The Italian Boss's Secretary Mistress

By: Cathy Williams


IT WAS not yet seven-thirty and Gabriel Gessi was already at his desk. It was his daily routine. Half an hour running on the treadmill at his gym, half an hour scything through the empty pool, a quick shower, a shave and then on to his office, already charged to face the onslaught that constituted his average day. The only interruptions to this brutally physical routine came in the form of his frequent trips overseas, although, even then, he would try his level best to kick-start his working day on a physical high.

The past three months had not seen him deviate from this punishing routine, even though the accustomed high had been marred by a succession of irritations that he really should not have been expected to handle. Even though they concerned him.

Gabriel Gessi inhabited that rarefied world of the supremely wealthy and, as such, was not accustomed to dealing with life’s minor irritations. His adrenalin rush came from the aggressive cut and thrust of deals and acquisitions, not from the more prosaic set-backs that dogged most people’s working lives.

Set-back number one had come in the form of the temp who had sailed through the interview process under the successful camouflage of an efficient working girl but who, after one week, had turned out to be a ditzy emotional wreck who spent the majority of her two weeks sniffing discreetly into a handkerchief and muttering lame excuses about boyfriend problems.

Gabriel had no time for females with boyfriend problems and even less time for females who cried. He had had to get rid of her and thereafter had followed a catalogue of mediocrity which had left him gritting his perfect white teeth in frustration.

He couldn’t imagine how the incompetents who appeared in front of him could ever have been fortunate enough to find gainful employment and yet, by all accounts, they had.

He had seen off the last one the Friday before with an audible sigh of relief. She, at any rate, had lasted longer than the expected fortnight, but he reckoned that that had only been because he had swallowed his irritation and, with laudable patience, tolerated her annoying tendency to cower whenever he spoke and to address him so quietly that he’d constantly had to tell her to speak up. Whenever he’d told her to speak up, she’d invariably jumped and spilled something. Coffee. Water. Her cup of tea. Something of a liquid nature had always seemed to be around waiting to be nudged accidentally over, which, in turn, had rendered her even more incapable.

The whole thing had been extremely trying and Gabriel was overjoyed that his life was now going to return to normal.

For the first time in three long months, he had actually strolled through the smoked glass doors of his very plush four-storied offices without a scowl on his face.

Rose would be back today. Life could return to its normal smooth course, leaving him to get on with the process of running an empire without having to worry about the tiresome nuts and bolts.

Of course it was not yet eight and, even though he half expected her to demonstrate her enthusiasm to be back at the helm, he did not reasonably expect her to appear, like him, at the crack of dawn. She would, after all, probably still be recuperating from jet lag. A flight back from Australia was enough to throw even the most seasoned traveller, and Rose was not a seasoned traveller. Even though a fair percentage of his business was founded on the leisure industry, including a range of exclusive hotels scattered all over the world, her knowledge of foreign shores was limited. In the four years she had worked for him, she had only travelled with him a handful of times and, even then, only to Europe. He hadn’t minded. He needed her back at the office anyway, in his absence, making sure that things were ticking over.

In that quiet time before employees started arriving, time which he usually spent going through the emails which would have been forwarded overnight, Gabriel instead swivelled his leather chair round so that he was facing the huge window, staring out at a skyline that was cluttered with the busyness of the concrete jungle, but still oddly beautiful against the crisply blue May sky.

The past three months had showed him how much he relied on Rose. She was well paid but he contemplated giving her another pay rise. Or maybe a company car, although he couldn’t imagine her driving to work. Who did? He, personally, either took a cab or else was driven in by his chauffeur, sparing him the horrors of the London traffic. But she might be able to use a car if she ever wanted to get out of London.

Briefly, Gabriel wondered whether she ever did. Despite his occasional prodding, he realised that he knew precious little about her personal life. She had a talent for deflecting unwanted questions that would have guaranteed her a career in the diplomatic service.

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