His Mistress for a Million

By: Trish Morey

A woman who wouldn’t take money when it had been given her? He didn’t know many women who wouldn’t be hanging around for more, not handing it back. So she worked as a cleaner—maybe she was better qualified than he’d assumed.

A month.

That was all he’d need. She wouldn’t be the kind of woman to expect to hang around. She wouldn’t want more than he was prepared to give.

A month would work out just fine.

Chapter Four

‘KEEP it,’ Andreas said, pushing her hand back, curling his fingers around it. ‘You’ll probably need some new clothes in your new job.’

Cleo solemnly regarded the notes still curled in her palm, her hand small and warm in his. ‘Oh, you mean a new uniform.’

‘Something like that,’ he said, turning away quickly. ‘Come on, my car’s waiting outside, I’ll give you a lift.’

He hauled her bag up the stairs as if it were a handbag and not stuffed full with all her worldly possessions and from there someone else took one look and relieved him of it, following in their wake, holding an umbrella over their heads as they emerged into the wet night. Who is this man, she wondered, to have his own people to fetch and carry and clean out an entire hotel at his say-so? A line of minibuses waited at the kerb outside, their exhaust turning to fog in the cold evening air. She recognised some of last night’s guests being bundled with their luggage into one of the vans.

She started walking to the one behind. ‘No,’ he said. ‘This one’s ours.’

She looked where he indicated and did a double take. He had to be kidding. The black limousine stretched for what looked an entire frontage if not the whole block! She swallowed. She’d never travelled in such a vehicle in her life. She flashed a look down at her outfit. Worn farm boots, denim jeans and an old Driza-Bone coat. She looked longingly at the line of minibuses. She’d feel much more comfortable in something like that.

But the chauffeur had the door open, waiting. ‘Are you sure we’ll both fit?’ she asked, but her companion didn’t crack a smile, just gestured for her to precede him, and she had no choice but to enter the car.

It was like being in another world as the vehicle slipped smoothly into the traffic. It was bigger than her bedroom in the hotel and she wouldn’t have been surprised to learn it boasted its own en suite. The plush leather seats were more like sofas with not a squeak of springs to be heard and they felt and smelled divine. A cocktail bar sprawled along one side, boasting spirits of every colour imaginable, a row of crystal-cut glasses held delicately in place, and then, just when she thought it couldn’t get more amazing, there were stars, or at least tiny coloured lights twinkling all over the ceiling. And even as she watched they changed from blues and greens to oranges and reds and back to blues again.

And then there was him. He sprawled on the seat opposite, his back to the driver, one arm along the back of the seat, and with one leg bent, the other stretched long into the space between them. He’d undone his coat and the sides had fallen apart. Likewise the suit jacket underneath, exposing an expanse of snow-white cotton across his broad chest, all the whiter against the olive skin of his face and hands.

He was watching her, she realised. Watching her watching him. Her skin prickled. How could he do that with just his eyes? But it wasn’t just his eyes, it was the slightly upturned mouth, the sculpted jaw and the attitude. Oh, yes, he had attitude to burn.

She pressed herself back into the seat, trying to look less overwhelmed, more relaxed. ‘I guess you’ve never met anyone who hasn’t been in a stretch limousine before. My reaction must have been quite entertaining.’

‘On the contrary,’ he said, without moving his eyes from hers, ‘I found it charming.’

Charming. Nobody had ever used that word around her before. She wouldn’t have believed them if they had. He was no doubt being polite. More likely thinking gauche. She felt it. Maybe she should steer the conversation, such as it was, to safer territory.

‘Is it far to the hotel?’

‘Not far.’

‘Do you know what kind of job it is?’

‘I think you will perform a variety of tasks. I’m sure you will find them to your liking.’

‘Oh.’ She wished he could be more specific. ‘But it’s a live-in position?’

Across the vast interior he nodded, his dark eyes glinting in the light of a passing streetlamp, and for some reason she suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if she’d almost glimpsed something in their otherwise shadowed depths.

‘There is just one catch.’

‘Oh?’ There had to be though, she thought. Why should her life suddenly turn around without there being a catch? ‘What is it?’

‘The position has a fixed contract. This job will last only one month.’

‘I see.’ She sank back in her seat. Well, a month was better than nothing. And at least she’d have time to sort something else in between now and then.

‘But you will be well compensated.’

She blinked up at him. ‘Thank you again for your generosity, Mr…’ and she was left floundering, speechless. She was in a car heading who knew where with a man who’d promised her a job somewhere and she didn’t even know his name. When would she learn? What the hell kind of mess was she heading for now? ‘Oh, My God, I can’t believe I’m doing this. I don’t even know your name.’