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I woke with a start, and as I swam back to consciousness I couldn’t remember where I was. In the dull pre-dawn light, I could see the grey outlines of the furniture, not your typical hotel room items – an enormous sofa, coffee table, a giant desk, some arm chairs, a fireplace, even a small dining table by the window. I squinted to focus on the coffee table and saw two glasses and an empty champagne bottle. I spotted my dress thrown carelessly over the back of the sofa together with a man’s pair of suit trousers. A knot of apprehension twisted my stomach and I turned slowly to my right to look at the recumbent form beside me. He had pulled the sheet across his lower body, but even in the dim light I could make out the hair across his broad chest trickling to a thin line over the contours of his abdomen and down beneath the sheet. From the outline I could see his erection and not for the first time I marvelled at his stamina. I felt a flush of arousal and images flashed in front of my eyes; the look on his face when his probing fingers found how I wet I was for him, the shape of his muscles as I removed his shirt, his hands reaching for my breasts as I rode him to a mind-blowing climax. I groaned quietly to myself and summoned the energy to get out of bed in order to make my escape. As I sat up, he reached for me.
“Where are you going?” he asked, his voice thick and husky.
“To the bathroom,” I whispered. “Go back to sleep.”
As I navigated my way there, I looked for the rest of my clothes but they were scattered everywhere, damning evidence of a serious mistake on my part. I gathered as much as I could find in the half light, went to the bathroom and shut the door. I looked at my reflection with a critical eye. My make-up was passable and there was a brightness to my eyes despite the looming hangover and lack of sleep. But my hair was a mess and I definitely had that post-coital look. I stared guiltily at my reflection. This was not what I’d had in mind.
I first noticed Robert when I started working for Smithson’s around 18 months ago. Within the first month, I’d had to give a presentation to the board on the PR strategy for the rest of the year and I was very nervous. My boss, Ed, was great, giving me a confidence boosting pep talk before I went in.
“I hired you because you know what you’re doing and you get results,” he said. “You know something they don’t so just go in and tell them. You’ll be fine.”
The presentation began well and Ed gave me an encouraging smile. As I began to relax, I started looking round the small room, briefly making eye contact with everyone, most of whom I’d met before. Everyone seemed to be receptive to what I was saying and my confidence grew. But there was one person I hadn’t met. A dark-haired man was standing at the back, lounging against the wall, looking bored. The first time I caught his gaze, the energy radiating from his cold blue eyes almost stopped my heart and the words died on my tongue. I grabbed the glass of water in front of me and took a sip, regained my train of thought and continued with the presentation. I didn’t look at him again but I felt his gaze on me continuously. I began to feel uncomfortably warm. When I asked for questions from the floor, he made straight for the door. I watched his athletic frame disappear with a mixture of curiosity and disappointment and then fielded the questions that güvenilir bahis the others were putting to me.
“You did brilliantly, well done,” Ed said later as we were heading down stairs.
“Who was the one who left early?” I asked, hesitantly, not wanting to draw too much attention to my curiosity.
“That’s Robert Wolfe, don’t mind him. He can be a bit abrupt sometimes and he’s not a great believer in the need for marketing. Unless you’re doing something ops-related you won’t run into him often.” That’s a shame, I thought. There was definitely something about him that was dangerously attractive.
A few months later I received an email from Robert asking me to spare him half an hour when he was next at our head office. He was heading up our carbon reduction initiative which needed communication, so he wanted to pick my brains. At first I was delighted. I have what my friends call a tree-hugging obsession with climate change and the opportunity to help our distribution business reduce its carbon footprint, plus all the communication and PR around it, sounded brilliant. But Robert had a prickly reputation, flew around the country and when he couldn’t he drove a huge gas-guzzler of a car. Plus he was known for his dislike of what he called soft skills and was notoriously difficult to work with. The more I thought about it the more I worried, so I spent more time than usual preparing for the meeting.
I knocked on his door and went straight in. He was on the phone but waved at me to sit at the meeting table. He walked over to the door and shut it, then turned to look out the window and continued talking. I realised it was the first time I’d heard him speak and his voice was very deep and resonant, with a soft West Country burr to it, so incongruous with his tough reputation and the power almost crackling from him. I watched him pacing in front of the window, his energy seemingly boundless. Robert was of average height but he seemed taller. His shoulders were broad and muscular, his biceps well defined through his tailored shirt. As he ran a hand through his dark hair, I saw muscles ripple down his back. Although he wasn’t thin, there didn’t seem to be an ounce of spare flesh on him. His hair was dark but I noticed the beginnings of grey at his temples and wondered how old he was.
As his phone call drew to a close, he came over to where I still hovered and shook my hand. His grasp was strong and warm.
“I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced,” he said, his ice-blue eyes boring into mine. His look sent a shiver down my spine and butterflies fluttered in my belly. “I’m Robert Wolfe, Operations Director.”
“Anna Carrington, Marketing,” I stammered, blushing like a school girl. The contact with his hand was making me uncomfortably warm.
“Yes, I know,” he said releasing my hand and sitting down. “The colouring in department.” I must have gasped for immediately he laughed, a deep rumble entirely without humour. “Joke, girl,” he said, “Only a joke.”
The rest of the meeting did not go well. I had prepared a lot of comparative information but Robert immediately dismissed a great deal of it.
“Don’t think this is about saving the planet,” he growled, “Because of what we do, we pay high penalties in tax and this will help us get some of it back. That’s all.”
“Then why do you need me?” I snapped without thinking. My back türkçe bahis was already up from his opening comment and as he’d been picking holes in my ideas, I was getting more and more defensive. “Oh calm down, girl, I’m just telling it how it is,” his stern expression hadn’t softened but there was amusement in his tone and his eyes were almost twinkling. “I need you to tell it how it isn’t.”
“I won’t lie,” I said defiantly.
“I’m not asking you to lie, just add some what do you call it — spin,” he almost spat the word out. “Bring some pretty posters and leaflet designs to the steering group meeting in three weeks and leave the real work to the rest of us.”
“Fine,” I shot back. “But you have to at least agree to a reduction target or this project won’t be taken seriously and we’ll never get accredited.” I gathered my papers and walked to the door. He stood quickly, blocking my path.
“Don’t walk away from me, girl,” he growled, his eyes flashing dangerously. As I turned back to face him, the feral animosity radiating from him was quite intimidating. He raised a hand to the door, preventing my exit. I could feel my knees shaking and my heart was hammering away in my chest under his ferocious gaze, a strange mixture of fear and something else as well.
“Who do you think you are?” he snarled, glaring at me. “You come waltzing into the business in your tight little skirts and think you can flirt around to get what you want.” His eyes travelled down my body, taking in the roundness of my breasts and curve of my hips. I pressed myself back into the door, unable to escape from his marauding stare and not a little intimidated by his aggression.
“Just because you’re Ed’s golden girl doesn’t mean you can tell me what to do.”
At that, I lifted my chin with a defiance I didn’t feel and returned his stare. I had worked very hard since joining the business and sales had increased noticeably. Yes, I enjoyed unprecedented support from my boss, but it was because I was good at what I did and unlike some people, I considered getting on with people a better way to succeed than bullying.
“Let me out please,” I said through gritted teeth. He stared down at me for a moment, an inscrutable look in his eyes. Then he stepped away from the door and turned his back on me. I took that as a dismissal and left the room, my emotions in turmoil. I had known he would be difficult to work with but I was annoyed by the way his attack became personal. The rage I had incited in him seemed somewhat over the top but I was mostly annoyed by the conflicting feelings his actions had on me. On the one hand I was furious at the misogynistic way he had treated me but on the other hand he had awoken something deep within me that I hadn’t felt in a long time – arousal.
The steering group meeting didn’t go well either. I was nervous about presenting my work to him because of our previous meeting and it had become very important to me to prove myself to him. But as it turned out, I needn’t have worried. Because the data we were collecting would enable us to get a massive tax reduction if we could prove we were reducing our carbon footprint, it was vitally important to the project so it was discussed endlessly. It would be the focal point of all my communications, too, but even though I had a slot on the agenda, the meeting drew to a close without my being asked to present güvenilir bahis siteleri it all.
I was furious. I had worked extremely hard on this project, named it, branded it, designed a print and poster campaign and even got the depots involved. I stopped Robert as he was packing up.
“Can I have a word, please?” I asked as he was packing his bag.
“If you keep it brief,” he said, not looking up. “I’ve got a flight to catch.” I flushed. It was not my fault the meeting had run over and I needed him to sign off on the logo and branding before I could do any more.
“We need to review the communication plan,” I said, “Just have a quick look at these designs before you go and I can present the full drafts at the next meeting.” I placed my folder on top of his laptop so that he couldn’t brush me off.
“I don’t have time for the colouring in department,” he snapped, pushing my work away. “Do you really think this is going to make a blind bit of difference to global warming? How naive are you?”
I stared at him and bit back an angry remark. I turned to pick up documents but in my haste I managed to knock them all over the floor.
“Oh, for god’s sake,” he muttered, as he stuffed his laptop in his bag and bent to help me collect the scattered papers. As he picked up the leaflet I had drafted, he paused.
“Hmm,” he said as he scanned the words and images. When handed it back to me and his fingers brushed mine. Jolts of electricity from his touch raced up my arm. I felt my nipples harden and my flush deepened, radiating heat throughout my body. “This isn’t bad, Anna. I like the logo, it has real impact.”
“It draws itself from the project name,” I said and then swallowed, my throat dry. He leafed through the remainder of the documents.
“Yes, I see that,” he said, nodding. “There’s some good stuff here.”
“I-I thought we could commission some promotional items,” I stammered, blushing furiously at his unexpected praise. “Pens made from recycled rubber. And we should get everything printed on paper from sustainable sources too.” As I looked up from the papers our heads almost collided and I caught the scent of his aftershave, musky and strong. His eyes were burning fiercely and I had to battle the almost overwhelming urge to kiss him. I couldn’t have looked away if my life depended on it.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door and the spell was broken. He resumed packing his bag while I scrabbled on the floor for the rest of my papers. My thoughts were as scattered as my papers and I only half-heard the receptionist tell him his taxi for the airport had arrived, and his response as he followed her out of the room. Once he had left, I took my time gathering my things in order to compose myself. What on earth had I been thinking, wanting to kiss him? But a tiny thought popped into my head — how would he have reacted if I had?
By the time I got back to my desk, there was a voicemail on my phone. Hesitantly, I dialled in.
“Yeah, hi Anna, it’s Robert. I’m in the taxi. Look, I’m sorry we didn’t get time to look at your work today, but to be quite frank, the data collection and interpretation is more important. If the numbers don’t add up, no amount of spin will get us accredited. However, what I saw briefly today looked good so use that logo, get cracking on the leaflet, and order those pens — but run the costs by me first. Email’s fine. Oh, and I’ll need you to look at the submission questionnaire to make sure we’ve got the right amount of flannel, you know what I mean. Anyway, good work. Bye for now.”
I stared at my phone in blank surprise.
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