John pinched the bridge of his nose. “I would really appreciate it if you didn’t keep calling Luke an asshole, Ash. And, yes, he’s got his asset manager in with him right now. Mr. Sorvino flew in from Tokyo yesterday and is heading straight to Japan after their meeting.”
“Yippee for Mr. Sorvino,” Ash muttered. “Lucky bastard. I hope I’m back on the jet tonight as well.”
John hesitated. He opened his mouth and closed it soundlessly.
A tendril of unease shot through Ash as he stared at the secretary’s face. He narrowed his eyes. “What?”
“Nothing,” John murmured.
Ash was still studying him suspiciously when Luke’s door opened. A man walked out of the office.
The stranger was tall and dark, with a commanding presence that had as much to do with his handsome face and his arresting gunmetal eyes as it did with his incredibly ripped body. Had Ash not been unreservedly in love with Luke, he would have found the guy captivating.
A figure appeared behind the asset manager. Ash’s mouth went dry when Luke stepped out of the room.
At six foot two, Luke Rutherford’s hard bodied, toned frame more than matched the man beside him. With dark hair that most women would kill to sink their hands into, finely trimmed stubble that framed a strong, angular jaw, and amber eyes that had the power to silence a crowded room, Luke Rutherford was not only sinfully attractive, he was also the embodiment of a successful businessman and billionaire.