All Work and No Play

By: Coleen Kwan

Only recently promoted to project manager, she knew there’d been some rumblings because of her youth and gender. Some people were just waiting for her to fail, and the first project she was in charge of definitely wasn’t going off without a hitch.

She’d barely received her new business cards when without warning she’d lost both her programmers. Oscar had fallen in love and decided to follow his new girlfriend to India, while Neil had defected to a rival company, both men taking with them vital knowledge and experience. Anna had assumed her manager would extend her deadline and provide her with two new programmers. Instead, he’d told her the deadline had been moved up but as compensation Giles St Clair had been assigned to her, and the two of them would have to finish the programming. Considering the stratospheric rate Giles was being paid, Anna was supposed to consider it a privilege having the super guru on her project.

Well, Giles had been working for her for a week, and it was beginning to feel like torture. Oh, sure, he was a genius when it came to programming and design, but having those cool eyes and cocky smile and gorgeous body in close contact all day long was starting to do her head in.

Giles came back twenty minutes later. The temperature outside was over thirty degrees, but he’d barely raised a sweat. His beautiful cream shirt was as crisp as ever, and he smelled deliciously of some subtle cologne she didn’t recognise. Probably an individual scent made specifically for him, she thought as she took her cappuccino from him, careful not to brush her fingers against his.

“I scored some free biscotti,” he said with a grin, laying a napkinful of biscuits on her desk.

Chocolate and hazelnut biscotti. Anna weakened. “Those are my favourite.”

“So I noticed.” He dropped into the empty desk next to hers. They were the only two people in this corner of the office, and the layout of their pod meant they were screened off from everyone else.

Anna looked at him. “You noticed? Have you been spying on me?”

“It’s not hard to notice you like chocolate and hazelnut biscotti when you have one almost every day.” He reached for one himself and dipped it in his coffee before eating it very neatly without leaving a drop on his shirt or tie. “Mm. Almost as good as dunking a chocolate digestive.”

“You dunk biscuits?” Anna raised her eyebrows at him. “Aren’t you too posh for that?”

“Hmm. So you think I’m posh, do you?”

“Well, just look at you.” She waved a hand in his general direction. “The accent, the clothes, the general attitude of...”

“Of what?” he asked mildly.

Of superiority, she’d almost said. “Never mind,” she hastily replied.

He studied her in silence, and she felt herself get antsy under his scrutiny.

“What is it?” she finally burst out. “Do I have a booger hanging out of my nose or something?”

“No.” He frowned down at his coffee for a moment before fixing her with his cool blue stare. “Do you have a problem with me, Anna?”

His bluntness almost had her choking on her coffee. “What makes you think that?”

He shrugged. “Oh, just that you weren’t too keen to have me on your project, and you seem to bristle whenever I try to be friendly, and you enjoy taking little digs at me, for instance, at my so-called poshness.”

Oh, crap. There was no place to hide from those penetrating eyes of his. She set down her coffee so she wouldn’t spill it and smoothed down her skirt, while her brain tussled with the problem. Clearly this called for some project management skills here; she could not be less than professional. If Giles wasn’t happy, he might complain to Lionel, her boss, and she couldn’t let that happen.

“I’m sorry you feel that way, Giles,” she said, keeping her voice neutral. “If I’ve made you feel uncomfortable, then I apologise. I didn’t mean to, and I’ll definitely try not to do so again. I hope we can still work together.”

“So you don’t dislike me merely because I’m a Pom?”

“Of course not.”

“Maybe you dislike me for other reasons?”

Her cheeks grew hot. Christ, where was this coming from?

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