The Heiress's Secret BabyBy: Jessica Gilmore
The phone on her desk blared. It was probably the kitchen wondering if Gabe wanted a lightly poached egg with his breakfast. Polly glared at it before pressing the speakerphone button.
‘You’re home, then.’ Familiar grizzled, curt tones.
‘Hello, Grandfather. I hope you’re feeling better.’ He at least hadn’t expected her to go back to Hopeford before returning to work. But then Charles Rafferty had never actually taken a holiday—his bucket list probably read ‘spend more time in the office’.
Her grandfather merely grunted. ‘Hope you’re ready to get down to some serious work after your little holiday.’ Polly bit back the obvious retorts; it hadn’t been a holiday, she had left the company after barely taking a long weekend off in the last five years.
But what was the point? Words wouldn’t change him.
‘Have you met Beaufils yet?’
Polly couldn’t stop her eyes flicking towards the cloakroom door. ‘I’ve seen him,’ she said drily. ‘Confident young man.’
‘He’s Vincent’s boy, Gabriel. You know Chateau Beaufils of course, we’ve been their exclusive UK stockist for decades. He’s the only son.’
‘That doesn’t explain why he’s here.’ Her voice was sharper than she had intended.
She didn’t want her grandfather to know how much Gabe’s presence had shaken her.
‘Oh, he’s not here because of the vineyard although that’s a good connection of course. Man did some great things at Desmoulins, which is why I snapped him up. Thought he’d be good balance for you.’
‘Good balance for me?’ Polly wasn’t sure whether she wanted to laugh or cry. Balance or replacement? If he couldn’t have Raff did her grandfather want this young man instead? Just how much did she have to do before he finally accepted her? ‘I really think I should have been consulted.’
‘No.’ Her grandfather’s answer was as sharp as it was unequivocal. ‘Vice CEO is a board decision. We need someone with different strengths from you, not someone you can ride roughshod over.’
Talk about the pot and the kettle. Polly glared at the phone.
‘He knows the European markets and is very, very strong digitally, so I want him in charge of all e-commerce. Oh, and Polly? It’s going to take a few weeks before his apartment is sound again. It won’t bother you to have him at yours until then? You barely spend any time there as it is.’
Despite her best intentions Polly found her attention wandering back to the moment she had first seen Gabe sprawled on her chaise. The line of his back, the strong leanness of him, the delicacy of that intricate tattoo spiralling up his spine.
Thank goodness her grandfather wasn’t here to see the flush on her cheeks.
Her first instinct was to demand they find Gabriel Beaufils alternative accommodation a long, long way from her house and home. And yet...it might be useful to keep him close. What was that they said about friends and enemies?
‘I can’t imagine there’s much to excite him in Hopeford,’ she said sweetly. ‘But of course he can stay.’
The more she could find out about Gabriel Beaufils, the easier it would be to outmanoeuvre him. She was in charge of Rafferty’s at last and no smoothie-drinking, bare-chested, charming Frenchman was going to change that.
GABE FINISHED TOWEL-DRYING his hair and grabbed the clean shirt Rachel had brought him. Pulling it on, he began to button it up slowly, once again running the morning’s unexpected events through his mind. What had he been thinking?
He hadn’t been thinking, that was the problem, he’d been reacting. A sure sign he’d allowed himself to mix business and pleasure that bit too often. Not enough sleep and too many office flirtations.
What a first impression! Although he wasn’t sure what had thrown her more—the kiss or the news of his appointment.
He couldn’t blame her for being less than pleased with either but he was here and he was staying put. Unlike Polly Rafferty he didn’t have the advantage of bearing the founder’s name, but he was just twenty-eight, already the vice CEO of Rafferty’s and his goal of running his own company by thirty was looking eminently doable.
Things were nicely on track to get the results he needed, to learn everything he could and in two years look for the opportunity he needed to achieve his goal. Because life was short. Nobody knew that better than Gabe.
He pushed the thought away as he strode out of the bathroom and along the passage that led to the office. It was time to eat some humble pie.