Title: Clear as a Bell
Author: Emily Hussey
Genre: Contemporary Romance (novella)
Release Date: April 26, 2019
Miranda Montgomery is determined to win the contract with the new hospital. Her company provides specialised IT services and the job is crucial if she wants to keep the business afloat until Christmas. Hugh Paterson is the Chief Operating Officer at the hospital, and Miranda needs to curb her tongue if she is going to keep him onside.
There’s no denying the attraction between the two, but to act on that could have consequences for them both. It’s already apparent there are those who would sabotage her business if they could, and Miranda must use her wits to survive. That doesn’t quell the heat and passion when she and Hugh run into each other at an industry conference.
Subsequent events make her understand that for the sake of her employees, she has to put the contract first. After all – she and Hugh can pick up where they left off when the job is finished. At least, that’s what she thought. She never expected Hugh to leave her alone at Christmas.
“As I said in my email, there are a few aspects of your proposal I want to clarify.” He flipped through a bound report on the table in front of him, stopping at a section marked with sticky tabs. “Back-up and security procedures. That’s my first area of concern. Data confidentiality is crucial. How do you vet your employees?”
Jack drew himself up as though about to speak. Miranda jumped in before that could happen. This was an easy question.
“We request all employees to submit to national police checks before permanent employment is offered, Mr. Paterson. We engage contractors according to work load, and they are also required to undergo the check as well.”
He nodded. “Hugh, please. No need to stand on formality.” Pursing his lips, he made a few notes in the margin of the report. Upside-down, the jottings were unreadable.
Miranda pushed on. “Part of our induction program entails instruction on our corporate policies, and processes for maintaining security. Everyone understands that a breach results in instant dismissal, and the prospect of legal action.”
Hugh looked to Jack again. “Can you run me through your risk management process?”
What was it with this man? She maintained a poker face over rising irritation. She couldn’t afford to jeopardize the contract. IT Health Solutions needed this job. It was make or break time. She focused on a business-like portrayal.
“If you look at the appendices, Hugh, you’ll see a copy of our risk management report. This assessment takes place at the beginning of every project, with responsibility apportioned to those who should monitor the impacts. It’s a dynamic document, updated every month. As soon as an issue is identified, we’ll be on to it.”
Hugh Paterson looked up from the report, put his pen down, and sat back in his chair. He regarded Jack intently, tapping the cover of the report. “On paper, you've come across with a well-thought out proposal. What guarantees can you give me that your company can—"
Miranda couldn’t let the meeting continue in this vein. Leaning forward, she tapped one fingernail on the table.
"Mr. Paterson—Hugh—IT Health Solutions is my company. If there are any guarantees required, you will need to speak to me. Jack will address some of the technical questions." She sensed his surprise, but couldn't help herself. "If you read that report thoroughly, you would have seen the section on company ownership and key personnel. Is this an indication of the level of due diligence undertaken by hospital administration?"
She felt Jack nudge her foot under the table. She knew what that meant. Shut up, Miranda. Your mouth will get us into trouble one of these days. He said it often enough.
Hugh's posture shifted slightly as his eyes slid from Jack to Miranda. She held his gaze and her breath. He ignored her question and didn't rise to the bait. He remained silent for one, two beats.
Emily Hussey splits her time between work in Melbourne CBD and her home in Adelaide, South Australia. She has lived in several Australian cities, and spent a few years living in Alice Springs, the setting for the Red Centre series.
While there, she also obtained her private pilot’s licence, providing the technical background for the aviation scenes in the Red Centre Series.
Emily enjoys the short story format, and has been published in local anthologies. The genres range from crime to romance, with some contemporary fiction for good measure.
She was a marriage celebrant for 24 years, and has married couples in many different locations, ranging from private gardens, to beaches to caves or rural locations. Many of her clients remain friends to this day.
The bottom drawer is always full of outlines for future projects. So many ideas, so little time. Plans revolve around making writing her 9-5 job, and gaining inspiration from travels both in Australia and overseas.
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