Baiting the Boss

By: Coleen Kwan

Determined not to give in, she decided to try a different tack. “You must like it here if you’ve stayed a whole year.” Through her investigations, she knew he’d drifted around Europe and Asia for two years before ending up in the Pacific.

“What’s not to like? The people are friendly, the weather’s good, and I can work on my tan all year round without someone commenting.”

His pointed look had her shifting in her seat. “Yeah, well, I was trying to make a point.”

“Trying to guilt trip me, more like.” He gestured around the room. “Does it look like I’m living the life of a spoiled tycoon?”

She glanced at the modest interior. The room they were in served as a combined living, dining, and kitchen area. A far corner had been fitted out with plain white cupboards, a small fridge, and a gas cooker, while behind the cane settees stood a scrubbed pine table and chairs. Not too luxurious, but then again he was idling away on a tropical island. Not that she’d say that again. She’d already criticized him more than she’d ever imagined.

“That depends.” She tapped the coffee table in front of her. “Does this conceal a hidden entrance leading down to your Batcave?”

He blinked at her. “What?”

Obviously her attempt at lightening the atmosphere had failed. “Sorry, I was being flippant.”

He eased back in his chair, looking slightly less grim. “Critical and flippant. I don’t remember you being so forward.”

“How do you remember me?” she couldn’t help asking.

His eyes glimmered like barbed wire. “Quiet, earnest, self-effacing.”

“Hmm. You make me sound like a nun.”

“Well, you are devoted to Macintyre’s.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

“It can be.” He tilted his head to one side, weighing her. “So tell me, what have you been up to since I last saw you?”

The last time she’d seen him had been at Becky’s funeral. He’d been ashen, bleak, while she had quietly wept for his wife and for him. She hadn’t been the only one to cry for him. Just about every female who worked at Macintyre’s held a secret or not-so-secret crush on Jack, and the entire workforce had turned out for the service. Grace had been lost in a sea of mourners, but she didn’t think anyone could have cried more for Jack than she had.

“Oh, you know.” She shrugged nonchalantly. “Since you left I’ve been with Lachlan.”

“In what capacity?”

“I’m head of Special Projects.”

“Special Projects?” He frowned. “But that’s just a euphemism for… ”

She couldn’t help grimacing. Trust Jack to know precisely what Special Projects meant. She tilted up her chin. “Glorified assistant?”

“Yeah,” he bluntly replied.

She sighed. “It’s true. I’ve been your grandfather’s glorified assistant for the past three years. He has a proper administrative assistant for his correspondence and meetings and all that day-to-day stuff. I’m called in to do whatever else crops up that nobody else will do.”

“Like tracking down his black-sheep grandson.” He offered her a quick smile.

At the curl of his lips, her heart did a weird flip. She hadn’t seen that flashing grin in a long time, but it hadn’t lost any of its impact on her. She couldn’t help grinning back. “You really are a special project all on your own.”

His smile faded. “But you could be doing more challenging work. I’ll admit being assistant to the CEO is an invaluable learning experience, but staying in the same position for three years doesn’t exactly do wonders for your career.”

Grace frowned. How typical of Jack to go straight to the heart of the problem. Although she’d made herself indispensable to Lachlan, her career was going nowhere fast.

“Your grandfather has been good to me,” she said. Like when she’d had an emergency appendectomy two years ago. Lachlan had made sure she received the best medical treatment, paid all her bills, and visited her both in hospital and at home, insisting she take all the time she wanted to recover. She hadn’t received so much as a get-well card from her mother.

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