A Night of No Return(3)

By: Sarah Morgan

Lucas Jackson didn’t have any emotional attachments and clearly didn’t think his staff should have them either. He wasn’t interested in her as a person, just in her contribution to his company. And there would have been no point in explaining her feelings because, as far as she could tell, he didn’t have feelings. His life was so far removed from hers that sometimes when she drove into her space in the car park beneath the iconic glass building that housed the world-renowned architectural firm of Jackson and Partners, she felt as if she’d arrived on another planet. Even the building itself was futuristic—a tribute to cutting-edge design and energy efficiency, designed to maximise daylight and natural ventilation, a bold statement that represented the creative vision and genius of just one man. Lucas Jackson.

But creative vision and genius required focus and single-minded determination and that combination together created a driven, difficult human being. More machine than human, she thought moodily as she peered through the thick falling snow in an attempt to not end her days in a ditch.

When she’d started working for him two years previously she hadn’t minded that their conversation was never personal. She didn’t want or expect it when she was at work, so that suited her well. The one thing she would never, ever do was fall in love with her boss. But she’d fallen in love with her job. The work was interesting, stimulating and in every way that mattered Lucas was an excellent employer, despite the fact that his reputation had unnerved her to the point where she almost hadn’t applied for the role. She’d found him to be professional, bright and a generous payer and it excited her to be involved with a company responsible for the design of some of the most famous buildings of recent times. He was undoubtedly a genius. Those were his positive points.

The negatives were that he was focused on work to the exclusion of everything else.

Take this week. Preparations for the official opening of the Zubran Ferrara Resort, an innovative eco hotel nestling on the edge of the warm waters of the Persian Gulf, had driven her workload from crazy to manic. Fuelled by caffeine, she’d stayed until the early hours every night in an attempt to complete essential work. Not once had she complained or commented on the fact that, generally, she expected to be fast asleep by two a.m. and preferably not at her desk.

The one thing that had kept her going had been the thought of Friday. The start of her holiday. Two whole weeks that she took off every year over the festive season. She’d visualised that time in the way a marathon runner might imagine the finish line. It had been the shining light at the end of a tunnel of exhaustion.

And then the snow had started falling. And falling. All week it had been snowing steadily until by Friday London was half empty.

All day Emma had been eyeing the weather out of the window. She’d seen staff from other office buildings leaving early, slithering and sliding their way through the snow to be sure of making it home. As Lucas’s PA she had the authority to extend that privilege to other more junior staff and she had, until the only two people remaining in the building had been herself and her ruthlessly focused boss.

Lucas hadn’t appeared to notice the snowstorm transforming the world into a death zone. When she’d mentioned it, he hadn’t responded. That would have been bad enough and sufficient to have her cursing him for her entire journey home but just as she’d been about to turn out the lights, the last to leave as usual, she’d noticed the file sitting on his desk. It was the file she’d put together for his trip to Zubran and it included papers that needed his signature. A helicopter would be picking him up from his country house. He wouldn’t be coming back to the office.

At first she didn’t believe he could have forgotten it. Lucas never forgot anything. He was the most efficient person she’d ever worked for. And once she’d come to terms with the fact that for some reason his usual efficiency had chosen a frozen Friday night to desert him, she’d faced a dilemma.

She’d tried calling him, hoping to catch him while he was still in London, but his phone continually switched to voicemail, presumably because he was already talking to someone else. Lucas spent his life talking on the phone.

She could have arranged a courier, but the file contained confidential and sensitive information and she didn’t trust it with anyone but herself. Did that make her obsessive? Possibly. But if it were to be mislaid she would be out of a job and she wasn’t about to take that risk.

Which was why she was now, late on a miserable Friday night when no one else with any sense would be on the roads, heading west out of London towards his rural country house.

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