Unbuttoned By Her Maverick Boss

By: Natalie Anderson

CHAPTER ONE


TIME stood still for no man. And Sophy Braithwaite didn’t stand still either.

She tapped her toes on the concrete floor. Slowly at first, just releasing a smidge of the energy pushing under her skin, but after a while the small rapping sound sped up.

The receptionist had directed her straight up the stairs to the office—the sign on the door ensured she’d found the one the woman meant. So she was in the right place at the right time.

Waiting.

She turned and studied the pictures on the wall beside her. Picturesque scenes of Italian countryside—she figured they were Cara’s choice. Her assessment and appreciation took less than a minute. Then she looked again at the monstrosity masquerading as the desk. Good thing she wasn’t into corporate espionage or fraud. She’d had ample time to rifle through files for sensitive info. Mind you, given the mess it was in, she wouldn’t even find anything as useful as a pen in there. The papers were piled high in dangerously unstable towers. The unopened mail had long since filled the in-tray and now cascaded across the computer keyboard. Cara hadn’t been exaggerating when she’d said she’d left it in a mess. If anything she’d been understating the case.

‘I’ve just not had my head there and it all got away from me. I feel so terrible now with this happening,’ she’d said.

‘This’ was the early arrival of her baby. Six weeks premature, the tiny sweetie was still in hospital and Cara was hollow-eyed and anxious. The last thing she needed was to be worrying about the part-time admin job she did for a local charity.

Sophy’s irritation with the situation spiked. Where was he, then? This Lorenzo Hall—supposed hotshot of the wine industry and darling of the fundraising divas—the CEO of this chaos?

‘Lorenzo’s so busy at the moment. With Alex and Dani away he’s dealing with everything on his own.’ Cara had sounded so concerned for him when Sophy’s sister, Victoria, had handed the phone to her. ‘It would be just brilliant if you could go in there and stop him worrying about the Whistle Fund at least.’

Well, Sophy wasn’t here to stop Lorenzo Hall from worrying, she was here to stop Cara worrying.

She realised she’d been subconsciously tapping in time to a rhythmic thunking sound coming from a distance. As if someone were using a hammer or something but speeding up, then stopping, then starting again. She shook her head free of the annoyance and looked around at the chaos again. It would take a bit of time to sort through. She wished she could say no. But then, she never said no. Not when someone asked for help like this. And didn’t they all know it. She’d arrived back in New Zealand less than a month ago, yet her family had managed to fill her schedule to bursting already. But she’d let them, passively agreeing to it all. So much for becoming more assertive and ring fencing even just some time for her own work.

She knew they saw no change, and wasn’t she acting as if there weren’t—with her ‘yes, of course’ here and ‘sure’ there? Tacitly acknowledging she had nothing better to do. Or, at least, nothing as important as what they were asking.

But she did.

While she loved to help them out, there was something else she loved to do. Her heart beat faster as she thought of it as ‘work’. She badly wanted to prove it could be just that. But to make a go of it, she needed time.

So she really didn’t want to be standing here waiting for anybody—certainly not some guy who couldn’t even seem to organise his own temp. The same boss who had Cara calling her from her hospital bed asking if she could help out. If her help really was needed, then okay, but she wasn’t going to wait here for another twenty minutes. She glanced at her watch again. Ordinarily looking at it brought a tingle of pleasure—fine little vintage piece that it was. She’d found it in a flea market in South London one day. With a new old strap she’d found at another market and a trip to the watch doctor, it worked beautifully. It was definitely not running fast.

The thudding impinged into her brain again, stirring a dormant memory from school days.

No. Surely not?

She stood, walked across the office and right round behind the desk to the window. Looked straight down to the asphalt yard at the back of the warehouse. She inhaled some much-needed cool air into her lungs.

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