An Unwilling Desire(4)

By: Carole Mortimer

The man gave her a cold stare before walking to the door. ‘The day he gets out of that chair and walks will be the day I no longer think of him as one. The reason he’s there, driving a car at high speed just for the thrill of it, is a damned stupid way to earn a living in the first place,’ he rasped.

‘You consider your way to be better, do you?’ Holly scorned.

His eyes narrowed. ‘My way?’

‘As Maxine’s "friend".’ Her mouth twisted with distaste.

‘At least I get job satisfaction!’

‘You’re disgusting!’ she paled.

To her chagrin he began to laugh softly. ‘I’d be damned angry at the assumptions you’ve made about Maxine and me if I didn’t find you so amusing. James only writes sexy thrillers, Holly, you don’t have to believe them,’ he taunted. ‘And why do you have such a low opinion of Maxine?’ he sobered. ‘What has she ever done to you?’

‘Nothing,’ she answered stiffly.

Those deeply green eyes narrowed thoughtfully, his lashes ridiculously long for a man. ‘But you don’t like her, do you?’ he probed curiously.

‘I’ve only been here three months, I hardly know her,’ she gave an evasive reply.

‘Maybe you should remember that, Miss Macey,’ he nodded grimly. ‘You don’t know Maxine. And you don’t know me either.’

‘I don’t think I want to,’ she spoke her thoughts aloud, seeing by his smile that he found her candour amusing.

‘That’s a pity,’ he drawled with enjoyment. ‘Because, like Maxine, I’m here to stay.’

‘For how long?’ Holly bit her lip, realising how rude she was being. After all, she was only an employee here, while he was an invited guest, for whatever reason. ‘I meant do you intend to be here long?’ she amended blushingly.

‘I know exactly what you meant,’ he drawled. ‘And at the moment I have no idea. Why, does my being here bother you?’

She avoided his piercing gaze. ‘It’s really none of my business, is it?’

‘None at all,’ he replied smoothly. ‘I’m looking forward to meeting you again at dinner, Holly Macey.’ He left the room, whistling to himself as he went back to the lounge.

Holly realised she was shaking, giving up all pretence of working now she was alone. What a rude, insufferable man! His contempt for James had been nothing less than cruel, almost as if he thought it all James’s own fault that he was confined to a wheelchair. And his affair with Maxine, right here at the house, was a disgrace.

She had never met anyone quite like him before. He didn’t seem to take anything seriously, not even James’s lack of mobility. He was a man who didn’t seem to give a damn about anything. She disliked him as much as she disliked Maxine, and the thought of having to sit down to dinner with the pair of them made her want to eat in her room. But she knew she couldn’t do that to James, he didn’t deserve to have to face them alone then too.

She dressed with more than her usual care that evening, aware that it would no longer be just James and herself enjoying a companionable meal together. Maxine always dressed perfectly, with her figure it was hard not to, and Holly had a feeling Maxine’s friend wouldn’t be casually dressed either.

James’s man Robert would make sure he was suitably well dressed. When she had first realised James had someone to help him out with the more mundane tasks like bathing and dressing she had wondered how he coped with the intrusion into his life, and yet Robert was one of those men who faded into the background when he wasn’t needed, curiously always there when he was. The fact that Maxine resented his presence in the house at all didn’t seem to bother either man, and as the married couple had separate bedrooms the meetings between the wife and manservant were kept to a minimum. Much as James loved Maxine, Holly wondered which would be the one to go, Maxine or Robert, if it ever came to a confrontation.

The dress Holly chose for dinner was the classic Mack, high-necked, long-sleeved, flowing loosely from the bust to just below her knees, her legs slender above the black sandals. Her make-up was still light, a pale lipstick, and yet her eyes remained her main feature, a darkening mascara showing the length and thickness of her lashes. Her hair was short and boyishly styled, newly washed, gleaming brightly auburn. Her lack of height prevented her having Maxine Benedict’s air of sophistication, but all the same she knew she didn’t look unattractive. Besides, who would notice her with Maxine about! It was enough that she felt confident about her appearance.