The Argentinian's Demand

By: Cathy Williams


EMILY EDISON STARED resolutely ahead of her as the elevator purred upwards to the twentieth floor, disgorging employees along the way. It was the morning rush at Piccadilly Circus, in the towering glass building where she worked in the heart of London. She rarely experienced this because she rarely came to work later than eight in the morning, but today...

Slim fingers tightened on the neat leather satchel at her side. Inside the bag her letter of resignation felt like an incendiary device, waiting to explode the minute it was released from its fragile containment. When she tried to imagine how her boss would take this she felt slightly sick.

Leandro Perez was not going to be happy. When she had begun working for him over a year and a half ago he had already been through countless secretaries, the most successful of whom had barely lasted a fortnight. Change, in this instance, was not going to be as good as a rest...

‘They take one look at him,’ his long-suffering and fairly elderly PA had told her, two days after her arrival at the company, ‘and something unfortunate happens to their brains. But you, thank God, seem to be made of sterner stuff. When I told Leandro that I would stay until I found a successful replacement I had no idea I would still be here after six and a half months...’

Emily had taken to the job like a duck to water. Theoretically, at the age of twenty-seven, she was still young enough to be susceptible to having her brains scrambled by a man who could turn heads from several blocks away, but he did nothing for her. His outrageous good-looks left her cold. The deep, rich velvet of his voice with that ever so slight sexy Argentinian accent did not put her off her stride. When he strode round her desk to look over her shoulder at something on her computer her nervous system remained perfectly stable and functioning. She was, as had been predicted by his previous PA, made of far sterner stuff.

But right now, riding the elevator by herself, because the last employee had scuttled through the doors somewhere around floor ten, she felt queasy with nerves even though she asked the end of the day, what could he do? Throw her through the window? Condemn her to immediate exile somewhere on the other side of the world? Threaten to lock her up and throw away the key?

No. The most he could do would be to get very, very annoyed—and annoyed he most certainly would be...especially considering that only a fortnight ago he had given her a glowing appraisal and a correspondingly glowing pay rise, for which she had been immensely grateful.

She inhaled deeply as the lift doors opened and she emerged onto the opulent directors’ floor of the wildly successful electronics company her boss owned and ran with ruthless efficiency.

It was just one of his wildly successful companies. They ranged from publications to telecommunications and he had recently, for a little light relief, begun a programme of investment into boutique hotels in far-flung places. Such was the vastness of his wealth that he could weather any sluggish profits he made from that venture—although, if the first three hotels were anything to go by, he would yet again discover that he had the Midas touch.

She would miss all this, she thought, looking around at the busy department. Plants and artfully arranged smoked glass partitions maintained a certain amount of privacy for the various secretaries who helped keep the machinery ticking over. Several waved at her.

She would miss the occasional lunch with them in the office canteen. She would miss the stunning surroundings of a building which was a tourist attraction in its own right. She would miss the adrenaline-fuelled pace of her work, its diversity, and all her responsibilities—which had increased a hundredfold since she had started.

And would she miss Leandro?

For a few seconds she paused and frowned towards the thickly carpeted corridor that led to his massive office suite.

Her heart picked up pace. She might not have drooled over him, the way some of the other girls did, but she was not completely immune to his impact. She was in full possession of twenty-twenty vision and she would have had to be blind not to be aware of just how sinfully sexy the man was. The fact that he represented everything she despised didn’t detract from that unassailable truth.

And, yes, she confessed to herself, she would most certainly miss working with him. He was nothing if not a challenging employer—indeed, the most brilliant, energetic, vibrant and demanding man she had ever worked for.

Before she could get carried away on that tangent, she refocused her mind, pursed her lips and smoothed her skirt with shaky hands. As always, she was dressed like the ultimate professional. Charcoal-grey pencil skirt, sheer flesh-coloured tights, black court shoes, a crisp white blouse and the matching charcoal-grey jacket that completed the suit. All this despite the fact that it was June and the weather was heating up with every passing day. Her pale blonde hair was neatly coiled in a bun of sorts, out of harm’s way.