EXCERPT OF FIRST CHAPTER:
A hand touched Donna’s arm as she walked past. She shuddered slightly, then heard a familiar posh almost public school voice calling her name. David Wallace, her boss. Closing her eyes for a second, she muttered, Oh no! under her breath.
‘Got a minute?’ he asked, raising his eyebrows expectantly.
‘Sure David – is there a problem?’ Her heart sank, as she glanced up at the clock behind him. It was already five past five. Why did he always do this to her just as she was about to leave?
‘Yeah – it’s this customer report of yours. I think we need to have a chat about the analysis you’ve made. One or two of the trends you’ve shown seem a little unusual, to say the least.’
‘OK, let me get my notes,’ she said with a frown.
‘Bring them to my office, would you?’
Gritting her teeth, she realized what this would mean. A dissection of her whole analysis, bit by bit; which knowing David, would probably tear two weeks’ work to shreds.
She went back to her desk to fetch the necessary paperwork, cursing him for doing this to her yet again. The realisation of how meticulous he was, made her fear the chances of her leaving before six o’clock were virtually nil. Just what she didn’t need, when she was supposed to be going out with Blake at seven-thirty, to celebrate their forthcoming engagement.
David gave her a little smile on her return, making her cringe.
‘Pull up a chair, Donna.’
Sitting down, paperwork in front of her, Donna proceeded to try to clarify her analysis.
Every minute detail had to be explained, so determined was he to find out exactly what she’d done. All the figures had been checked and rechecked, so there couldn’t be a mistake in her analysis – could there? As time passed her nerves began to fray.
Her fingers moved up and down on his desk, and she almost felt like crying, as David droned on and on, with no apparent conception of how late it was. The clock on the wall struck six-fifteen. The man just wouldn’t shut up. It seemed like he didn’t want to go home. Which wasn’t surprising really, considering he lived on his own and appeared to live and breathe work, and expected everyone else to do the same.
Ever since he’d interviewed her for the Statistical Analyst job, two years ago, she’d noticed his keen interest in her work. Obviously having seen something beyond her supposed beauty. But now she suspected this interest was more than just work orientated.
To his credit, he knew his subject inside out, but when he managed to find a couple of little errors that changed her analysis completely, she could have died. How stupid must she have looked right in front of him. God knows what he thought.
Finally he stood up and smiled faintly, much to her relief. ‘All right Donna, let’s call it a day, shall we? Thanks for staying behind, I really appreciate it.’
‘Sorry I messed up.’ She gathered up her papers as she rose.
‘Think nothing of it. We all make mistakes, don’t we? Even me, believe it or not. Have a good night.’ He gave her a warm smile, then hesitated as if he was about to say something else. But he didn’t. Nevertheless, she felt slightly uncomfortable, as on occasions she’d caught him gazing at her. If ever he’d asked her out – heaven forbid – she’d die! Thank goodness he didn’t, she thought as she made to leave.
‘Donna!’ His voice was loud, and made her jump and turn round. ‘Can I give you a lift?’
The colour on her face began to rise again. ‘Er…well…’
‘It’s on my way home – honestly.’ He stared at her with a slight grin on his face.
‘No, it’s all right, but thanks anyway.’ She quickened her pace, almost running towards the main office door.
‘Oh come on, Donna…’ he shouted after her, but she didn’t stop. Didn’t dare. Or was she just overreacting to his friendly gesture?
Making her way hurriedly down the corridor, she reached the lift, pressed the button, and waited for it to arrive. It seemed to take forever – her heart thumped against her chest, fearing she’d miss her train. At last the lift arrived. Once she was inside, she drummed her nails on the chrome handrail as the floors ticked away, took out her phone and tried to get in touch with Blake, but couldn’t get through to him. Damn.
Finally the doors slid open, Donna rushed through, still annoyed at herself for being late.
Walking out of the building she was surprised to see how dark it was. Then heard the sound of someone’s footsteps clattering behind her. Oh my God, was somebody following her? But when she glanced round there was no one there. Then walking on, she heard it again. Closing her eyes for a second, she sighed, thinking she was getting paranoid, then quickened her step, intent on getting to the station as quickly as possible.
This was all David’s fault – for not being willing to accept the fact she didn’t want a lift, and making her feel on edge. When people got overfriendly like that, she felt uncomfortable and embarrassed. Why they thought her attractive, she couldn’t work out, even though she’d been told this from an early age. There’d always been remarks about her slender figure and turquoise eyes.
Walking briskly now, and looking at her watch, she thought it might just be possible to make the six forty-five train back to their flat; leaving her just half an hour to get ready. But it’d be a close run thing.