His Plain-Jane CinderellaBy: Jennie Adams
Visit when Andrew and Gemma were there.
‘Gary’s just over here.’ Stacie led the way towards the assistant floor-manager. She was very busy. There wouldn’t be a lot of time to visit family in upcoming months at all.
Troy Rushton’s left leg caused a limp as he walked at her side, and his expression seemed to tighten. Not in pain, but perhaps in frustration.
Was that a permanent injury? What was Troy’s history? What had brought him to this small New South Wales town and to this processing plant? Stacie had so many questions about him, but some curiosity was to be expected. He was the new owner. And gorgeous to go with it in a brooding, tough-looking way. ‘I’ll fill you in on plant operations as best I can, and if you need any information to help you or your family get settled here…’
‘No family.’ His words were a flat statement with no emotion attached that Stacie could discern. ‘And the rest will wait until this production situation is sorted out.’
Right. So he was single. That was irrelevant, of course.
With an almost imperceptible nod, Stacie stopped at Gary’s side. ‘Gary, this is our new owner, Troy Rushton. Mr Rushton, please meet Gary Henderson.’
‘Henderson.’ Troy shook Gary’s hand and then his eyes narrowed as he looked about them. ‘What’s going on?’
Gary lifted a hand to the back of his neck. ‘We, ah, we had a machinery choke.’
It was just one word, but asked in a brooks-no-excuses tone.
‘I’ll get back to the office,’ Stacie put in quickly.
Troy acknowledged her words with a brief glance, and Gary’s with a narrowing of his eyes. He stepped further into the production area. ‘Let’s get this cleaned up. Then we’ll finish this discussion.’ To Stacie he said, ‘I’ll be up there shortly.’
Stacie made her way upstairs to the offices. By the time she’d put the kettle on in the little kitchenette and returned to her desk, Troy had walked in.
The office space suddenly became more vibrant, more alive.
Oh, Stacie. Why think like that?
For no good reason. That was why. And that lack of good reason needed to sort itself out right now. ‘Would you like a hot drink while I take you through things up here?’
‘No thanks. But in Carl’s absence let’s tackle the necessities. Bring whatever work you have, and a notepad.’ He crossed the open-plan area to the manager’s desk and sat as though he belonged there.
He did look right there, sitting in Carl’s chair. But he also looked vital and a lot younger than Carl. A man that every woman in town would fall for, Stacie decided.
Not her, though. She was immune.
Well, men seemed to be immune to sticking around with her. Andrew, anyway. And others who’d been dazzled by her sisters.
Not the point, Stacie.
No, it wasn’t. And she’d made a life choice for herself now. She’d moved forward: new town, new job, new goals.
And all the old baggage to go along with it, because she couldn’t just make that situation go away.
Fine; so she’d ignore it to death by focusing on this new life, and right now on the situation at hand. ‘The problem down there…?’
‘Is sorted out, and perhaps might not have been if you hadn’t spotted it as quickly as you did.’ His gaze met hers.
‘How do you know?’
‘I don’t miss things.’
‘Things don’t usually fall apart on the floor if Carl isn’t around.’ It felt important to make that clear. ‘It’s just a shame they did this time.’
‘Henderson was left holding—’
‘The bag of almonds?’ The quip escaped her.
Troy’s brows rose and then his face eased into the first hint of a devastating smile. ‘Yes. So to speak.’
When his face softened, there was a tiny start of a dimple in his right cheek. Stacie rather thought she might like to see that dimple fully formed.
The thought unnerved her. It would be foolish to want such a thing.
‘From what I know here, the plant doesn’t often have spills like that one.’ And, from the sounds of it, Gary Henderson would now know he’d need to be more vigilant in the future.
‘I’m glad to hear that.’ When Troy looked away, it was a slow slide in time as his gaze shifted from the blue of her eyes, over her nose, before lingering on her mouth.
He blinked and a mask came down over his face.
It hadn’t meant anything in particular. He was simply looking. Leave it to her gorgeous sisters to attract the genuine interest.
And leave it to Stacie to not want to attract any attention at all now. She was far better off that way!