A man came out of the office in front of her. He had blond hair and a mild manner. The secretary gave him a dazzling smile, and then he focussed his attention on her. She stared at the floor not wanting to gain any attention. He walked right past leaving her nerves on high alert. She hated male company and couldn’t wait to get out of the building.
Tess ran her hands through her hair one final time before the secretary finally showed her through to Mr. James’s office. As the door closed behind her, she saw that he was standing at the window looking down onto the city streets.
“Sit down, Miss Williams.” His voice was filled with authority. Without question she sat in the chair across from his desk. While she waited for him to turn around, uncomfortable silence filled the room. She didn’t know what to say, and she remained quiet.
Tess looked around his office noticing there was not a single personal picture or photograph in his office. All he possessed was one horrible, sterile piece of art.
It was obviously an unwanted gift, a gift he’d placed in his office, making the space feel more cold than warm.
“What can I do for you, Miss Williams?” He still stood by the window not even bothering to turn around and address her. No matter how rude he was being she had to plead her case.
“It’s about my father, Mr. James. He—”
“Ah, the man who has stolen from my company and my clients.” He turned to gaze at her finally. For a split second he stopped, only staring at her. “What could I possibly do for you?” His voice was harsh as he regarded her. His full glare focussed on her.
“I wanted to know if there is anything I could do that would stop you taking this elsewhere?” She looked down to her lap where her hands were clasped together. His stare made her feel foolish and small.
“You mean the police?”
Tess nodded her head, unable to find the words she needed to speak.
This was so hard. In her mind she had thought it would be simple to request some leniency. The man in front of her was every bit as domineering as her father had said. He looked too hard and cold to listen to her. She was a librarian, not a businesswoman.
Duncan James was extremely handsome as well. Tess couldn’t deny his appeal. His dark brown hair, which was lighter than her own raven colour, was gorgeous, and it made him appear darker. From what the magazines had said, he had Italian heritage running through his veins. His eyes were black as they stared at her. His body was hard and muscular. For a businessman he was well defined. She knew he must work out to look the way he did. She understood why he dominated the gossip magazines every week with more tales of his personal exploits and even worse, his callousness in the business world.
“How do you suggest I keep the law outside of your father’s theft and the manipulation of my clients? He not only stole a lot of money from my company, but he nearly damaged my reputation. So, Miss Williams, how could I possibly help your father?” The sarcasm was not lost on Tess. It was practically dripping from his tone. He folded his arms walking to sit on the end of his desk. His feet were close to hers. She felt hot and uncomfortable being so close to him.
“My father has been through a trying time—”
“Do you seriously believe that is a good enough excuse to steal other people’s hard-earned money?” He kept interrupting her. His tone never dropped back down from its hostility.
“How much has he actually stolen, Mr. James?”
He gave her an approximate sum that caused her eyes to open wide.
How could Erik steal that much money without getting caught ‘til now?