Defiant Mistress, Ruthless Millionaire

By: Yvonne Lindsay

“I certainly am,” Callie answered, determined to at least appear to be keen on her new role even if her insides were clattering away like a flock of nervous parrots.

“Follow me,” Josh gestured toward an elevator bank and pulled a swipe key from his belt as they entered the waiting lift.

“Thanks again for showing me around,” Callie said to Sabrina.

The other girl gave her a smile and a wave and started to walk away as the lift doors closed. As lifts went, the car was bigger than many she’d been in, but for some reason the walls seemed closer than they should be. Josh Tremont seemed closer. Was it her imagination or had he moved in to be nearer to her as the car travelled up to what was tagged as the executive floor?

His cologne tantalised her, a hint of black pepper and sandalwood mixed with something else. Whatever it was, it played havoc with her equilibrium. Thankfully, the journey upward was swift and, as the lift doors slid silently open, Callie let go the breath she’d unconsciously held.

“Our senior executives are all housed on this floor, together with our legal department. You’ll be issued your own security clearance and swipe key. Every key access is logged and counterchecked by security on a regular basis to provide a complete record of our staff movements.”

“That way no one is where they shouldn’t be?” Callie asked. Maybe this was going to be a whole lot tougher than she anticipated.

“As I’m sure you’re aware from your previous work, in these competitive times security and confidentiality are paramount.”

Oh, yes, she knew it all right. And while Josh Tremont was clearly a stickler for guarding his own turf, he wasn’t above stealing or buying information about others.

“I’m surprised you don’t have everyone fitted with a personal tracking device,” she said with a light laugh.

“Don’t be. I’ve thought about it. But this does just as well.”

Josh pressed his index finger on a reader set in a panel on the wall beside enormous double doors. A green light flashed on the display of the reader and the doors swung open, revealing a massive office suite.

“You use biometric identification on this floor?”

“And in our IT section, yes. By the end of next year, we’ll use it through the whole building.”

Callie followed Josh inside, and tried to quell the sense of disquiet that threaded through her as the doors swung closed behind them—much like the solid gates of an olde worlde stronghold. It didn’t take too much imagination to connect the dots and cast her new employer in the role of lord of this particular manor.

Josh gestured toward a modern workstation. “This is where you’ll be working.” He pulled out the chair, inviting her to sit down. “You’ll see there’s another print reader associated with your computer. Drew, my head of IT, will be up shortly to log you in to the system.”

Callie sat upright in the chair, not daring to let her back brush against the top where she sensed Josh’s hand had settled. She nodded toward the closed office doors. “Are they always kept shut?”

“Absolutely. When someone comes, they’ll appear on your screen via the intranet CCTV system. If they’re already recorded in our database, a brief bio will pop up next to their picture. If they don’t have an appointment, they don’t come in. Mind you, they’d be hard pressed to get this far without security clearance anyway.”

The opening credits of old Get Smart episodes flitted through her mind.

“Is all the security really necessary?”

Josh barked a short laugh and leaned forward a little. “You worked at Palmer Enterprises. You tell me.”

Callie fought back the retort that sprang to her lips. She had to remind herself yet again that for all intents and purposes she was now working for Tremont Corporation. More specifically, for the man himself.

She looked up toward him and forced a smile. “I see your point.”

“I thought you might.”

Her breath suddenly stilled in her chest as he smiled at her in return. A genuine smile—one that lit his eyes and caused laugh lines to fan out at their corners. She felt her own lips curve more generously in response and saw his gaze drop to her mouth, saw the light in his eyes spark into something more, something that made her suddenly wish she wasn’t here under false pretences.

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