Lion of Caledonia(7)

By: Caro LaFever



The tawny brows rose. Then, he paced to his huge desk and slapped the nearest mound of papers. “Gather the work?” he said. “The work is going to be done here.”

He meant her to slave away in this cold, intimidating library, not in her snug, little suite. Inwardly, she groaned. Not only because the nap appeared to be receding into the distance, but she sensed this man intended to pace around her as she worked.

You can do this for a few days.

“All right.” She forced herself into the room, padding to the desk and looking down at the work. “I’ll go get my laptop and headset and start right in.”

“Headset?” His brows rose further.

“Did you handwrite all of it, or is there some audio to go through?” The mound of papers told her he’d done most of it longhand and the sheer breadth of the project made her suck in a breath.

“There seems to be some confusion.” His hand, a broad male paw, slapped the papers again. “I haven’t started.”

“What?” Lifting her head, she stared at him from across the desk. She was grateful for the expanse of it, because she was finally close enough to see his eyes clearly. A bolt of stunned awareness went through her, causing her knees to wobble and making her glad there was something to hold on to right in front of her.

Her hand grabbed the edge of the desk.

The center of his eye went from the black of his pupil into a dusky brown that matched his brows. What startled her was how the color turned into a rich gold at the edges, reminding her of her grandfather’s prized collection of antique English coins.

Coins she’d treasured throughout her childhood.

“I said I haven’t started telling the story yet.” The brown and gold snapped with impatience. “I’ve been ready to start dictating for the last half hour.”

“But…but…” She stepped back from her predicament. “I’m a transcriber.”

“Transcribers take dictation too, don’t they?” The impatience in his gaze also flowed from his voice.

“I don’t.” The words blurted from her mouth before she thought them through and remembered her goal.

A rumble of disgust came from deep in his throat. “Ye signed the contract yesterday. I don’t have time to find another person for this job.”

“But—”

“It’s pretty simple.” He yanked on the tall leather chair. “You’ll type into my computer.”

Jen ignored his imperious wave, a demand she come around the desk to comply. “I type into my laptop.”

“I’m not letting my story get into someone else’s computer.”

He talked about his story as if it were a real person or thing. Her previous transcribing had been mostly medical reports and a smattering of college lectures. None of the voices coming from the audio tapes had ever held the intensity this man’s voice did for his work.

“Well?” His ferocious frown turned into an annoyed lift of one tawny brow at her continued silence. “Ye reckon we can get started now?”

The ring, Jennet, the ring.

Her grandfather’s whispered voice in her memory made the choice for her. The only choice she could make.

She found herself obediently circling the massive desk and coming within touching distance of her troublesome employer. Thankfully, he stepped back from the chair so she could sit down and tap on the computer’s keys.

The man grunted in apparent appeasement and strode to the wall of African masks.

Instead of staring at him, she stared at the computer.

It was old. Plus, the word processing software he had loaded on the thing appeared to be a version she’d used in her university studies more than four years ago.

Taking a breath in, she let it out slowly.

She honestly didn’t know if she’d be able to do this. She wouldn’t be able to stop the tape and go through the words to make sure they were correct. She wouldn’t be able to go back through a particular section if she got confused. Keeping up with a dictating dictator, who already exhibited an impatient anger, might make her freeze in dismay or even worse, bring on one of her attacks.

“Are ye ready to begin?”

She had no choice.

“Yes.” Her voice quivered at the end before trailing off. The difference between his rich, rumbling growl and her timid, tiny answer made her flinch inside.

Where had her hard-won confidence gone?

From the corner of her eye, she saw him swing his body around in another one of his fluid, animalistic turns. Before she could suck in a breath, he began to pace back and forth from one window bay to another.

Her hands stilled on the keyboard, ready for…

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