A Beauty Uncovered(5)

By: Andrea Laurence


 Dating the secretary was not only passé, it was a bad idea. Even fantasizing about it was certain to cause problems down the road. He’d be wise to keep his distance until Agnes returned.

 Brody turned back to the surveillance monitors and found Samantha sitting alone at the desk. She looked so lovely with a blond curl falling across her forehead. It made him want to go out there, introduce himself and brush the hair from her face. It was a stupidly unproductive thought. He needed to stay as far from Samantha as he could. That meant working hard to put a sturdy barrier between them.

 He pressed the button on the speakerphone. “Where is Agnes?” he asked.

 His tone was a little sharp, and he’d deliberately skipped the pleasantries. He could tell she took offense to it by the way she straightened up at the desk and frowned at the phone. She brushed her curls over her shoulder with a sharp flick of her wrist and leaned in. “Good afternoon, Mr. Eden,” she said in a pleasant voice, pointedly ignoring his question and emphasizing his lack of manners.

 Interesting. Molly, his foster mother, would have his hide for being this rude, but he depended on his unpleasant reputation. It kept people away. Hopefully it would keep Samantha away, too. “Where is Agnes?” he repeated.

 “She went downstairs to take a file to accounting and to pick up your lunch from the lobby. She left me here to watch the phones.”

 Lunch. He’d almost forgotten he’d ordered food from his favorite Thai restaurant. “When she comes back, tell her to bring my lunch in. I want to ask her something.”

 He watched her on the monitor as she considered her words for a moment before pressing the intercom button again. “You know, she’s going to be gone for a month and you’re pretty much stuck with me. Might as well start now. How about I bring in your lunch, introduce myself and you can ask me your question? I’m sure if I don’t know the answer, I can find it out.”

 She was certainly a feisty one. Her second day on the job and she was already trying to push her way into his office. He was going to put off speaking to her face-to-face for as long as possible. Maybe even entirely, if he could.

 “That won’t be necessary, Miss Davis. Just send in Agnes when she returns.”

 There was very nearly steam coming out of her ears as she leaned in with a chipper “Yes, sir.”

 Brody watched for a few minutes as she angrily straightened up all the items on her desk. When that was done, she looked up at the camera. The breath caught in his lungs for a moment as he was pinned by her dark glare. He knew she couldn’t see him, but it felt as though she really were looking right at him.

 Looking at him without fear or pity or revulsion. She was irritated, yes, but he’d take that in a heartbeat to have a beautiful woman look him in the eye and not flinch.

 Too bad it wouldn’t be the same once there were no cameras between them.





                       Two

 “I need this job. I need this job. I need this job.”

 Sam pressed into her temples and repeated the mantra to herself every time Mr. Eden buzzed her desk, but it didn’t do much to improve her mood. Frankly, it had given her a miserably pounding headache. It had only been three days without Agnes, but her godmother couldn’t come back soon enough. She had the touch for dealing with the beast, but Sam obviously did not.

 Agnes had warned her he was “prickly,” and there couldn’t be a more accurate description of him. He just rubbed her the wrong way. Okay, he was busy. He had an empire to run. But would it kill the guy to be friendly or at the very least, polite? To ask how her day was or to tell her good morning? But no, he only barked commands at her. “Get me this.” “Go do that.” “Pick up my lunch.”

 She’d already come to terms with the fact that she was never getting into his office. He had shut down any suggestion she made that involved that, so the mystery would have to remain buried. But he hadn’t come out of his office, either. He was there when she arrived and still working when she left. Why force her to sign a confidentiality agreement when the only gossip she could spread was that he was a jerk? From what she’d heard around the building from other ESS employees, that wasn’t exactly a secret.

 “I need this job.”

 Sam glanced at a few new emails and started typing up a letter. As the day wore on, it was getting harder to concentrate on her work. The headache was getting worse and she was starting to feel queasy. She hadn’t had a full-blown migraine in a while, but if stress set one off, that’s probably where she was headed. Her monitor was too bright. Every sound shot a sharp pain through her skull. She needed to go home, pop one of her migraine pills and take a nap to cut off the worst of it.

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