He was going to make a good husband and father. In time.
Right now, however, he was being a right pain in the neck, his jealousy not having been helped by her temporary promotion. Already he was complaining about the extra hours she was working. Last night, when she’d arrived home at seven-thirty— the preparations for today’s board meeting had been endless—he’d demanded she hand in her notice.
‘After we’re married,’ she’d hedged.
‘You’re just saying that,’ he’d retorted. ‘I know you. You like working for that rich bastard. You fancy him. I know you do.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ she’d snapped, tired of their endless arguments about her job and her boss.
‘I’m not being ridiculous. I’m not blind, you know. He fancies you too. I saw the way he looked at you at the Christmas party.’
‘Oh, for pity’s sake!’ she’d exclaimed with considerable exasperation. ‘Now you’re being even more ridiculous! In all the months I’ve worked for Hugh Parkinson, not once has he ever done or said anything remotely out of line. He does not fancy me. Never has, never will.’
Which was probably what was adding to her irritation today, Kathryn accepted with a flash of feminine insight: Hugh’s lack of male interest in her.
No girl liked to be looked straight through all the time the way Hugh did her, as if she was part of the wallpaper.
Not that any of the offices in Parkinson Media had wallpaper, especially this one. It was wall-to-wall wood panelling in here, totally different from the sleekly modern open-planned offices which filled the floors before. The big boss’s suite of rooms was straight out of an élite English men’s club, all the furniture antiques, the carpets richly patterned, heavy silk curtains framing the windows.
Kathryn’s office-cum-reception area was ridiculously large, with a plush sitting space, along with its own powder room and cloakroom as well as a small kitchen where she could prepare coffee or tea. Her desk was a huge leather-topped slice of solid walnut with carved legs and more drawers than she could ever fill. The computer and printer occupied less than a quarter of the available work surface.
In truth, she preferred her other office and her other desk.
But she wasn’t about to complain, not with the additional money she would earn over the next four weeks. She was already planning what she could buy with it: some extra-nice sheets, for starters, Egyptian cotton. She might be frugal by nature but she liked nice things. Quality things, that lasted.
Take her clothes, for instance. She didn’t have a huge wardrobe but she bought good clothes. Not top designer-wear, she couldn’t afford that, but well-made suits and real silk shirts and camis in mix-and-match colours, along with genuine leather shoes and bags. None of that cheap vinyl stuff. Her jewellery was minimal but quality too, not too expensive since she preferred silver to gold.
She was admiring the delicately designed silver watch which she’d treated herself to at Christmas when the phone on her desk rang, the security man downstairs informing her that a delivery guy was on his way up with a food order.
‘Not the same guy as yesterday,’ he added. ‘I had to give this chap instructions on how to get to your office.’
‘Wow!’ the spotty-faced youth exclaimed when he finally arrived. ‘This is some place. The view must be fantastic!’
‘Quite,’ she said coolly. ‘Thank you, Ken.’
‘You know my name!’
She pointed to the name tag on his shirt pocket.
‘Oh, yeah,’ he said, flushing. ‘I forgot. It’s my first week. Not used to it.’
Mine too, she almost said to make him feel better. But didn’t. She’d found it best, over the years, not to be too familiar with delivery guys. The older, better-looking ones didn’t seem to need much encouragement.
After he left, Katherine carried the food into the kitchenette and arranged the oversized sandwich on a proper plate on a tray, whilst leaving the steaming coffee in its takeaway cup, Hugh liking his coffee very hot and very strong.
He rarely asked her to make him coffee, though she would have, quite happily. She wasn’t one of those silly PAs who thought making coffee beneath her. She’d always understood that her job as a personal assistant was to assist her boss in any way she could. She didn’t object to collecting his dry-cleaning, or buying presents for his mother. She didn’t even mind covering for him, occasionally.
But only up to a point and only if he deserved it.
Hugh deserved no such consideration, she decided as she carried the tray into his father’s super-huge office and placed it on the super-huge desk which sat in front of the super-huge window. The only son and heir to the Parkinson fortune was spoiled and lazy and never on time, she thought irritably as she glanced at her pretty watch and saw that twenty-five minutes had passed since she ordered his lunch.
So where was he?
She glared at the determinedly shut door on her far right, the one which looked like any of the wood-panelled doors which led into and out of the office. This one, however, concealed a secret alcove where there was a private lift to the penthouse above. You needed a special keycard to get into both, security a must for mega-rich men like Hugh and his father.
Kathryn almost gasped when that door was suddenly wrenched open and in strode her boss, looking breathtakingly handsome in a suit she’d never seen before, dark charcoal-grey in colour, with a single-breasted and superbly shaped jacket. The casually elegant style suited him. His dazzlingly white shirt highlighted his blue eyes, his olive skin and his dark brown hair, which looked extra-dark, since it was slightly damp.
And then there was his tie
Hugh had a thing about bright ties. This one was scarlet and striped with silver very eye-catching.
‘So what do you think?’ he shot at her as he walked behind the desk. ‘Will I do?’
Kathryn kept her expression cool. If he expected her to rave about his appearance, then he had another think coming. Some kind of compliment, however, seemed reasonable.
‘You look very smart,’ she said.
Hugh’s eyebrows shot upwards. ‘You mean, I have your seal of approval? For once,’ he added with a wry laugh as he removed his jacket then draped it over the back of the large leather desk chair.
His partial undressing perturbed her for some reason. Silly, really. She’d seen him without a jacket often enough. She’d also witnessed him in casual clothes, even shorts on the day when he’d rushed into the office after spending the morning sailing on the harbour.
She already knew he had a great body, his tall, broad-shouldered frame not needing to be bolstered by excessive padding.
Perhaps it was the whiff of something spicy and exotic which the removal of his jacket had sent her way. She’d never smelled this particular cologne on him before and it was very sexy.
‘So is everything ready for this afternoon?’ he asked her as he sat down, then swept one half of the club sandwich up to his mouth.
His eyes questioned her as he munched away with relish.
‘I I think so,’ she said, annoyed with herself for sounding less than confident. But it was the first time she’d had to organise a board meeting, although Elaine had left her excellent instructions on her computer in a special file.
Everything Kathryn might need to know during the next month was on that computer. Elaine had also left behind her personal mobile number, in case she was in doubt about anything. Kathryn had given in and called her yesterday, just to check on a few things.
‘Yes, everything’s ready to go,’ she reiterated more firmly. ‘The boardroom’s all set up for the meeting, with copies of all the monthly reports set out in front of each chair. Apparently, I don’t have to take down any minutes—it’s not a quarterly or annual general meeting. But Elaine suggested I still tape proceedings. She said I should also stay in the room in case any of the directors want anything, like coffee or tea. I will be putting jugs of iced water on the table shortly, along with the glasses. But Elaine said, if the meeting goes on too long, some of them will want something hot to drink. And possibly a biscuit or two. Of course, I won’t be sitting at the table itself. I’ll stay in the background.’