The Italian's Pregnant Mistress(8)

By: Cathy Williams

‘Arrange an interview and I will see her. Will that satisfy you? You can trust me when I say that if she seems incapable of doing the job, then she will be dismissed from the running.’ He strolled across to her and curved his hand behind her head, tilting her to face him. ‘And we will go with your parents’ recommendation. Hmm?’ He smiled absent-mindedly at the beaming relief that greeted his suggestion, mind already ahead on the amount of work he had to get through before his dinner engagement later in the evening. ‘But you’ll have to leave now, cara.’ He glanced at his watch ruefully and she sprang to her feet.

‘I know, darling—work, work, work.’ She pressed herself against him for a lingering embrace and pouted until he kissed her. ‘Don’t forget, Mummy’s expecting us to dinner tomorrow evening so that we can discuss arrangements.’

‘I don’t think military engagements have been planned in more extensive detail,’ he said, half amused, half irritated. ‘And let me know when I can see this girl. If she’s free later today I can squeeze her in around four-thirty, before I leave for the Savoy.’

‘Oh, I’m sure she’ll be available!’ Georgina said airily. ‘The prospect of a job of this size would probably make her willing to jump through hoops to please! But don’t forget, any sign that she’s not up to it and we don’t give her the job. Promise?’

Her mouth was pouting for another kiss and Angelo obliged, hand on the door in the process.

‘Absolutely,’ he murmured. ‘Now, off you go, my sweet, and I shall see you tomorrow. I’ll collect you at eight.’

‘Seven at the latest, Angelo.’

‘I’ll do my best.’

She left a waft of expensive perfume in her wake and by the time the scent had faded he had totally forgotten about their conversation until he emerged from his two o’clock meeting to be informed by his secretary that Ellie Millband would be pleased to meet his future wife at four-thirty in the bar of a restaurant in Covent Garden.

‘She’s meeting me,’ Angelo said, frowning.

‘I believe she’s only been contacted by Miss Thompson. Your fiancée rang to tell me that you will be conducting the interview in her place but she probably won’t recognise you, Mr Falcone, as no doubt she’s expecting Miss Thompson. Will that be a problem? I could always get in touch and—’

‘No, no. No problem, Maisie. Just bring me in those reports on the Downy deal and buzz me at four or I shall forget and be in the doghouse with Georgina.’

Maisie, plump, fifty and the very soul of discretion, didn’t so much as crack a smile at that fleeting conspiratorial tone in his voice, but, not for the first time, she wondered why he was marrying Georgina Thompson, who might carry the advantages of her well-connected family, but who lacked substance and who could be very cutting when her fiancé’s back was turned and his ears were elsewhere. Not for a million pounds would she have shared those thoughts with anyone.

It was a little after four-thirty by the time Angelo negotiated his way to the American burger restaurant in Covent Garden which housed a long sports bar along one side.

It was, as he’d expected, packed. There weren’t many nooks and crannies in Central London that weren’t bursting at the seams with tourists in the middle of July and the heat seemed to have driven a fair few of them into the bar for something cold to drink.

Initial impressions were already beginning to leave a sour taste in his mouth. He hadn’t wanted to concur with Georgina’s prophecy that the woman was a rank amateur, but meeting in a busy burger bar in one of the most crowded parts of London to discuss what would be for her a very important job fell only just short of sheer stupidity. He imagined what Georgina’s reaction would have been, had it been her standing in an uncomfortable queue by the door. She would have spun round on her very expensive heels and left without further ado.

If Ellie Millband’s choice of venue was anything to go by then he was pretty sure that she had written herself out of the job but, having trekked across London to get to the place and with a bit of time to kill before he returned to his apartment to get ready for his dinner engagement later, he dutifully enquired of the small Australian girl clasping an armful of menus whether she could point him in the direction of a Ms Millband. He was startled to be told that she was downstairs in the restaurant.

‘I’ll make my way down myself,’ he said, glancing at his watch.

‘She’s at the table to the back.’