Baby of His Revenge

By: Jennie Lucas

CHAPTER ONE


“I SHOULD FIRE you right now, Laney.” Her boss glared at her. “Anyone would love to have your job. All of them less stupid than you!”

“I’m sorry!” Laney May Henry had tears in her eyes as she saw the hot coffee she’d just spilled on her boss’s prized white fur coat, which had been hanging on the back of a chair. Leaning forward, she desperately tried to clean the stain with the hem of her faded cotton shirt. “It wasn’t...”

“Wasn’t what?” Her boss, a coldly beautiful American-born countess who had been married and divorced four times, narrowed her carefully made-up eyes. “What are you trying to imply?”

It wasn’t my fault. But Laney took a deep breath. She knew there was no point in telling her boss that her friend had deliberately tripped her as she’d brought them coffee. No point, because her boss had seen the whole thing and had laughed along with her friend as Laney tripped with a noisy oof, sprawling helter-skelter across the carpet of the lavish Monaco flat. For her boss, it had all been a good joke—until she saw the coffee hit her full-length fur coat.

“Well?” Mimi du Plessis, the Comtesse de Fourcil, demanded. “I’m waiting.”

Laney dropped her gaze. “I’m sorry, Madame la Comtesse.”

Her boss turned to her friend, dressed in head-to-toe Dolce and Gabbana on the other side of the white leather sofa, smoking. “She’s stupid, isn’t she?”

“Very stupid,” the friend agreed, daintily puffing out a smoke ring.

“So hard to get good help these days.”

Biting her lip hard, Laney stared down at the white rug. Two years ago, she’d been hired to organize Mimi du Plessis’s wardrobe, keep track of her social engagements and run errands. But Laney had quickly discovered why the salary was so good. She was on call day and night, often needing to work twenty-hour days and endure her boss’s continual taunts. Every day of the last two years, Laney had fantasized about quitting and going back to New Orleans. But she couldn’t. Her family desperately needed the money, and she loved her family.

“Take the fur and get out of here. I can’t stand to look at your pathetic little face another moment. Get the coat to the cleaners and heaven help you if it’s not back before the New Year’s Eve gala tonight.” Dismissing her, the comtesse turned back to her friend, resuming their earlier conversation. “I think tonight Kassius Black will finally make his move.”

“You think so?” her friend said eagerly.

The comtesse smiled, like a smug Persian cat with a golden bowl of overpriced cream. “He’s already wasted millions of euros giving anonymous loans to my boss. But the way things are going, my boss’s company will be bankrupt within the year. I finally told Kassius that if he wants my attention, he should stop throwing money down the drain and just ask me out.”

“What did he say?”

“He didn’t deny it.”

“So he’s taking you to the ball tonight?”

“Not exactly...” She shrugged. “But I was tired of waiting for him to make his move. It’s obvious he must be wildly in love with me. And I’m ready to get married again.”

“Married?”

“Why not?”

Her friend pursed her lips. “Darling, yes, Kassius Black is rich as sin and dangerously handsome, but who is he? Where does he come from? Who are his people? No one knows.”

“Who cares?” Mimi du Plessis, who liked to brag about how she could trace her family history back not only to the Mayflower, but to Charlemagne, now shrugged it off. “I’m fed up with aristocrats without a single dollar to their name. My last husband, the comte, bled me dry. Sure, I got his title—but after the divorce I had to get a job. Me! A job!” She shuddered at the indignity, then brightened. “But once I’m Kassius Black’s wife, I’ll never have to worry about working again. He’s the tenth-richest man in the world!”

Her friend elegantly blew out another smoke ring. “Ninth. His real estate investments have exploded.”

“Even better. I know he’ll try to kiss me at midnight. I can’t wait. You can just tell any wife of his would be well satisfied in bed...” Her sharp face narrowed when she saw Laney still hesitating unhappily by the sofa, heavy coat in her arms. “Well? What are you still doing here?”

“I’m sorry, madame, but I need your credit card.”

“Give you my card? That’s a joke. Pay for it yourself. And get us more coffee. Hurry up, you idiot!”