Bound by the Billionaire's Baby(2)

By: Cathy Williams

He was just the sort of guy she should have found, scrolling through all those possibilities on the dating website—although, that said, he was probably just the sort of guy who had probably never heard of a dating website. Why would he?

And he was on his own.

The table wasn’t set for two. There was a drink in front of him but he had shoved his plate and all the cutlery to one side. She was sure that there was some kind of unwritten rule about doing something like that in a place like this but he was pulling it off.

Taking a deep breath, she turned to the maître d’, who had swooped down to ask her whether she had reservation and said airily, ‘I’m with...’

She pointed to the stranger at the back of the room and tried to smile knowingly. She had never done anything like this in her life before. But faced with the horror of date number four, the certainty of being spotted, the necessity to stay put until it was safe to slink to the table she had reserved and sample the food...desperation had made her act out of character.

‘Señor Burzi...?’

‘Absolutely!’ If only she could scuttle back to the apartment in her glad rags to sit in front of the telly with a chocolate bar and a glass of wine. Right now that would have been heaven.

But she couldn’t—and right now she didn’t want to think anyway. She just didn’t want to spend another evening on her own, dealing with what her parents and her sister had been telling her for the past three years...that she had to ‘get some direction’ in her life...that she should start thinking about a career instead of painting pictures and drawing cartoon characters...that she was ‘so lucky’ to have been given the education that she had and that she owed it to herself to make the best of it... Perhaps they weren’t quite so brutally honest, but she could read between the lines.

‘Is Señor Burzi expecting you, Miss...?’

‘Of course he is! I wouldn’t be asking to join him if he wasn’t, would I?’

She began walking purposefully over to the dark, sexy stranger, hoping and praying that her date wouldn’t spot her, and hoping and praying even more that the maître d’ wouldn’t create an embarrassing fuss and chuck her out.

Head down, she practically collided with the table, and was aware of two piercing dark eyes shifting from the computer to her flushed face as she plopped down in one of the empty chairs.

‘What the hell...? Who the hell are you?’

‘Señor Burzi...this lady said that she was expecting to join you...’

‘I’m really sorry. I know I’m probably interrupting you. But, please...could you just bear with me for a few minutes? I...I’m in a bit of a sticky situation...’

‘Show her out, Giorgio, and next time please don’t make the mistake of bringing anyone to my table unless I tell you to.’

His voice was deep and dark and velvety and perfectly matched the way he looked. His attention had returned to whatever was on his computer. She was dismissed. She would be chucked out of the restaurant.

Panic filled her. Panic and just...just a feeling of hopelessness. She should never have been persuaded by her two best friends into this crazy online dating situation. The thought of being escorted out of the restaurant like a common criminal, while everyone including her yellow-jumpered date turned and stared and sniggered, was just too much.

‘Just a few minutes. I just need somewhere for a few minutes...’

This time the man did look up, and she had to force herself not to stare because up close he was even better looking than he had appeared from a distance. His eyes were navy blue and he had eyelashes to die for—long, thick and dark, and right now fringing eyes that were the temperature of ice.

‘Not my problem. And how the hell did you find out that I was going to be here?’ he asked coldly. He spared a glance for the maître d’, who was hovering and wringing his hands. ‘Leave us, Giorgio. I’ll get rid of her myself.’

‘Sorry?’ Susie looked at him blankly.

‘I haven’t got time for this. I have no idea how you found out where I was, but now that you’re here let me make myself perfectly clear. Whatever begging mission you’re on, you can forget it. Charitable donations are handled by my company. Donations of any other nature are not on the table. And a word to the wise...? Next time you get it into your head to start digging for gold, try being a little more subtle. Now, I’m giving you the option of making a dignified exit or being thrown out. Which one would you rather go for?’

Angry colour had seeped into her cheeks as the meaning of what he was saying gradually became clear.

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