At Her Boss's Command

A sample from the first chapter.

Emily’s heart skipped a beat in fright. She was supposed to be the only person there. Her co-workers seldom came to work on the weekends, and Arthur was out of town. His grand-daughter, Fiona, had fetched him to Edinburg to stay with her family for fear that the emotional strain would be too much for him, and Emily agreed with her.

So who was in Arthur’s office? A door separated their rooms for easier access, but both offices had their own entrances too. She could easily flee if the intruder was someone bent on harming her. But what should she do? Should she try to find out who it was or should she lock the trespasser inside and call for help? But what if it was someone with a legitimate reason to be there? The maintenance crew, for example.

The dose of common sense calmed Emily and she marched to the door between the offices to check out who it was. There she hesitated. She should take some precautions, just in case it wasn’t maintenance after all.

An umbrella would have made a nice weapon, but the heavy granite paperweight sitting on her desk was even better. She went to fetch it, and thus armed returned to the door. Unable to hear anything over the raging storm, she pressed her ear against the door. Feeling a bit silly, she was ready to retreat when she saw a shadow pass across the chink of light coming from underneath the door. Someone was definitely in there. Her heart beating frantically in fear and excitement, she took a better hold of her makeshift weapon and yanked the door open.

Arthur’s large desk was across the floor from her door and standing by it was a strange man. A flash of lightning cast him in sharp relief just as she walked in, making him seem ominous, and her heart jumped into her throat in fright. He wasn’t from maintenance.

“Hold, you fiend!” Emily had no idea where the words came from, but they had the desired effect. The intruder froze. His back was turned to her so she couldn’t see his face, but the backside was … fine.

Emily shook her head mentally. This was not the time to get distracted by long legs and shapely buttocks sheeted in distressed, low-riding jeans. Or strong shoulders clad in a white T-shirt, or dark brown hair that was slightly overgrown so that it curled a bit at the neck.

Emily cleared her throat that had suddenly gone dry. “Turn around, slowly,” she commanded in her most assertive voice.

“Why? Are you armed?” To Emily’s annoyance, the question was more amused than frightened, and asked with a nicely cultured rich tenor unlike what any criminal should have.

“Yes, I am.”

The man turned around slowly enough to suit Emily’s frightened state, but he clearly wasn’t at all shaken by her sudden burst into the room. He assessed her calmly, as if he was the one in charge, his gaze sweeping up and down her body at a proprietary pace. Annoyed by his boldness, she drew herself upright and tried to stare him down through her nose - a difficult task. He was a good deal taller than her for one, and she was also finding his slow study of her body flustering. He didn’t miss a curve.

Then his eyes alighted on the paperweight she was holding like a truncheon and an amused smile tugged one side of his mouth up. “That’s a paperweight.”

“So? It can still do some damage,” Emily said defiantly.

“Can it now?”

His amused drawl made Emily lose all common sense. “Yes. Like this.” And she threw the paperweight at him.

Emily had never been good at sports where one had to throw something – besides which the rectangular missile was the wrong shape and size for a good cricket bowl. But she had walked over halfway across the room towards the man so the distance was short, and her aim was surprisingly true. He hadn’t expected her to throw the paperweight either, and so didn’t dodge in time. The projectile hit him in the shoulder, a sharp corner first, and then dropped to the carpeted floor with a heavy thud.

“Bloody hell, woman, what are you about?” His amusement was gone, replaced by anger, but it didn’t lessen the impact his looks had on her. His face was manly with a strong jaw, a prominent nose, and nice mouth that made him look more impressive than classically handsome. Sharpened by anger like it now was, it was … magnificent. Emily had no other word for it. His blue eyes were blazing and his dark brown eyebrows were frowning. He practically radiated angry energy and her mouth went dry again. Perhaps she shouldn’t have provoked this particular beast? Intimidated by him, and shocked by what she had done, she was rendered speechless. She had never behaved so rashly or violently.

He straightened to his full height from his earlier lazy pose. He was at least six feet tall, but seemed taller to Emily who wanted nothing more than to sink through the floor and disappear. “Answer me, woman. Who are you and why are you here? Did my brother send you as a pick-me-up?”

The turnabout threw Emily. She should be the one asking questions here. “What? Who? No, I’m Emily Parr, Arthur Douglas’ personal assistant.”

He snorted derisively and checked her out again, this time with more contempt than admiration. “You are no one’s assistant. What are you, twenty? And with that body you’d be such a cliché. If you are my brother’s notion of a present, just say so and don’t tell me any lies.”

At first Emily couldn’t understand what he meant. “You think I’m a call girl?” She was so stunned she could only stare at him. Then her temper flared. “How dare you? I am not the one trespassing. You are. So unless you state your name and your business here, I’m calling security.” She straightened to her full – albeit not very impressive – height, and faced him squarely, her frightened stupor wiped away with indignant anger. “And I happen to be twenty-seven.”

There.

He lifted a brow, disbelief evident on his face. “Right,” he drawled. “In that case, I’m Conor Peters. The new owner of this company.”

Thunder rolled, creating a timely soundtrack to his announcement. All the lights flickered once before dying completely, plunging the office into complete darkness.

“Oh, bugger.”

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