An Unwilling Desire(2)

By: Carole Mortimer

Holly made her way to her own office at the back of this rambling house, well away from James’s study so that her typewriter wouldn’t disturb him while he wrote. Once in the privacy of her own room she allowed her disappointment about Maxine’s return to show, hating the idea of her routine being disturbed. She liked order in her life, disliked impulsive action of any kind. The next few days, at least, looked like being very disrupted.

James Benedict was a famous author of thrillers, the storyline often having something to do with racing cars, his old profession, the profession that had put him in the wheelchair. He had first begun to write during the long months he had spent in hospital recovering from the accident, and had been lucky—or talented enough— to have his first book accepted while still confined to his bed. A second, third, and fourth book had been equally well received, being fresh and exciting, and always original. The mail that flooded in to him every day proved just how popular with the public his books were.

Holly had been delighted when she secured the position as his secretary, thrilled when he asked her to assist him with his research too. It was all a welcome change and challenge from the run-of-the-mill office jobs she had been doing for the last four years, liking the fact that she actually lived at the house, finding it no hardship to give up the last in a long line of flats she had occupied during the last few years of living on her own. It also meant she was on call if James should need her, and the two of them often spent their evenings working too, something she enjoyed.

But the thought of Maxine Benedict’s return was enough to spoil the day for her. Maxine was everything she despised in a woman, flirtatious, too beautiful for any man to resist, and worse of all, Holly suspected, promiscuous. It was the latter she found so hard to forgive in the other woman, but she could think of no other reason for Maxine to spend so much time in London. Personally she had no idea of the full extent of James’s injuries, although she thought it meant he couldn’t play an active role in his marriage, which made Maxine’s behaviour all the more abhorrent.

Holly deliberately made herself scarce in the house’s vast library after lunch, attending to some of the research on South America that James needed for further chapters. It was a laborious task, but one that she enjoyed; no complaints were made by the public about even the finest detail in James’s books— something she intended to continue.

She could hear the husky sound of Maxine’s voice in the lounge as she passed the room on her way back to her office from the library, her precious notes and references clutched in her hand to show to James later. She came to an abrupt halt as she entered her office, gasping as she saw the man standing across the room from her, his back turned towards her as he looked out of the window, the over—long golden hair so achingly familiar. But he was standing! ‘James ...?’ she cried her disbelief. Surely James couldn’t have been deceiving her all this time.

The man turned slowly at the sound of her gasp, dispelling any doubts she might have had that it was James who stood there. Oh, the man’s colouring was same, so was the powerful physique, but there the similarity ended. Mocking green eyes steadily met her gaze, a long hawk-like nose jutting out arrogantly, the mouth strong and firm, quirking tauntingly as she continued to stare at him, his jaw square and determined. For all that his face showed lines of experience he still looked younger than James.

There was about the man an air of male challenge, an aura of sensuality that made Holly’s defences instantly spring into action. Her mouth twisted contemptuously at the way his denims clung to him like a second skin, his shirt partly unbuttoned to reveal the darker blond hair on his chest, an obvious move on his part to draw attention to his virility as far as Holly was concerned. A man who believed in his own machismo!

She stepped past him to sit behind her desk, realising as she did so how tall he was when she only reached as far as his shoulders, her own height only just over five feet. She viewed him with cool violet eyes as he lounged against the side of her desk, her lashes darkened with mascara, that and a coral lipstick being her only makeup.

‘Obviously not,’ she dryly answered her own question, completely in control again now, over the shock she had received at first seeing him.

‘Obviously not,’ he echoed mockingly, looking down at her, his gaze openly speculative. ‘Not unless he’s taken it into his head to get up and walk,’ he drawled. ‘And while he has people like you and his manservant fussing around him he isn’t likely to do that, now is he?’ he mocked.