Authors: Sabrina Darby
Tags: #Historical romance
Did he know who I was?
I let out my breath slowly, turned back to my computer screen. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t breathe either. It was way too hot in the office. I shrugged out of the sweater and pushed the few straggling hairs that had escaped my French twist off of my neck.
Did he know? Because if he didn’t, then that look was just some strange twist of fate. And if he did know!
If he did know, then this was sick. He was like this classic, darkly handsome villain. Of course he would have looked at me this way, made me––the innocent victim of all his dastardly deeds––the focus of his attention. I laughed aloud at my ridiculous, over-dramatic thoughts, and then, alarmed, brought my hand to my mouth.
I focused on the keyboard and the paper list of names. Typed another in. Slowly. I could hear Lance and Hartmann walking about the room, stopping to talk with other employees. I could hear James’s voice.
Had Daniel Hartmann come down to the third floor for me? Was his slow meandering through the department a front? Or again, was this all coincidence? Either way, I had the sudden clear understanding that in just a few minutes I was going to be introduced to him. I’d have to say hello. I’d have to act like I didn’t resent him and everything he stood for. I’d have to act like simply his eyes on me didn’t make me feel as if I were about to melt into the ground. Like I wasn’t attracted to him.
And then I’d have to not feel guilt for being attracted to this man I hated above all others.
Oh, God, this was going to happen. I stopped myself from wrapping my arms around my shaking body. After all these years, to actually come face to face with him…it was unreal.
I took a deep breath, drew up the lessons from my freshman acting class. I didn’t have to be twenty-one year old Emily Anderson, terrified and shaking. I could be anybody I wanted. And I didn’t have to take this meeting sitting down.
I pushed my rolling chair back from the desk and stood, carefully not looking in his general direction. But I felt when his attention was on me again, or maybe that was my imagination. I crossed the few yards to the kitchen, wondered if
looking was too obvious, and spared a glance to my left. His hand was resting on the metal rim of another cubicle and his head was tilted down, but his gaze met mine.
Shock flooded my body. I struggled for control, forcing myself to play it cool. Then as if he were just another hot guy at art school or the barista at the local coffee house, I slanted him a smile and looked away, quickly hiding from the intense awareness. Three steps. Kitchen. Deep, deep sigh. What the hell was I doing? I pulled a paper cup out from the cupboard and started to fill it with water.
The light in the room dimmed infinitesimally. His polished black shoes were in my line of sight, as were the perfect hems of his tailored trousers. He was clearly a man who cared about his clothing.
“Emily Anderson, right?”
So he knew my name. Despite the relative ubiquity of Anderson as a last name, surely then, he knew that I was the daughter of his father’s old partner.
I straightened. Turned. Sent him that slanted smile. Up close he was nearly devastating. But he wasn’t smiling back. Maybe that intense expression meant something other than the desire I had read. Maybe I only knew how to read college boys, not mega-wealthy businessmen.
“That’s right,” I said lightly. Took a sip of water while watching him. “Newest employee at Hartmann Enterprises...Mr. Hartmann.”
His lips quirked. I almost held my breath, expecting that brief movement to stretch into his patented smirk, the one that had stared out at me from
. For goodness sake, he was a celebrity, or at least dated celebrities. And I was talking to him.
“Well, newest employee. I’m on my way out to lunch. Join me.”
He shifted. I could see the outline of muscles under the smooth lines of his pants. I had the brief, clear idea that his body would be long and lean, the sort of body that belonged to a man who was active and athletic but had never tried to bulk up. He was about a decade older than me and yet he was without doubt the most attractive man I’d ever been within five feet of.
He knew my name and he was asking me to lunch. If that didn’t add up to having been made, I didn’t know what did. I wanted to run but I had to brazen this out.
I crossed my arms, affected an air of nonchalance that I didn’t feel at all.
“Do you invite all your newest employees out to lunch?”
“Do you look at all your bosses that way?”
The way I had looked at him? What about the way he had looked at me?
“You’re my first boss,” I bit back quickly, hoping the heat I felt didn’t show in my cheeks.
How exactly had I looked at him?
“We hired you without a track record?”
I wanted to stamp my feet at how easily he caught me off guard, twisted my words to serve him. Instead, I arched an eyebrow. Tilted my head. “Should I be worried for my job?”
He smirked. I sucked in a breath. The man was wickedly handsome. It wasn’t fair. Especially since I resented him. Hated him. He’d sent my father to jail.
There…attraction almost all gone.
“No. I don’t invite all my employees to lunch. But I’m inviting you.”
by Sabrina Darby copyright 2013
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