Beyond All Reason(5)

By: Cathy Williams

Martin was far too decent a human being ever to play games like that. She frowned and felt that little niggling worry which she immediately swept to the back of her mind.

It was after four when Ross swept back into the office. He paused by her desk and she reeled off his telephone messages, then she said, glancing down at the typed letters, ‘By the way, you had a visitor. A woman by the name of Fiona St Paul. She said that you’d know who she was.’

She thought of the other woman, that chic elegance wrapped up in expensive designer clothes, every nail manicured, every strand of hair firmly in place, and she felt an uncustomary jolt of jealousy. How ridiculous, she thought, with an uneasy inward laugh.

‘What did she want?’ Ross asked, slinging his coat over the spare chair and shrugging out of his jacket.

‘She expected to find you here,’ Abigail said. ‘She was disappointed that you weren’t in.’

‘Get her on the phone for me, would you?’ he said by way of response. ‘She works at Sotheby’s.’ He strode through to his office and Abigail looked at his retreating back with dislike. He rarely involved her in anything to do with his women. She knew of their existence because of the theatre tickets she booked for two, the intimate meals she reserved in expensive restaurants, the flowers she occasionally ordered, but beyond that they mostly remained a mystery. Several she had met in passing, and from them she had deduced that he was attracted to physical perfection. Now she got Fiona on the phone with a certain amount of unwarranted resentment and, as they connected, she heard his voice down the line, warm, full of sexy charm.

He certainly can turn it on, she thought, replacing the receiver softly. Even when he stormed through the office, subjecting her to his evil moods, she could tell that underneath that terseness lay the sort of lazy charm that most women would find hard to resist.

Ellis Fitzmerton might have been a bitter pill, but he had served his purpose. He had immunised her against folly, and that was why she had excelled in this job. Ross Anderson could not distract her.

Janet arrived for her meeting five minutes early, and spent the time chatting to Abigail while nervously contemplating the door.

‘He won’t eat you,’ Abigail said, following the line of her gaze.

‘No,’ Janet agreed, ‘but he still scares me half to death most of the time.’ And what could Abigail say to that when she fully understood the line of thought?

‘At least,’ Ross said to her one hour later, after Janet had left his office and was safely on her way back to peace on the sixth floor, with her own easy-going marketing boss, ‘she came prepared this time.’ He was getting ready to go, slipping on his jacket, looking at her absentmindedly as he did so.

‘You terrify her,’ Abigail said bluntly, and he stopped what he was doing and looked at her, surprised.

‘Do I? Why?’

‘Why do you think? You’re unpredictable.’

His black brows met in a frown. ‘I’m not sure I like that description of myself.’ He sat on the edge of her desk and began rolling down his sleeves, buttoning them at the wrists. ‘I don’t terrify you,’ he observed.

‘I’m accustomed to you, perhaps.’

This was beginning to veer off their normal routine conversation and she felt suddenly awkward.

‘You’ve grown accustomed to my face?’ he murmured, sensing her mood with amusement. ‘Something like that?’

‘Something like that, I suppose,’ she replied, not looking at him, walking across to collect her coat from the stand in the corner of the room. She turned to find him staring at her, his dark eyes unreadable.

‘I suppose I’ve grown quite accustomed to yours as well,’ he murmured, making no move to leave so that she was forced to stand by him, hovering, her hands stuck into the pockets of her coat. ‘But that doesn’t mean that I know you any the better.’

She didn’t care for the way his eyes were boring into her and she certainly didn’t know what sort of response to make to that, so she remained where she was, silent.

When the silence eventually became unbearable, she said, in a burst of discomfort, ‘What play are you going to see tonight?’

‘Changing the subject?’ Ross asked, eyeing her. ‘Why are you so cagey about your personal life?’

‘I’m not cagey about my personal life,’ she said, horrified to find that her mouth was dry and her brain felt as though it was seizing up. She was used to dealing with him when he was in a filthy temper, so why was she feeling like this when he was being nice? Because, a little voice told her, nice is dangerous when it comes to a man like Ross Anderson.