Spanish Groom(2)

By: Lynne Graham

'She has access.'

*I don't really think she's bright enough to use that kind of information,' Bruce breathed tautly.

Cesar gave him a look of grim amusement. 'Got you fooled as well, has she?'

'Fooled?' Brace's brow furrowed.

'Now I know why she always looks half asleep—too many late nights.'

In desperation, Bruce shot his last bolt in Dizzy's defence. 'I guess Mr. Dysart will be upset not to find her here on his next visit.'

'Jasper's not well. It's unlikely that he'll be in London in the near future.'

Tm sorry to hear that.' Bruce studied his employer's coolly uninformative face warily. Well, that was that, he acknowledged. He couldn't say he was surprised either. Cesar was not a soft touch. And proof of such foolish extravagance had merely increased his contempt. 'I'll pass the information concerning Dixie on to Personnel.'

'No. I'll deal with this personally,' Cesar contradicted without warning.

Bruce wasn't quite fast enough to hide his dismay.

'I'll see Miss Robinson at four,' Cesar completed. 'She'll be very upset, Cesar.'

'I think I can handle it,' Cesar drawled, in the sort of tone that made the younger man flush and go into retreat.

Alone again, Cesar studied that list of creditors, a smouldering look awakening in his narrowed gaze. Jasper was very fond of little Dixie Robinson. In fact, superficially Dixie was exactly the kind of young woman Jasper longed to have Cesar produce as the future Mrs. Valverde, the sort of girl who didn't intimidate an innocent old bachelor totally out of step with a world approaching the Millenium.

So there it was, out in the open. The admission that he had disappointed his godfather, Cesar conceded with exasperated reluctance. Jasper's deepest and most naive hope had always been that Cesar would marry, settle down and have a family. And live happily ever after, of course, Cesar affixed, scornfully recalling his late parents. His volatile Italian mother and equally volatile Spanish father had between them stacked up half a dozen failed marriages before dying young and anything but happy.

Wincing at the very idea of marital togetherness with any woman, but with his conscience still causing him rare discomfiture, Cesar brooded on the problem of Jasper's disappointment. Experience had taught Cesar that there was no such thing as a problem without a solution. When shorn of the inhibiting factors of emotion and morality, the impossible could almost always become the possible...

No doubt Jasper fondly imagined that his veiled hints about what a wonderful wife Dixie Robinson would make some fortunate male had been too subtle to be recognised for what they were. In point of fact, Jasper had the subtlety of a sledgehammer, and when Cesar had first picked up on his godfather's pointed comments on the subject of his protegee he had been anything but amused.

But now Cesar grimly acknowledged that were he to announce that he had got engaged to Dixie Robinson, Jasper would be overjoyed. Cesar visualised Dixie with something less than joy, but Jasper thought the sun rose and set on her. And, as pleasing Jasper was Cesar's only goal, there would be little point in persuading any other woman into playing his temporary fiancee. What Jasper wanted, Cesar decided there and then, Jasper deserved to receive.

As he pictured how he might sensibly stress the need for a lengthy engagement between two such disparate personalities as himself and the office klutz, Cesar began warming to the exercise. It would make Jasper happy. And Jasper, who could spend hours just choosing a single book, would scarcely expect his godson to leap straight from an engagement into matrimony.

And Dixie Robinson? Dixie was between a rock and a hard place. She would do as she was told. Around him, she was quiet and cowed, which was just as well because Cesar was convinced he would strangle her if she behaved any other way. He would slim her down, smarten her up, do whatever it took to ensure that the fake engagement appeared credible. He would be nothing less than thorough...

‘At f-four?' Dixie stammered, pale as milk as she stood over the photocopier, striving somewhat hopelessly to conceal the 'inoperative' sign flashing above a pile of discarded photocopies printed with impossibly tiny type. 'But why would Mr. Valverde want to see me?'

Already conscious that his attempt to speak up on her behalf had taxed Cesar's patience, Bruce did not dare utter a word of warning.

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