The Italian Tycoon's Mistress(10)

By: Cathy Williams

She had never met a man quite like him. He was as unfeeling and unmoveable as a rock. It came as no great surprise, when she thought about it. After all, what kind of man could mercilessly cut off all ties with his one surviving parent, whatever the reasons?

She edged round the desk and extracted the complex layout for what she was working on.

‘This is one of the more run-down council estates in the city centre,’ she explained tersely, shoving up the sleeves of her cotton top and propping herself up on both hands. ‘There’s a high level of single-parent families living here and consequently a lot of disaffected teenagers with nothing to do. It’s been a hard slog but we’ve managed to obtain planning permission to build a youth centre right here…’ She pointed to a highlighted dot on the map with one finger and felt all the enthusiasm and energy flowing into her as she contemplated her newest venture.

The residents were all in favour of this project. The tired, despairing mothers saw it as a way of cutting down on the petty crime continually being committed by bored adolescents, and even the kids she had talked to were keen in their own noncommittal, semi-sneering way.

She pulled out more plans of what they had in mind to build. Dee was a qualified architect and had done detailed drawings of what they could achieve given the restrictions of space. She lost sight of the fact that Rocco was an arch enemy to every word she was saying until she had finally finished talking a long while later, at which point cold reality washed back over her and she straightened up.

‘This is nothing like flinging money at a charity and leaving them to get on with it,’ she said heatedly.

‘No. Flinging money at a charity takes an hour or so while this takes several valuable months of time and effort.’

Rocco pushed back his chair and turned to look at her, clasping his hands behind his head.

‘But I have to admit you are very…passionate about what you do…’

‘We all are.’ Had it been necessary to use that particular description for her? she wondered.

‘And when it comes to work, passion, in the right place, can be a very good thing. Where do the rest of those people working with you fit in?’

’ Those people?’

Rocco recalled the long-haired men and the cropped-haired women and raised his eyebrows to suggest what he thought of them.

Amy read the message and bristled. ‘Freddy’s a chartered surveyor, Tim and Andy handle all the dealings with the people who need organising to work on turning our projects into reality, Dee’s the architect and Marcy’s our administrator.’

‘And where do you fit in?’

‘I oversee everything,’ Amy said coldly, sensing implied criticism. ‘Make sure deadlines are kept, liaise with various councillors, meet with the residents to make sure that their suggestions are being taken on board.’ She edged back, watching as he silently tapped his fingers on the desk.

‘And this is the only thing you’re working on at the moment? Where are the costings?’ Amy stepped forward to rifle through the papers, glanced at her watch and caught her breath.

‘In there.’ She pointed vaguely at the bundle of papers. ‘They’re mostly estimates, but I’m quite familiar with all the suppliers we now use and we get pretty good deals from them.’

‘Run it by me.’

‘I can’t.’ Amy flushed and looked away, before circling round the desk to fetch her bag from the chair. Where had the time gone? She couldn’t have been talking for over two hours? It was now after five-thirty and of all the days to lose track of time, this had to be right up there as one of the worst.

‘You have already shown your lack of professionalism in failing to come and see me on the pretext that you were too busy and now it appears that you are happy to cut short what could be a very pivotal meeting for you and your staff because…what?’

‘I just have to go. I’m sorry.’ Amy slung her bag over her shoulder. ‘I didn’t realise how long I’d been here.’

‘Go where?’

‘I’m prepared to discuss whatever you want to discuss as far as work goes, Mr Losi, but I’m certainly not prepared to discuss my personal life with you. That’s none of your business.’ Those cool blue eyes were unnerving though, and Amy knew how things must look from his point of view. Here she was, ready to defend her position with all the ammunition at her disposal just so long as it didn’t clash with her personal life. She sighed and dropped her bag onto the chair.

‘I…I have a date, actually, and I can’t possibly cancel it because I’ve already cancelled the last three. Sam’s got tickets for us to go to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the theatre and I just don’t want to let him down. Again.’

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