The Tycoon's Shock Heir(7)

By: Bella Frances

And it was. And she’d have given anything to be in it. But because of this hideous injury she wasn’t even in the corps. Instead she’d had to pack her day with teaching junior classes and attending physio. And serving Love Rats...

‘And you’re the face of the British Ballet. That’s good. That’s really good,’ he said, scanning her again and nodding as if in fact it was really bad. ‘Done your homework, I take it? I’ll need to know the names and the bios of the people we’re going to see.’

He moved around the cabin now and she stood there, not quite sure if she was supposed to follow him, reassure him, or disappear off the face of the earth.

She watched him turn on a screen that flashed stock exchange numbers. He glanced at it, then changed it quickly to sports. He folded his arms and stared at the screen as a commentator’s voice rose to a crescendo over the roar of a crowd. She looked to see what it was—men charging into one another, with mud-splattered thighs as big as tree trunks, ears and noses like Picasso paintings, all grabbing for an oval shaped ball as if it was the Holy Grail. Rugby. Yuck. How could anyone get excited about that?

‘Come on!’ he grunted at the players on the screen as he moved towards it.

Obviously Matteo Rossini did. She waited...and watched, but it was as if she had become a part of the furniture, as incidental as the beige leather chairs. He might have the looks, but he had none of his mother’s charm.

Suddenly he turned, caught her gawping, and frowned. He pressed the remote control ‘off’ and tossed it down on the chair.

‘I have plans for later, so I’d like this to be all wrapped up by ten. Shall we make a start?’

He nodded, indicating the little lounge area where four leather armchairs were grouped around a coffee table. He lowered himself down, comfortable, confident and totally composed, while she perched carefully, straight-backed, knees locked, smile fixed.

‘OK. Basics first. You’re a dancer with this ballet company, but you’ve “volunteered” to take on this PR role just for tonight.’

‘Something like that,’ she said, ignoring the air quotes he made with his hands.

‘So what’s Ruby’s story? Why you?’ he said, narrowing his eyes and steepling his fingers.

‘You want to know about me? There’s not much to tell. I’ve been with the BB since I was eleven,’ she said, realising that she was now being interviewed for a job she didn’t even want. ‘I’m not dancing tonight, so I think I was the obvious choice.’

‘The BB is the British Ballet?’

She smiled at his stupid question.

‘Yes. The company’s fifty years old. I’ve been in the school, the corps, then a soloist and hopefully one day a principal. So I know everything there is to know.’

‘What about the other side of things? There will be political points being scored here tonight. You know everything there is to know about that too, I take it?’

As she stared at him she suddenly remembered the notes. Had she brought them? Pages and pages of silly handwritten notes about all the other stuff she was meant to tell him. She’d been writing them out in the kitchen, she’d numbered them, she’d stacked them... And then what had she done with them?

‘You’re prepared, right? One thing you should know about me is I’m not a big fan of winging it.’

Neither am I, she wanted to answer back. Which was why she had spent so long making notes about things she didn’t find remotely interesting. But being rude to the sponsor was not an option—not with all that revenue riding on it. Her own scholarship had been funded through the generosity of patrons like Coral Rossini, the Company Director had been quick to remind her.

‘I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Mrs Rossini was confident I was right for the job.’

‘Yes. I’m sure she was,’ he said, in a tone that buzzed in her subconscious like an annoying fly.

But where were the notes? In her bag? Or could she have stuffed them in her pockets? Left them on the Tube?

He tipped his head back, scrutinised her with a raised brow, looking down the length of his annoyingly handsome nose, and she wondered if he could read her mind.

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