But Ellie Jensen had been so sweetly stunning. With those china-blue eyes, that angelic white-blonde hair, and the curvaceous body of a swimsuit model, he'd naturally assumed she had experience. In the heat and lust of Rio's Carnaval, he'd acted on impulse. Ah, and it had been such a night… His body got hard just thinking of it.
But no, he was done. There were many beautiful women in the world, and he had no interest in breaking little innocent hearts. Or encouraging naive little farm girls that they might be the ones to tame him.
He heard a scuffle outside his office door. Irritated, he turned and pressed the intercom button a second time. “Mrs. Alvarez? What is the delay?”
The door was abruptly flung open, banging loudly against the wall. He looked up, his jaw hard. “Finally. Please take a letter—”
But instead of his competent executive secretary, he saw the bane of his existence. The woman whose beauty and innocence had just cost him a billion-dollar deal.
“I need to talk to you!” she gasped, struggling with Mrs. Alvarez. “Please!”
“Miss Jensen,” he bit out scathingly, then paused when he got a good look at her.
Her blond hair was pulled back in a disheveled ponytail, and there were dark hollows beneath her eyes as if she hadn't slept. Her forehead had a pale sheen, as if she'd been ill. She looked truly awful, and her rumpled sack dress made her look as if she'd gained twenty pounds overnight. What had happened to his neat, tidy, cheerful junior secretary?
Inwardly, Diogo sighed. He should have expected this. The girl no doubt intended to tearfully confess her love for him, then beg him for a commitment.
Exactly what he'd wanted to avoid. He would have liked to keep her as his lover for far longer than a one-night stand, but he'd denied himself the pleasure. He'd purposefully ignored her, hoping that she'd realize they had no possibility of a future.
It had been difficult for him, working in the same office. Seeing her in her cubicle, he'd often wanted nothing more than to drag her back to his office and make love to her on his desk, against the wall, on his leather sofa. But he'd held himself back. He'd tried to be noble.
And this was the result.
Three months without a woman in his bed, and now a blown billion-dollar deal.
“I'm sorry, sir,” the furious Carmen Alvarez panted, still pulling on the girl's sleeve. “I tried to stop her—”
“Leave us, Mrs. Alvarez,” he said shortly.
The older woman's jaw dropped. “But, sir—”
He gave her a look that immediately caused her to back out of the room, closing the door behind her.
Diogo placed his fingertips on his wide, dark wood desk. “Sit down, Miss Jensen.”
The girl didn't move. Folding her arms, she looked up at him bitterly. “I think you should start calling me Ellie, don't you?”
Ellie? He would never be so unprofessional to refer to a member of his staff by first name. Mrs. Alvarez had been his executive secretary for ten years, but he wouldn't dream of calling her Carmen. But then…he'd never taken her body in the heat and madness of Rio's Carnaval, kissing her in the street amid the collective madness of lust…
He pushed the thought aside.
“Sit down,” he repeated, and this time the girl obeyed. Her knees trembled as she sank into the leather chair across from his desk. She hugged herself, looking unhappy, almost ill. It made him feel uneasy. The look in her eyes troubled him. Made him feel guilty.
He resented the feeling. Maldição, he hadn't known she was a virgin! If he had, he never would have touched her!
Still. Best to have it out now. Obviously his silence hadn't given her the message. Nor had the fact that he'd taken out other women—although that had been for charity benefits and business engagements, hardly pleasure.
He would just have to be brutal. Inform her that he had no intention of ever settling down with any woman, no matter how sweet or pure or good in bed she might be.
With any luck, Ellie would accept his decision. She would return to being a competent secretary. He had to give her the chance…. Although, if a different member of his staff had made a billion-dollar mistake, he would have fired the person without thought!
But he couldn't do that to Ellie. Not after he'd seduced her in Rio on a whim. Not after he'd unthinkingly debauched the innocence of the only purely good-hearted girl he'd met in New York.
He looked down at her.
“What do you wish to discuss with me, Miss Jensen? What is so important that you nearly started a fistfight with Mrs. Alvarez?”
She swallowed. “I need…to tell you something.”
He waited, bracing for her to blurt out that she loved him, that she couldn't live without him, that she wanted them to move in together, or some other such nonsense. He'd heard it all before.