Little White LiesBy: Kimberley Reeves
Miranda drew in a long, steady breath, just as she always did before entering the lion’s den. In the three years she had worked as Holt Devlin’s Personal Assistant, she’d never once seen anyone pass through his doors without pausing first to gather a few extra ounces of courage. Of course, in Miranda’s case it wasn’t courage she needed but strength; strength to keep the pitiful look of adoration out of her eyes, strength to refrain from shamelessly throwing herself in his arms and confessing she was hopelessly in love with him.
She’d seen the look of indifference on his handsome face every time the inevitable happened; his lover became too needy and demanded more than he was willing to give. How many times had she heard the iciness in his voice whenever his woman de jour was foolish enough to show up at his office unannounced? In that acidic tone of his, Holt would inform them he didn’t need a clinging vine and that any future plans they had made were permanently cancelled.
Not that she had the slightest chance of becoming Holt’s lover, but the outcome would be the same if he ever discovered how she felt. He would find it distasteful to work with a woman who was mooning over him, and Miranda would quickly be transferred to another department. She couldn’t live with that kind of humiliation, which meant guarding her secret at all costs.
Holt didn’t even glance up when she entered his office and quietly closed the door, but then, no one but Miranda would dare come in without knocking. She took the seat in front of his desk and waited with pen and pad in hand while he finished reading the last of the morning’s mail. She loved this part of the day when she could just sit here and let her eyes soak up every masculine inch of him. Firm jaw line, aristocratic nose, dark eyes and full, sensuous lips that rarely smiled; together they created the chiseled features that made Holt appear hard and unapproachable.
So maybe he was curt in his responses and barked his orders more often than not, but it never ruffled her. She understood him in a way none of her predecessors ever had. Devlin Shipping was Holt’s life and he took his responsibilities seriously. What other’s took as arrogance, she saw as confidence, and what they thought was rudeness on his part was really just a dedicated man giving quick, decisive responses. Yes, he had a rough exterior, but Miranda knew a side of him she doubted many people had ever seen.
Holt pulled several letters from the pile and handed them to Miranda. She didn’t look at them or ask any questions but merely tucked them beneath her notepad. He sent up a silent thanks to God, yet one more time, for his demure assistant. Miranda was extremely efficient and self reliant, so there were never any worries about typos or whether the job would be completed on time. Once he instructed her how to do something, he never had to repeat himself or waste valuable time checking her work. She was every successful businessman’s dream, and knowing full well what a gem she was, Holt paid her handsomely for it.
He glanced down at the note on his desk. “Willis reported there was a problem with one of the ships.”
“There was,” she replied pointedly.
Holt smiled. “As usual, you’re one step ahead of me. So it’s taken care of then?”
“The repair crew will be there first thing in the morning.”
“And the Thacker contracts?”
“Delivered an hour ago.”
“Sends her regrets, but promised to join you for lunch next Wednesday.”
Holt leaned forward to check his schedule, certain he already had an appointment for that day. “I thought…”
“Wednesday was the only day she could make it so I rescheduled Mr. Rosenberg for Thursday.”
He leaned back in his chair, giving her a nod of approval. “If I wasn’t so afraid of commitment, I’d probably fall madly in love with you, you know that don’t you?”
A soft blush slowly worked its way up her neck. “I’m just doing my job,” she said quietly, carefully keeping her eyes pinned to the notepad on her lap.
Holt studied her for a moment, not entirely unaffected by the pretty flush that crept into her cheeks. She wasn’t beautiful, at least not in the classic sense, but she had delicate features and her dark hair was quite a stunning contrast to the jade coloring of her eyes. As for sexual appeal, his poor little Miranda was seriously lacking, but he wasn’t ungrateful for that.
The severe bun she always kept her hair in, coupled with the sensible but less than flattering skirt and jacket ensembles, kept the men in his company from distracting her with idle flirtations. She was reserved and respectful, proficient, never called in sick or complained when she had to work overtime, and she was completely devoted to him. What more could he ask for?