Her typing hadn’t had the overnight improvement she’d hoped for either. It wasn’t that the keyboard was different at all. But her fingers seemed to think it was in Swahili.
It was like Groundhog Day—the same nightmare repeated over and over. She didn’t look at James as he tossed the papers on her desk and kept walking right out of her office. She knew he was off to a meeting.
And she knew she was going to be sitting through her lunch break trying to fix whatever it was she’d done wrong now.
He clearly thought she was useless. And she couldn’t blame him.
She sat and slaved, tried not to get too despondent. Katie and a secretary from Accounts walked past and they saw her chained behind her desk, obviously flustered with paperwork all over the place. Liss felt uncomfortable heat rise in her cheeks at their smiles. She knew they were laughing at her expense—the princess attempting to hold down a real job and making a complete hash of it. Liss didn’t like failing. And she didn’t like others witnessing her failures. And here she was failing at this with everyone watching. And it was the last chance.
For some reason she just couldn’t quite grasp it—she’d think she had everything covered but there would always be something, somewhere, that slipped. It seemed the harder she tried, the worse she got.
It wasn’t supposed to happen that way. She thought about abandoning the whole thing altogether. Phoning Alex and begging for mercy—she’d live like a nun if he’d just let her go back home. But he wouldn’t let her. He didn’t want her there; none of them did. She had to prove herself first. So she needed to keep her eyes on the job. Not think about James in anything other than a professional way. He was the boss—capital B—and that was all.
It was the purest bad luck that he had to walk in just as she’d pushed back in her chair for a few minutes’
time out. She’d kicked off her sandals and was stretching her legs out in the air—circling her feet, wriggling her toes. The afternoon seemed long, long, long in front of her and she couldn’t wait to get home to her apartment, get changed and get out for a night on the town. There was a new bar in a hip part of the city and there was an invite-only opening party tonight. She wanted to dress up, wanted to dance and more than anything blow out the stale sit-at-a-desk-all-day stiffness and frustration.
Frozen, she watched as he strolled across the room, looking first at her ankles, slowly working his way up her legs, her body and finally into her face, which by now was on fire. She knew the blush must be a goodie —the warmth in her cheeks felt unbearable. Hell, she hadn’t blushed like this in years, always had a good grip on her emotions—yet this felt like the fiftieth time in two days. But the flame was purely from embarrassment and irritation at being caught slacking, not the way his attention had so carefully wandered up every inch of her legs, right?
Her discomfort increased when he didn’t stop at an appropriate distance from her desk, he came right up to the edge of it. Right up to her. Every cell was aware of his closeness and his scrutiny.
He didn’t bother to hide his cynicism. ‘Have you ever come across the concept of hard work?’ He put his hands on her desk, leaned over it so he was talking smack into her face. A slow, satirical smile pulled one half of his sensuous mouth up. He spoke again. ‘Are you like this in bed? Happy to sit back and let someone else do all the work?’
Shocked, she sat up. Stared into the gleaming depths of his brown eyes and read the challenge there.
He reached for her hand and studied her fingernails. ‘You wouldn’t be afraid to get a little dirty, would you, princess?’
She felt the sizzle from her hand to her heart, snatched her fingers from his. Swallowing, she tried to think of some sort of comeback. But all she could hear was the word bed. Bed? The atmosphere was charged and the red ‘fire’ button beckoned. Either of them could push it. The temptation was almost irresistible. She wondered exactly what it would take to make that flicker in his eyes explode into full-on flames. What she could say or do to galvanise him into action. She stared back and for a long moment paused on the brink of movement. Saw the almost imperceptible narrowing of his gaze as he too held back. This wasn’t wise.
Despite the desire rocketing though her, she had to maintain her priorities. She was not going to jeopardise her future by being one of his three-date wonders. Not going to destroy any of the credibility she was struggling so hard to earn by flirting with her boss.
Instead she mustered every ounce of dignity she could, forcing the flush from her cheeks. ‘I’ll bring the papers through in a minute. I just need to print and check them.’