At Her Boss's Pleasure(4)

By: Cathy Williams

‘Blow his trumpet too vigorously and I might start thinking that you are in on whatever the hell’s been going on.’

‘I’m not,’ she said coldly, her voice freezing over. Her green eyes held his. ‘I would never cheat anyone of anything. That’s not the sort of person I am.’

Alessandro’s ears pricked up. He had dropped down to the third floor to deposit these papers with George Cape before heading out. He had no date—and no regret there either. His last blonde bombshell had gone the way of all good things, and he was back to the drawing board and more than happy to have a break from the fairer sex.

Kate Watson—Ms Kate Watson—was everything he avoided when it came to women. She was cold, distant, intense, unsmiling and prickly. She never let him forget that she was there to do a damn good job and nothing else.

But that single sentence...That’s not the sort of person I am...had made him wonder.

What sort of person was she?

‘You were asking me about my out-of-hours suggestion...’ Alessandro moved the topic swiftly along, at the same time relegating her stray remark to a box from which it would be removed at a later date.

He had nothing to do on a Friday night. A rare situation for him. He dragged the single spare chair in the room across to her desk and sat down, angling it so that he could extend his long legs to the side, crossing them at the ankles.

Kate watched with something approaching horror. ‘I was about to leave... Perhaps we could continue this conversation on Monday morning? I’m usually in first thing. By seven-thirty most days.’

‘Laudable. It’s heart-warming to know that there’s at least one person in my finance department who doesn’t clock-watch.’

‘I’m sure you must have plans for the evening, sir...Alessandro. If I take the paperwork home I can have a look at it over the weekend and get back to you with my findings on Monday morning. How does that sound?’

‘The reason I suggested that we discuss this situation out of hours is because I would rather not have it turned into a matter for speculation. Naturally you would be paid generously for your overtime.’

‘It’s not about being paid for overtime,’ Kate said stiffly. She kept her eyes firmly pinned to his face, but she was all too aware of the lazy length of his body, the flex of muscles under the white shirt, the tanned column of his throat and the strength of his forearms where he had shoved the sleeves of his shirt to the elbows.

He had always made her jumpy, in a way other men never had. There was a raw, primal, barely contained aggression about him that threatened her composure, and it had done so from the very first time she had set eyes on him as a new recruit to the company.

It was dangerous. It was the sort of dangerous she could do without. She didn’t like the way her body seemed to respond to him of its own accord. It frightened her.

Her upbringing had taught her many things, and the biggest thing it had taught her was the need for control. Control over her emotions, control over her finances, control over the destination of her life. She had grown up with a role model of a mother who had lacked all control.

Shirley Watson had adopted the frivolous name Lilac at the age of eighteen, and had spent her life living up to it—moving from pole dancer to cocktail-bar waitress to barmaid back to cocktail-bar waitress, flirting with men’s magazine pin-ups along the way.

A stunningly beautiful, pocket-sized blonde, she had only ever learned how to exploit the natural assets with which she had been born. Kate only knew sketchy details of her mother’s past, but she did know that Lilac had grown up as a foster-home kid. She had never known stability, and instead of trying to create some of her own had relied on being a dumb blonde, always believing that love lay just round the corner, that the men who slept with her really loved her.

Kate’s father had vanished from the scene shortly after she was born, leaving Lilac heartbroken at the age of just twenty-one. From him, she had moved on to a string of men—two of whom she had married and subsequently divorced in record time. In between the marriages she had devoted her life to pointlessly trying to attract men, always confusing their enthusiasm for her body for love, always distraught when they tired of her and pushed on.

She was a smart woman, but she had learned to conceal her brains because a brainy woman, she had once confided in her daughter, never got the guy.

Kate loved her mother, but she had always been painfully aware of her shortcomings and had determined from an early age that she would not live a life blighted by the same mistakes her mother had made.

It helped that she was dark-haired. And tall. She lacked her mother’s obvious sex appeal and for that she was thankful. Her assets she kept firmly under wraps, and when it came to men...well...