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At The Boss's Beck And Call(4)

By:Anna Cleary

The sheer gall of her to be late. The gall. Of all the people in the room who should be anxious to demonstrate courtesy…Who should have left no stone unturned to ensure of meeting her obligation this morning.

Here was a woman who knew nothing of respect.

If Lara craned her neck she could just see one lean hand resting on a dark-clad knee. A further tilt and she could see his face. A study in bronze and ebony, he was frowning down at the floor, his black brows lowered, but even from this distance she could see he had the same thick, dark lashes, the classically sculpted cheekbones and chiselled jaw.

That handsome jaw was sternly set, in fact, making him look rather grimmer than she’d hoped, until something Donatuila Capelli said roused him from his reverie and he lifted his gaze to her with a polite, questioning smile.#p#分页标题#e#

Then the most ravishing thing about that lean, strong face came flooding back to Lara with such evocative power every muscle in her body made an involuntary clench.

That devil’s mockery in the tilt of his brows. The ability of his firm, sensuous mouth to remain grave, even solemn, when he was amused. And his eyes. Those brilliant dark eyes, so seductive, so expressive of fathomless depths of subtlety and sophistication.

Ignoring her mad pulse, Lara clung to her chair and held herself taut and resistant. She was over him. She’d been over him long since. He was the man who’d kissed her goodbye, then married someone else. But when he uncoiled his long, lean limbs with leisurely grace, rose, swept them all with a long, deep glance, then commenced his address in his beautiful, deep, faintly accented voice, she remembered why she’d gone overboard.

Fallen in love.

Gone truly, madly, deeply…insane.

She shrank into her chair, her heart racketing into a drum-roll. Had he seen her yet?

Alessandro sent a measuring glance over the small audience in their jeans and boots and arty jewellery, careful to avoid the back row and the blonde whose imprint was branded onto his soul.

Normally, he was a tolerant administrator. When Head Office sent him out after a takeover to settle the blood and dust, then restructure the new acquisition into an entity resembling a company, it was his practice to reassure the new workforce of their job security, offer them a pay-rise and improve their conditions.

Unfortunately, there were some situations when a man needed to make his authority clear and unequivocal. This irreverent attitude some Australians had, this casualness, needed to be checked. The arrogance displayed by some employees of this sad little company needed to be nipped in the bud. Let them quake a little while he showed them how tenuous their comfort zones really were.

There would be no larrikins working for Scala Enterprises.

Discarding the soothing tone it was his practice to open with, he postponed mention of the gifts he’d come bearing, and cut directly to business.

‘Prepare yourselves for some changes.’

At first Lara hardly heard the words that held her colleagues pinned to their chairs, delivered in Alessandro’s dark cioccolata tones. There was an electric tension in the room outside her own, but she was too absorbed in examining her ex-lover, drinking in every detail of him, to register immediately the full import of everything he said.

As she gazed at his beautiful, austere face a wave of poignant emotion welled up in her and she could barely hold back tears. So much was associated with him in her heart.

If this cool, authoritarian Alessandro wasn’t quite the man who’d flirted with and teased her and made her feel like the most desirable woman in the world, he was sexier, if possible. Still so lithe and athletic-looking in his dark, exquisitely cut suit, with his olive tan and five-o’clock shadow, it was clear he took rigorous care of that powerful six-three frame. She calculated that he must be nearly thirty-five, since she’d just turned twenty-seven. An experienced, man-of-the-world thirty-five. In six years the character lines in his lean, handsome face had deepened, and he looked more focused, the image of a successful, hard-headed businessman.

And a marchese.

One whose dulcet tones could point out some harsh realities. She stopped listening for that elusive accent, and started hearing the words. Apart from that paper he’d delivered at the book convention, she’d never really seen him before in his professional role. Who’d have imagined he’d be so autocratic? It was easy to believe he was a marchese. With his dark eyes so stern, even Cinta’s smile was beginning to develop a fixed plasticity.#p#分页标题#e#

As the words achieved more traction the alarm in the room became almost tangible. Lara noticed even the self-possessed Donatuila shoot him a couple of narrow glances.