To Sin with the Tycoon

By: Cathy Williams

CHAPTER ONE

ALICE MORGAN WAS growing more annoyed by the second. It was ten-thirty. She had now been sitting in this office for an hour and a half and no one could tell her whether she would be sitting there, tapping her foot and looking at her watch, for another hour and a half, two hours, three hours or for the rest of the day.

In fact, she seemed to have been forgotten. Mr Big played by his own rules, she had been told. He came and went as he pleased. He did as he wanted. He was unpredictable, a law unto himself. All this had been relayed to her by a simpering, pocket-sized blonde Barbie doll as she had been ushered into her office to find that her new boss was nowhere to be found.

‘Perhaps he has a diary?’ Alice had suggested. ‘Maybe he had a breakfast meeting and forgot that I would be coming at nine. If you could check, then at least I would know how long I can expect to be kept waiting.’

But, no. Mr Big didn’t run his life according to diaries. Apparently he didn’t need to because he was so clever that he could remember everything without the benefit of reminders. Besides, no one was allowed into his office when he was absent—although the Barbie doll had worked for him for four days a few months ago and knew for a fact that he didn’t use any diaries. Because he was brilliant and didn’t need them.

The Barbie doll had since peered into the office twice, smiled apologetically and repeated what she had previously said—as though lateness and discourtesy were winning selling points that the entire staff happily accepted and so, therefore, should she.

Mouth tight, Alice looked around her, from her smaller office through the dividing glass partition into Gabriel Cabrera’s much bigger, much more impressive one.

When she had been told where she would be temping, Alice had been thrilled. The offices were situated in the most stunning building in the city. The Shard was a testimony to architectural brilliance with magnificent views over London. People paid to go up it. The bars and restaurants there were booked up weeks in advance.

And now she would be working there. True, her contract was only for six weeks, but she had been told that there was a chance of being made permanent if she did well. He had a reputation for hiring and firing, the woman at the agency had added, but Alice was good at what she did. Better than good. By the time she’d arrived at the building at precisely eight-forty-five that morning, she had made up her mind that she would do her damnedest to secure a permanent position there.

Her last job had been pleasant and reasonably well paid, but the surroundings had been mediocre and the chances of advancement non-existent. This job, should she manage to get it, promised a career that might actually move in an upward direction.

Right now, she thought that she wouldn’t be going anywhere if her new boss didn’t show up, except back to her little shared house in Shepherd’s Bush with one wasted day behind her. She probably wouldn’t even be paid for her time because no one would sign off her work sheet if she didn’t actually do any work. She wondered whether his reputation as a hirer and firer wasn’t actually a case of him being left in the lurch every three weeks because his secretaries got fed up dealing with his so-called brilliance. Not so much a case of him firing his secretaries as his secretaries firing him.

She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirrored wall that occupied one section of her office and frowned at the image reflected back: her neat outfit and unremarkable looks did not seem to gel with the glossy, snappy image of the other employees she had seen as she had been channelled onto the directors’ floor. She could have landed on a film set. The guys all wore snappy, expensive suits and the women were largely blonde and achingly good-looking in a polished, well-groomed way. Young, thrusting, career graduates who all had the full package of looks, ambition and brains. Even the secretaries and clerks who kept the wheels of the machinery oiled and running were just as glamorous. These were people who dressed for their surroundings.

She, on the other hand...

Brown eyes, brown hair falling straight to her shoulders, and she was far too tall, even in her flat, black pumps. Something about her grey suit and white blouse screamed lack of flair, although when she had stuck it on that morning she had been quietly pleased at the professional image she projected. It had certainly made a change from the more casual gear she had become accustomed to wearing at her last job. Now, here, she just looked vaguely...drab.

For the first time she wondered whether the gleaming CV in her handbag and her confidence in her abilities were going to be enough. An eccentric and insane employer who surrounded himself with glamour models might just find her a little on the boring side.

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