Her Impossible Boss Online - Cathy Williams

CHAPTER ONE

WIDE, sensual mouth compressed, Matt stared down at the makeshift CV sitting in front of him. It was difficult to know where to begin. The colourful list of jobs complemented by the even more impressive lack of duration at each one of them told their own story. As did the brief, uninspiring academic profile. In the normal course of events he would have tossed this application into the bin without even bothering to read the sketchy handwritten personal profile at the end. Unfortunately, this was not the normal course of events.

He finally looked across his highly polished mahogany desk at the girl perched nervously on the chair facing him.

‘Eight jobs.’ He pushed himself away from the desk and allowed the lengthening silence to fill in the blanks of what he wanted to say.

Tess Kelly had come to him via a reference from her sister, and, in no position to be choosy, here he now was, interviewing for a nanny for his daughter. From what he could see, not only was Tess Kelly resoundingly lacking in any relevant experience, she was also flighty and academically challenged.

Huge green eyes looked back at him and he followed her nervous gesture as she chewed her bottom lip. He might have his hands tied, but that didn’t mean that he was going to make this process easy for her.

‘I know it sounds like a lot…’

‘You’re twenty-three years old and you’ve held down eight jobs. I think it’s fair to say that it is a lot.’

Tess looked away from the cool dark eyes resting on her. Under his unflinching, assessing gaze, she was finding it impossible to keep still. Why on earth was she here? She had arrived in New York three weeks previously to stay with her sister, with the proviso that she take some time out to consider her options and get her act together. At least those had been the parting words of her parents as they had waved her off at the airport before she’d disappeared across the Atlantic.

‘You’re twenty-three years old, Tess,’ her mother had said firmly, offering her a plate of homemade biscuits to soften the blow, ‘and you still don’t seem to have any idea what you want to do with your life. Your dad and I would just like to see you settle down. Find something that you enjoy doing—something you might want to stick with for longer than five minutes…Claire knows all the ins and outs of the business world. She’ll be able to give you some helpful advice. It would do you good to spend your summer somewhere else…’

No one had mentioned that part of the process would involve getting a job as a nanny. She had never worked with any child in her life before. She couldn’t remember having ever expressed the slightest curiosity about working with one. And yet here she was, sitting in front of a man who chilled her to the bone. The very second she had spun round at the sound of his velvety voice, to see him lounging against the doorframe, inspecting her, she had felt a shiver of apprehension skim down her spine. She had prepared herself for someone portly and middle-aged. He was, after all, her sister’s boss. He owned the company, he ran it, and according to Claire he took no prisoners. How could he do all that and still be in his early thirties? But he was—and, contrary to all expectations, not only was he young, he also had killer looks. Drop-dead, truly sensational killer looks.

But his emotional detachment was terrifying, and his perfect bone structure proclaimed a face that never cracked a smile. Tess wondered how her sister could work for him without having a nervous breakdown.

‘And your academic history…I’m finding it hard to tally your lack of qualifications with your sister’s achievements. Claire has a first class degree and is head of my corporate law department. You have…let’s count them…six mediocre GCSE grades and a certificate in Foundation Art…’

‘Yes, well, I’m not Claire, Mr Strickland.’ Two patches of colour appeared on her cheeks. ‘Claire and Mary both excelled at school.’

‘Mary being.?’

‘My other sister. She’s a doctor. They were both high-achievers. Not everyone is built along the same lines.’ Cheerful by nature, Tess was finding that she loathed this man. From his opening words to her— ‘You’re half an hour late and I don’t tolerate lateness.’ —to his sweeping assumption that she was a failure. He hadn’t said it in so many words, but it