Charade of the Heart(9)

By: Cathy Williams


She turned to go and halted at the door when she heard the deep timbre of his voice behind her.

"Just so long as we understand each other," he said silkily. He had turned to face her, and Beth's mouth suddenly went dry. No wonder this man had such a high opinion of himself. He was clever, that much was apparent in his eyes, and he knew it. He was powerful, and he knew it. And he was sexy, and that he was certainly aware of.

But he wasn't perfect. If he were he would be able to see the stubborn hostility in her face.

"I think we do, Mr Adrino."

"Marcos. I told you when you first got this job that everyone in the company was on a first-name basis."

"So you did," Beth murmured, unable to resist a smile as she thought that they had done it. They had really managed to pull the wool over Marcos Adrino's sharp eyes. They had fooled him. He didn't have a clue that the woman standing in front of him had never been interviewed by him for any job.

"Care to tell me what that smile on your face is all about?" he drawled. "I can't imagine that the past hour has exactly filled you with a warm glow."

You'd be surprised, Beth wanted to retort, still highly amused at the thought that she had fooled the infallible Marcos Adrino.

Her smile widened. "Just looking forward to my day's work," she said blandly. "Job satisfaction is a wonderful thing."

"Isn't it? And by the way," he added, as she opened the door, "what have you done to your hair?"

"Oh, I had it cut," Beth said cautiously. Had her triumph been short-lived? "I fancied a change," she mumbled vaguely when he didn't say anything.

"You've succeeded," he said, sticking his hands into his pockets. "From where I'm standing, you've succeeded very well indeed."

Beth stepped out of the office and shut the door firmly behind her. His words were ominously perspicacious. She really would have to remember that she couldn't give in to the temptation to react in the way she customarily would have done. That she and Laura, identical twins though they were, were very different as two individuals.

She almost fell into her chair with the relief of no longer being in Marcos's presence.

It hadn't just been his relentless accusations, she thought suddenly, as she logged into the computer and ran her eyes briefly over the huge store of files, realising that she would have to work a lot of overtime to really understand Laura's job fully.

There was something alarming about him. Maybe it was just that she was not accustomed to being confronted by a man who acted as though the whole world was designed to fall in with his orders.

Her little job in Cambridge had certainly not prepared her for this particular breed of man. Her own boss had been quite mild-mannered. A sympathetic middle-aged man with three children, ail girls, who wore a look of perpetual harassment on his face. Whenever anyone joked to him about it, he would laugh and reply, what do you expect, living with four women?

Beth couldn't imagine that Marcos Adrino had ever been mild-mannered. He had probably been born arrogant. She tried to imagine him as a baby and found that she couldn't. The only image she could conjure up was that dark, devilish, ruthlessly handsome face.

She stuck a couple of horns and a tail on her mental image, chuckled and then settled into the laborious task of catching up with the outstanding workload of typing.

When Marcos next strode out of his office, he glanced across at her with surprise.

"Dieting?" he drawled, slinging on his coat and pausing to stand over her.

Immediately Beth felt her pulses begin to race.

"Pardon?"

"It's nearly two o'clock," he told her, and she returned his curious stare with surprise.

"Is it?" she asked, consulting her watch and feeling unnervingly gauche and idiotic. "Oh, yes, so it is. I must have become a bit involved."

"So I see. Keep it up and you won't feel the sting of my disapproval again/

"Yes, sir," she replied tartly, wanting to hit him, and his lips curved into a small smile.

"I won't be back until tomorrow afternoon. I have two meetings tomorrow at Harlow and Ridgewood's. Last-minute arrangements; they probably won't be in your diary. Finish compiling the research into Santo Domingo, will you? I want to get all that off the ground by the end of the month. Latest. I take it you won't object to doing a bit of overtime to get it all cleared?"

"Of course not." Had he really expected any other answer? The question had been phrased in such a way as to negate any other reply. Not that she had any objection to overtime anyway. For the salary that Laura was being paid, working long hours was more or less expected.

Not, she thought, that her sister had allowed that line of reasoning to enter her mind from what Marcos had told her. She would have to confront Laura with that.