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November Harlequin Presents 2

By:Susan Stephens

The Boss’s Christmas Baby

By Trish Morey

















MAVERICK hated to be kept waiting. He prowled through the waiting room that separated his Gold Coast office from his PA’s, only to find her computer monitor ominously dark and the flicker of numbers on the digital clock the only flash of movement, highlighting in brilliant red the full extent of his PA’s transgressions. Nine-fifteen and still no sign of her!

Where was she? Still sulking after he’d refused her a week’s leave? Or just taking it easy because she thought he was out of the country and he’d never know? Whatever; if this was the way she got it into her head to act when he wasn’t around, then she was in for a big surprise. He didn’t pay her the kind of megabucks he did so that she could sleep in whenever she thought she’d get away with it. She was a good operator, but nobody was that good.

With a growl he wheeled around and stormed back into his office, slamming the door in irritation. The noise reverberated around the room, echoing his mood. Damn right, he thought, throwing himself into his chair and tugging on his tie, his fury mounting by the second.

Now that the European end of the deal was on hold indefinitely, it was more critical than ever that the Rogerson contract be shored up, and fast. It couldn’t wait. And neither could he!

So where the hell was that woman?

What a morning! Over the music playing on her iPod, Tegan Fielding let fly an uncharacteristic string of curses aimed squarely at the universe in general, and her sister in particular, as the lift doors slid open, releasing her to the plush executive floor that would be her workaday home for the next week.

Without a break in her tirade, a sweep of her eyes took in her dimly lit surroundings—the skilfully screened open-plan office just beyond the lifts, with the rest of the entire floor devoted entirely to the boss’s office suite beyond. Everything was just as Morgan had described. Without checking, she already knew that to the left behind the lift well would be the fully stocked kitchen and bar, and to the right the bathrooms. The public bathrooms, at least. There was another executive en suite, Morgan had told her, attached to Maverick’s private rooms beyond his office that he used when he worked late. But that was academic. She didn’t plan on stepping anywhere near that hallowed turf in the next few days if she could help it.

Still muttering, she slapped at a bank of light switches on the wall, slammed down her bag on the desk and pulled out a new packet of stockings. Morgan had warned her to be beware of the old lady with the broken gate and two over-enthusiastic bitser puppies who lived near the bus stop, but she hadn’t been expecting to run into them quite so soon or with such devastating consequences. By the time they’d lost interest and found a new victim to harass, Tegan’s stockings had been laddered beyond repair, and her navy skirt patterned in paw prints so badly that Mrs Garrett had insisted on sponging them off for her.

It would have been quicker to walk home and get changed. As it was, she’d seen two buses arrive and depart while the old woman had tried valiantly to work some kind of white-spirits magic on her skirt. An emergency stop at a pharmacist around the corner from the office had taken care of replacement stockings. And finally she was here.

So much for Morgan’s paranoia that she would be late. Tegan gave an ironic laugh. ‘A stickler for time,’ Morgan had called her boss, a total despot when it came to extracting his money’s worth from his employees. Well, Tegan had tried to get here on time and look what had happened. Besides, what did it matter anyway? He wasn’t even here.

She pulled the lace-topped stockings from their packet and let their sheer silkiness slip over her hands. She’d been unable to find the same brand as the sensible support-stockings filling an entire drawer of her twin’s walk-in wardrobe, and the only reason she’d agreed to pay the outrageous price they’d been asking for these was the knowledge that Morgan was paying all her expenses for the week and a sizeable bonus into the deal. Her sister’s stockings were nice enough, but these were gossamer thin and silky sheer. After three years working in far-flung refugee camps, and no immediate job prospects on her return, if a decent pay cheque was a rare temptation, then the feel of silky stockings against her skin was downright decadence.

She suppressed another stab of guilt at the expense. It was a total indulgence, but then, given the morning she’d had, she’d more than earned it.