At the Greek Tycoon's Bidding(6)

By: Cathy Williams


‘Because my “perfectly viable daytime job” just about manages to pay the rent on my room and the bills and I need to save some money up so that I can afford to carry on with my studies.’ Well, he might not have known her from Adam before, but he certainly appeared confounded by her revelation now—the revelation that she actually had a brain. ‘You see,’ she continued, enjoying his undivided attention while she had it, ‘I left school quite young. At sixteen, as a matter of fact. I don’t know why, but all my friends were doing that—leaving to get jobs. Not that there were a whole heap of jobs for school-leavers in the Yorkshire village I came from. But, anyway, it seemed a good idea at the time, and earning money was great. It helped out with Mum, and Claire couldn’t help out there. She wanted to head to London and get into acting…’

‘Claire…?’

‘My sister. The skinny, beautiful one I mentioned to you?’ Heather’s eyes misted over with pride. ‘Long blonde hair…big green eyes…She needed all the money Mum could spare so that she could get started in her career…’

This woman, Theo thought, was an open book. Had no one ever told her that the allure of the female sex lay in the ability to be mysterious? To stimulate the chase with teasing pieces of information dropped here and there? Her frankness was beyond belief. Now she was telling him all about her sister and the fabulous career that had taken her across the Atlantic, where she was now modelling and already getting bit parts in daytime soaps.

Theo held up his hand to put a stop to the deluge of personal chatter.

He hardened himself against the immediate dismay that brought a flush of pink colour to her cheeks.

‘You seem to be fully recovered,’ he informed her. ‘I’m very sorry that you no longer have your job with the cleaning firm, but it’s probably for the best if you’re physically not up to it…’ He stood up, decisively bringing her presence in his office to an end, and waited until she had followed suit. Her hair was still continuing to rebel against the clips and elastic band, and now she was standing up he could see that she was shorter than he had thought—at best five foot four. She smoothed down her unflattering overall and he resisted the urge to give her a piece of good advice. Namely that she would probably be able to get a decent well-paid job if she paid a bit more attention to how she looked. Employers tended to look at the general appearance of their employees and were often influenced by it, unfair though it was.

‘Maybe you’re right. I guess I shall just have to go and work for Tom. He won’t mind if I oversleep now and again. He likes me, and he’ll pay me just so long as I give him what he wants…’

Theo paused in mid-stride, holding the door open while Heather walked past him, oblivious to the horror on his face. Ever the optimist, she was already working out the pros of the job she had previously dismissed out of hand. For starters, it was close, and would involve no public transport travel—which was always a concern to her, bearing in mind what you read in the newspapers. Also, Tom would be much more lenient than the cleaning company if she accidentally skipped an evening’s work. And maybe, just maybe, she could drop the name of the pub into this conversation and casually mention that Theo might like to come along and patronise it some time.

She opened her mouth to voice that tantalising suggestion, only to discover that she had been walking towards the elevator on her own. He was still standing by his door and staring at her as though she had mutated into another form of life.

‘Oh!’ Heather blinked, disappointed that he wasn’t at least walking her to the lift, then she chastised herself for being silly. Prior to this evening the man hadn’t even known of her existence, even though he must have at least glimpsed her off and on over the previous months! He had been good enough to look after her in his office, interrupting his own busy work schedule, which he had not been obliged to do. Crazy to think that he would accompany her on her journey down! She gave him a little wave. ‘Thank you for being so kind and looking after me,’ she said, raising her voice to cover the yawning distance between them. ‘I’ll just be off!’

Theo had no idea how he had managed to become unwittingly embroiled in the concerns of a perfect stranger, but, having been instrumental in getting her the sack, he felt morally obliged to question her decision about taking on a job that sounded very insalubrious indeed. Who was this Tom character? he wondered. Probably some sad old man who thought he could pay for the services of a naïve young girl in desperate need of cash. And naïve she most certainly was. Theo couldn’t remember a time when he had been confronted by someone so green around the ears.