November 7, 2003

January 1, 2004

The Italian Boss’s Mistress

Brides of L'Amour, book #2


Her first assignment is…to sleep with her boss!

A misunderstanding leads Pippa Stevenson into Andreo D’Alessio’s bed. He is a fabulous lover, but all the same, Pippa is overcome with shame because he’s her boss! However, now Andreo has decided that he wants Pippa all to himself, in the boardroom and the bedroom! But business and pleasure are a tricky mix,and soon Andreo needs to find a way to persuade Pippa to accept his new proposition — to promote her from mistress to wife!

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A TEAM had flown over to Naples to bring Andreo up to speed on his latest acquisition, Venstar.

Tensions were running high for there was not a single Venstar executive present who did not feel that his job might be on the line. The ruthlessness that distinguished Andreo D’Alessio’s brilliance in the business world was a living legend.

‘This should help you to fit faces to the senior staff when you come over to visit us,’ one of the directors said with a rather nervous laugh as he passed over a company newsletter adorned with a photograph of key personnel.

Andreo D’Alessio studied the front page with keen dark eyes. Only one woman featured in the line-up and he only noticed her in the first instance because she messed up the picture. She was very tall and her stooped and self-effacing stance shrieked all the awkwardness of a very skinny baby giraffe striving in vain to hide its overly long limbs. Heavy framed spectacles dwarfed her thin, earnest face. But what had caught Andreo’s attention was her pronounced untidiness. Stray riotous curls stuck out from her head hinting that her hair was in dire need of a good brushing. His frown deepening, he went on to note that her ill-fitting suit jacket was missing a button and the hem on one leg of her shapeless trousers was sagging. He almost shuddered. The epitome of cool elegance himself, he was less than tolerant of those who offended his high standards.

‘Who is the woman?’ he enquired.

‘Woman?’ Andreo was asked blankly and he had to point her out in the photograph before his companions made the necessary leap in understanding.

‘Oh, you mean…Pippa!’ a Venstar executive finally exclaimed as though challenged to recognise the reality that the senior staff actually harboured a female in their ranks. ‘Pippa’s our assistant finance manager—’

‘You don’t tend to think of her as being a woman…has a brain like a calculator. An academic high-flyer who thinks of nothing but work,’ a director proclaimed with appreciation. ‘She’s absolutely dedicated. She hasn’t taken a single holiday in three years—’

‘That’s unhealthy,’ Andreo cut in with disapproval. ‘Stressed and exhausted employees operate below par and make mistakes. The lady needs a vacation and HR should have a word with her about smartening up her slovenly appearance.’

Jaws dropped. Paunches were sucked in and jackets smoothed down for none of the men was quite sure which imperfections might put one at risk of attracting the clearly very dangerous label of being ‘slovenly’. An uncomfortable silence fell. Slovenly? Was Pippa slovenly? Nobody had ever really looked at Pippa long enough to have noticed one way or the other. That she was an economics prodigy and very efficient was all anybody had ever cared about.

Still scanning the picture to note the level of personal care as displayed by the male contingent of the line-up, Andreo found yet more scope for censure. ‘I don’t believe in the concept of dressing down because it doesn’t impress clients. I don’t want to see jeans in the office. A smart appearance implies discipline and it does impress. This man here could do with a haircut and a new shirt.’

He pointed out the offender in an impatient tone. ‘Attention to self-presentation is never wasted.’

Almost every man in the room decided to go on a diet, get a haircut and buy a new suit. Andreo, all six feet five inches of him, after all, could be seen to practise what he preached. Lean, mean and undeniably magnificent in a to-die-for Armani designer suit, Andreo was an impressive enough sight to inspire the younger men with an eager desire to emulate him. Ricky Brownlow, however, who was far too vain of his blond good looks to believe himself in need of either a diet or a haircut, concealed a self-satisfied smile. He had just worked out how he could promote his current lover over Pippa’s head without attracting undue criticism.

‘The HR department also needs to set new targets. I want to see a very rapid improvement in Venstar’s abysmal record of promoting women to executive level,’ Andreo concluded.

When her immediate superior, Ricky Brownlow, invited her into his office and broke the bad news, Pippa was betrayed into a startled exclamation. ‘Cheryl…is going to be the new finance manager?’

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