The Italian's Secret BabyBy: Kim Lawrence
‘I THOUGHT you were going to be late,’ his PA said as Roman O’Hagan walked into the empty conference room.
‘I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, Alice, but you have a very uptight attitude to timekeeping,’ Roman observed, shrugging off his jacket and laying it across the back of a chair. ‘And in case it’s slipped your mind, I’m the boss so I’m allowed to be late.’
Alice, who had worked for him for four years and had no recollection of him ever being late during that time, planted a cup of coffee in front of him on the long polished table.
‘Well, boss, I managed to get us on the four-thirty Dublin flight.’
‘Excellent.’ Swivelling his chair around, Roman stretched his long legs out comfortably in front of him and added with a pained grimace, ‘Which is more than I can say for this coffee! And I use the word in the loosest possible sense.’ He stared down suspiciously at the pale brown liquid in his cup.
‘It’s decaff, and in case it’s slipped your mind making coffee is not part of my job description. I do it simply because I have a nice nature.’
‘I’m a lucky man,’ Roman returned, deadpan.
‘Yes, you are.’ She paused by the door. ‘By the way, your brother rang.’
‘Did he leave a message?’
‘Not for you.’
Roman’s darkly defined brows lifted at the cryptic response. He was as sure as he could be without written proof that his brother, Luca, had a lot to do with the fact his assistant had gone down a dress size during the past couple of months.
It was getting hard to maintain a tactful silence on the subject of his brother not being the marrying kind—Alice was.
‘He said he’d call back.’
The conference call started off really well, but went rapidly downhill once the second speaker came on the line.
How is it possible for anyone to talk for so long and say absolutely nothing?
Roman interrupted the interminable flow. The response was if anything even more rambling. It also cleared up the question of whether this well-paid individual had grasped the problem or done the necessary research—he hadn’t!
Roman listened with a half-smile as the man’s junior managed to bail out his boss without making it obvious that was what he was doing; he also predicted and responded to the two further questions Roman had planned to ask.
Roman wouldn’t forget his name.
‘So you think the European market is ready for a project of this—’ Before he got to complete his question a female voice, a low, husky, very attractive female voice interrupted him.
‘Excuse me, but am I speaking to Mr O’Hagan?’
‘Who is that?’
‘A Mr Roman O’Hagan?’
‘How on earth…? I’m afraid this is a private…’
‘I’m trying to contact a Mr O’Hagan. Could you tell me who I’m speaking to?’
That combination of selective deafness and persistence, even if she did have an extraordinarily sexy voice, was going to get wearing very quickly, Roman decided.
F. O’Hagan and Sons had recently been held up as a shining example of firms that employed a higher number than average of females in top-management-level jobs, but none of them was taking part in this conference call today.
Roman didn’t have the faintest idea who this woman was or how she had turned up smack bang in the middle of a highly sensitive discussion. He doubted if it was worth the bother of finding out.
Who did people blame for cock-ups before the advent of computers?#p#分页标题#e#
‘I don’t know how you got on this line…’ Roman stopped. The lazy smile that formed on his wide sensual mouth held more than a hint of self-derision. Could it be, he wondered, that his display of uncharacteristic tolerance might not be totally unconnected with the fact the gate-crasher had a very attractive voice? In his head those smoky, sultry tones were inextricably linked with long legs, seductive lips and long blonde hair.
‘Well, don’t ask me! Perhaps it was your turn to fob me off?’ came the bitter speculation. ‘I’ve been put through to every other blessed person in the building!’
Goodbye sultry seductress, hello schoolteacher. Oh, well, the harmless fantasy had been nice while it lasted.
‘I’ve been fobbed off and made to wait—’
‘Do you mind hanging up? This is a private and confidential discussion.’ Some men might like their women bossy—each to his own, that was his motto—only his own taste didn’t run in that direction.
Unlike his top management people from across Europe who were hanging on every word of this conversation, the woman on the other end of the line didn’t appear to realise that when the head of O’Hagan Construction used this tone the conversation was at an end.