Christmas in the Boss's Castle

By: Scarlet Wilson

But someone else touching it? Someone else unwrapping it? The only colour he could see right now was red.

Her head shot around and her eyes widened. She stepped backwards, stumbling and making a grab for the wall. ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I was just trying to get the room ready for you.’

He frowned. He didn’t recognise her. Didn’t recognise her at all. Her shiny brown hair seemed to have escaped from the bun it was supposed to be in with loose strands all around her face. There was an odd smear across one cheek. Was she dirty?

His eyes darted up and down the length of her body. An intruder in his room? No. She was definitely in uniform, but not quite his uniform. She had a black fitted shirt and skirt on, a white apron and black heeled shoes. There was a security key clipped to her waist.

‘Who are you?’ He stepped forward and pulled at her security badge, yanking it from the clip that held it in place. She let out a gasp and flattened against the wall, both hands up in front of her chest.

What? Did she think he might attack her in some way?

He waved the card. ‘Who on earth are the Maids in Chelsea? Where are my regular housekeeping staff?’

She gave a shudder. A shudder. His lack of patience was building rapidly. The confused look on her face didn’t help. Then things seemed to fall into place.

It was easy to forget how strong his Scottish accent could become when he was angry. It often took people a few seconds to adjust their ears to what he was saying.

‘Maids in Chelsea is Clio Caldwell’s company. I’ve worked for her for the last few months.’ The words came out in a rush. She glanced around the room. ‘I’ve been here for the last few months. Before that—I was in Knightsbridge. But I wasn’t here.’ She pointed to the floor. ‘I’ve never been in here before.’ She was babbling. He’d obviously made her nervous and that hadn’t been his intention.

He pointed to the angel on the pillow. He could hardly even look at it right now. ‘And is this what your work normally involves? Touching things you have no business touching? Prying into people’s lives?’ He looked around the room and shook his head. He couldn’t help himself. He walked over to the curtains and gave the annoying flickering lights a yank, pulling them so sharply that they flickered once more then went out completely. ‘Putting cheap, tacky Christmas decorations up in the rooms of The Armstrong?’ The anger started to flare again. ‘The Armstrong doesn’t do this. We don’t spread Christmas tat around as if this were some cheap shop. Where on earth did these come from?’

She looked momentarily stunned. ‘Well?’ he pressed.

She seemed to find her tongue again. ‘They’re not cheap. The box they were in said they cost five hundred pounds.’ She looked at the single strand of lights he’d just broken and her face paled. ‘I hope that doesn’t come out of my wages.’

The thought seemed to straighten out her current confusion. She took a deep breath, narrowed her gaze at him and straightened her shoulders. She held up one hand. ‘Who are you?’

Finlay was ready to go up like a firework. Now, he was being questioned in his own hotel, about who he was?

‘I’m Finlay Armstrong. I’m the owner of The Armstrong and a whole host of other hotels across the world.’ He was trying hard to keep his anger under control. He was tired. He knew he was tired. And he hadn’t meant to frighten her. But whoever this woman was, she was annoying him. ‘And I take it I’m the person that’s paying your wages—though I’m not sure for how much longer.’

She tilted her chin towards him and stared him in the eye. ‘I’d say it’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr Armstrong, but we both know that wouldn’t be true.’

He almost smiled. Almost. Her dark brown eyes were deeper than any he’d seen before. He hadn’t noticed them at first—probably because he hadn’t been paying attention. But now he was getting the full effect.

He still wanted to have something to eat, crawl into bed, close the curtains and forget about the world outside. But this woman had just gained his full attention.

The tilt of her chin had a defiant edge to it. He liked that. And while her hair was a little unkempt and he still hadn’t worked out what the mark was on her cheek, now those things were fading.

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