At Her Boss's Pleasure(6)

By: Cathy Williams

‘Not a problem.’ He waved aside her objection. ‘I’ve sent my driver home and I have my own car. Far more convenient if you load whatever you need to buy into my car rather than having to walk with it back to your house.’

‘I’m accustomed to walking home with my groceries.’

Alessandro looked at her narrowly. He wouldn’t have taken her for being skittish, but there was something skittish about her now. And why turn down a ride home? With him?

‘It would be useful for us to decide how to approach this delicate problem with George Cape and whatever money he’s been siphoning off.’

‘If he’s been siphoning off any. And I was under the impression that you had already decided what you would do if you found out that he had taken money from you...throw him in prison and chuck away the keys.’

‘Let’s hope I’ve got it wrong, in that case, and he’ll be spared the prison sentence.’ He stepped aside, leaving her just sufficient room to brush past him through the door, switching off the lights in her wake. ‘You’ve been in this office for six months and this is the first time it’s struck me that there’s nothing personal in here at all. Nothing.’ Kate flushed. ‘It’s an office,’ she said briskly, stepping in front of him, briefcase in one hand, bag over her shoulder, head held high and deliberately averted from him. ‘Not a boudoir.’

‘Boudoir...nice word. Is that where you stash all your personal mementoes? In your boudoir?’

Kate heard the amusement in his voice and turned to him angrily. Get a grip, she told herself sternly. Don’t let the man rattle you. Green flashing eyes clashed with his oh-so-dark ones and she felt herself sinking into his gaze, had to yank herself firmly back to reality.

Alessandro Preda had a reputation with women. Even if the gossip hadn’t reached her ears, one glance at any news rag would have informed her of that reputation.

He used women. He was always being snapped with models draped on his arm, gazing up at him adoringly. Lots of models. A different model for every month of the year. He could have started his own agency with the number of them he ran through. She wondered whether some of those models had been like her mother—sad creatures, blessed with spectacular looks but not enough common sense to know how to use what they had been given. Hanging on. Hoping for more than would ever be on the agenda.

‘Shall I email you my findings?’ Underneath the scrupulous politeness her voice could have frozen fire. She pressed the button to summon the lift and stared at him, as rigid as a plank of wood.

Alessandro had never seen anyone so uptight in his entire life.

This went way beyond self-control—way beyond a certain amount of composure.

What was her story? And didn’t she know that all those ‘No Trespassing’ signs she’d erected around herself were enticing beacons to a man like him?

He was thirty-four years old, and he wasn’t sure whether to be proud or simply accepting of the fact that he had never had to try very hard for a woman. They offered themselves to him.

But Ms Kate Watson had issues with him. He didn’t know what they were, but he did know that they constituted a challenge—and since when had he ever been a man to turn down a challenge?

If he had, he certainly wouldn’t have ended up in the exalted position of power that he had.

He suppressed the onslaught of thoughts that always managed to put him in a foul mood.

‘I don’t think so.’ He stepped back as the lift doors slid open, allowing her to edge past him, making sure she kept her distance as much as she could, doing her utmost to be casual about it. ‘Emails can be intercepted.’

‘Aren’t you being a bit cloak and dagger about all of this?’

Kate addressed the long metal case in the lift containing the various buttons, but she was acutely aware of him right next to her, of the warmth of his body wafting through the air and settling around her like a dangerous cloak that she wanted to shake off. She couldn’t remember him having this sort of effect on her before, but then they had usually been in a room with other people around—not heading down in a lift, just the two of them.

She was alive to his presence in a way that made her whole body feel uncomfortable.

Alessandro stared at that pale averted profile. She was a beautiful woman, he realized with sudden surprise. It was something that wasn’t immediately apparent, because she was at such pains to play down her looks, but studying her now he saw her features were perfect. Her nose was small and straight, her lips oddly full and sexy, her cheekbones high and sharp. Maybe the severity of her hairstyle accentuated all of that.