At Her Boss's Bidding

By: Miranda Lee

Now it was Alice’s turn to sigh. ‘No, you wouldn’t. Just make sure you don’t take advantage of Rachel’s sweet nature,’ Alice warned her son.

Rachel wished Alice would simply shut up.

Justin’s eyes met hers again and she knew by their exasperated expression that he was thinking exactly the same thing. Rachel gave him a small smile of complicity, and his blue eyes twinkled back.

‘I would never take advantage of Rachel,’ he told his mother. ‘I value her far too much to do anything to risk losing the best PA a man could have.’

Rachel’s cheeks warmed at his flattering words.

She didn’t realise at the time how ironic they were.


MOST city singles loved Friday afternoons. Their moods would lift as the working week drew towards an end, anticipation building for that wonderfully carefree moment when they poured out of their office buildings and into their favourite bars and drinking holes for the traditional Friday-night drinks-after-work bash. Even the non-drinkers liked Fridays, because there was still the weekend to look forward to, two whole days without having to sit at their desks and their computers; two whole days of doing exactly as they pleased, even if that was nothing.

Rachel was one of the exceptions to the rule. Since coming back to work she hated the week to end because she hated the prospect of two whole days of doing just that. Nothing.

As she made her way to work the following Friday morning Rachel began thinking she might have to go shopping by herself this weekend after all, just for something to do. Last weekend had been OK, because of Isabel and Rafe’s wedding. But this weekend was going to be dreadful, with Isabel away and that strangely soulless town house all to herself.

She could hardly fill the whole weekend with housework. She already kept the place spotless on a daily basis. She could read, of course, or watch television. But, somehow, indoor activities did not appeal. She felt like getting out and about.

It was a pity that the town house didn’t have a garden. Unfortunately, the courtyard was all paved and the few plants dotted around were in pots. Rachel liked working with her hands. That was why she’d first taken up sewing as a teenager.

But sewing was on the no-no list for Rachel nowadays. She never wanted to see her sewing machine again. It was packed away at the back of a cupboard, never to see the light of day again. After the funeral, whenever she looked at it she thought of Lettie’s illness, and all that had happened because of it. No nice associations at all.

Sometimes, she wished Justin would ask her to work overtime on the weekend. She knew he went into the office on a Saturday, so surely there was something she could do. Extra data entry, perhaps. Justin often had to farm some of that work out to an agency.

But he never asked, and she wouldn’t dream of suggesting it. He might see her offer as evidence of a desire for more of his company, rather than the result of chronic loneliness.

Rachel glanced up at the sky before she entered her building. The clouds were heavier than the day before, the southerly change predicted earlier in the week having finally arrived yesterday, bringing intermittent showers.

The thought of more rain over the weekend dampened Rachel’s enthusiasm for shopping by herself. Maybe she would wait till Isabel returned. There was no real hurry, now that Sydney’s weather had changed back to cooler. Her black suits would do a while longer.

Yes, she decided as she swung through the revolving glass doors. Her shopping expedition could wait.

Justin was already in when she arrived. Surprisingly, he’d put on the coffee machine and was in the act of pouring himself a mugful when she walked into the tea room. He was wearing one of her favourite suits, a light grey number which looked well against his dark hair and blue eyes, especially when teamed with a white shirt and blue tie.

‘Morning,’ he said, throwing her a warm smile over his shoulder. ‘Want me to pour you one as well?’

‘Yes, please,’ she answered, her spirits lifting now that she was at work. She shoved her black bag and umbrella on the shelf under the kitchen-like counter, then took the milk out of the fridge, preferring her coffee white, though she could drink it black, at a pinch. Justin always had his black.

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