The Italian Boss's Secret Child(5)

By: Trish Morey

She took a couple of steadying breaths before finally turning. With the opening slide on the screen that she hoped would pull attention from her sudden colour, she gave a weak smile. ‘Okay, all set?’ she asked before launching into her presentation.

‘What do you know about her? That Filly woman. Though I have to say she looks more like a mouse than any horse I’ve seen.’

Without looking up from her computer screen or mis-hitting a key on her one hundred words per minute typing speed, Enid responded drily, ‘And I should know?’

‘You know everything about everyone in this office, Enid, and you know it.’

She still didn’t look up, but he did notice the tiniest tweak at the corner of her line-rimmed lips.

‘Then it’s Philly, with a P-H, short for Philadelphia. Her parents had a travel urge at one time apparently, though never got farther than the maternity unit at Melbourne General.’


‘Lives with her mother. A widow. There was a brother, though he died in tragic circumstances, I believe.’

He raised his eyebrows. ‘Anything else?’

‘Twenty-seven years old, single—was about to be married a month or two ago but something happened. Could be a left at the altar story.’

Left at the altar? Yeah, that would do it. He’d got the distinct impression that despite her professional presentation she had a real thing against men.

‘By the way,’ she said, ‘now that you’ve finished early you might like to tackle your messages.’ She swivelled around on her chair to pick up a stack of papers she handed over to him. ‘Don’t worry about the top one; Sam left a brief message on my voicemail while I was out that he was unable to do the presentation. No doubt you got that message anyway.’

He looked briefly at the stack before pocketing them. So Philly had been right. Someone had tried to let him know. So now he couldn’t even hold that against her. He wasn’t entirely sure he liked that.

‘Snippy little thing,’ he said as he rested a hip on her desk, putting down his now tepid coffee and replacing it with a card from her in-tray, spinning it between his fingers. ‘Did a good job, though—really knows her stuff. Sam would have taken three times as long. But I don’t think she likes me.’

‘No one at Delucatek likes you. You’re the original boss from hell and you love it.’

‘But you like me, Enid.’

Enid’s fingers stopped dead on the keyboard, her index finger hovering pointedly over the “I”. She looked up at him over her reading glasses, her eyes narrowed to slits, and she let her head tip to the side in a bare nod. ‘I have a great deal of respect for you—yes, that’s true. In addition to which I have to admit you do wonderful things for my cash flow. But like you?’ The movement of her head now looked less of a nod and more of a shake.

He held up his hand before she could say any more. ‘Okay.’ He laughed, rich and loud. Of course she was kidding. She was crazy about him. ‘Why is it you’re the only person in this building who doesn’t take me seriously?’

‘Somebody has to do it,’ she replied, adding a wink for good measure before she turned back to her keyboard.

He stopped flipping the card in his hands long enough to read it.

‘Damn. Whoever decided on a masked fancy dress theme for this year’s Christmas party?’

‘You did,’ came the terse response. ‘You said it would help break down barriers between the staff—get them warmed up and mixing without copious quantities of alcohol. And I think it’s a great idea.’

‘What are you going as, Enid? Little Bo Peep?’

The look she gave him was pure ice and the lines around her pursed lips condensed to form canyons.

‘And there I was thinking Xena, Warrior Princess was more my style. Besides,’ she continued, ‘I’m not telling. You’ll have to work it out on the night. Masks only come off at midnight.’

He shrugged. It was a good idea to break the ice. Break down the barriers he could already see developing between his managers and their staff. Barriers were the last thing he wanted and it was clear, if Sam and the Marketing Department were any example, that those barriers were already being put up. He’d had no idea there was someone in that area with the skills Philly possessed—Sam had certainly never mentioned her.

And it would be interesting to see what his staff came up with for their disguises. Some people wouldn’t need much help of course. Already he could see Miss Brown Mouse—with the addition of a couple of little pink ears and a tail she’d be utterly convincing.

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