The Argentinian's Demand(3)

By: Cathy Williams

She cleared her desk with the feeling that she was looking at it for the last time. He would certainly ask her to leave immediately. For starters, she was privy to confidential information. Would she have to sign some sort of disclaimer? It sounded like the sort of thing that might happen in a B-rated movie, but who knew? When it came to business, Leandro was not a man to take any chances.

He glanced up briefly as she entered the office, took in the very obvious fact that she was dressed to go and pointedly looked at his watch.

‘It’s five-twenty-five...’ Emily forestalled any sarcasm ‘...and I’m afraid I have some...stuff to do this evening...’

She normally worked until after six—sometimes far later if there was a lot to get through.

‘I’ve completed all those emails you needed to be sent to the lawyers in Hong Kong and forwarded them to you for checking. You’ll find them in your inbox...’ She hovered, reached into her bag and withdrew her resignation letter. ‘There’s just one more thing...’

Leandro picked up the uneven tenor in her voice and stiffened. He looked at her narrowly and indicated the chair facing his desk. ‘Sit.’

‘I’d rather not. As I said, I’m in a bit of a rush...’

‘What’s going on?’

It was more of a demand than a question. Today was proving to be full of surprises—at least as far as his secretary was concerned. Kicking off with her late arrival at work, she had spent the day in a state of mild distraction, jumping when he happened to come up behind her so that he could review something on her computer, working with the ferocious absorption of someone intent on pretending that there was no one else in the office, and barely able to meet his eye when addressed.

All of those minute changes were so under the radar that he knew they would have passed unnoticed by anyone other than himself, but his antenna was sharp when it came to detecting nuances—especially nuances in a woman with whom he had spent the past eighteen months working in close quarters. She was his secretary, but he had, in actual fact, spent a hell of a lot more time with her than he ever had with any of the women he had taken to his bed.

So...what was going on?

Leandro was intrigued, and what startled him was the acknowledgement that he had actually been intrigued by her for a long time. Intrigued by her aloofness, her detachment, her almost pathological desire for privacy. Intrigued because she was the only woman he had ever met who barely reacted to his presence.

She did her work with the highest level of efficiency, and even when they had worked late on several occasions, and he had ordered in a takeout to keep them going, she had politely refused to be drawn into any form of personal conversation, preferring to keep everything on a professional footing. Chinese food, chopsticks and no downtime. Instead intelligent discussion of whatever deal they had been working on, with her notes spread next to her on the desk.

‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean, Emily, that you’ve been acting strangely all day...’

‘Have I? I’ve managed to complete all the tasks you’ve set me.’

She sat, simply because he kept staring at her and remaining on her feet felt oddly uncomfortable. She had planned on handing him her letter of resignation and leaving perhaps before he could even open it. It now looked as though that option would be removed from her.

Now that she was on her way out—now that she knew she would never clap eyes on him again—she was oddly aware of his potent masculinity. It was almost as though she had now given herself permission to look at him—really look at him—without the barrier of her inherent scorn for the type of man he was standing in the way, acting as blinkers.

Something dark and forbidden raced through her, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Those dark eyes were intense...

She looked down quickly, angry with herself and wondering where that sudden powerful awareness had come from. Surreptitiously she extracted the letter from the satchel and licked her lips.

‘You’re not a performing seal.’ Leandro relaxed back into the leather chair and looked at her. ‘There’s more to your job than simply completing the tasks set. Granted, you’re not the most open book in the world, but something’s definitely off with you today. You’ve been acting like a cat on a hot tin roof and I want to know why. It’s impossible to work if the atmosphere in the office isn’t right.’

He picked up his fountain pen—an expensive present from his mother, who firmly believed that letters were still written and technology and computers were simply a passing phase. He twirled it idly between his fingers and Emily watched, guiltily mesmerised by the movement of his long fingers.