Jacques Querruel appeared regularly in society magazines with a string of women. When he decided that he wanted shy, sexy Holly Stanton as his personal assistant, it was a fait accompli!
Holly fully intended not to be swept off her feet. But working long hours by Jacques's side, she was bombarded with temptation! And mixing business with pleasure was Jacques's specialty...!
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The Parisian Playboy
By Helen Brooks
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"And how is the lovely Holly this morning? Had fun over the weekend, darling? You look like a girl who knows how to have a good time."
As Holly raised her eyes from her word processor she steeled herself to show no reaction at all when she saw Jeff Roberts's podgy face leering at her from the doorway. "Good morning, Mr Roberts," she said flatly, her voice dismissive. And then she felt her stomach muscles contract as he sauntered over to her desk.
He was close enough now for his eye-wateringly pungent aftershave to invade her air space, but Holly continued typing without glancing at him again, hoping he would take the hint and leave.
There were basically three ways to deal with the problem of a serial groper in the office, Holly had decided some weeks before, when she had first started work at Querruel International.
One - ignore and avoid the sad individual in question, whilst letting him know by as icy a manner as possible that his advances were not appreciated.
Two - yell sexual harassment and take it as high as it needed.
Three - go for ultimate satisfaction and sock the scumbag a strong right hook on the jaw.
Holly had been trying the rational approach for eight weeks on the scumbag concerned with no visible result, and reporting him was a no-go unless she was prepared to lose her job because Jeff Roberts was the son of the managing director and the apple of his doting father's eye.
The third option would definitely mean she sacrificed all possibility of a future reference as well as the job - a job which had promised bright prospects and an interesting and rosy future at her initial interview. But - and the but had become increasingly attractive over the last couple of months - it would certainly teach the little wimp a lesson he wouldn't forget in a hurry.
He leant over her, reading the report she was copying from the draft on her desk, and his voice was low when he said, "I've told you before, call me Jeff when there's just the two of us."
There was always a faintly musty, almost unwashed odour emanating from his clothes, or maybe his skin, and Holly had to suppress a shudder of distaste. It didn't help that her tiny office was little more than a cubby-hole off Jeff's father's secretary's office, with one small window and wall-to-wall filing cabinets. There was one other door apart from that opening into the secretary's domain, and this would have led into the corridor outside but for the fact that two filing cabinets had been placed in front of it. Now necessity dictated one entered and left through the one door; something Jeff hadn't been slow to take advantage of from her first week.
"If you are looking for Margaret she should be back from the canteen in just a moment," Holly said pointedly.
"Is that so?" As she continued with her work he adjusted his position, bending down and reaching across her for a pen and managing to brush the side of her breast as he did so. "I'll just borrow this for a moment, if I may?"
Holly stopped typing, forcing herself to stare up into his sallow, moist face as she said steadily, "I've told you before, Mr. Roberts, I don't want you to do that."
"Do what?" He didn't even bother to try to sound indignant, and when his gaze moved over her breasts and then down to her legs before returning to her face his tongue wet his lower lip.
"I don't want you to touch me," she spelt out tightly.
"Did I touch you?" He smiled, bending closer again and giving her the full benefit of his bad breath as he murmured, "Why don't we go for a nice little drink after work, eh? I know just the place. You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
When hell froze over! "I'm afraid I've got other plans," Holly said stiffly.
"Tomorrow, then?" Speckled hazel eyes of a muddy hue slithered over her greedily. "I'll buy you dinner too if you're a good girl. Can't say fairer than that."
Where was this man coming from? What did it take to puncture this inflated ego that thought because of his standing in the firm he could behave however he liked? Holly knew from talk she'd heard in the canteen during her coffee breaks that Jeff Roberts pawed whomsoever he could, but most of the other girls worked in conditions where there was safety in numbers.
She stared him straight in the eye as she said coldly, "I'm sorry but I can't go for a drink with you tomorrow or any other time, Mr. Roberts."
His face changed. "I can do you some good here, Holly, if you play your cards right," he said very softly, "but the opposite also applies. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"I understand you very well," Holly returned icily.
"And my answer remains the same. Now, I need to get this report finished."
He looked at her for a moment more before straightening up, and Holly was fooled into thinking he was going to leave as her eyes returned to her word processor. And then, for a shocking second, two meaty hands appeared over her shoulders and grabbed her breasts, squeezing them painfully hard before he went to walk away.
She didn't have to think about what to do. She was up out of her chair in the blink of an eye and all her strength was behind the ringing slap she delivered across his face.
He clearly hadn't expected anything like such a fiery reaction. He staggered backwards for a good few steps, thudding against a filing cabinet before letting forth with a string of obscenities which turned the air blue. As he straightened Holly knew he was going to come at her again and she prepared herself, her blue eyes flashing and her slim, petite body held stiff and tense.
"What the hell is happening here?"
The voice from the doorway brought Jeff swinging round and Holly's startled eyes focusing on the tall, dark figure standing in the aperture. She knew instantly who he was, even if the heavy French accent hadn't proclaimed it. She had heard so much from the other girls about the unique owner of Querruel International she could have described him down to the last eyelash, even though she'd never seen the ruggedly handsome Frenchman in person.
Jacques Querruel. Thirty-two years of age; unattached but with a string of mistresses and affairs that made him the favourite of society magazines and the tabloids, alike; the ultimate playboy except in Jacques Querruel's case he worked hard as well as playing hard. A self-made millionaire who had risen from the depths of squalor in a Paris slum to become a wealthy and successful industrialist, his original furniture company in Paris now having a string of subsidiaries in France as well as the United States and England.
And he played life by his own rules, as his present ensemble proclaimed. According to office gossip he owned several flashy cars, as one would expect of a young French millionaire, but his favourite transport when he visited England was his Harley-Davidson.
"Mind-blowing piece of equipment," one of the young lads in the accounts department had told Holly dreamily a couple of weeks ago. "A Road King in monochrome black ice. You could really reel in the big miles on that beauty."
"You ought to see Mr Querruel in his black leathers." This had been from one of the females at the lunch table who clearly didn't want to waste time talking about a machine when it could be used discussing the rider. "Everything stops when he walks in, I tell you. There's not a woman here who doesn't go weak at the knees. We're talking pure dynamite, Holly."
And now she was seeing the pure dynamite for herself, Holly thought a trifle hysterically. And it was dangerous stuff all right. But then her attention was snapped away from the big black figure in the doorway and back to Jeff, when he said quickly, "Mr Querruel, I'm sorry you had to be a party to this, sir. It's inexcusable, I know. I was reprimanding Miss Stanton on the inferior quality of some work she did for me and she reacted badly. I'm afraid I lost my temper when she hit me."
Excerpted from The Parisian Playboy by Helen Brooks Copyright ©2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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