Stranded With The Boss(7)

By: Elizabeth Lane



 “Would you have accepted? You said you weren’t supposed to talk to me—a restriction that I find absolutely absurd. How are we supposed to settle matters if I can’t even find out what’s truly bothering you until it’s all dragged out in court? As it is, you have a captive audience here. You can say anything you like—swear at me, call me every vile name in the book if you want.”

 “Don’t tempt me. I don’t work for you anymore.”

 “That’s a shame, considering your great performance reviews. Somebody must’ve thought you were doing an excellent job.”

 “You read my file?”

 “Of course I did.”

 “Then you know that before I was fired for supposedly not being able to handle the work attached to my position, I applied for a desk job in the Seattle office. It would’ve been a step down, but with the babies coming, I couldn’t travel and I wanted to be closer to my parents in Bellingham. I filled out the papers but I didn’t even get an interview. The next thing I knew I’d been fired.”

 “Actually, I didn’t know that. None of that was in your file.” Dragan remembered noticing what had appeared to be missing information.

 “That doesn’t surprise me,” she said. “Maybe you should pay more attention to what’s going on in your company, Mr. Markovic. It’s not just about the bottom line. It’s about the people.”

 Her words burned like the jab of a hot poker. Stunned for an instant, he recovered his voice. “It’s Dragan. And I hope you’re prepared to explain what you just said.”

 She shrugged. “You’ll hear it all tomorrow—in court.”

 Dragan held his tongue, hoping she’d say more. But she’d lapsed into stubborn silence. The lady was tougher than he’d expected—and smart. Too smart to discuss the case with a man she saw as the enemy. He had to give her points for that.

 Not that he was about to give up. Whatever it took, he was going to crack Tessa Randall’s protective shell and discover the real story behind her lawsuit.

 But wanting to settle the lawsuit wasn’t all that was motivating him. Tessa had gotten to him in a way few women did. He wouldn’t be satisfied until he knew what made the sexy redhead tick.

 * * *

 Tessa gazed downward through the cockpit’s wrap-around window. She’d taken a fair number of flights between Seattle and Anchorage, but always by commercial jet and usually with her nose in her laptop. Only now, at a slower speed and much lower altitude, did she realize what heart-stopping views she’d missed.

 Glacier-carved peaks, dotted with jewel-like hanging lakes, rose out of pine-carpeted slopes. On the right, the ocean stretched to the horizon. The coast between was a maze of wooded islands and sun-sparkled inlets. “Magnificent,” Tessa murmured, forgetting she was wearing a mike.

 “Isn’t it?” Dragan’s deep, gravelly voice came through the headphones, startling her. “Amazing what nature can do, given a few million years.”

 “Seeing country like this makes me want to forget all the ugliness and pettiness in the world.” Tessa forced a chuckle. “Of course, that’s not possible these days, is it?”

 He banked the plane to give her a dizzying view of a waterfall. The wing tilted then leveled again. “How did you come to speak Japanese?” he asked.

 It seemed a safe enough question for her to answer. “I was an air force brat. Our family was stationed in Japan for a few years. We had Japanese babysitters and watched Japanese TV. Later on I went part-time to a Japanese school.”

 “We?”

 “My big brother and I. He’s married now, works for a bank in London. My dad and mother live in Bellingham.” Tessa knew he was trying to draw her out, probably hoping she’d slip and give him some detail he could use against her. She would have to weigh everything she told him. But talking about her family seemed a harmless enough way to pass the time.

 “I take it your parents are enjoying their granddaughters,” he said.

 “Oh, yes. My mother was going to watch the twins while I went to Anchorage, but she broke her foot. Now that the girls can walk, it takes a lot of chasing to keep up with them.” She glanced back over the seat to make sure her daughters were still sleeping.

 “What are their names?”

 “Madelyn and Melissa, but we call them Maddie and Missy.” Tessa loved talking about her twins. She was so proud of them.

 “They look exactly alike to me. How the devil do you tell them apart?”

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