The Italian Tycoon's Mistress(5)

By: Cathy Williams

‘What does that have to do with my credentials, Mr Losi?’ Amy asked coolly.

On the verge of snapping, Rocco leaned forward and subjected her to the full force of his overpowering personality. ‘To be blunt, Miss Hogan, I’ll tell you what I have found since coming here. I have found a company that is successful more through default than strategy. The construction business is booming and my father happens to have cornered the market simply because Losi Construction has been around for a very long time and has consequently benefited from its reputation. The directors seem content to sit around and accept this happy state of affairs without questioning the possibility that other, more aggressive firms might creep up to challenge their monopoly of the market. It doesn’t take a financial wizard to spot the flaws in this way of thinking. Added to this, I find substantial sums of money being flung in the direction of a kid so that she can play at being a charity worker.’

‘A kid? Playing at being a charity worker? Would you be talking about me, Mr Losi?’

‘Very perceptive.’ Rocco lounged back in his chair and looked at her with cool indifference. Her brain seemed sharp enough but she was still a kid of, what…nineteen? Twenty? No make-up whatsoever. He was accustomed to dealing with women in business and was similarly accustomed to the power suits and the face paint.

‘I happen to be twenty-six years old, not that it’s any of your business…’

‘Oh, but that’s where you are wrong. It is my business. At least at this point in time. I am now your boss and, as your boss, I would be very interested in knowing what experience you have that qualifies you to deal with the sums of money you have been dealing with. Who is your immediate boss?’

‘My immediate boss has always been your father!’

‘So you’re telling me that you have free rein to do whatever you like, build whatever bijou shelters for the homeless that you want and what…? Casually mention it to my father? Run it by him at the odd meeting when you can find the time?’

Amy felt a rush of angry blood to her head. This was beyond arrogance, but she was caught between a rock and a hard place. There was no way that she could throw him out of her office because he was, as he had made sure to point out, her boss for the time being and, more chillingly, might well be her boss for rather longer if Antonio somehow found himself having to take early retirement. Antonio was now in his seventies and the doctor had told her that the pneumonia might be far more debilitating at his age than it would have been had he been younger, especially when his angina was taken into consideration.

‘I resent your implication that this outfit lacks professionalism!’

‘Now why on earth would I be tempted to imply that?’ Rocco looked around him pointedly. At the grimy walls of the office, the tattered carpet, the cheap bookshelves groaning under the weight of law and land management books.

‘You, Mr Losi, are an extremely offensive person,’ Amy said through gritted teeth and was rewarded with a thunderous frown.

‘I will choose to ignore that observation.’

‘And, furthermore, the state of my office has nothing to do with the quality of my work! Or maybe things work differently in New York?’

Rocco could hardly believe his ears. Just who did this pip-squeak think she was? The brown almond-shaped eyes were glittering with anger and it took some effort to call upon his formidable self-control. That, in itself, was a novel experience.

‘I think we’re getting off the point here, Miss Hogan.’ His voice was cold and measured. ‘In order of priority, I want to see your credentials, look in detail at this project you are working on and have a run-down of the cost. Additionally, I want to have a report from you on my desk by tomorrow morning, covering all the money that has been spent over the past two years on non-profit-making schemes and the few you have done that have actually benefited the company.’

Amy gaped and then laughed out loud. ‘I’m afraid that just won’t be possible.’

‘Sorry. I don’t believe I just heard that.’

‘There’s no way I can do all that in time for tomorrow morning. Richard should have all that information anyway. Now, was there anything else?’ Okay, so she was reacting, allowing the man to get to her, but she couldn’t help herself. She stood up and stretched out her hand in dismissal. Rocco looked at the outstretched hand coolly and didn’t budge.

‘Sit back down, Miss Hogan. I’m not nearly through with you.’

‘I could have that information to you by the end of the week,’ she said, resuming her seat and looking with deep loathing at the man calmly sitting opposite her.

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