Sheikh's Forbidden Conquest(64)

By: Chantelle Shaw

The guard retrieved his key and had Harrison stand and turn around while he removed the cuffs. “We work on rotation,” he said apologetically as he slid them off. “We’re new in this building. So sorry we didn’t recognize you, Mr. Grant.”

Her boss extended his arms and flexed his wrists to get the circulation going. “Well, now that we’ve established we’re all new, except me,” he drawled, planting his gaze on Frankie, “and we’ve also determined this was not a romantic encounter with a bad ending for the sake of the gossip mill, perhaps you can tell me who you are, Goldilocks not being a suitable answer.”

She bit down hard on her lip. “Francesca Masseria. Your brother’s PA. Actually...yours now.”

“Is that so?” Frankie watched her career hang in the balance of that dark, unfathomable gaze. It occurred to her she’d be lucky to get shipped back to Coburn.

The CEO turned his attention to the guards. “I suggest you start taking some regular walks around the building to learn who people are.”

The guards nodded in unison. “Absolutely, sir.”

Harrison waved a hand at them. “Go.”

Frankie stood quaking in the center of the suddenly silent foyer as the silver-uniformed security detail disappeared toward the elevators. Her boss stood, legs planted wide in front of her, a distinct smoky gray aura surrounding his muscular frame.

She liked him better in handcuffs.

Harrison’s mouth curled in a mocking smile. “Despite what you may have heard otherwise, Ms. Masseria, I am not a monster.”

The rebuke stung her into silence. “I’m to assume,” he drawled, “that you are filling in as Tessa’s replacement until we can find someone else?”

“Actually Coburn has asked me to work with you until Tessa comes back.”

His gaze narrowed on her speculatively. “Coburn thinks the sun rises and sets with your appearance in the office every morning, Ms. Masseria. How could we possibly expect him to get along without you for six months?”

Warmth stung her cheeks at the unexpected compliment. “I’m sure he’ll manage,” she demurred. “Nobody’s irreplaceable.”

“Tessa is.”

She flinched. He considered her for a moment, his unnervingly precise gaze seeming to take a visual X-ray of her for further examination. “I need some sleep,” he concluded. “Take your dinner and the wine, go home, get some rest and we’ll talk about this in the morning.”

Frankie took a step toward him. “I have some—”

He lifted a hand. “I have just flown sixteen hours to get home to be told my brilliant right hand and irreplaceable PA is in the hospital having a baby while in the midst of helping me with a crucial acquisition. I’ve been put in handcuffs by my own security team and had guns pointed at my face. And if that isn’t enough, my body is heavily protesting the jump in time zones. The only thing,” he underscored harshly, “that is going to make me feel like a human being at this point in time is a good stiff drink and a horizontal position on a bed that is my own. And you, Ms. Masseria, are the only thing standing between me and it. So unless you would like to finish this conversation there, put your shoes on and let’s call it a night.”

Her mouth fell open. Had he actually just said that? And why did she find that idea vastly exciting instead of incredibly inappropriate?

His eyes widened imperceptibly, then narrowed. “Joking, Ms. Masseria. Go home.”

She looked down at her bare feet on the marble, her muted pink toenails the ultimate in complete humiliation. Never in the six months she had worked for Coburn had she ever acted this unprofessional.

But, she told herself lifting her chin, the first step toward redemption was moving on. They would come back in the morning as he’d said, she would show him what she was made of and it would all be fine.

“I will see you in the morning, then. We’ll go through the urgent items then.”

He inclined his head. She turned and headed toward her desk. Harrison’s deep baritone halted her. “Ms. Masseria?”

She turned around.

“Which hospital is Tessa in?”

“Mount Sinai.”

The humor that flickered in his eyes then caught her off guard. It made him look almost human. “Do you think you can send her some flowers from me in the morning without calling in the cavalry?”

She pressed her lips together. “I’ll have it taken care of.”

The beast was safely ensconced in his office repacking his briefcase when she ducked her head in to say she was leaving. He wished her an absentminded good-night and told her to take a taxi. Exhausted, she did. When she got home she swallowed down two painkillers for her throbbing head, reheated and ate half the noodles, then immersed herself in a hot bath.