The Tycoon's Shock Heir(4)

By: Bella Frances

‘I’m sorry, Mamma. But I can’t turn the clock back. It’ll all blow over and then it’ll be some other poor sod’s turn to be vilified.’

The woman in red was reaching up to put linens in the cupboard. Her arms were as slender and pale as long-stemmed lilies, her moves graceful and elegant. Her hair hung in a dark ponytail down her back, shiny and thick and long. She turned to glance at him, her dark eyes coy and unsure. He knew that look. He knew where it could go...

‘Hang on.’ He walked to the bedroom at the other end of the cabin and closed the door. ‘Have you heard from David? He’s not here and some woman is in his place. It’s totally out of character for him just to send in agency staff like this...’

‘Ah, I think you must be talking about Ruby. What do you think? Isn’t she lovely?’

His mother had that excited tone in her voice that made him instantly aware...

‘That’s not in dispute,’ he said. ‘But I was hoping David would be looking after things for me until I said otherwise. What’s going on?’

‘Don’t get upset, Matty. I’m up to my eyes and I needed David to finish off the branding work with the new advertising agency. No one knows our business better than him.’

‘You’ve pulled rank and left me with a newbie?’

‘I met Ruby,’ she said, ignoring him, ‘and I was very impressed. She’s a fast learner—I think you two will get along fine. And you’ll have David back on Monday.’

His mother was still holding something back. He was sure of it.

‘You know she’s dressed in a cocktail dress? A very nice cocktail dress, but it’s not exactly work wear. Is there something else you’ve forgotten to tell me?’

Like last month, when she’d only remembered to tell him he had to make an after-dinner speech at the International Women in Finance dinner an hour before the canapés were served. Or the time when he’d had to present a prize at a kindergarten they sponsored on the way home from the casino. It was getting to be a bit of a habit, her asking him these last-minute ‘favours’ now that she was neck-deep in charity work.

‘Ah. Now you mention it...’

Here it came.

‘I’m afraid I’m still in Senegal, and there is one tiny engagement that needs to be covered tonight. You’re in London anyway—so it’s right on your doorstop. And who knows? Maybe you’ll net some good press coverage from it too! Wouldn’t that be lovely? Matty? Are you still there?’

Matty’s fingers slid down the veneer of the door as one by the one all his party plans burst like bubbles in champagne.

‘It’s for charity, darling. The underprivileged.’

Of course it was. It was what she did. While he took care of the nuts and bolts of the business she got on with all the charity and philanthropy. She was amazing at getting the rich and famous to part with cash and favours for the various charities the bank sponsored. It worked perfectly well—if only she would remember to tell him when she needed him.

‘OK. You’ve guilt-tripped me. I’m in.’ He sighed. ‘What’s involved?’

‘It’s an arts benefit premiere at the King’s.’

‘As long as it’s not dance. You know I can’t stand men in tights.’

‘Did you say dance? Yes, it’s my favourite company—the British Ballet. Don’t groan, darling. All you have to do is a quick photo-call on the red carpet and shake some hands afterwards. Everything is arranged. I know you like to be prepared, so I’ve asked Ruby to look after things. She has your itinerary, and there’s nothing she doesn’t know about dance. She’s one of the British Ballet’s soloists, but she’s recovering from injury at the moment—a dreadful year she’s had, poor thing.’

He opened the door into the cabin and right on cue the gorgeous Ruby appeared. So she wasn’t agency staff—she was a dancer. Well, that checked out. Her posture was perfect...her body was perfect. But why on earth was she serving him iced water at twenty thousand feet?

Suddenly it all became clear.

He went back into the bedroom and closed over the door.

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