The Italian Boss's Secret Child(3)

By: Trish Morey



And maybe, just maybe, something more…


‘WHO are you?’

The woman in the mousy-brown suit seemed to stiffen, her jaw open as if in shock as her eyes searched his face. She clung on to the folder in front of her as if it was body armour and, given the size of her, she could do with it. There was so little to her it looked as though the folder was the only thing anchoring her to the earth.

‘You’re not Sam,’ he accused.

Her mouth snapped shut and her chin kicked up. The action added only millimetres to her tiny frame but by the sudden spark in her eye he got the impression she imagined she was looking straight into his. Then her eyebrows arched and her lips curved into a smile.

Momentarily he relaxed. She wasn’t completely mousy, now that she was smiling. In fact, in a way, she was quite pretty—in a homely sort of way. Of course, the tortoiseshell glasses and shapeless brown suit didn’t do her any favours.

‘Mr DeLuca,’ she said, tilting her head to one side, her surprisingly husky voice edged with honey as she relaxed her grip on the folder enough to hold out a hand to him. ‘They told me you were a genius. Obviously they were right.’

The way her hazel eyes glinted told him she hadn’t just paid him a compliment.

He sucked in a breath, desperate to replace the lungful that had just been knocked out of him, as she kept right on smiling and holding her hand out in the air between them as if she hadn’t meant a thing with her last comment.

‘I’m Philly Summers, from Marketing. Pleased to meet you.’

He looked at her hand, hanging there, then crossed to the fake smile she was brandishing, and knew she was lying. She was no more pleased to meet him than he was to find Miss Brown Mouse lurking outside his office. What on earth was Sam Morgan thinking to send her? He gave her hand a brief shake, momentarily annoyed that someone so diminutive could have such a firm grip, before he swivelled around and stalked across the floor of his office.

‘Where’s Sam?’ he asked once he’d deposited himself back in his deep leather chair, elbows on arm rests, a Mont Blanc fountain pen spinning between his fingers.

She hesitated for a moment by the door before apparently assuming he’d invited her to follow him, taking a few tentative steps towards the desk.

‘Hopefully home by now. He’s got the flu. He just about collapsed at his desk half an hour ago. We sent him home in a taxi.’

‘And no one thought to inform me?’

Her head tilted to one side again and her eyes narrowed to slits, almost as though she thought he had a nerve asking the question.

‘I was led to believe you were informed.’

‘I wasn’t.’

She considered him for a second, looked for a moment as if she would argue, but then thought better of it.

‘In any event I assume it is more important that your presentation goes ahead as planned. I understand you have a very tight schedule and who knows when Sam will be back on deck? And we really need your go-ahead on this proposal today if we’re to meet our timelines for the new product launch.’

And her taking the initiative was meant to impress him?

Dammit but it did. Everything she said made sense. So why did he still feel so aggrieved?

Because he should have been told!

He grunted in response, waving to a seat. ‘So long as you have some idea of what the proposal is. I don’t want to waste my time here.’

The muscles tightened around her mouth as if she’d just had to button it, but she kept on standing. ‘I’ll do my best not to waste a moment. However, I’ll need to access your computer, if you don’t mind. I’ve put a PowerPoint presentation on the share drive we can go through. This hard copy…’ she indicated the file in her hands ‘…is for your records.’

He shrugged and gestured to the laptop on his desk. ‘Be my guest,’ he said, without moving an inch.

A blink was her only response. Good. Did she really expect him to make this easy for her after the lip she’d given him? If she wanted his computer, she could come and get it.

‘I’m all ears,’ he invited, a smile finally finding its way to his face. At last it looked as if he’d turned the tables on Miss Mouse. He wouldn’t be surprised if any moment now she scampered back to her hole in the wall.

He watched her swallow, following the movement in her throat to her chest, which rose on a deep breath, considerably further than he would have expected. But then, with her jacket buttoned up to her neckline, there was no way of saying what lay beneath the uninspiring cut of her suit.

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