The Heiress's Secret Baby

By: Jessica Gilmore

What else? Polly pulled herself away from the view and returned to her desk, running her fingers possessively over the polished wood. Okay, let’s do this. She pulled up a search engine and typed in his name. ‘Who are you, Monsieur Beaufils?’ she murmured as she hit enter.

The page instantly filled with several engines. He had left quite the digital trail.

Polly sat back and began to read. Some of it she knew. He was from an affluent background, his family the proud makers of a venerable brand of wine. However, Gabe had left home in his late teens, gone to college in the States and stayed on to do his MBA while working at one of the biggest retail chains there.

‘Good,’ she muttered, returning to the results page and scanning the next paragraph, an article written about him just a few months ago. ‘What else?’

Two years ago he had returned home to France, to Paris, to take charge of digital sales at Desmoulins. The young up-and-coming whizz-kid introducing innovation into one of Paris’s most venerable grande dames had made quite a stir. Was that what he was planning to do here?

So much for his business history. Personal life? She moved through several lines of results. Nothing. Either he was very discreet or he didn’t have a private life.

Polly’s mouth tingled as if his lips were still hovering above hers. Despite herself she flicked her tongue over them as if she could still taste him. Discreet it was. That was a very practised kiss.

She took the cursor back to the top of the page and hit the images button. Instantly the page filled with photos of Gabe, smiling, serious, in a head-to-toe Lycra.

Hang on? He was wearing what?

She hovered over the image of Gabe walking out of a lake, wetsuit half undone, and Polly resisted the urge to zoom in on his chest. She checked the caption. He was a triathlete.

Gabriel Beaufils. Confident, charming, discreet and competitive.

She could handle that.

A smile curved her mouth. This was going to be almost too easy.

* * *

‘I hope I didn’t keep you waiting. I got caught up in something.’

As a matter of fact he was precisely on time—Polly would bet money that Gabe Beaufils had been standing outside the office watching a stopwatch to make sure he walked back in exactly one hour after she had dismissed him.

She would have done the same thing herself. Interesting.

Not that she was going to let him know that. She kept her eyes locked on her computer screen, giving every impression that she too was busy. ‘I hope you had a nice breakfast.’

‘Yes, thank you, most important meal of the day.’ There was a dark hint of laughter in his voice.

‘So they say.’ She looked up and smiled. ‘I’m usually too busy to remember to eat it.’

She had meant the glance and the smile to be brief, dismissive, but there was an intensity in his answering look that ensnared her. How could eyes be so dark, so knowing? Heat burned her cheeks, a shiver of awareness deep inside.

Reluctantly she pulled her gaze away, staring mindlessly at her computer screen, reading the same nonsensical sentence over and over again.

‘You should take care of yourself, Polly.’ His voice was low, caressing. ‘Neglecting your body is not wise.’

‘I don’t neglect my body.’ She wanted to pull the defensive words back as soon as she had uttered them.

‘I exercise and eat well,’ she clarified not entirely truthfully but she didn’t want to admit to her snacking habits to him. Not when he was evidently so healthy. And fit. It took every ounce of willpower she had not to look up again, to sweep her eyes over him from head to toe, lingering on the muscles she knew were lurking under that crisp white shirt. ‘I just don’t make a big deal of it.’

She pushed her chair back and stood. ‘I am going to do a walkabout,’ she said. ‘Would you care to accompany me?’

He stayed still for a moment, that curiously intent look still in his eyes, and then nodded courteously as he pulled the door open and held it for her.

Polly sensed his every movement as he followed her back out into the light, glass-walled foyer, awareness prickling her spine.

Rachel looked up as they walked by, curiosity clear on her face. Polly had no doubt that she was emailing all of her friends with a highly scurrilous account of her boss’s encounter with a half-naked Frenchman. Let her; Polly would fill her PA’s forthcoming days so completely that she wouldn’t even be able to dream about gossiping.

It wasn’t far from her office to one of the discreet doors that led out onto the shop floor. This was what Rafferty’s was all about. No matter how essential the office functions were they existed for one purpose—to keep the iconic store in business. Polly ensured that every finance assistant, every marketing executive spent at least one week a year on the shop floor. Just as her great-grandfather had done. She herself spent most of December on the shop floor serving, restocking and assisting. The buzz and adrenaline rush were addictive.

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