Hot, Sexy & Bad(9)

By: Judy Angelo



Lena gave a soft chuckle. “Have a sip of your tea, Arie, before you burst. Come on. Right now.” She raised an eyebrow and Arie knew she wouldn’t be allowed to say another word until she’d followed instructions. So, still grumbling, she picked up the cup and sipped.

Lena gave a nod of approval. “Now that you’re a little calmer let me remind you of something.” She gave Arie a patient smile. “On the night of the event you were serving, weren’t you?”

“Sure, but I was just helping out.”

“And how was he supposed to know that?” Lena’s smile widened. "That night you were head cook and bottle washer, remember? In the middle of everything. And besides,” Lena’s smile turned sly, “you were grabbing trays and slipping into the banquet hall every chance you got, so you could spy on the man. No wonder he thought you were one of the servers.”

Arie glared back at Lena. Her partner had a point but she wasn’t ready to concede and she definitely wasn’t ready to forgive Rome Milano. “Well, he went to the trouble of tracking me down and inviting me to a meeting. He should have done his research and found out who I really was. You would think that would be step one.”

Lena tilted her head. “You do have a point. That, I can’t explain. But trust me, the man wasn’t trying to insult you and your being blonde had absolutely nothing to do with his blunder, okay? You’ve always been so sensitive about that. You’re blonde and you’re beautiful. Deal with it.”

And with that she got up and proceeded to shoo Arie out of her office. “Now take your tea with you and get out of my office. I have a meeting with the auditors this morning and I have to get ready.” As Arie went through the door she called out, “And take your mind off that man. He’s not worth your being upset all day.”

“Easy for you to say,” Arie grumbled under her breath. But, like Lena ordered, she went off to her office to tackle her million and one tasks for the day.

And the day flew by so fast that it was soon three o’clock and she was only on the third item on her list of things to do, a list that boasted all of twelve tasks. Arie could only sigh and dig in again, trying to go that much faster.

She was in the middle of reviewing a catering contract for a series of banquets at the Hyacinth Hotel when the phone on her desk began to ring. Not even looking up from her paperwork she grabbed the receiver and jammed it to her ear. “Arie Angelis speaking.”

“Miss Angelis, I have a gentleman here to see you.” Marilyn’s voice sounded soft and breathless, not at all like the receptionist she’d known almost two years.

Arie frowned. She was just about to ask Marilyn if she was okay but she didn’t. That would just sound too odd. “Who is it, Marilyn?” she asked, hoping it wasn’t Larry Brown from the advertising firm next door. The man had a habit of dropping in for a chat, which was annoying to say the least, but especially today.

“It’s Mr. Milano…from Belitalia.” The woman’s voice was filled with awe.

Arie’s grip on the receiver tightened and she sat up straight in her chair. “Rome Milano…is here to see me?”

“Yes. I…should I send him in?”

“Uh…yes. Please.”

Arie hung up the phone then, quick as a flash, she began to straighten up the mess on her desk. She did not have a reputation for neatness and things usually got real bad when she was under pressure, with papers strewn everywhere.

The thing was, it was usually Lena who had the visitors, not her. She hardly ever had to worry about tidying up to receive guests. Unfortunately, today - when she was at her busiest and most untidy - was the exception.

She’d grabbed a particularly messy folder when there was a knock at the door. Arie dropped the file on the floor and used her toe to shove it under her desk. “Come in,” she called out, her voice a study in calm, cool confidence.

The door opened and in the next instant the tall, Armani-suited frame of Rome Milano filled the entrance. And, just like she’d expected, at the sight of him her heart did a little skip inside her chest. There was nothing she could do to stop this attraction she felt for the man.

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