Desperately, Ellie pushed past Mrs. Alvarez into the private office of her billionaire boss.
Diogo Serrador was having a week from hell.
After a year of nonstop work and millions of dollars spent, his hostile takeover bid for Trock Nickel Ltd. had just failed.
Because he'd lost his ally on their board of directors.
Because he'd missed an important appointment.
Because his junior secretary had written down the wrong time.
And it was only Ellie Jensen's most recent mistake. For the last few weeks, he'd seen her work performance fall to ridiculous levels. He'd seen her come in late. Leave early. Take long lunches and spend far too much time hiding out in the bathroom.
Cursing under his breath, Diogo got up from his desk and paced in front of the curved wall of windows that revealed the skyscrapers of southern Manhattan and Battery Park. For an instant, he leaned his forehead against the cool glass, staring across the New York Harbor to the distant Statue of Liberty silhouetted against the pale morning sky. In spite of Miss Jensen's inexperience, and in spite of the way he'd hired her—sight unseen, on his head lawyer's recommendation—she'd been promising enough for him to take to Rio for an important deal when Mrs. Alvarez had been ill. Ellie Jensen had been on her way to becoming a valuable asset in his office.
Too bad he'd made the mistake of seducing her.
Diogo ground his teeth. Biskreta, he never should have taken her to Rio. He should have fired her at Christmas, along with his treacherous ex-lawyer.
His body went tense just remembering the gleam in Timothy Wright's pale, feral face when Diogo found out what he'd done. “You should thank me, Mr. Serrador,” the man had said slyly. “I saved you millions of dollars.”
Thank him? The man deserved to burn in hell.
Diogo should have fired Ellie, too. Why trust a woman who was Wright's friend? But Diogo's conscience hadn't allowed him to fire her. Hadn't thought it fair.
And perhaps, he forced himself to admit, he'd liked having her in the office. Unlike many of the other secretaries, she'd always acted cheerful and kind. She hadn't stooped to gossip. She'd added brightness to his office.
Until he'd slept with her.
Diogo ground his teeth. He'd known the girl was fresh from the country, but since she was twenty-four years old, it had never occurred to him she might be a virgin. If he'd known, he never would have touched her. Virgins were off-limits. They took lovemaking far too seriously. They saw it as a relationship. Plus, they were usually boring in bed.
But Ellie Jensen had been so sweetly stunning. With those china-blue eyes, that angelic white-blonde hair, and the curvaceous body of a swimsuit model, he'd naturally assumed she had experience. In the heat and lust of Rio's Carnaval, he'd acted on impulse. Ah, and it had been such a night… His body got hard just thinking of it.
But no, he was done. There were many beautiful women in the world, and he had no interest in breaking little innocent hearts. Or encouraging naive little farm girls that they might be the ones to tame him.
He heard a scuffle outside his office door. Irritated, he turned and pressed the intercom button a second time. “Mrs. Alvarez? What is the delay?”
The door was abruptly flung open, banging loudly against the wall. He looked up, his jaw hard. “Finally. Please take a letter—”
But instead of his competent executive secretary, he saw the bane of his existence. The woman whose beauty and innocence had just cost him a billion-dollar deal.
“I need to talk to you!” she gasped, struggling with Mrs. Alvarez. “Please!”