Her Millionaire Boss(11)

By: Jennie Adams

Despite all the years you’ve stayed away.

She would remember to keep him in the place of the deserting grandson yet. At the thought she sobered, because in truth he was that person, and she could never reconcile herself to that. No matter how much he made her want him, or how much she thought he might want her.

One abandonment in her lifetime was enough.

Nate nodded to several ancillary staff who obviously knew him. They all showed their shock at seeing him. He seemed a little unsettled, too.

‘How does it feel to come back after so long? Does it make you melancholy?’

‘There is a world outside these doors, you know.’ His retort labelled her as unadventurous and insular.

Chrissy gritted her teeth.

When they were alone again, he asked, with a hint of disbelief, ‘Are you the only new staff member since I left? I knew the firm was close-knit, but—’

‘On this floor, I am, yes.’ So what if they liked to build an atmosphere of family among the employees?

She had been welcomed when she’d started here. He had no idea how much she had needed that. ‘I got the job as Henry’s PA straight out of school when his previous PA retired to the Gold Coast. All the company members were sad to see her go.’

Unlike the PA, Nate had returned, albeit only for the duration of Henry’s recovery. She hoped people would understand the temporary nature of his visit.

On that surprisingly depressing thought, she flung open the door to Henry’s suite of offices and stepped inside. ‘I’ll just be one minute.’

This was her territory. Among her ceiling chimes and experimental wall art and, of course, potted plants, she felt secure. At home. In charge.

After quickly disposing of the killed-off plants in the corner stand—it was always a bit sad—she replaced them with the new ones. From now, she had only one choice. She must think business and nothing but business for the duration of Nate Barrett’s stay.

Given the mixed emotions he brought out in her, it was the only hope she had of holding on to her sanity. ‘The UK imports first, I think.’

‘By all means.’ His agreement smacked of condescension.

She ignored it and launched into a list of problematical import issues.

He was swift to pick things up. He had a sharp mind and a decisive attitude, and he knew the business.

‘There’s also this lot of stuff.’ She brought in a pile of files.

They worked almost seamlessly then broke for lunch. Aside from the odd distraction, such as when she noticed he had a tiny birthmark high on his forehead and wanted to trace it with a fingertip, she managed to remain acceptably aloof.

It was early afternoon by the time they had cleared through the bulk of the most urgent work.

He sat back in his chair and rolled his shoulders. ‘Now that the worst is taken care of, I want a meeting with all the department heads. I need to let them know about Henry’s stroke, and get a verbal status on each of their areas.

‘Hopefully one of them will fit…’ He turned his head to glance out the window at the fog-shrouded cityscape. ‘You mentioned a difficulty with the stevedore company?’

‘They’re usually very good, so I don’t know what the problem can be, but yes, a memo came through earlier.’ She gathered their used coffee mugs and headed toward the kitchenette just off their offices.

Instead of remaining at his desk, Nate rose and followed. Immediately her awareness of him cranked up, and she had been doing so well, too.

You mean you’d managed to live in denial for a few moments.

‘I’ll phone the company right after I organise the meeting with the department heads.’

‘No need.’ He prowled behind her. ‘I’ll speak to the stevedore people while you arrange the meeting.’

She considered protesting, then changed her mind. Why waste her breath? If he wanted to micromanage the matter, let him. ‘As you wish.’

‘That’s settled, then.’ But he kept pace behind her, and she remained deeply aware of him the whole time.

‘How old are you?’ he asked abruptly. ‘Twenty-four?’

‘Yes. How old are you?’ She looked over her shoulder at him. Her words had a hint of goading that she couldn’t quite control. ‘Thirty-five? Thirty-eight? Forty, maybe?’

‘I’ll be thirty in December.’

‘My condolences,’ she quipped, but the spark in his eyes undermined her efforts to keep her interest in him at bay.

She stopped in front of the sink with her back turned to him, and simply didn’t know what to do. His awareness of her was palpable, and she responded to that awareness on a deep, instinctual level.