Read an Excerpt
The Mediterranean Tycoon
By Margaret Mayo
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePETA'S chin had a determined thrust as she knocked on the door. Many tales had travelled around the company about the dynamic new owner. He was the literal clean-sweeping new broom.
Already, in the space of a few weeks, many employees had left; no one wanted to work for the Tyrant, as he'd promptly been nicknamed. And now she had been promoted to his personal assistant. His third one in as many weeks! He hadn't asked whether she would like the job, oh, no. A directive had been sent to her. It implicated that she either take the job or leave the company.
It had put Peta's back up. She had disliked him immediately and intensely, but the fact was that she needed the job and couldn't afford to turn it down.
The voice was deep and resonant. She'd seen Andreas Papadakis when he'd stalked the corridors of Linam Shipping, when he'd swept through the offices, dark eyes seeing all. They'd rested on each employee in turn, reading and assessing, causing several of her female associates to swoon.
Peta had seen only a tall, arrogant man, who would have been handsome if his face wasn't creased into a permanent scowl. He'd projected a tough, invincible image, and she hadn't been impressed. She liked men with humanity and warmth. This man certainly hadn't the right disposition to warm himself to his employees. He was simply here to turn an already profitable company into a much bigger money-spinner.
She took a steadying breath before opening the door, her back ramrod-straight as she walked across the oatmeal carpet towards the huge, dominating desk. It was the first time she'd been in this holy sanctum and the oak panelling, the original oil paintings and the antique furniture were very impressive, though she somehow guessed they weren't what this man would have chosen for himself. He'd already installed a whole bank of computers and other high-tech office equipment, and they sat uneasily in what had once been old Mr Brown's office.
Andreas Papadakis stood to one side of the fine desk, his hair brushed uncompromisingly back, black brows beetled together, brown eyes narrowed and assessing. He looked the very picture of intimidation and Peta squared her shoulders. "Good morning, Mr Papadakis," she said evenly.
"Miss James." He inclined his head. "Sit down - please." The please seemed to be an afterthought as he indicated the chair in front of his desk.
Peta sat, then wished she hadn't when he remained standing. He had to be at least six foot four, broad-shouldered and powerfully muscled, and those rich chestnut eyes watched every movement she made, making her feel distinctly uncomfortable.
Not that she let it show. She lifted her chin and fixed a bright smile to her lips, pencil poised above her notebook.
The rest of the day passed in a whirlwind of note-taking and meetings, of barked orders, of booking appointments and sending dozens of e-mails. Peta's opinion of Andreas Papadakis didn't change one iota; if anything she thought him even more arrogant and over-bearing. But she nevertheless felt quite pleased with the way she had handled herself, sure that she'd passed her induction with flying colours, and was on the verge of putting on her jacket when her new employer flung open the connecting door between their two offices.
"Not so fast, Miss James. There's still work to be done."
Peta glanced at the clock on the wall. "I thought my hours were nine till five," she said, her wide blue eyes fixed challengingly on his. "It's already two minutes past." Adding beneath her breath, And if you think I'm going to work late you have another think coming. I have a home life even if you don't.
"I couldn't care less if it's twenty past," he lashed out.
"I need you."
If this was the way he'd spoken to his previous secretaries then it was no wonder they'd walked out, decided Peta. What was wrong with asking politely instead of yelling and demanding? Unfortunately, if she wanted to keep the job, it looked as though it was a case of holding the candle to the devil.
"Very well," she answered calmly, while seething inside as she hung up her jacket again. "What is it you want me to do? I've finished all the work."
He threw a tape down on her desk. "I want this report by six. Make sure you type the figures correctly; it's very important."
I bet it is, Peta said to herself, as soon as he'd closed the dividing door between them. Everything is important, according to you. She'd tied her thick auburn hair back this morning, but during the course of the day it had come loose and she tossed it back angrily now.
Picking up the phone, she called her neighbour. "Marnie, I have to work late. Do you think you could look after Ben a while longer?" She hated having to leave her son a minute more than was necessary, felt guilty about it, even, but there was no way round it. Ben was very special to her. She wanted him to have the best possible start in life, and if that meant going out to work then that was what she had to do.
"Of course I will, love," came the immediate reply.
"Don't worry about him. I'll give him his supper, shall I?"
Marnie loved looking after Ben. Her grandchildren were now teenagers and she missed having a small child around the house. She was a treasure. Peta didn't know what she'd do without her.
It was almost seven by the time she finally left the office. Andreas Papadakis was a workaholic and expected everyone else to be the same, heaping work on her that would surely have waited until the next day. She'd heard that some mornings he was at his desk by six.
She had no idea whether he was married or not. He didn't wear a ring and he protected his privacy fiercely, although all sorts of rumours floated around the company. Rumours of strings of attractive girlfriends, of a wife in Greece and a mistress in England, of properties in New York and the Bahamas, as well as in Europe and his homeland. How he had time for all this Peta wasn't sure.
When she arrived for work at ten minutes to nine the next morning he was waiting for her. "I wondered when you were going to show up," he muttered tersely, brown eyes glaring. His tie was hanging loose, top button undone, and his thick, straight hair looked as though he'd constantly raked agitated fingers through it. In fact he looked as though he'd spent the night in the office wrestling with insurmountable problems.
"I need coffee, strong and black, and half a dozen muffins. Blueberry. See to it, will you?"
The day had begun! Peta nodded. "I could order you a proper breakfast if you'd -"
"Just do as I ask," he cut in impatiently. "And bring in your notebook. There's lots of work to get through."
He was in a foul mood for the whole day but Peta stubbornly refused to give in, remaining pleasant, polite and helpful, no matter what harsh thoughts she entertained beneath the surface, and there were plenty of those.
Excerpted from The Mediterranean Tycoon by Margaret Mayo Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. 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.