A Sentimental Heart Ch. 06-07bytotallyatease©
Author's Note: It's been like forever -- getting this to you and I can only apologise for that. But now for what it's worth, here are the next two chapters -- I do hope that you enjoy them.
A sentimental heart
(A cool head against a warm heart; which will win in the end?)
Marcus Phillips drove to his home with his concentration on the road, but his mind on Miranda.
He remembered how he had felt when he had kissed her. He remembered how she had felt in his arms... his imagination kicked in, as in his mind he took the next steps with her...
This of course was a mistake.
It didn't take much to imagine Miranda and him, wrapped in each other's arms, kissing and touching and stroking...
By the time he drove onto his driveway, and climbed out of his car, his body was hard and aching with desire for her.
She had always been at the back of his mind, locked away in a corner... an elusive... feeling, impression or... something!
When Peter had told him of Miranda's job situation, he'd felt a vague prickling, and then when he was scanning her CV; he'd found the words leaving his mouth before his brain had even processed the thought.
Seeing her again, when she had first walked into their kitchen...
He stopped with his key held in his hand, all ready to unlock his front door.
This feeling of... desire... need... lust? Maybe he was making more of it than there actually was; maybe it could burn itself out? Maybe if he could find the opportunity... get Miranda alone... Spend some time together -- just the two of them; He didn't doubt that given the right circumstance, he could seduce Miranda... maybe he could indulge with her and get her out of his system?
He paused for a moment more; as his mind began to plot and plan, finally with a little smile of satisfaction, he pushed the key into the lock and entered his home.
Miranda went into work with Peter that Thursday morning feeling a little bit dejected.
She had harboured some vague plans to go out and do some shopping; they had had to pay out last month, on some new guttering for their home, which had left them both limping into payday, existing on homemade sandwiches for lunch; and plain filling meals when they got home, Miranda did a lot of things with potatoes, they were cheap and they were filling... and by the end of the month they were both sick to death of them.
They had been paid at the end of October though, and Miranda had decided to treat herself, some new clothes were definitely a must for the new season and her new job and... Well she didn't dwell too much on why else she might suddenly wish to splash out.
Late Sunday evening though, Peter had come home looking very annoyed.
"The car's just died on me!" he groaned. "Luckily I was just turning onto our driveway, when the engine cut out."
Miranda looked up at him in dismay. "Well we knew that it was on its last legs... that mechanic told us we would be lucky to get another year out of it..." Miranda mentally said goodbye to her new clothes as she smiled reassuringly up at Peter. "Oh well, I suppose we had better start looking for a replacement."
The next few days Peter had scoured the papers and the local dealers -- looking for something to suit their needs.
"It's not going to be cheap," Peter had told her on the Wednesday evening. "If we're going to get a reliable car, then it's going to cost."
"Yes I suppose so," Miranda sighed. "Have you seen ANYTHING yet though?"
"Well..." he began cautiously, "there were a couple of possibilities... over at that second hand dealer on Bridge Street... He said he would even take our old car, and give us a bit of a discount... but the one that I was looking at, that I think would be perfect, needs a couple of bits sorting on it... the guy reckons next week or the week after..."
"Well whatever you think best Peter... I know next to nothing about cars so I'll trust your judgement on this."
"He said that if I pop in tomorrow with the money, then he'll put it to the top of his job list... he'll get the M.O.T sorted on it, and then we can get our car insurance shifted.
"How much?" Miranda asked quietly.
Peter gave a little grimace. "Well... with our old car thrown in... he said four and a half thousand."
"That's yours and my wages... and then some!" Miranda exclaimed.
"But we'll be sorted for the next few years I think!"
Miranda gave another little sigh. "What with the guttering last month... and now this... well we're going to have to dig into the savings some more; to help us get through the month... and it's going to be more potatoes and sandwiches..."
She sat down at her desk with a little sigh, knowing that Peter would be sorting out the car as soon as he got the chance. Miranda had transferred some cash into the joint account that they used for food, and anything to do with the upkeep of the house.
She had given Peter the debit card, and she had notified the bank about the need to buy the car, and therefore a large sum of money would be leaving that account...
It meant living basically again for the next few weeks, but that couldn't be helped, still it was all rather depressing, and she felt just a little bit fed up as she settled down to work.
She had seen next to nothing of Marcus since the Halloween party, since they had kissed, and... well they had acknowledged their attraction to one another.
Her eyes grew distant as she slipped into a little daydream of them not working together, and allowing their feelings to run their course...
Marcus strolled casually into their office. "I'm going to Hong Kong for several meetings and I'll need one of you with me." He looked at Mrs Rogers. "Sort it out between you and let me know by the end of the day, will you?"
He left the room without once looking in Miranda's direction and she never bothered looking up from the folder in front of her.
"Well..." declared Mrs Rogers thoughtfully, she narrowed her eyes at Miranda before continuing. "I suppose you would like to go?"
Miranda forced a smile. "Actually I hate flying and would rather not -- if you don't mind."
Mrs Rogers' smile relaxed into a more normal one. "Well then I'll go... just this once." Her voice rose as she went into lecture mode. "But I won't always be able to step in for you, so you are going to have to get over your flying problem. Travelling with one of the management is part of the job description -- you know?"
"Yes I know Mrs Rogers; and I really do appreciate you doing this for me. I promise that the next time, I will go and not create a fuss."
Mrs Rogers smiled at her again. "You're a good girl Miranda, just a little bit overwhelmed I think, by your position in this company." Miranda was certain that Mrs Rogers didn't mean to sound so condescending.
Marcus sat in his office waiting for the confirmation that Miranda would be travelling with him. Mrs Rogers was getting along in years; and he was confident the she would pass this over to her junior.
Peter walked into the office with a little smile. "I've just come from Mrs Rogers... she said to tell you that they've discussed it between them and feel that it should be Mrs Rogers travelling with you."
"Thank you Peter, sort it out will you... but go and have your lunch first... didn't you have something you needed to deal with?" Marcus didn't even blink, his mind already working out counter plans and strategies.
"Yes... Actually there is something I need to do -- thanks Marcus." Peter regarded him thoughtfully for a moment, but didn't comment further.
An hour or so later Peter came back into the office and began to make arrangements for the business trip on the following Sunday.
Marcus was busy on the telephone when Peter first got back, and so little was said.
He was just about to arrange the flight tickets, when Marcus suddenly looked across at him thoughtfully.
Peter paused in the act of picking up the telephone as he became aware of the way Marcus was watching him. He squirmed uncomfortably, certain he'd done something wrong and was about to get a reprimand.
"You know how important this trip to Hong Kong is?" Marcus spoke quietly.
"Yes Marcus, we've been working on this project for weeks now, and I know exactly what's involved with it." Peter nodded once in acknowledgement.
"And do you think that you could handle it, if you were to go instead of me?" again he spoke quietly and Peter felt his confidence blossom.
"Yes Marcus... I'm certain that I can deal with this assignment, more than competently."
"Then you need to arrange the tickets for yourself and Mrs Rogers... and make any other arrangements that you might need to make as well."
Peter stood up. "Thank you Marcus, for trusting this to me. I won't let you down."
Marcus smiled wryly. "I do trust you Peter... remember that."
Miranda arrived home after working a little later that evening, due to her covering for Mrs Rogers again; to find Peter already home; and the washing machine already on a cycle. She dropped her bag and keys on the kitchen table and looked at her brother questioningly.
"You'll never guess what..." he said with a wide grin.
"No, so just tell me." She returned his grin tiredly as she picked up on his excitement.
"Marcus has passed the Hong Kong assignment over to me. I'm flying out on Sunday!"
"Oh Peter! That's wonderful news!" She leaned forward to hug him. "Do you need anything? Can I help you with something?"
She was all calm practicality and Peter gave her a grateful look. "I've put some clothes to wash, but they'll need ironing; and I've dug out the suitcase, but it's a little bit grimy..."
"Peter! This is a business trip; you'll need something a lot smarter than that battered old thing! If you travel with that; then no one will ever take you seriously." She was tapping her foot as she thought about their budget. They were both drained financially what with the guttering and the car... She had already had to dig into their rainy-day money, and she had been hoping to make do until payday -- which was still quite a way away!
"I've got that credit card that I never use... with the money we'll get on pay day... and I'm sure you'll get travel expenses..." she was murmuring to herself and Peter waited confidently for her to come to his aid. She looked him in the eye and smiled. "It's late night shopping tonight, so come on -- let's go do some shopping!"
Peter laughed and grabbed his coat without arguing.
It was a successful shopping expedition and they came back laden down with parcels and shopping bags and a very smart looking suitcase with a twenty year guarantee on it.
"I'm beat!" Peter grinned as he sat down at the kitchen table, while Miranda put the kettle on.
"Me too," she smiled. "I think we deserve a treat tonight so let's order a Chinese takeout, or something."
"That sounds like an excellent plan," Peter agreed enthusiastically. "But can we afford it?"
Miranda shrugged as she rummaged through a draw. "I've held on to some cash for bus fares and so on, but with you away, and I can just as easily walk... the exercise will do me good after sitting at that desk all day..." she dug out a menu, and held it out to her brother. "You phone up and order the food Peter, while I go and grab a shower."
She was just shrugging into her rather unglamorous but wonderfully comfortable dressing gown, when she heard the front door and a moment later the murmur of voices.
"Ah food!" she smiled to herself as she left her bedroom to run lightly down the stairs.
She walked towards the kitchen to come to a mortified halt in the door way.
Marcus was sitting at their kitchen table sipping a mug of coffee.
"You don't mind do you Miranda? There's always too much for just the two of us and Marcus hasn't had a chance to eat yet either."
She glanced at Marcus who seemed to be terribly amused about something.
"No, if you're certain you would like to stay?" she murmured uncertainly, "you're more than welcome."
He eyes met and locked on to hers briefly. "Thank you Miranda," he responded quietly.
There was another knock and Miranda went to fetch her purse whilst Peter answered the door. She walked back to find Marcus paying the delivery boy and closing the door with a polite thank you.
"How much do I owe you?" she asked firmly.
He looked as if he was going to argue with her, but one glance at her tightened lips, and determined look, and he gave a sigh of defeat. "Twenty two pounds and fifty pence," he informed her quietly.
"And you didn't tip him? You must have given the exact money because I didn't see him give you any change?"
"Don't fuss Miranda, give me the ten pounds in your hand and we'll call it an even split."
"Don't argue Miranda," he spoke quietly but his eyes suddenly had a dangerous glint to them.
"No Marcus," she replied meekly, handing him the money.
He took it with a wide mischievous grin. "Now that's how I like to hear you..."
"Come on you two I've got everything out already!" Peter called impatiently from the kitchen.
They sat at the kitchen table with their plates loaded with food, which smelt absolutely delicious.
Miranda concentrated on the meal and allowed the two men to shoulder the burden of the conversation.
Apparently Marcus had come round specifically to talk to Peter about his forthcoming trip, and whilst she understood the importance of it, she failed to see why this couldn't have waited until tomorrow.
She shot him a puzzled look a couple of times but always looked away again before their eyes could connect.
She was aware of Marcus looking across at her on more than one occasion, and she found this constant scrutiny almost unnerving.
"Why don't the two of you go and sit in the living room while I wash these plates?" she suggested lightly, feeling the need of a little space.
"Okay sis." Peter agreed immediately standing.
Marcus looked like he was going to argue with her and she panicked. "Please!" she begged him softly.
He looked at her in surprise at the tone of her voice, but simply nodded and then left the room with Peter. Five minutes later she heard the front door open and then close again; and shortly after that Peter strolled into the kitchen.
"Marcus said thanks for his supper and he'll see you in the morning." A polite little comment, so why did it have to sound so much like a threat to Miranda's ears.
She got into work early the next morning only to find that Marcus must have been there even earlier. Already there was a memo from him in her email inbox. A single glance told her he'd sent this to all the senior staff at Philips Pharmaceuticals. It read as followed: it has come to my attention that the use of the skills of Mrs. Rogers and Miss Redmond has been open to abuse by my senior colleagues. I find it necessary to remind you that these ladies are there only for the most sensitive of projects, and not to save your legs from walking down to the typing pool, nor to hurry up your receipt of your projects back! Also as you may be aware my assistant Peter Redmond will be going to Hong Kong for two weeks and he will be using the services of Mrs. Rogers during that trip. Miss Redmond will be stepping in as my PA whilst Peter is away. Therefore the office of Mrs. Rogers and Miss Redmond will be closed until further notice; and all work will be carried out by the typing pool.
It was signed simply with his initials and Miranda found she was shaking by the time she had finished reading it.
Well! She thought to herself, he could have at least asked her! And if he so couldn't do without a personal assistant; then why send Peter away?
She thumped the nearest folder down in front of her and began to type furiously; her fingers punching out every letter on the keyboard.
"What did the keyboard do, to deserve such abuse?"
She looked up into that smug face, who once again seemed to be enjoying a joke at her expense.
"Can I do something for you Mr Phillips?" she asked politely if a little snappily.
"Where is Mrs. Rogers this morning?" His humour left him and he came further into the room, allowing the door to close behind him.
"She's taken the day off to prepare for this trip," Miranda told him quietly.
"Yes... well, perhaps I should have given you both a little more warning." He murmured apologetically.
"I'm not going anywhere," she said with a small shrug of her shoulders.
"No... but you will be covering for her."
Miranda gave a brittle little laugh. "You've pretty much closed down this office for two weeks, so there won't be much to cover."
"That's the hope," he agreed with a little smile. "By the time your office is open again the senior team will be used to using the typing pool and not put so much pressure on you and Mrs. Rogers."
"Is that why you're doing it?" she asked in surprise. "You don't really need me to cover for Peter... do you?"
"Well I have got used to him dealing with rather a lot of things for me," he told her cautiously. "I suppose I could make do on my own for a little while, but what's the point of that; if you are there -- and more than capable of doing the job." He looked at her as a thought occurred to him. "Unless you have some sort of objection to being my PA for a short time? I can assure you Miranda; that I'm not a tyrant."
"No of course not!" she exclaimed defensively. "I just wondered that's all. It'll be nice to do something -- different... for a little while." She nearly said 'something more challenging' but caught herself at the last.
Marcus looked like he was reading her mind and she squirmed uncomfortably.
"Good then that's all settled," he said instead. He gave her another thoughtful look before turning back to the door.
After the door closed behind him, Miranda let out a little sigh of relief. Gosh it was going to be awkward working with him for two weeks. She had never forgotten her reaction to him when they had first met. Indeed she still responded in the same way, except that now as she got to know him better, so her response became more intense. He was a tall good looking man, no woman in her right mind could hold out to that lethal brand of sexiness, which he just oozed. However as she got to know him as a person, she realised that he was actually a really nice guy. Someone she could talk to (when she forgot about the lusting after him) that is.
She shook her head in exasperation at her own weakness and bent her attention to the work on her desk.
It was going to be a long fortnight with Peter away, and the lack of a car.
The car dealer, who was sorting out their new car, had phoned to say that the part he needed had been delayed... possibly for another week or more. In all likelihood, Peter would be back from his trip before the vehicle was ready for collection.
Miranda knew that she would be spending the next two weeks relying on public transport or her own legs to get her anywhere; but she didn't mind too much, she rather enjoyed walking.
She had no idea of the plotting and planning that her boss was up to, just so that he could spend some time with her.
She had no idea of how tempted she would become -- to just throw caution to the four winds and throw herself at Marcus...
(Depressing thoughts and disturbing dreams)
Miranda waved Peter off on the Sunday morning, and spent the rest of that day tidying the house.
She knew that she would feel little inclination to do these chores during the week; and so she decided to get the house into as good an order as possible, so that she would only have to do the minimal amount, once she got home from work.
It also kept her busy, so that she didn't dwell too much on how silent the house had suddenly become.