Russian's Ruthless Demand(2)

By: Michelle Conder

‘I might know someone.’

Tomaso’s statement brought Lukas’s mind back to the job at hand. ‘To make biscotti?’

‘No.’ He gave him a look. ‘I leave the baby-making comments to mia moglie. I mean to help with your ice hotel.’

Lukas set the biscotti aside. ‘At this point I’d hire a cartoon character if I thought he could do the job.’

Tomaso laughed. ‘She’s not a cartoon character, I can assure you, but she is good.’

‘Who is she?’

‘An ex-student of mine from Cornell and the daughter of the late boutique hotel owner, Jonathan Harrington.’

Lukas knew of the wealthy hotelier. He’d stayed in one of his hotels once and been less than impressed. He didn’t know anything of his family except that they had no doubt lived a pampered existence. ‘I know of the name.’

Hearing the shadow of scepticism in his voice, his friend said, ‘Eleanore is the youngest of three daughters and extremely talented.’ He stroked his beard again. ‘And from what I can tell, drastically underutilised in her current role at Harrington’s.’

‘She works for her family?’ Lukas had never respected nepotism.

‘Yes and I doubt it’s nepotism if that’s what you’re thinking. Since her father passed away her sister Isabelle has run the show and she’s one tough cookie.’

Lukas still wasn’t convinced.

‘If you don’t believe me Eleanore just completed an ice bar in Singapore. It opens tomorrow as it turns out. I have an invitation but since her operation Maria doesn’t like to travel.’

Lukas’s ears pricked up. If the woman had designed an ice bar, then she understood the concept behind such an endeavour, and as he had the build in hand and only needed someone to fine-tune the design and do the internal fit-out she might just be what he was looking for.

And he respected Tomaso more than he did a lot of people which was why, the next day and despite some reservations as to her suitability, he was making a detour to Singapore on his way back to St Petersburg.

He glanced at the employee profile he’d pulled up on Eleanore Harrington en route. She was marginally pretty with her creamy complexion and brownish coloured eyes, her wide smile that had probably financed some dentist’s second holiday house. And there was something infinitely refined about her features that spoke more to hosting dinner parties in large houses than designing them. Then getting naked in some man’s bed. His bed.

Lukas’s brows drew down at the rogue thought. Where had that come from?

There was nothing special about Eleanore Harrington and he never mixed business with pleasure. Why complicate his place of solace with a woman bemoaning his perceived weaknesses as a man. ‘You’re too cold...’ ‘You’re completely heartless...’ ‘You care about nobody but yourself...’ All true and nothing he hid from any woman who occupied his bed. The trouble was they hid who they were from him. Right up until the end when they accepted his gifts and looked for another rich man to milk. Frankly the whole experience had started to pall.

He read further down Eleanore Harrington’s profile. Graduating university with a major in architecture and a minor in interior design she had worked in her family’s company from the get-go. Personal interests were reading, art, history, collecting shoes and volunteering at her local animal shelter.

Fascinating, Lukas thought dryly, thankful that he wasn’t interested in her personally. She’d bore him to tears within minutes.

‘We’ve started our descent into Singapore, Mr Kuznetskov. Can I get you anything else before we land, sir?’

‘Nyet.’ He stared out the window as the bright lights of Singapore came into view and hoped he wasn’t wasting his time. He had a personal interest in making this venture a success so if Eleanore Harrington was half as good as Tomaso claimed she was he’d pretty much give her anything she wanted to get her on board.

* * *

Eleanore glanced at her watch for the hundredth time that night before swivelling around on her bar stool to stare at the main door. It opened and for a minute her heart lifted but it was only a merry group of Singapore’s young urbanites who looked like they’d sipped one too many of Lulu’s Yummy Yetis.

‘You waiting for a lover?’

Eleanore pulled a face at Lulu’s hopeful question and turned back to the bar, her eyes automatically drawn to Lulu’s newly streaked purple hair that stood out even more beneath the colourful strobe lighting in the ice bar.

Lulu was the best bartender in New York City. She had also become a friend over the years she’d worked at Harrington’s and Eleanore had brought her over especially for the opening night of their newest bar where everything—the bar top, the chairs, the stools, the walls and even the glasses—was made completely of compacted ice and snow. Quite the marvel in sultry Singapore and a roaring success according to the media heads who had come along for the free drinks and cocktails earlier on.