The Argentinian's Demand(2)

By: Cathy Williams

She strode confidently towards Leandro’s office, pausing en route to dump her satchel and her briefcase on her desk, which was in her own private outer office, before knocking on the interconnecting door.

Behind the door, Leandro glanced up from his computer and then pushed himself away from the desk. This was a first. His secretary was late, and he was disconcerted to find that he had wasted far too much time wondering what was keeping her. The fact of the matter was it wasn’t even nine yet. Her working day was not due to begin for...another ten minutes.

‘You’re late,’ was the first thing he said as soon as she had entered his office.

On cue, his midnight-black eyes swept over her, taking in the prim suit, the even primmer blouse, the severely restrained blonde hair. She was as cool as an ice maiden. Very little ruffled her feathers, and when she looked at him she did so without the slightest flicker of interest. There were times, in fact, when he almost suspected that she might not even like him very much—although he invariably put that down to the workings of his imagination.

Women liked him. That, he conceded without a trace of vanity, was a given. He assumed that it was due to a combination of the way he looked and the reserves he had in his bank account. Money and a halfway decent appearance were almost always a guarantee of lively interest from the opposite sex.

‘Technically,’ Emily told him calmly, ‘I’m not even due in for another eight minutes.’

She looked at her boss, seeing him in a different light now that she knew she would soon be on the way out. She would hand him her letter of resignation just before she left for the day, and thus spare herself the full force of his anger.

He really was, she thought with a detached eye, a thing of great beauty. Black hair was swept back from a face of chiselled perfection. He had lashes most women would have killed for. And there was a lazy, shrewd, perceptive depth to his dark eyes that could, she knew, be at once disturbing and exciting. There had been instances when she had caught him looking at her with a mixture of mild curiosity and lazy masculine appreciation, and for all her toughened resistance she had been able to see just what it was about him that had women drooling.

He was tall—at least four inches taller than her, and she wasn’t petite at five foot eleven—and even in a suit, it required very little imagination to guess at the muscular physique underneath.

Oh, yes, he had the full package—and it drove women nuts. She knew because she had full access to his private life. She chose gifts for his women—five and counting over the past year and a half. She ordered elaborate bouquets of flowers when, sadly, their time was up and he was ready to move on to a new model. She fielded his women’s calls and, on one memorable occasion, had had to handle a personal appearance at the company.

He invariably dated obviously sexy women. Curvaceous, dark-haired beauties with big breasts and come-hither eyes. The sort of women who always commanded far more male interest than any skinny supermodel ever could.

Involvement in his personal life was not something she was going to miss, and it reminded her of why, despite the stunning good looks, the agile brain, the sharp acumen, and those flashes of wit that could bring a grin to the most poker-faced of spinster aunts, she still didn’t like the man.

Leandro frowned but decided to let it go, even though her cool response had carried just a hint of rebellion behind it.

‘And might I expect this to become a habit?’ he enquired with raised eyebrows. He pushed himself away from his desk and relaxed back in his chair with his hands folded behind his head. ‘If it does, then some advance warning would be appreciated. Although...’ he allowed a few seconds of silence ‘...considering the amount you’re paid, you might find my tolerance of your clock-watching a little limited.’

‘I won’t be clock-watching. I never do. Shall I bring you a refill for your coffee? And if you let me know what you want done about the due diligence on the Reynolds deal I can get started...’

* * *

For the rest of the day, however, Emily did watch the clock—something she never had in the past—and with each passing minute her nerves became a little more stretched.

Was she doing the right thing? It was a big step. Handing in her notice would signal an end to her substantial salary, but what choice did she have?

At a little before five-thirty, with her resignation letter burning a hole in her bag, she debated her options. Of course she had options. Who didn’t? But when you got right down to it all her options aside from the one she was going to take now led to the same dead end.