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Authors: Mila McClung

Tags: #Mystery, #sexy, #Contemporary Romance

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BOOK: A Billionaire for Breakfast
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“I’m afraid so. All I know is he
rides a black motorcycle, and he fishes off Cayman Brac.”

“But Tess, really, someone like that
is not worthy of you. I have lots of friends with young sons you could meet. I
was thinking of giving a party at my mansion tonight, to introduce you to
everyone.”

“I don’t think I want to do that. I’m
not good in crowds.”

“Nonsense. You’ll do fine. Now, call
your mother, please?”

“All right.” She flipped out her cell
phone, punched in the number.

“Hello.”

“Mom, it’s me.”

“Are you still in the Caymans?”

“Yes. Look, I’m sorry we had a fight.
I want to make it up to you. If I pay for your fare, will you fly down and stay
with me?”

“In that woman’s whorehouse?”

“Geez, Mom, cut me some slack, would
you? I won’t be staying there anyway. I … I’ve found a job, a good one, and you
can stay with me at my employer’s house.”

Patrick frowned at her; she shrugged.

“Employer? What kind of job is it?”

“I’m a …”

“A secretary,” Patrick whispered.

“I’m a secretary. It’s quite a good
opportunity. You’d be proud.”

“Well, I’d like to see where you’ll
be working. To make sure they’re on the level. Book me a ticket and I’ll fly
down tonight. I’ll pay you back later.”

“Okay.”

“Oh, Tess, I am sorry I acted so
harsh about your trip. Forgive me?”

“Of course, Mom. Love you.”

“Love you, too, baby. You’re all I
have!”

“I know. Bye.”

She snapped the phone shut. “You have
a lot of hurricanes here, don’t you, Patrick?”

“Yes, more than our share. Why?’

“I think you’re about to have another
one.”

Night time; a gorgeous, almost full
moon held dominance over the sky, lighting up the island like a
Hollywood
spotlight. Tess had moved her things
to Patrick’s unbelievably enormous mansion, the Shell House, named so for its
cone-shaped rooflines that rose and ebbed like a dozen conch shells gathered
together. It was decadent in its decorations, gilded furniture and marble
floors from
Italy
and a million dollar indoor pool
room with ceilings painted as intricately as the ones in the Sistine Chapel.

She was blown away by the extravagance
of it all, and the servants who catered to her every whim. The fantasy of being
wealthy had come true amazingly fast and without any real effort on her part.
She felt a bit uncomfortable with that but Patrick had told her to sit back and
enjoy it – so she was. Her mother would be there soon, and then the roof would
blow off. She feared the scene that would follow once Carol, or Meg, arrived
and saw the face of Tess’ new ‘employer’.

The party had started below. The
noise level was giving her a headache. She stepped out onto a curvaceous
balcony, savored the delicious evening breeze. She was wearing a silky,
cream-colored gown with a 40s style palm tree print and emerald heels, her hair
swept up in a mound of dripping curls laced with bejeweled combs.

“You look beautiful!” a husky voice
whispered in the wind. Tess perked up, turned to see him, Angel, as he stared
at her with those glistening blue-green eyes. She gasped. She’d been thinking
of him, thought he must be near if he was so strong in her mind. He was divine,
dressed in a sleek black tux with a red cummerbund showing through the
unbuttoned jacket. His face was clean-shaved, his black hair smooth, his tongue
darting hungrily between his full lips. Was she dreaming him?

“Why are you here?” she heard herself
ask.

“I wanted to see what all the fuss
was about. Rumors were flying that Patrick Mercer had found his long-lost
daughter. I guess that would be you.”

“Yes.”

“So you weren’t rich when I met you,
but you are now?”

“What difference does it make?”

“None, or a lot. Depends on your
point of view.”

“Your name is Angel.”

“Could be.”

“The guy at the motorbike shop said
it was.”

“Then it must be. Old Harry’s never
wrong about anything. He said a redheaded fox was there, asking about me.”

Why was he being so damned cool?
Didn’t he see how she wanted him? Needed him? He could take her there, on the
balcony, and she wouldn’t resist. “Take me!” her mind screamed. “Love me right
NOW!”

“Angel …”

“Yeah?”

“You want me. You must. I’ve never
talked to anyone like this before. But please, don’t let me stand here, dying
inside.”

“You want me to make love to you,
with all those people downstairs? People who came here to welcome you into the
Rich Elite’s Club? You’d keep them waiting, for me?”

“Yes, they can wait, a little while,”
she sighed.

“No, I don’t want you like that.”

“What do you mean?”

“I want you someplace else.”

“Where?”

“Will you leave with me now? Shun
that crowd of hyenas down there and run off with me?”

“But my father … Patrick … he expects
me to show up eventually.”

“Why? So he can show you off? Do you
want to be examined like a prize cow?”

“You don’t understand. He’s so proud
of me, of having a daughter. And my mom’s arriving tonight. I should be here. I
don’t know how she’ll react when she sees my dad.”

“Excuses, Tess. If you want me, it’s
going to have to be on my terms.”

“Why? Are you one of those ‘it’s my
way or the highway’ kind of men?”

“Maybe. Would that be so bad?”

“It could be, if I have my own way to
go.”

“Then go. I’ll see you around.”

He slipped into a bedroom doorway,
disappeared before she could stop him.

Tess was stunned. He couldn’t expect
her to leave, with all those people there. She was the center of the party, for
God’s sake!

She heard an engine start up, looked
down to see a slinky black convertible oozing over the road. Was that him? It
must be. She had a desperate urge to hop down the balcony stairs and run after
him like a dog but her pride, and her heels, kept her still. Tears formed at
the corners of her eyes; she dried them carefully to avoid smudging her mascara.
She’d cry later, when she was alone in her bed, pining for him like an idiot.
Right now she was the guest of honor at Patrick’s party, and she would not
disappoint him.

A swell of fancily plumed parrots and
their handsome escorts greeted her as she slowly descended the grand hallway
stairs. The men smiled at her approvingly, undressing her with their bold
glances. She tried to ignore them, made her hellos to the women then sought out
Patrick Mercer.

“Darling, you look wonderful!” he
shouted above the din. “I’m very proud of you. Have you heard from your
mother?”

“Yes, she’s at the airport. Your limo
picked her up. She’s on her way. You won’t see her in this crowd, will you? It
might prove to be too much.”

“No, no, I’ll have her sent into my
private den. And you, as well. We’ll have a real homecoming, hum?”

He was much too cheerful about it. Tess
took a deep breath; looked for a drink to steady her. Jack Leonardi was at the
bar, without Kylie.

“Where’s your new lady?”

“Lady, my ass! Why didn’t you tell me
she was an office drone?”

“Why should I tell you that? She’s a
great girl, and beautiful, too.”

“Ha! Like that makes a difference!
She’s still working class.”

“And what are you, Jack?” Patrick
said as he walked up. “I had you looked into, and apparently, you’re poorer
than a church mouse.”

Tess gazed at Jack in awe.

“So what if I am? I never said I was
rich.”

“No, but you’ve been implying that
you were to several young women in our crowd. Are you hoping to start a career
as a gigolo, Jack?”

“No, I only wanted to marry well.
What’s wrong with that?”

“Well, if I have to tell you …”

“You’d better look to your own before
you accuse me, Patrick, old man. Your new daughter here came down to the
Caymans for the same reason. She’s just like Gayle!”

“Who’s Gayle?” Tess questioned.

“No one important,” Patrick mumbled.
“Leonardi, I expect you to leave my house. I won’t have you spreading ridiculous
rumors about Tess!”

“I’m afraid he’s right, Patrick.”

He looked at her with hurt eyes. “You
don’t mean it.”

“It’s true. Kylie asked me to come
along so we could both find rich husbands. I wasn’t serious about it, seemed
like a good way to get a vacation to me.”

“Lucky you, finding a Sugar Daddy
instead.”

“Shut up, Jack! Tess, come into my
den, please. Meg should be here soon.”

She nodded, almost crying at the
expression of disappointment on his weathered face.

“I’m worried about Kylie. I wonder
how she’s taking the breakup with Jack.”

“I’m sure she’s fine. That woman
could probably talk her way out of murder.”

“No, she puts on a big act but deep
down she’s just a scared little girl, like me.”

He led her to a leather sofa. “What
are you afraid of, child?”

“Of never being loved, of growing
old, alone and bitter, like my mom. All sorts of things. Aren’t you ever
afraid?”

“Yes, certainly. At my age a man
begins to examine his existence rather harshly. I’ve lived a selfish life, my
exes can attest to that. But I was driven always by the pain of losing your
mother. She was life to me, and passion and strength. Her spirit was as
unbreakable as iron, and I envied that. I was weak. I let my parents rule me. They
told me she accepted money to stop seeing me. I should have realized that
wasn’t true. And I never knew about you. If I had, Heaven and Earth couldn’t
have kept me from her side.”

An ear-splitting sob echoed
throughout the cavernous den. They turned to see Tess’ mother dropping to the
floor. Patrick ran to her, swept her up in gentle arms and laid her upon the
leather sofa.

“Mom, are you okay?”

“Yes, oh yes. Patrick, I can’t
believe it! When I walked in and saw you with Tess, and heard everything you
said … I was shocked! My head is reeling. It is you? I’m not insane?”

“It’s me, darling!” He drowned her in
rapturous kisses, mumbling endearments Tess felt embarrassed to hear. She
backed out of the room gracefully and crept outside.

“Driver, could you take me to the Swan
House?” she inquired of Patrick’s chauffer, an attractive young black man with
dreadlocks pulled back into a bun.

“Yes, I can. Hop on in!”

She nodded; he started the limo,
swerved it out of the drive and onward towards the other side of
George Town
where Swan House sat prettily upon
the hill.

Once inside, Tess searched the rooms
frantically, feeling in her gut that something was horribly wrong.

“Kylie? Where are you?”

Silence answered her. She peeked into
the downstairs rooms then took the steps in bounds after discarding her heels.
Kylie’s bedroom door stood open. Tess could hear water running. She glanced
over the disheveled bedroom then hurried to the bath. The tub was filled with
water and rose petals, the faucet pouring an endless stream out onto the floor.
Tess came nearer, her heart caught in her throat as she saw the blonde hair
floating like sea grass in the water.

“Kylie, no!’ Tess grabbed her, yanked
her up out of the water and over onto the tiles. Then she started CPR; time
became suspended, minutes dragged on. Finally Kylie began to sputter and cough
and vomit water all over her nightgown. “Dammit, girl! Jack isn’t worth this!”

“It wasn’t him,” Kylie cried. “I
drank too much, and lost my senses. I guess I can’t handle my liquor after all.
But then, too, I was upset about you, getting rich so easily! After all I planned,
years of calculating, and researching, and educating myself! And you come down
here … boom … and you get it all, without doing one thing!”

“I can’t help who I am, Kylie. You
should be ashamed of yourself, trying to take this way out! Life is precious.
And it isn’t like you’re poor. You can go back to your job.”

BOOK: A Billionaire for Breakfast
8.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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