Bound by the Billionaire's Baby(5)

By: Cathy Williams


Sergio had made his mind up. So what if she was a gold-digger? She would discover soon enough that she had chosen the wrong place to go prospecting, but he was enjoying her company. He was certainly enjoying what she was doing to his body.

Susie frowned and hesitated. ‘Do you usually order people around?’

‘It comes naturally,’ he said, with a sudden smile that shook her to the core. ‘Arrogance is apparently one of my many faults...’

‘And you have a lot, do you? Faults, I mean...?’

‘Too many to mention. Now, you came here to eat and drink. Sit. Please. Allow me to replace your erstwhile date for the evening...’

He almost burst out laughing at the irony of his pretending to believe the little white lies she had told him but, hell, she was the most creative and amusing woman he had met in a long time.

Susie was charmed. Not only was he drop-dead gorgeous, but how many men admitted to having failings? Most of them were far too busy Photoshopping their pictures, slashing twenty years off their real age and pretending that they weren’t five foot two.

And wasn’t he now inviting her to have dinner with him?

‘Why don’t you join me? My table is...’

She looked around for an empty table and sighed because it had probably been taken. Arriving late would not be an option for anyone who had booked a table in this place. There would be a long list of people waiting in the wings for tables booked by poor, hapless idiots who might have run into delays on the Underground or got snagged in traffic on the way.

‘Where...?’ Sergio made a show of trying to spot a vacant table.

‘Gone.’ She sighed again.

‘Oh, dear.’

‘I don’t normally do...this...’ she began, although a little thrill darted through her at the thought of having dinner with him.

He was so unlike any man she had ever met. Her last boyfriend, Aidan, had been a would-be writer who went on protest rallies, railed against ‘capitalist pigs’ and had now disappeared to the other side of the world, where he was bumming around in search of ideas for his next book, doing little jobs to keep himself going. They vaguely kept in touch.

‘Do what?’ Sergio inclined his head to one side.

‘Force myself on strangers and then accept meals from them. I’ll join you on one condition, and it’s that I pay for myself... I’d offer to pay for you as well, but I’m not in a great place financially at the moment...’

And she wouldn’t be there at all were it not for her parents’ generosity. She had always made it a point to go it on her own, but the temptation to have a free meal at the hottest ticket in town had been irresistible.

‘By which you mean...?’ Sergio signalled to a waiter for menus and then relaxed back, prepared to be amused.

‘I’m between jobs, in actual fact. Well, no, that’s not strictly true. I’m a freelance artist, but still quite new to the business. I haven’t had time to make many contacts so jobs are pretty thin on the ground at the moment. Things will pick up. I’m pretty sure of that. But it’s difficult breaking through... I make ends meet working at a pub near to where I live. I can only hope that I get some work soon—perhaps a long-term contract, which would be brilliant. Via word of mouth... Of course I’ve been in touch with every pu—’

‘Enough. Really not all that interested in the backstory. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the bottom line is that you’re broke because you can’t find regular work?’

‘It’s a competitive world out there when it comes to graphic art and illustrations...’

‘Indeed.’

‘I did a secretarial course when I left school...I had a few jobs doing secretarial work, but I didn’t enjoy it.’

‘Expensive choice of restaurant for someone who happens to be currently financially challenged.’

But then that wouldn’t be a consideration, bearing in mind she would have known, if she played her cards right that he would pick up the tab—and if not him, then any other lone punter. This wasn’t a place frequented by paupers. She was sex on legs and that worked nine times out of ten.

Susie opened her mouth to tell him that, actually, her parents would be the ones picking up the tab and promptly closed it—because how pathetic was that? She was twenty-five years old and still reliant on handouts from her parents for the occasional treat. Shame washed over her.

‘Sometimes...ah...you just have to splash out now and again...’ she countered feebly.

‘Maybe your online date would have done the gentlemanly thing and treated you to the meal,’ Sergio humoured her, ‘had he only stayed the course...’

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