The Italian Tycoon's Mistress(4)

By: Cathy Williams

The softening in her voice when she mentioned his father’s name stirred something inside him and Rocco met her open smile with a gritted one of his own. Five feet four, if that, straight brown hair, wide-spaced brown eyes, sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of a short, straight nose.

What, he wondered, had possessed his father to employ someone who looked so young to handle sums of money that a good many would baulk at? To fling about at her own discretion? A community centre here, a refuge there, a park somewhere else…?

He hadn’t actually seen her CV, but now that he had laid eyes on her he decided that he’d better check her credentials.

‘Perhaps we could go somewhere private for a talk,’ Rocco said, moving towards her.

‘My office is just at the back.’ God, he was tall. Amy could feel herself craning up to look at him. Tall and so incredibly good-looking that she had to wrench her eyes away or risk staring shamelessly. He was olive-skinned, with black hair and eyes so piercingly blue that even when she had looked past him she could still feel them boring into her.

Richard hadn’t told her what he looked like. She wished she had asked, so that she wouldn’t now be standing here, gaping.

Fortunately, he had told her everything else about him, paying particular attention to his arrogance, not that she could have missed it. It was stamped all over him like a handprint.

She plastered her brightest smile on her face. ‘Would you like something to drink? Tea? Coffee? Actually, scrap the coffee. We ran out a couple of days ago and no one’s got around to replacing it. So that’s tea or water.’

‘I’m fine. I’m just here for a little…chat…and then I will be on my way.’

Amy shrugged and led the way to her office, which was just another room, smaller than the first but in a similarly worn state. However, it did contain a desk, behind which she moved to sit, and a couple of chairs, one of which she indicated to Rocco.

He seemed to dwarf the room. It was an illusion, of course, but it was still unsettling. Something about the unhurried way he looked around him before finally settling his attention on her rattled her. Surprising because, in the sort of work she did, she came into contact with men who were really a lot more unsettling than Rocco Losi.

‘What can I do for you?’ Amy asked, smilingly polite although the smile was in danger of wearing a bit thin.

‘I believe I asked to see you at my father’s offices yesterday?’

‘I know. Sorry about that but I was really very busy and I just couldn’t find the time to get away. How is your father doing? We were all really worried when he was taken ill with pneumonia. He told me that he was just a little run-down. It was a complete shock to learn that he’d been taken into hospital. I’ve tried to get in to see him every day, but he was still so weak that I don’t think my presence there did much good at all.’

‘Let us get one thing straight, Miss Hogan. I am here for absolutely the least amount of time possible. In the time that I am here, I expect cooperation from every member of my father’s staff. That includes yourself, however distant your outpost appears to be.’

Amy stopped smiling and met his stare with one of her own. ‘Please accept my apologies. Now, perhaps you would like to tell me what I can do for you.’ Richard had been vague but ominous on the matter of Rocco’s visit and she hadn’t pressed him, assuming that he just wanted a quick run-down of the projects they had recently worked on and were currently undertaking. She was becoming uneasily aware that her blithe optimism might have been a tad misplaced.

‘What you can do for me is to tell me what your credentials are.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Your credentials.’

‘Is that really necessary?’ she asked, flushing under the cold, unwavering stare. ‘Antonio has always trusted me…’

‘My father is not running this company at the moment. I am. As things stand, there is a chance he may not be sufficiently fit to return to work, in which case it is my duty to take the company in hand and get it running the way I see fit before I leave this country.’ Despite the whirring of a fan that was poised perilously on top of one of the gun-metal-grey filing cabinets, the room was like an oven and Rocco pushed up the sleeves of his shirt. How these people could work in here was beyond him. His first summer in New York, before he had begun his meteoric rise, had been spent in a box like this. One bedroom, a tiny bathroom, a kitchen and the heat pouring through inadequate windows like treacle. Ten years on, his memories of such discomfort were blessedly dim. Now, his apartment was plush, air-conditioned throughout to cope with the soaring temperatures in summer, and a testimony to what top designers could do when money was no object.

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