Blonde Number Two frowns and eyes the young woman at the desk. Olivia scoots up immediately and scurries to a door on the other side of the foyer. Please be seated. Grey will be another five minutes. She sits down, and they both continue their work. Perhaps Mr. Grey insists on all his employees being blonde.
I have definitely worn the wrong clothes.
He turns and says through the door. He turns, sees me, and smiles, his dark eyes crinkling at the corners. Olivia has jumped up and called the elevator.
She seems to excel at jumping from her seat. Grey will see you now, Miss Steele. I stand rather shakily trying to suppress my nerves. Gathering up my satchel, I abandon my glass of water and make my way to the partially open door. I push open the door and stumble through, tripping over my own feet, and falling head first into the office. Double crap — me and my two left feet!
I am on my hands and knees in the doorway to Mr. I am so em- barrassed, damn my clumsiness. I have to steel myself to glance up. Are you all right? Would you like to sit? It takes a moment for me to find my voice. In a daze, I place my hand in his and we shake. As our fingers touch, I feel an odd exhilarating shiver run through me.
I withdraw my hand hastily, embarrassed. Must be static. I blink rapidly, my eyelids matching my heart rate. He looks mildly interested, but above all, polite. His office is way too big for just one man. It matches the coffee table by the couch. Everything else is white — ceiling, floors, and walls except, on the wall by the door, where a mosaic of small paintings hang, thirty-six of them arranged in a square. They are exquisite — a series of mundane, forgotten objects painted in such precise detail they look like photographs.
Displayed together, they are breathtaking. He cocks his head to one side and regards me intently. Apart from the paintings, the rest of the office is cold, clean, and clinical.
I wonder if it reflects the personality of the Adonis who sinks gracefully into one of the white leather chairs opposite me. Next, I set up the mini-disc recorder and am all fingers and thumbs, dropping it twice on the coffee table in front of me. Grey says nothing, waiting patiently — I hope — as I become increasingly embarrassed and flustered. I hope. I blink at him, unsure what to say, and I think he takes pity on me because he relents.
I frown, dragging my wayward attention back to the task at hand. My cheeks heat at the realization, and I sit up and square my shoulders in an attempt to look taller and more in- timidating.
Pressing the start button on the recorder, I try to look professional. To what do you owe your suc- cess? His smile is rueful, but he looks vaguely disappointed.
I employ an exceptional team, and I reward them well. I work hard, very hard to do that. I make decisions based on logic and facts. I have a natural gut instinct that can spot and nurture a good solid idea and good people. His eyes flare momentarily in surprise. The harder I work the more luck I seem to have.
It really is all about having the right people on your team and directing their 9. I look at him, and he holds my gaze steadily, impassive. My heartbeat quickens, and my face flushes again. Why does he have such an unnerving effect on me?
His overwhelming good-looks maybe? The way his eyes blaze at me? The way he strokes his index finger against his lower lip? That gives me a certain sense of responsibility — power, if you will. If I were to decide I was no longer interested in the telecommunications business and sell up, twenty thousand people would struggle to make their mortgage payments after a month or so. I am staggered by his lack of humility. I flush. Of course, I would know this if I had done some research. I change tack. His eyes are alight with some wicked thought. I stop breathing.
He really is beautiful. No one should be this good-looking. Why, specifically? Why does he make me so uncomfortable?
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I like to know how things work: what makes things tick, how to construct and deconstruct. And I have a love of ships. What can I say? I go a long way to protect my privacy. She badgered and badgered my PR people, and I admire that kind of tenacity. Why are you interested in this area? Is it something you feel passionately about? I glance at the next question, confused by his attitude. If so, what is it? I like control — of myself and those around me.
I swallow hard. I just want this interview to be over. Surely Kate has enough material now?
I glance at the next question. His brow furrows. I flush, again. I move on quickly. I try again. I have a brother and a sister and two loving parents. Damn Kate and her curiosity! He does not look pleased. My heart- beat has accelerated, and my cheeks are heating up again. Nervously, I tuck my loosened hair behind my ear.