Read an Excerpt
His Boardroom Mistress
By Emma Darcy
Mills & BoonCopyright © 2004 Emma Darcy
All right reserved.
Chapter One"THE kind of man you want, Liz, is the marrying kind."
The quiet authority of her mother's voice cut through the buzz of suggestions being tossed around by her three sisters, all of whom had succeeded in marrying the men of their choice. This achievement made them feel qualified to hand out advice which Liz should take, now that she had been forced to confess her failure to get a commitment from the man who'd been her choice.
Brendan had told her he felt their relationship was stifling him. He needed space. So much space he was now in Nepal, half a world away from Sydney, planning to find himself or lose himself in the Himalayas, meditate in a Buddhist monastery, anything but make a life with a too managing woman.
It was shaming, humiliating to have to admit his defection to her family, but there was no excuse for not attending her father's sixtieth birthday luncheon today and no avoiding having to explain Brendan's absence.
The five of them - her mother, her sisters and herself - were in the kitchen, cleaning up after the long barbecue lunch which had been cooked by the male members of the family, now relaxing out on the patio of her parents' home, minding the children playing in the backyard.
Liz knew she had to face up to her situation and try to move on from it, but right now she felt engulfed by a sense of emptiness - three years of togetherness all drained away - and her mother's statement hit a very raw place.
"How can you know if they're the marrying kind or not?" she tossed back derisively.
Naturally, her wonderfully successful siblings had the answers and leapt in to hit Liz over the head with them.
"First, you look for a man with a good steady job," her oldest sister, Jayne, declared, pausing in her task of storing leftovers in the refrigerator to deliver her opinion. "You want someone to support you when the kids come along."
Jayne was thirty-four, the mother of two daughters, and married to an accountant who'd never deviated from forging a successful career in accountancy.
"Someone with a functional family background," Sue contributed with a wise look. "They value what they've had and want it for themselves."
Sue was thirty-two, married to a solicitor from a big family, now the besotted father of twin sons, loving his wife all the more for having produced them.
Liz silently and bitterly conceded two black marks against Brendan who'd never held a steady job - preferring to pick up casual work in the tourist industry - and had no personal experience of a functional family background since he'd been brought up by a series of foster parents.
There was no longer any point in arguing that she earned enough money to support them both. A small family, as well, if Brendan would have been content to be a house husband, as quite a few men were these days. The traditional way was not necessarily the only way, but Jayne and Sue weren't about to appreciate any other view but theirs, especially with the current inescapable proof that Liz's way hadn't worked.
"What about your boss?"
The speculative remark from her younger sister, Diana, jolted Liz out of maundering over her failures.
"What about him?" she retorted tersely, reminded that Diana, at only twenty-eight, was rather smug at having scooped the marriage pool by snagging her own boss, the owner of a chain of fashion boutiques for which she was still a buyer since they had no immediate plans to start a family.
"Everyone knows Cole Pierson is rolling in money, probably a billionaire by now. Isn't his divorce due to go through? He's been separated from his wife for ages and she's been gallivanting around, always in the social pages, linked to one guy or another. I'd certainly count Cole Pierson available and very eligible," Diana declared, looking at Liz as though she'd been lax at not figuring that out for herself.
"Get real! That doesn't mean available to me," Liz threw back at her, knowing full well she didn't have the female equipment to attract a man of his top-line attributes.
"Of course it does," Diana persisted. "He's only thirty-six to your thirty, Liz, and right on the spot for you to snaffle. You could get him if you tried. After all, being his P.A. is halfway there. He depends on you ..."
"Cole Pierson is not the least bit interested in me as a woman," Liz snapped, recoiling absolutely from the idea of man-hunting where no love or desire was likely to be kindled.
Besides, she'd long ago killed any thought of her boss that way and she didn't want to do anything that might unsettle what had become a comfortable and satisfying business relationship. At least she could depend on its continuing into the foreseeable future.
"Why would he be interested?" Diana countered, apparently deciding she'd done her share of the cleaning up, propping herself on a stool at the island bench and examining her fingernails for any chipped varnish. "You've been stuck with Brendan all the time you've been working for Cole Pierson, not giving out any availability signals," she ran on.
"He is quite a hunk in the tall, dark and handsome mould," Jayne chimed in, her interest sparked by the possibility of Liz linking up with the financial wizard who managed the money of several of her accountant husband's very wealthy clients. As she brought emptied salad bowls to the sink where their mother was washing up and Liz drying, she made a more direct remark. "You must feel attracted to him, Liz."
"No, I don't," she swiftly denied, though she certainly had been initially, when he'd still been human and happily married. He'd been very distractingly attractive then, but being the remarkable man he was and having a beautiful wife in the background, Liz had listed him in the no hope category.
Besides, she'd just found Brendan - a far more realistic and reachable choice for her - so she'd quelled any wayward feelings towards her boss.
"How couldn't you be?" Sue queried critically, frowning over what she assumed was totally unnatural. "The few times I've dropped in on you at your office and he's appeared ... the guy is not only a stunner but very charming. Fantastic blue eyes."
Cold blue eyes, Liz corrected.
Cold and detached.
Ever since he'd lost his baby son eighteen months ago - a tragic cot death - Cole had retreated inside himself. The separation from his wife six months later had not come as a surprise to Liz. The marriage had to be in trouble. Her boss had moved beyond connecting to anyone.
Excerpted from His Boardroom Mistress by Emma Darcy Copyright © 2004 by Emma Darcy. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.