Royals Series - Louise Bay Page 0,1

expected him to be such a tyrant.

Each morning, as he swooped through the throng of open-plan desks to his office, he never so much as greeted any of us with a good morning. He regularly yelled into his phone so loud he could be heard from the elevator lobby. And last Tuesday? When I’d passed him in the office and smiled at him, the veins in his neck began to bulge and he looked as if he was going to reach out and choke me.

I smoothed my palms down the fabric of my Zara skirt. Perhaps I irritated him because I wasn’t as sleek as the other women in the office. I didn’t dress in the regulation Prada. Did I look as though I didn’t care? I just couldn’t afford anything better at the moment.

As the most junior member of the team, I was at the bottom of the pecking order. Which meant I knew Mr. King’s sandwich order, how to untangle the photocopier, and I had every courier company on speed dial. But that was to be expected and I was just happy because I got to work with the guy I’d looked up to and admired for years.

And here he was, shaking his head and wielding a pen with the reddest ink I’d ever seen. With each circle, crisscross, and exaggerated question mark he made, I seemed to shrink.

“Where are your references?” he asked without looking up.

References? When I looked at the other reports we produced, they never had the sources in the report. “I have them back at my desk—”

“Did you speak to Donny?”

“I’m waiting to hear back from him.” He looked up and I tried not to wince. I’d put in two calls to Max’s contact at the World Trade Organization, but I couldn’t make the guy talk to me.

He shook his head and grabbed his phone and dialed. “Hey, hotshot,” he said. “I need to understand the position on Everything But Arms. I heard your guys are putting pressure on the EU?” Max didn’t put the phone on speaker, so I watched as he scribbled notes over my paper. “It would really help for this thing I’m doing about Bangladesh.” Max grinned, looked up briefly, caught my eye, and looked away as if just the sight of me irritated him. Great.

Max hung up.

“I put in two calls—”

“Results, not effort, get rewarded,” he said in a clipped tone.

So he gave no credit for trying? What could I have done other than turn up at the guy’s place of business? I wasn’t Max King. Why would someone at the WTO take a call from a barely paid researcher?

Jesus, couldn’t he give a girl a break?

Before I had a chance to respond, his cell vibrated on his desk.

“Amanda?” he barked into the phone. Jesus. This was a small office, so I knew Amanda didn’t work at King & Associates. I got an odd sense of satisfaction he wasn’t just sharp with me. I didn’t see him interact much with others, but somehow his attitude toward me felt personal. But it sounded as if Amanda got the same brusque treatment I did. “We’re not having this discussion again. I said no.” Girlfriend? Page Six had never had any reports of Max dating. But he had to be. A man built like that, asshole or not, wasn’t going without. It sounded as though Amanda had the honor of putting up with him outside office hours.

Hanging up, he slung his phone against the desk, watching as it skidded across the glass and came to rest against his laptop. Continuing to read, he rubbed his long, tan fingers over his forehead as if Amanda had given him a headache. I didn’t think my report was helping much.

“Typos are not acceptable, Ms. Jayne. There’s no excuse for being anything less than exceptional when it comes to something that only requires effort.” He closed my report, sat back in his chair, and fixed his stare on me. “Attention to detail doesn’t require ingenuity, creativity, or lateral thinking. If you can’t get the basics right, why should I trust you with anything more complicated?”

Typos? I’d read through that report a thousand times.

He steepled his fingers in front of him. “Revise in accordance with my notes and don’t bring it back to me until it’s typo free. I’ll fine you for every mistake I find.”

Fine me? I wanted to fire back that if I could fine him every time he was a penis, I’d retire inside