At Her Boss's Pleasure(3)

By: Cathy Williams

‘I asked Watson Russell if he knew anything about the anomalies in the supply chain to the leisure centres I’m setting up along the coastline and he told me that it’s been Cape’s baby from the start. True or false?’

‘I believe he is in charge of those accounts.’

‘You believe?’

Kate took a deep breath and did her utmost not to be intimidated by the man crowding her—but it was next to impossible. Tall, raven-haired, muscular and leaning into her, he didn’t cause anything but a rapidly beating heart, a dry mouth and perspiring palms which she surreptitiously wiped on her skirt.

‘He’s in charge of those accounts. Exclusively. Perhaps you could explain what it is you’d like to find out?’

Alessandro pushed himself away from the desk and prowled through the office, noting in passing how little there was of her personality in it. No cutesy photographs in frames on the desk, no pot plants, no gimmicky pen-holder...not even a desk calendar with uplifting seascapes...or works of art...or adorable puppies...or semi-clad firemen...

He said nothing for a few seconds, then spun to face her, hands thrust deep into his trouser pockets.

‘Quite by chance a batch of files was delivered to me—probably because “Private and Confidential” was stamped so boldly on the envelope that the post boy must have automatically headed up to the directors’ floor. I scanned them and there appeared to shall I say this?...certain discrepancies that need checking out.’

He couldn’t keep his eye on every single small detail within his vast empire. He paid people very generously indeed to do that, and with the fat pay packet came a great deal of trust.

He trusted his people not to try and screw him over.

‘There are a couple of small companies whose names I can’t say I recognize. I may have a lot of companies, but generally speaking I do know what they’re called...’

Kate paled as the significance of what he was saying began to sink in.

‘You catch on quickly,’ Alessandro said approvingly. ‘I had actually come down here to confront Cape with these files, but in his absence it might be a better idea for you to have a look at them and collate whatever evidence is necessary.’

‘Evidence? Necessary for what?’ she asked faintly, and flushed when he raised his eyebrows in question, as if incredulous that the point of what he had said might have passed her by. ‘George Cape is nearly at retirement age...he’s a family man...he has a wife, kids, grandchildren...’

‘Call me crazy,’ Alessandro said, with such silky assurance that she wanted to throw the goldfish paperweight at his handsome head, ‘but when someone I employ decides to take advantage of my generosity I tend to feel a little aggrieved. Of course I could be completely off target here. There might very well be a simple explanation for what I’ve seen...’

‘But if there isn’t...?’ She was unwillingly mesmerized by the graceful way he moved around her small office, his jacket bunching where his hand was shoved in his trouser pocket.

‘Well, the wheels of justice have to do something to keep busy...’ He shrugged. ‘So, here’s how this is going to play out: I am officially going to hand the files over to you and you are to examine them minutely, from cover to cover. I am assuming you know Cape’s password for his computer?’

‘I’m afraid I don’t.’

‘In which case get one of the computer whizz-kids to sort that out. You’re going to go through every single document that has been exchanged on this particular project and get back to me out of work hours.’

‘Out of work hours? What are you talking about?’

‘I think Cape’s been embezzling,’ Alessandro informed her bluntly. ‘We could keep going round the houses, but that’s the long and short of it. I had no idea that he was in sole charge of this project. Had he not been I might have been inclined to widen the net of suspicion, but it fundamentally comes down to just one man.’

He paused to stand in front of her desk and she reluctantly looked up—and up, and up—into his dark, lean face.

‘From what I’ve seen there’s not a great deal of money involved, which might be why no alarm bells went off, but not a great deal over a long period of time could potentially amount to a very great deal, and if there are dummy companies involved...’

‘I hate the thought of checking into what George has been doing,’ Kate said truthfully. ‘He’s such a lovely guy, and he’s been good to me since I began working here. If it weren’t for him I probably wouldn’t have been promoted as quickly as I have been...’