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|Down London Road(On Dublin Street #2)(12) by Samantha Young|
Screw you. I stared at him blankly, trying to decide what I should say. Finally, I came to the conclusion that it would be better if Cam and I remained at a distance. No matter how much Joss wanted him to see me in a different light, I didn’t want him to. He’d jumped to his conclusions like everyone else, and frankly I didn’t want to be on friendly terms with someone who had taken to tearing me down, and that was before he had got to know me. I sighed and strode past him. ‘I’m going on my break.’
Cam didn’t answer me.
And for the rest of the night he endured my cold-shoulder treatment in tight-lipped silence.
As I had been on every Wednesday that had come before it, I was shattered the next day. My Tuesday shift at Club 39 followed by my Wednesday day shift at Meikle & Young was the worst part of my week. I shared the job as personal assistant to Mr Meikle with another girl called Lucy. I had never met Lucy, but we left little messages all the time to let each other know what had been done and what still needed to be done, so I felt like I knew her. She always put smiley faces at the end of any request so it didn’t come off as a demand. I thought that was nice and often wondered if Mr Meikle was pleasant to the girl with the smiley faces. I hoped so.
He certainly wasn’t pleasant to me.
That morning I’d almost managed to get everything right. With three hours to go in the workday, I had been sitting franking mail that was to go out that night, trying to get Cam’s stupid, arrogant voice out of my head, when Mr Meikle came out of his office and obnoxiously waved a letter in my face.
As I gazed up at him from my seat I wondered for a second if his problem with me had something to do with my height. I was a good three inches taller than he was, and he always looked rather nonplussed when we were standing together, and smug whenever I was sitting and he was standing over me. ‘Sir?’ I asked, my eyes crossing as I tried to make out what the bloody hell he was dangling before me.
‘I was about to sign the letter you were sending out to this client, Joanne, when I discovered two errors.’ His face was red with frustration as he pulled the paper back to shove two fingers in my face. ‘Two.’
I blanched. Damn my lack of sleep. ‘Sorry, Mr Meikle, I’ll fix that right away.’
He harrumphed and slapped the letter on my desk. ‘It had better be perfect. Lucy can always manage it, for goodness’ sake.’ He strode back to his office and then snapped around, his eyes narrowed behind his glasses. ‘I thought I had two appointments this afternoon, Joanne?’
I had worked for Mr Meikle for almost two years now, so it was long past the appropriate time to correct him on my name. He’d called me Joanne instead of Johanna since the beginning, despite the fact that he was the one who handed me my wage slip every month. The wage slip that clearly said ‘Miss Johanna Walker’ on it. Numpty.
‘Yes, sir.’ In fact one of his appointments was with Malcolm. ‘You have Mr Hendry in fifteen minutes and a four o’clock appointment with Mrs Drummond.’
Without another word he slammed back inside his office. I stared at his door and then at the letter he’d slapped on my desk. Turning it over, I noted he’d circled the two errors in red pen. I’d missed the apostrophe in ‘Meikle & Young’s’ and had missed the colon after ‘telephone number’. ‘Pedantic twit,’ I muttered, pushing my chair back to the desk. It took me only seconds to find the file on the computer, fix the errors and print the corrected version off. I left it with him without a word and closed his office door behind me.
The firm rented its space on the first floor of one of the old Georgian buildings on Melville Street. The street was quintessential Edinburgh – picture-perfect period properties with their black wrought-iron fencing and shiny big doors. Mr Young’s office and reception area were in the front of the converted flat, and two other accountants’ offices were across the hall from Mr Meikle’s. Meikle’s reception area had a large window that looked down over the street. So did his office. It was a pity his personality didn’t match the refined elegance of the firm’s residence.
When Malcolm walked in, I hurriedly clicked the solitaire game off my screen so he couldn’t see I was mucking around, and I beamed at him, pleased to see him. This was where I’d met him.
After breaking up with Steven, I’d dated a few duds. Then several months later, Malcolm had walked into Meikle’s office for a consultation. While he waited for Meikle to call him in to his office for his appointment Malcolm charmed the pants off me with his self-deprecating humour and great smile. He’d asked for my number, and the rest, as they say, was history.
‘Hi, baby.’ Malcolm grinned at me, and I watched him with pleasure as he approached my desk. He wore another beautiful grey suit from Savile Row, his face cleanly shaven, his skin tanned even in winter. Such a distinguished, classy man, and he’s mine, I thought appreciatively.
And he came bearing gifts.
He held out a coffee cup and a brown bag. ‘Latte with chocolate sprinkles and a white chocolate chip cookie.’ His warm lips brushed mine slowly, gently, seductively. I was disappointed when he pulled back, but he’d brought my favourite coffee and cookie, so I wasn’t complaining. In fact, my insides melted. ‘Thought you might need the pick-me-up. You work too hard.’
‘Thank you.’ I bestowed my most grateful smile on him. ‘I really needed this.’
‘Thank me later.’ He winked at me and I made a face, unable to stop the laughter bubbling up at his boyish grin.
Shaking my head, I waved him towards the seats. ‘I better let Mr Meikle know you’re here.’
A few seconds later, Meikle came out to greet Malcolm and they disappeared inside his office. I sat back with a contented sigh to enjoy my latte and cookie.
I smiled down at the cup and slid a glance towards the office door.
You’ve done well for yourself this time, Jo.
Don’t mess it up.
Feeling a little more awake now, I stared at the computer in boredom. I’d done everything that needed to be done today. I glanced at the filing system. It hadn’t been looked at in a while and it always needed reorganizing. I grabbed my coffee and took it over to the filing cabinets, where I slowly began to work my way through the system. Sure enough, there were misfiles. Mine or Lucy’s? Probably both.
When Malcolm appeared twenty minutes later, he stepped out of the office alone.
His eyes warmed as they travelled over the length of me. I was wearing a black pencil skirt with a high waist and a pale pink silk blouse tucked into it. I wore black kitten heels so as not to tower over Mr Meikle. Malcolm sauntered over to me and I turned into him, not caring how unprofessional it was to let him kiss me. My lips tingled as he pulled back, his eyes drowsy with heat now. ‘We still on for shopping tomorrow?’
‘How about Saturday? Are you free? Becca wants to take us out to dinner as a thank-you to me for the gallery show and to you for getting Cam the job at the bar.’
I had to stop myself from tensing against him. ‘What? The four of us?’
Malcolm nodded, brushing a loose strand of hair behind my ear. ‘I could pick you up this time?’
I don’t think so. My throat almost closed up at the thought. Malcolm had never been to the flat. He’d never met Cole. And for now it would stay that way. ‘I can meet you there,’ I insisted.
He trailed his fingers down the thin fabric of my sleeve, as his lips curled in amusement. ‘I have to meet your family sometime, Jo.’
There was a part of me that was really happy that Malcolm was interested enough in me to want to meet my family, but there was this bigger part that wanted to erase all knowledge of London Road from his mind so he’d never be able to find the flat and my mum. Ever.
I feigned an enthusiastic smile. ‘Hmm. Soon.’
I didn’t know if he believed me or not, but he pressed a hard kiss to my lips that promised more of the same to come later and left me to the rest of my workday.
Cold latte in hand, I was still standing by the filing cabinets when Mr Meikle stepped out of his office minutes after Malcolm’s departure. I looked over at him warily. He just stared at me. Almost passively. Where was the glare?
This is officially creepy.
Meikle cleared his throat. ‘I didn’t realize you were in a relationship with Malcolm Hendry.’
Oh, balls. Thank you, Malcolm! I cleared my own throat. ‘Yes, sir.’
‘For three months now?’
‘Well.’ He shifted, looking decidedly uncomfortable. I couldn’t help my eyebrows as they rose to new heights. I’d never seen my boss as anything but self-assured and pompous. ‘Well, then. I, um, well, I, um, appreciate your professionalism.’
Hold the phone.
He commenced with more throat clearing, his eyes shifting around, unable to meet mine directly. ‘Mr Hendry is an important client.’ As his meaning dawned on me, his gaze finally met mine. ‘You could have used that to make your position here more comfortable and you didn’t. I appreciate your professionalism and discretion.’
It was the first time Mr Meikle had rendered me speechless because of something positive he’d said to me. Usually, I was choking back irritation at his high-handed arrogance and condescension. It was also the first time my boss had ever looked at me without a grimace or pre-emptive disappointment, as though, no matter what, he knew I would never live up to his exacting standards. I’d grown used to that look, so it was strange to be on the receiving end of a compliment from him.
I eventually found my voice. ‘I like to keep my personal business just that, Mr Meikle. Personal.’
‘Yes, well, good for you.’ His eyes filled with irritation. ‘Lucy is always chattering on about that fiancé of hers. As if I have time to listen to such piffle.’ And with that he disappeared back into his office and I suddenly felt sorry for Lucy. Perhaps it was time to start leaving her smiley faces.