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His Mistress for a Million
     

His Mistress for a Million

3.8 9
by Trish Morey
 

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Jobless, homeless and penniless: humble housekeeper Cleo Taylor seeks a suitable position of employment. All good offers accepted…

Billionaire tycoon Andreas Xenides seeks beautiful woman for business contract on the luxury island of Santorini. Terms: mistress for a month. Salary: one million dollars.

Training

Overview



Jobless, homeless and penniless: humble housekeeper Cleo Taylor seeks a suitable position of employment. All good offers accepted…

Billionaire tycoon Andreas Xenides seeks beautiful woman for business contract on the luxury island of Santorini. Terms: mistress for a month. Salary: one million dollars.

Training will be given….

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781426849879
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
03/01/2010
Series:
Harlequin Presents Series , #2904
Sold by:
HARLEQUIN
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
791,478
File size:
457 KB

Read an Excerpt



Revenge was sweet.

Andreas Xenides eyed the shabby building that proclaimed itself a hotel, its faded sign swinging violently in the bitter wind that carved its way down the canyon of the narrow London street.

How long had it taken to track down the man he knew to be inside? How many years? He shook his head, oblivious to the cold that had passers-by clutching at their collars or burrowing hands deeper into pockets. It didn't matter how long. Not now that he had found him.

The cell phone in his pocket beeped and he growled in irritation. His lawyer had agreed to call him if there was a problem with his plan proceeding. But one look at the caller ID and Andreas had the phone slipped back in his pocket in a moment. Nothing on Santorini was more important than what was happening here in London today, didn't Petra know that?

The wind grew teeth before he was halfway across the street, another burst of sleet sending pedestrians scampering for cover to escape the gusty onslaught, the street a running watercolour of black and grey.

He mounted the hotel's worn steps and tested the handle. Locked as he'd expected, a buzzer and rudimentary camera mounted at the side to admit only those with keys or reservations, but he was in luck. A couple wearing matching track-suits and money belts emerged, so disgusted with the weather that they barely looked his way. He was past them and following the handmade sign to the downstairs reception before they'd struggled into their waterproof jackets and slammed the door behind them.

Floorboards squeaked under the shoddy carpet and he had to duck his head as the stairs twisted back on themselves under the low ceiling. There was a radio crackling away somewhere in the distance and his nose twitched at a smell of decay no amount of bleach had been able to mask.

This place was barely habitable. Even if the capricious London weather was beyond his control, he had no doubt the clientele would be much happier in the alternative accommodation he'd arranged for them.

A glazed door stood ajar at the end of a short hallway, another crudely handwritten note taped to the window declaring it the office, and for a moment he was so focused on the door and the culmination of a long-held dream that he barely noticed the bedraggled shape stooping down to pick up a vacuum cleaner, an overflowing rubbish bag in the other hand. A cleaner, he realised as she straightened. For a moment he thought she was about to say something, before she pressed her lips together and flattened herself against a door to let him pass. There were dark shadows under her reddened eyes, her fringe was plastered to her face and her uniform was filthy. He flicked his eyes away again as he passed, his nose twitching at the combined scent of ammonia and stale beer. So that was the hired help. Hardly surprising in a dump like this.

Vaguely he registered the sound of her retreat behind him, her hurried steps, the thud of the machine banging against something and a muffled cry. But he didn't turn. He was on the cusp of fulfilling the promise he'd made to his father on his deathbed.

It wasn't a moment to rush.

It was a moment to savour.

And so he hesitated. Drank in the moment. Wishing his father could be here. Knowing he would be watching from wherever he was now.

Knowing it was time.

He jabbed at the door with two fingers and watched it swing open, letting the squeak of the hinges announce his arrival.

Then he stepped inside.

The man behind the dimly lit desk hadn't looked up. He was too busy scribbling notes on what looked like the turf guide with one hand, holding the phone to his ear with the other, and it was all Andreas could do to bite back on the urge to cross the room and yank the man bodily from his chair. But much as he desired to tear the man to pieces as he deserved, Andreas had a much more twenty-first-century way of getting justice.

'Take a seat,' the man growled, removing the phone from his ear long enough to gesture to a small sofa, still busy writing down his notes. 'I'll be just a moment.'

One more moment when it had taken so many years to track him down? Of course he could wait. But he'd bet money he didn't have to.

'Kala ime orthios,' Andreas replied through his teeth, I'm fine standing, 'if it's all the same to you.'

The man's head jerked up, the blood draining from his face leaving his red-lined eyes the only patch of colour. He uttered a single word, more like a croak, before the receiver clattered back down onto the cradle, and all the while his gaze didn't leave his visitor, even as he edged his chair back from the desk. But there was nowhere to go in the cramped office and his chair rolled into the wall with a jolt. He stiffened his back and jerked his chin up as if he hadn't just been trying to escape, but he didn't attempt to stand. Andreas wondered if it was because his knees were shaking too much.

'What are you doing here?'

Andreas sauntered across the room, until he was looming over both the desk and the man cowering behind it, lazily picking up a letter opener in his long-fingered hands and testing its length through his fingers while all the time Darius watched nervously. 'It's been a long time, Darius. Or would you rather I called you Demetrius, or maybe even Dominic? I really can't keep up. You seem to go through names like other people go through toilet paper.'

The older man licked his lips, his eyes darting from side to side, and this close Andreas was almost shocked to see how much his father's one-time friend and partner had aged. Little more than fifty years old, and yet Darius's hair had thinned and greyed and his once wiry physique seemed to have caved in on itself, the lines on his face sucked deeper with it. The tatty cardigan he wore draped low on his bony shoulders did nothing to wipe off the years.

So time hadn't treated him well? Tough. Sympathy soon departed as Darius turned his eyes back to him and Andreas saw that familiar feral gleam, the yellow glow that spoke of the festering soul within. And he might be afraid now, taken by surprise by the sudden appearance of his former partner's son, but Andreas knew that any minute he could come out snarling. Not that it would do him any good.

'How did you find me?'

'That's one thing I always liked about you, Darius. You never did waste your time on small talk. No "how are you?" No "have a nice day".'

'I get the impression you didn't come here for small talk.'

'Touché,' Andreas conceded as he circled the room, absently taking inventory, enjoying the exchange much more than he'd expected. 'I have to admit, you weren't easy to find.

You were good at covering your tracks in South America. Very good. The last we heard of you was in Mexico before the trail went cold.' Andreas looked up at the high basement window where the sleet was leaving trails of slush down the grimy glass before he turned back. 'And to think you could still be back there enjoying the sunshine. Nobody expected you'd be fool enough to show your face in Europe again.'

A glimmer of resentment flared in Darius' eyes, and his lip curled into a snarl. The hungry dog was out of its kennel. 'Maybe I got sick of beans.'

'The way I hear it, you ran out of money. Lost most of it on bad business deals and flashy women.' Andreas leaned over and picked up the form guide sitting on the desk. 'Gambled away the rest. All that money, Darius. All those millions. And this—' he waved his hand around him '—is what you're reduced to.'

Darius glowered, his eyes making no apology in their assessment of his visitor's cashmere coat and hand stitched shoes, a tinge of green now colouring his features. 'Looks like you've done all right for yourself though.'

No thanks to you!

Andreas' hands clenched and unclenched at his sides while he tried to remember his commitment not to tear the man apart. A deep breath later and he could once again manage a civil tone. 'You've got a problem with that?'

'Is that why you came here, then? To gloat?' He sneered, swinging a hand around the shabby office. 'To see me reduced to this? Okay, you've seen me. Happy now? Isn't that what they say—success is the best revenge?'

Ah, now that's where they're wrong.' This time Andreas didn't restrain himself, but allowed the smile he'd been headed for ever since he'd set foot in this rat trap. 'Success is nowhere near the best revenge.'

The old man's eyes narrowed warily as he leaned forward in his chair, the fear back once more. 'What's that supposed to mean?'

Andreas pulled the folded sheaf of papers from inside his coat pocket. 'This,' he said, unfolding them so that the other man could see what he was holding. 'This is the best revenge.'

And Andreas watched the blood drain from the other man's face as he recognised the finance papers he'd signed barely a week ago.

'Did you even read the small print, Darius? Didn't you wonder why someone would offer you money on this dump you call a hotel on such easy terms?'

The older man swallowed, his eyes once more afraid.

'Did you not suspect there would be a catch?'

Darius looked sick, his skin grey.

Andreas smiled again. 'I'm the catch. That finance company is one of mine. I lent you that money, Darius, and I'm calling in the debt. Now.'

'You can't… You can't do that. I don't have that kind of money lying around.'

He flung the pages in Darius' direction. 'I can do it, all right. See for yourself. But if you can't pay me back today, you're in default on the loan. And you know what that means.'

'No! You know there's no way…' But still Darius scrabbled through the pages, his eyes scanning the document for an out, squinting hard when they came across the clause that proved Andreas right, widening as he looked up with the knowledge that he'd been beaten. 'You can't do this to me. It's no better than theft.'

'You'd know all about theft, Darius, but whatever you call it this hotel is now mine. And it's closing. Today.'

The shocked look on Darius' face was his reward. The man looked as if he'd been sucker punched.

Oh, yes, Andreas thought, revenge was sweet, especially when it had been such a long time coming.

Rock bottom.

Cleo Taylor was so there.

Her head ached, her bruised shin stung where the vacuum cleaner had banged into it, and three weeks into this job she was exhausted, both mentally and physically. And at barely five o'clock in the afternoon, all she wanted to do was sleep.

She dropped the machine at the foot of her bed and sank down onto the narrow stretcher, the springs that woke her every time she rolled over at night noisily protesting her presence.

Karma. It had to be karma.

How many people had tried to warn her? How many had urged her to be careful and not to rush in? And how many of those people had she suspected of being jealous of her because she'd found love in the unlikeliest of places, in an Internet chat room with a man halfway around the world?

Too many.

Oh, yes, if there was a price to pay for naivety, for blindly charging headlong for a fall, she was well and truly paying it.

And no one would say she didn't deserve everything that was happening to her. She'd been so stupid believing Kurt, stupid to believe the stories he'd spun, stupid to believe that he loved her.

So pathetically naïve to trust him with both her heart and with her nanna's money.

And all she'd achieved was to spectacularly prove the award she'd been given in high school from the girls whose company she'd craved, but who never were and who would never be her friends.

Cleo Taylor, girl most likely to fail.

Wouldn't they just love to see her now?

A barrage of sleet splattered against the tiny louvred window high above the bed and she shivered. So much for spring.

Reluctantly she thought about dragging herself from the rudimentary bed but there was no way she wanted to meet that man in the hallway again. She shuddered, remembering the ice-cold way his eyes—dark pits of eyes set in a slate-hard face—had raked over her and then disregarded her in the same instant without even an acknowledgment, as if she was some kind of low-life, before imperiously passing by. She'd shrunk back instinctively, her own greeting dying on her lips.

It wasn't just that he looked so out of place, so wrong for the surroundings, but the look of such a tall, powerful man sweeping through the low-ceilinged space seemed wrong, as if there wasn't enough space and he needed more. He hadn't just occupied the space, he'd consumed it.

And then he'd swept past, all cashmere coat, the smell of rain and the hint of cologne the likes of which she'd never smelt in this place, and she'd never felt more like the low-life he'd taken her to be.

But she had to get up. She couldn't afford to fall asleep yet, even though she'd been up since five to do the breakfasts and it had taken until four to clean the last room. She reeked of stale beer and her uniform was filthy, courtesy of the group of partying students who'd been in residence in the room next door for the last three nights.

She hated cleaning that room! It was damp and dark, the tiny en suite prone to mould and the drains smelling like a swamp, and if she hadn't already known how low she'd sunk that room announced it in spades. The students had left it filthy, with beds looking as if they'd been torn apart, rubbish spilling from bins over the floor, and an entire stack of empty takeaway boxes and beer bottles artfully arranged in one corner all the way from the floor to the low ceiling. 'Leaning Tower of Pizza,' someone had scrawled on the side of one the boxes, and it had leant, so much so that it was a wonder it hadn't already collapsed with the vibrations from the nearby tube.

It had been waiting for her to do that. Bottles and pizza boxes raining down on her, showering her with their dregs.

No wonder he'd looked at her as if she were some kind of scum. After the day she'd had, she felt like it.

Meet the Author

Trish Morey wrote her first book at age 11 for a children's book-week competition. Entitled Island Dreamer, it tells the story of an orphaned girl and her life on Hindmarsh Island--a small island at the mouth of the Murray River--and was totally self-published. She wrote, illustrated and stitched the pages together herself (her earliest and least successful experience with body piercing!). Island Dreamer was also to be her first rejection--her entry was disqualified unread because she'd transposed the copyright and title pages. This rejection had a devastating effect on the young writer's psyche. Shattered and broken, she turned to a life where she could combine her love of fiction with her need for creativity. You guessed it--Trish became a chartered accountant.

Prepared to set the financial world alight, Trish moved from her native Adelaide to Canberra, where she promptly fell in love with a handsome guy who cut computer code. Marriage followed a few years later, along with a stint in Wellington, New Zealand, where Trish worked for the NZ Treasury. There she penned her second book--A Guide to Departmental Budgeting. It didn't have a huge print run and the royalties were nonexistent, but she'd learned something--the pages were at least stapled. Unfortunately, she never got to complete the surefire sequel and New York Times bestseller, Asset Management, as her hormones intervened with a healthy dose of motherhood.

Two years later and back home in Canberra after the birth of their second daughter, Trish spied an article announcing that Mills & Boon was actively seeking new authors. It was one of those "Eureka!" moments. Her whole life clicked into place and immediately she embarked on a professional writing course. She sent off a couple of partials, earned a couple of rejections, had a couple more daughters and even had a couple of feature articles published in the newspapers. Just so she wouldn't get bored, the family moved countries a couple more times. Their third daughter was born in Hemel Hempstead, England, by sheer coincidence, the same town Trish's aunt had been born some 70 years prior, before the family had emigrated to Australia.

Living in the UK offered more than just the chance to check out the NHS system, though, and the young family took the opportunity to explore farther afield, visiting France, Italy and even Crete, as well as many magical sites in the UK. Tintagel in Cornwall and Hadrian's Wall stand out as two of the highlights.

Back in Australia and now with four daughters, Trish knew it was time to get serious with her writing. She started entering the contests offered by Romance Writers of Australia, achieving third place in her first competition. More successes followed, along with closer involvement in RWA Australia. Trish managed three contests for RWA before serving on the RWA Executive in 2002-3 as conference coordinator, organizing the 2003 Gold Coast "Passion in Paradise" conference. Trish is currently vice president of RWA Australia.

In 2002 Trish entered the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart contest for the first time and was amazed and delighted to final in the short contemporary section. The same manuscript was already under consideration in London, and in June 2003 (actually June 18th at 6:32 p.m.) the magical phone call came. Mills & Boon wanted to buy her book!

According to Trish, selling a book is a major life achievement that ranks up there with jumping out of an airplane and motherhood. All three take commitment, determination and sheer guts, but the effort is so very, very worthwhile.

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His Mistress for a Million 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very sweet and no pages skipped here! DIDN'T have to skip over boring pages. Excellent little romance! Must buy!
LadyRavenRAVE1 More than 1 year ago
VERY LIGHT READ its your typical harlequin present book Daisy and Ethan were good together, not much conflict between them because you always have the big misunderstanding in these books but it went smoothly. its not a wow read but its a late night quickie read. Everybody has a different opinion when writting a review if we all had the same reviews or opinions it would be boring. Reviews can sometimes down play a really good book or up play a really bad book its up to us to read the book and judge for ourselves and draw our own conclusion thats the best thing about a review its like a silent debate.... Also feel free to join my book club on facebook- Romance Novel Junkies
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was ok. I didnt really like the fact that the author kept describing the female lead as 'frumpy' and ' not pretty '. She was portrayed as not very bright. Ok but not great. ##
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