‘He’ll be back in a minute and you haven’t done that report.’ Katie nudged her.
James wished he’d shut his office door. But he hardly ever did—able to call through to Bridget if he needed something. He was dreading the day she’d come to him and tell him she was pregnant and he had the suspicion it was going to be sooner rather than later—especially with this romantic cruise she was on with her husband. But he couldn’t even begin to worry about that—right now he had one hell of a replacement secretary to deal with.
He picked up the pile of newspapers that had accumulated the few days he’d been overseas. He quickly flicked through, having caught most of the important news online while travelling. But he stopped at the society page. There she was—his new secretary, looking particularly glamorous in black and white, a brilliant smile in place at the opening night of some new play. He picked up the paper for the day before and flicked through to the society page in that one—yes, there she was again, smiling straight into the camera, surrounded by several handsome men. He looked through more—the same. Another paper, another photo, another escort.
She sure had been busy. She hadn’t been here long and had been out every night. No wonder she could barely type a report. Her concentration would be shot if she’d been cutting up the dance floor till all hours every night. What a fool he was for feeling sorry for her. For thinking perhaps nerves had impacted on her performance. James loathed nothing more than being made a fool of.
He spread out the page of the last paper and stared narrow-eyed at the picture. Beautiful as she looked in it, he now knew it was nothing on the real thing.
There was absolutely no denying he was attracted to her. Extremely attracted. You couldn’t be male and straight and not be attracted to her. But James had spent plenty of time in and around beautiful women and had learned the lesson some time ago not to take any of them seriously. Social butterflies spent their time flitting—from one partner to the next, without pause. Liss was the most beautiful butterfly of them all. She had scores of suitors—shipping heirs, media magnates—the pictures ran in every rag and glossy gossipy mag there was. And undoubtedly she’d have the knack of playing the men off down pat too. For a woman as desirable as Liss there would be no fun in plain and simple attraction; she’d be the sort to play games and to fool around to keep life interesting.
James’s lips twisted. To get involved with her would be begging for trouble and he didn’t need that. Been there, done that, learned the lesson. Nowadays he liked his fun plain and simple and pretty much forgettable. Nothing long term, nothing serious, nothing complicated. Nothing to attract too much attention.
Elissa was all about attention. Clearly she couldn’t get enough of it.
His irritation level skyrocketed. He pushed away the newspaper and picked up another report she’d given him—it only took a quick flick to see the graphs were all hopelessly askew.
He craned his head so he could see part of her at the desk through the door. Even the way she sat was regal. Her head erect, as if there were some imaginary tiara on it as she frowned at the computer. The party-princess was playing at a real job; it seemed there was no real effort on her part. His frown grew to twice the size of hers. He’d been born into money too—not quite at the level as her family, for sure, but he could have chosen a more leisurely, decadent life had he wanted. But he hadn’t—quite the opposite in fact.
His family’s name and money had made him even more determined to succeed on his own merits. His grandfather and his father had worked hard to build their wealth. And James was the same. He certainly wouldn’t expect to have everything handed to him on a silver platter. He thrived on the satisfaction of working hard and getting the job done well. Princess out there had probably never savoured that sort of satisfaction—employing her looks, her fame and name to get what she wanted rather than doing an honest day’s work. No doubt she was used to an endless stream of silver platters delivered to her by fawning servants. Well, there wasn’t room on James’s boat for indolent passengers—everyone was expected to pull their weight, especially spoilt princesses.
He stood, grabbed the report and gritted his teeth. ‘I need you to redo these graphs as well.’ He walked through, tossed the pages onto her desk and watched for her reaction. Only this time there wasn’t a blush.
She visibly blanched. Shying away from more work? It irritated him more.
‘You need to do better than this, Elissa. Just because you’re a princess doesn’t mean you’re going to get any sort of special treatment.’