The Italian Tycoon's Mistress(8)

By: Cathy Williams

His face was unsmiling and as coldly handsome as she remembered. A face that would drive any portrait painter into the throes of excitement, with its perfect bone structure and harshly beautiful lines, but one that just filled her with dislike. She found his stunning eyes hard and forbidding and his emotional detachment radiated around him like a dangerous force field. It was difficult to maintain her self-composure when faced with this and when he nodded to the chair facing him, she sunk into it with relief.

‘You’re on time,’ he drawled, leaning back in the chair. ‘Amazing. I gather from your colleagues here that your timetables don’t often dovetail with everyone else’s.’

Amy ventured a polite smile. ‘It’s difficult when you’re working out in the field, Mr Losi. Sometimes, things have a tendency to overrun and, with the long drive out to Stratford, I can get behind schedule with meetings. I’ve brought the files you wanted.’ She reached down to her briefcase, snapped it open and extracted a clear window envelope bulging with various project notes.

Instead of reaching over for them, Rocco didn’t move a muscle.

‘Bad news for you, I’m afraid, Miss Hogan.’ He tapped softly on the arm of his chair with one finger and continued looking at her with those incredible, shuttered blue eyes. ‘Although I suspect you already know what’s coming if you have been to visit my father.’

‘I think it’s excellent news if you’re talking about the doctor’s suggestion that he go to Italy to recuperate.’ Keep it upbeat, she thought. Don’t let him register any trepidation because Rocco Losi would be onto it like a shark scenting blood. Of course, he could do as he liked and no doubt would, but she wouldn’t give up without a fight and she certainly wouldn’t abandon her dignity in the process. ‘You have no idea how hard he’s been working over the past couple of years. He’s due for a rest, even if it’s not exactly in circumstances he could have foreseen.’

‘There was no necessity for him to be working flat out,’ Rocco said, not bothering to pull any punches. ‘Not if he had had members of staff on whom he could rely.’

‘I’m not about to be drawn on criticising anyone in this company,’ Amy told him. ‘Perhaps we should get down to the business of going through my files?’ Belatedly, she wondered whether she should have been a little less terse. Rocco Losi would have spent most of his adult life in a position of rising power, being fawned upon by people in the expectation that they might get something out of him. Men like him would be used to displays of subservience and would be conditioned to expect it. Putting him in his place wasn’t going to get her far, but then there was just so much ingratiating she was prepared to do. Criticising people who had supported her in the past was out of the question.

‘Oh, I have already had a preliminary look at some of the figures,’ Rocco said lazily. He sat forward and placed both elbows on the desk. ‘The last little project you did was cheap at a little over fifty thousand pounds, compared to the rest of your schemes…’

‘But only a small percentage of the total earnings of Losi Construction,’ Amy pointed out, stilling the nervous pounding inside her. ‘It was always agreed…’

‘I am so glad you used the past tense. Let me put you in the picture, Miss Hogan. I will be here for the next six months. Even when my father has fully recovered, it’s been recommended that he does not return to work full time. He will, naturally, remain in overall charge, but in name only. I will ensure that the company is running the way I want it to be before I go, in the capable hands of whomever I judge to be up to the job.’

‘Six months?’ Amy said weakly.

‘At least.’

‘Don’t you have other things to do? What about your company in New York? Shouldn’t you be rushing back there?’

‘Unlike this organisation, I can easily maintain links with my business concerns in America. I have people in place who are geared to assume responsibility in my absence. And there are such things as airplanes that can deliver me to America within hours if I need to be there.’

‘How very efficient.’

Rocco’s dark brows met in a frown. ‘Efficiency is the basis of a successful operation. Which brings me neatly to you.’ He relaxed back in his chair and proceeded to look at her very carefully.

‘I am extremely efficient at what I do.’

‘That’s as may be, but your level of efficiency isn’t really the crux of the matter here, is it? You’re supremely efficient at what you do. It’s simply that what you do brings no money into the company.’

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