The Wedding(5)

By: Emma Darcy

Tessa checked her watch. She had been here fifteen minutes. It seemed ridiculous that he didn’t ask her to do something. Why had he demanded that she be in his office at ten-thirty if he didn’t want to put her to work? Did he think she would be incompetent? That she couldn’t possibly measure up to the perfect Rosemary?

Tessa’s professional pride stirred. She was as good a secretary as anybody, and could run rings around most. It was an insult to leave her sitting like this. An insult to Jerry, as well. She couldn’t let it go on. In fact, she wasn’t sure that the way he had studied her legs and breasts in that disassociated manner wasn’t an even worse insult. Blaize Callagan might be the big boss, but she was a fellow human being. And a damned good secretary!

Tessa worked some moisture into her mouth and mentally adopted a brisk professional manner. “Where do you want me to start, sir?” she asked.

“At the beginning,” he muttered, without looking up.

A blaze of resentment glittered in her tawny gold eyes. Pride puffed through her mind. He wasn’t going to patronise her as though she were some silly dumb cluck! She dragged in a deep breath and spoke with very cool precision.

“If you would be kind enough to spell out specifically what you want...”

Finally the dark eyes shot up and fastened on hers. “The usual,” he said, “although everything will be happening much faster, I expect, than what you are normally used to. Although the sessions will be taped for future reference, you will take a note of everything that is said, not only as a check to the tapes but also for my easy reference. After the meetings, you will be required to word-process any memos, directives or queries. You will liaise with your opposite number. You will make sure that everyone has what they need. Apart from that, every important thing is to be reduced to writing,” he said in rapid-fire delivery. “With exactness and precision. Can you manage that?”

“Yes, sir,” she fired back.

“And, Miss Stockton...”

“Yes, sir?”

“There is nearly a hundred million dollars of joint project money at stake.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Please... try not to stuff up, Miss Stockton.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Everything that you do will be important, Miss Stockton. Please appreciate that.”

“Yes, sir.”

His eyes returned to his documents.

Tessa felt she’d just been put through the wringer— plicked up, squeezed dry, then hung out on a waiting line again.

“And is there anything you want me to do immediately, sir?” she grated, determined to prove that she wasn’t the ninny he took her for.

He looked up, and this time he really looked at her, his eyes gathering a speculative interest as he examined hers. After several heart-stopping moments, he softly said, “I don’t think you’d be able to oblige.”

Tessa flushed at his mortifying judgement of her.

A gleam of some secret inner amusement danced into the dark eyes, and again his mouth moved into a sensual little quirk. “Perhaps some other time.”

Tessa didn’t know how to interpret that. But his private amusement was not at all mollifying to her injured pride.

“The Japanese delegation has been held up for an hour or so. That’s the reason for the delay,” he said more briskly. “In the meantime, arm yourself with your tools of trade, Miss Stockton. Rosemary left an attaché case full of documents and documentation on her desk if you would like to check through them. Anything you might think you need, you will find in her office. Through the door behind you,” he directed.

Tessa almost leapt from her chair, eager to do something useful.

“And, Miss Stockton...”

“Yes, sir?”

“In this business, it is impossible to anticipate everything. If there is anything we need at any time, you have my authority behind you all the way. Over everyone.”

“Thank you, sir,” Tessa said in some dismay. She found absolute power a scary concept. The responsibility of it was positively frightening. But she reassured herself with the thought that Blaize Callagan had accepted the responsibility of backing her. Although if she stuffed up...

“Some problem, Miss Stockton?” he inquired, as she stood there furiously thinking.

“No, sir.” She was not going to stuff up. “Thank you, sir,” she added for good measure, then turned briskly towards the door he had indicated.

However, as she walked across the room to his secretary’s adjoining office, she had the very strong sensation that Blaize Callagan’s penetrating dark eyes were studying her bottom and every movement it made. No doubt it amused him.