His Secretary Mistress(9)

By: Chantelle Shaw

In the event it was the receptionist on the front desk who told him Jenna had asked for directions to the nearest park, and as he stepped out into the damp autumn air he was still arguing with himself over his reasons for seeking her out.

The park was a small oasis of tranquillity amidst the hubbub of the city, and as Jenna stared up through the trees she felt her tension ease. As first days went it had been a disaster, she thought dismally, although hopefully the quality of her work would meet Alex Morrell’s high standards and he wouldn’t dismiss her at the end of day one. She was still indignant that he hadn’t believed her reason for being late, and was half tempted to tell him to stick his job, but her hot temper had always been her Achilles’ heel, and at twenty-four it was time she learned to control it.

So much depended on her keeping this job; without its high salary she was in danger of losing the house, of having to uproot Maisie and move away from everything that was familiar to the little girl. At her interview Margaret had hinted that Pippa, the secretary on maternity leave, might possibly decide not to return to work at all, in which case the post of secretarial assistant would become permanent. Not that she could keep Maisie a secret for ever, Jenna fretted, but if she could prove to Alex that she had foolproof childcare arrangements then perhaps the fact that she had a daughter would no longer be an issue.

Did he dislike children? she wondered. Or was it simply that he had little sympathy for working mothers? Neither reason endeared him to her, so why had she been unable to dismiss his handsome face from her mind all morning? He was sex on legs, she acknowledged with a rueful smile, and it had taken sheer will-power to prevent her eyes from straying towards the dark tinted glass that separated her office from his.

‘So, you decided on lunch al fresco?’ A voice as cool and clear as a mountain stream trickled over her and she was unable to repress a shiver, felt goosebumps prickle her skin as she turned her head. ‘Do you mind if I join you?’

He had already sat down on the bench and her tension returned with a vengeance. She wished he would go, and at the same time wanted him to stay. She needed to look at him again, although one peep was enough to send her pulse racing, and with a determined effort she dragged her eyes away and stared at the ducks on the pond.

‘Help yourself,’ she answered, striving to sound cool and composed, but aware that her voice was starting to sound breathless.

‘I had planned on taking you to lunch, to give us a chance to get to know one another properly.’

Jenna swung round, her eyes colliding with his sapphire gaze, and she swallowed, her nerves jangling when she discovered how close he was. His hair was the colour of jet, cropped uncompromisingly short so that she noted the hard planes of his face, the classically sculpted cheekbones and square jaw. There were laughter lines around his eyes and she longed to see him smile, for his eyes to glint with warmth when he looked at her.

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t realise. Do you do that with all your new staff? Take them to lunch, I mean?’ she added, disconcerted by his intense appraisal.

‘No,’ he replied, and reached out to brush a stray lock of hair from her cheek.

The gesture was so intimate that she felt herself blush. He was too close for comfort. She was aware of the tantalising musk of his aftershave, the warmth of his breath on her skin.

‘We didn’t get off on the best of footings this morning,’ he continued quietly, and she knew he was referring to her lateness and the unbelievable reason for it. He still considered that she had lied, she realised; she opened her mouth to protest her innocence, looked into his eyes and lost the ability to think.

‘Would you like a sandwich?’ she offered, frantically searching for something to say to break the silence that thrummed with electricity.

‘What’s in them?’ he queried, glancing at the unappealing squares of white bread on her knee.


His expression was faintly disbelieving as he held up his hand. ‘I’ll pass, thanks. I haven’t eaten jam since I was a child.’

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