At the Greek Tycoon's Bidding(4)

By: Cathy Williams

‘No matter.’ He shrugged. ‘I couldn’t make it anyway.’ Not that Claudia had seen it in quite that light. In fact, his ears were still ringing from the sound of the telephone being banged down at the other end, and he could hardly blame her. He consoled himself with the absolute fact that the minute a woman started making demands on his time it was almost certainly the time to dispose of her. In this case, the woman in question had disposed of herself.

‘Was it important?’ Heather asked anxiously.

‘What’s important is lying on my desk, waiting to be read, so if you don’t mind…’ He half expected her to launch into another conversation, but to his relief she maintained an obedient silence, though he couldn’t stop his eyes from straying towards her every so often, distracting him from the task at hand.

By the time the food arrived—couriered over—Theo had abandoned all hope of finishing the report, at least until he had escorted her out of the building.

‘Why have you not been eating?’ he asked, watching as she plunged into her sandwich with the gusto of someone suddenly released from a starvation diet.

‘There’s no need for you to make polite conversation,’ Heather said, tucking into sandwich number two. ‘I know you have heaps of work to do. These sandwiches are fantastic, by the way.’

‘I’ll get back to work once you’ve gone.’

‘Oh, I feel fine now. I might as well finish what I came to do.’ She glanced across at him and then quickly reverted her attention back to the diminishing pile of sandwiches, just in case she found herself staring again.

‘And encourage another fainting fit? I don’t think that’s a good idea.’

‘You mean in case I cause more hassle?’

Theo didn’t immediately answer. He was mesmerised by the sight of a woman eating so much. Judging by the women he knew, eating was fast becoming a dying art form. They nibbled at salad leaves or else pushed food around their plates as if one calorie too many might lead to sudden obesity.

‘I’m hungry,’ Heather said defensively. ‘Normally I’m a very light eater, as a matter of fact. I should really be rake-thin. But I have a very stubborn metabolism. It refuses to do its job.’

‘What’s the name of this firm you work for? I’ll call them and let them know that you’re in no fit state to continue here tonight.’ He reached for the telephone and was halted by her sudden squeak of panic.

‘You can’t do that!’

‘Why not?’ Black eyes narrowed shrewdly on her face. ‘I take it you are legally registered with the company, and not involved in any moonlighting as a tax dodge…’

‘Of course I’m not moonlighting!’ Heather denied hotly.

‘Then what’s the problem?’

‘The problem is that I need to complete this job because I need my time sheet to be signed downstairs! I can’t afford to go home just because I felt a little sick!’ Awareness of her situation rushed through her and she slung her legs over the side of the sofa. All at once, released from the temporary daze of being in his presence and no longer feeling light-headed, she realised what an unappealing sight she must make. Hair everywhere, her robust frame encased in the least flattering garment known to mankind. She hardly presented the storybook image of a fragile, appealing damsel in distress. She ran her fingers self-consciously through her hair, feeling for the elastic band that had gone a bit askew and repositioning her ponytail back to where it should be, along with all the other rebellious curls that had managed to fall out.

‘Give me a minute,’ she said, sucking in a few deep lungfuls of air, ‘and I’ll be on my way.’ She stood up, and sat back down. She looked at him miserably. ‘Maybe I need a few minutes,’ she suggested. ‘I can wait outside. I don’t mind sitting on the ground—just till I gather myself. Honestly, I don’t know what the matter is…’

‘Are you pregnant?’ Theo asked abruptly.

Heather raised horrified eyes to him. ‘Pregnant? Of course I’m not pregnant! Why on earth would you think that? Oh…I know why. I’m young, I fainted, and I’m involved in manual work…therefore I must be a brainless bimbo who’s stupidly managed to get herself pregnant…’

‘That wasn’t my reason for suggesting it…’ Theo lied, discomfited by her accurate assessment of his thought processes.

‘Well, then…’ Another thought lodged in her head and she blushed painfully. ‘It’s because I’m fat, isn’t it?’