At Her Boss's BiddingBy: Miranda Lee
SHE was perfect, Justin thought from the first moment Ms Rachel Witherspoon walked in to be interviewed.
Perfectly plain and prim-looking, dressed in a very unsexy black suit, mousy brown hair severely scraped back and anchored in a twist. No make-up and no perfume, he realised with relief, the absolute opposite of the blonde bombshell who’d been wiggling her way around his office for the last month, pretending to be his personal assistant.
No, that was probably unfair. The girl had been efficient enough. The company who’d sent her over straight away after his previous PA quit on short notice didn’t have dummies on their books.
But she’d made it clear within a few days that her services could easily extend beyond being just his PA. She’d used every opportunity—and every weapon in her considerable physical arsenal—to get this message across. He’d been bombarded with provocative clothes, provocative smiles and provocative comments till he couldn’t bear another second. When she’d come in last Monday, showing more cleavage than a call-girl, Justin had cracked.
He didn’t sack her as such. He didn’t have to. She was just a temp. He simply told her that this would be her last week, saying that he’d hired a permanent PA and she was starting the following Monday.
A lie, of course. But a necessary one for his sanity.
Not that he was sexually tempted by her. Oh, no. It was just that every time she came on to him, he was reminded of Mandy and what she must have got up to with that boss of hers. What she was still getting up to every single day, jet-setting around the world and being his personal assistant in every which way there was.
Justin’s jaw clenched down hard at the thought. It had been eighteen months since his wife had confessed what had been going on, then added the shattering news that she was leaving him to become her boss’s mistress.
Eighteen months! Yet the pain was still there. The pain of her betrayal and deception, plus the sharpest memory of the hurtful things she’d said to him that final day. Cruel things. Soul-destroying things!
Most men who’d been so savagely dumped might have soothed their battered egos by going out and bedding every female in sight. But Justin hadn’t been to bed with a single woman since Mandy walked out. He simply hadn’t wanted to. Just the thought of being physically intimate with another female made him shudder.
Of course, none of his male friends and colleagues knew that. You didn’t confess such things to other men. They would never understand, or sympathise. His mother had an inkling, though. She knew how hurt he’d been by Mandy’s deception and desertion. She kept telling him that someday he’d meet a really nice woman who’d make him forget about Mandy.
Mothers were eternal optimists. And incorrigible matchmakers.
So when his mum—to whom he’d been complaining about his office situation—rang last weekend to say that she had the perfect PA for him he’d been understandably wary. Only after he’d struggled without a secretary for a week, and been repeatedly reassured that this Rachel was nothing like his temptation of a temp, did Justin agree to interview Ms Witherspoon.
And here she was. In the flesh.
What there was of it.
She was so thin! And terribly tired-looking, with huge black rings under her eyes. Nice eyes, though. Nice shape. And an interesting colour. But so sad.
She was supposed to be only thirty-one, according to the birthdate on her résumé. But she looked closer to forty.
Understandable, he supposed, after what she’d gone through these last few years. Sympathy for her washed through Justin and he decided then and there to offer her the job. He already knew she had the qualifications, even if she might be a bit rusty. But someone as smart as she obviously was would have no trouble brushing up on her secretarial skills.
Still, he supposed he had to go through the motions of a proper interview, otherwise she might think it a bit fishy. Nobody liked charity. Or pity.
‘So, Rachel,’ he said matter-of-factly once she’d settled herself in the chair. ‘My mother has told me a lot about you. And your résumé here is very impressive,’ he added, tapping the two-page work history which had been faxed to him the day before. ‘I see you were finalist in the Secretary of the Year competition a few years back. And your boss at that time was very high up in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Perhaps you could tell me a little about your work experience there…’
‘THIS is just like old times, isn’t it?’ Rachel said to Isabel as she jumped into bed and pulled the pretty patchwork quilt up to her chin.
‘True,’ Isabel returned, and climbed into the matching single bed, her memory racing back to those old times.