His Secretary Mistress(8)

By: Chantelle Shaw

She had neatly sidestepped the issue of any existing children, but all the way home she had worried about Maisie. She was committed to the hilt, she had brooded. Her daughter would be four in a couple of months; old enough to settle happily at the day nursery, the supervisor had assured her. But in Jenna’s eyes Maisie was just a baby, and the thought of leaving her all day tore at her heart. She was lucky that she could rely on her wonderful neighbours, who had promised to care for Maisie whenever necessary. Nora and Charlie adored Maisie, and had adopted her as their surrogate grandchild, filling the void left by their own childlessness. Without them she could not have even contemplated the job with Morrell and Partners, Jenna had conceded. But it did little to assuage the guilt that she was somehow abandoning her daughter.

She was here now, Jenna thought as she switched on her computer and began to transcribe the morning’s work. She had entered the lion’s den and made such a bad first impression she would almost certainly be deemed as unsuitable as her predecessors.

For Maisie’s sake she needed this job. The salary offered was better than any other job she had seen advertised, and if Alex Morrell had an aversion to working mothers then keeping quiet about her little daughter was a necessity—at least until she had proved her worth.


IT WAS one o’clock before Jenna looked up from her computer screen, her aching shoulder vying for attention with her rumbling stomach. She had never worked so hard in her life, had dealt with numerous phone calls in between typing, and felt a certain satisfaction that she had finished all that Alex had requested on time. Of the man himself she had seen no sign, her conversations with him brief and to the point as she put through calls or relayed messages.

Now, as she stretched and glanced around the large open-plan office, she felt a pang of longing for the homely office of Philips and Co, the small firm of solicitors where she had previously worked. Gone were the days of a mid-morning cup of tea and a cake, lunch with her friend Claire, and the chance to pop into the supermarket or windowshop. The Morrell and Partners offices were in the heart of the city and no way did she have the clothes or the money to have lunch in one of the exclusive wine bars. It was lucky she had brought her lunch with her, she thought; she was so hungry that even the limp sandwich in the bottom of her bag would be welcome.

At the far end of the room was a door leading to the office of the other senior partner, Charles Metcalf, and Jenna turned away from the view of London to speak to Charles’s secretary—Katrin Jefferstone. ‘Do you think it’s okay if I go to lunch?’ she queried. ‘Alex is on the phone and asked not to be disturbed.’

‘Go when you want,’ Katrin answered in a bored tone, her gaze flicking over Jenna’s cheap suit with scathing dismissal. ‘I’ll let Alex know.’

With a thankful sigh Jenna made her escape, unaware that Alex had been watching her for much of the morning through the tinted glass that separated the offices. Minutes later he cut his call and strolled into the central office.

‘Where’s Jenna?’

‘She said something about going to lunch. I did suggest that she check with you first, but…’ Katrin tailed off and shrugged her shoulders in a gesture of resignation. ‘Oh, dear, Alex. Not another useless temp?’

‘We’ll see,’ Alex murmured in a non-committal voice as he glanced through the pile of correspondence Jenna had left for him to sign.

There was no problem with her diligence, he mused. His eyes had strayed with irritating monotony to the figure working in the outer office, but she hadn’t glanced up from her work, and his earlier reservations were subsiding. The problem was him, he acknowledged grimly. It had taken sheer determination to stop himself from strolling out to talk to her, and he had invented several reasons for doing just that, discarding them with derision—he would appear too obvious or, worse, desperate.

She wasn’t even his type. His usual girlfriends were tall and elegant, and, having been blessed with wealth, looks and an innate charm, he could choose from the cream of London’s socialites. So why had he spent the morning planning on taking his temporary secretary to lunch? Even worse, having missed his chance, how was he going to glean from the frighteningly efficient Katrin where Jenna had gone?

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