His Secretary Mistress(7)

By: Chantelle Shaw

‘There is just one thing,’ she murmured, and his brows rose enquiringly.


‘Well, when we were sheltering from the rain and I told you that I was late, you were late too.’

Alex sat back in his chair and surveyed her in silence for several minutes, until she was squirming and wishing she’d kept quiet. He was not used to his actions being questioned, but she had sounded so indignant that he had struggled to prevent his lips from twitching.

‘I’d been up since six and already put in a couple of hours’ work on the computer before I left home. Being the boss does give me certain privileges. You were just late.’

His tone was amiable, but she sensed that he did not expect to argue the point any further and she bit her lip in impotent annoyance. She had also been up at dawn, had made breakfast, packed her small daughter’s bag ready for day nursery, put the washing on, fed the cat, and panicked over the fact that there were only some very tired-looking sausages in the fridge for dinner that night. It was a miracle she had made it to the station on time, and the unjustness of her train being cancelled still rankled. As to the mugging, she had to admit that it did sound far-fetched, but she hated to be labelled a liar—especially, for some reason, by this man.

‘If you’re ready, we’ll start.’ Alex’s voice broke into her thoughts and she held her pencil poised, ignoring the sharp pain that shot down her arm as he started to dictate.

He was testing her, she decided, when at last he stopped talking and she was able to rest her aching wrist. It was impossible to believe that he covered such a huge volume of work ordinarily, or dictated so fast. Her pencil had literally flown over the paper, and she was thankful for her excellent shorthand skills. If his intention had been to prove that she was unsuitable for the job he would be disappointed, she thought smugly, and she smiled at him as professionally as she could across the desk.

‘Will that be all, Mr Morrell?’

‘For now. And make it Alex. I prefer informality in my office. I’d like those letters ready before lunch, they need to catch the afternoon post. Thank you.’

He barely lifted his gaze from his computer screen and, realising that she had been dismissed, Jenna returned to the central office, wondering what had happened to Margaret Rivers. She could do with an ally, she thought wryly as she smiled tentatively at Katrin and received a cool stare in response. She had taken an instant liking to Margaret, who had interviewed her with the explanation that the senior partner of the law firm, Alex Morrell, was busy in court.

‘The two previous secretaries the agency sent proved to be unsuitable,’ Margaret had told her, and Jenna had been unable to hide her surprise. Bale’s employment agency specialised in supplying first-class secretarial staff—she had been lucky that they had deemed her suitable for their books—and if the other secretaries had not been good enough for Morrell and Partners, there seemed little hope for her.

‘Can I ask what was wrong with them?’ she had queried tentatively, and Margaret had smiled warmly at her.

‘The first one made it plain that she was more interested in Alex Morrell than work,’ she said. ‘Really it was quite embarrassing; she was all over him—blatant as anything. It happens, of course. Alex is a very wealthy and successful man, but he likes to keep work and play separate, and Lydia made no secret that she wanted to play. The second girl was nice, and she had excellent qualifications, but she had childcare problems. Apparently her nanny had walked out and she forever had to dash off early or arrived late. Alex is a stickler for punctuality,’ Margaret had confided. ‘Poor Karen. I felt sorry for her, but once she even brought the baby into the office. Alex was not impressed.’

There had been an awkward pause; Margaret had obviously felt uncomfortable as she continued, ‘The position of secretarial assistant is quite demanding. My husband is unwell, and although I am Alex’s personal assistant, I can’t work late or travel to meetings like I used to. Alex needs someone who doesn’t have too many other commitments, like children.’ Margaret’s embarrassment had been tangible, and she had grimaced before adding, ‘Of course it’s not politically correct to mention it, but children and pregnancy can be rather awkward for a busy firm like Morrell and Partners, as Pippa’s unexpectedly early maternity leave proves. Alex was hugely sympathetic, and fortunately Pippa’s tiny baby is thriving, but it has all been quite difficult. Would you find that level of commitment a problem?’ Margaret had queried, her gaze straying to Jenna’s midriff, and Jenna had laughed and assured the older woman that she had no intention of having a baby.

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