His Temporary Mistress(3)

By: Cathy Williams

The fantasy didn’t last long. No one ever got to the stratospheric heights of success that this man obviously had by being kind, forgiving and compassionate.

What was she doing here? What was she hoping to achieve? Her sister had stolen information, had been well and truly suckered by a man who had used her to access files he wanted, had been caught and would have to face the long arm of the law.

Violet wasn’t entirely sure what exactly the long arm of the law in this instance would be. She was an art teacher. Espionage, theft and nicking information couldn’t have been further removed from her world. Surely her sister couldn’t have been right when she had wailed that there was the threat of prison?

Violet didn’t know what she would do if her sister wasn’t around. There were just the two of them. At twenty-six, she was four years older than her sister and, whilst she would have been the first to admit that Phillipa hadn’t always been an easy ride, ever since their parents had died in a car crash seven years previously, she loved her to bits and would do anything for her.

She looked around her and tried to stem the mounting tide of panic she felt at all the acres of marble and chrome surrounding her. She felt it was unfair that a simple glass building could fail to announce such terrifyingly opulent surroundings. Why hadn’t Phillipa mentioned a word of this when she had first joined the company ten months ago? She pushed aside the insidious temptation to wish herself back at the tiny house she had eventually bought for them to share with the proceeds left to them after their parents’ death. She valiantly fought a gut-wrenching instinct to run away and bury herself in all the school preparations she had to do before the new term began.

What on earth was she going to say to Mr Carver? Could she offer to pay back whatever had been stolen? To make some kind of financial restitution?

Absorbed in scenarios which ranged from awkward to downright terrifying, she was startled when a tall grey-haired woman announced that she had come to usher her to Damien Carver’s office.

Violet clutched her bag in front of her like a talisman and dutifully followed.

Everywhere she turned, she was glaringly reminded that this was no ordinary building, despite what it had cruelly promised from the outside.

The paintings on the walls were dramatic abstract splashes that looked mega-expensive...the plants dotting the foyer were all bigger and more lush than normal, as though they had been routinely fed on growth hormones...the frowning, determined people scurrying from lift to door and door to lift were younger and more snappily dressed than they had a right to be...and even the lift, as she stepped into it, was abnormally large. She dodged the repeated reflection of her nervous face and tried to concentrate on the polite conversation being made.

If this was his personal secretary, then it was clear that she had no idea of Phillipa’s misdeeds. On the bright side, at least her sister’s face hadn’t been reprinted on posters for target practice.

She only surfaced when they were standing in front of an imposing oak door, alongside which two vertical sheets of smoked glass protected Damien Carver from the casual stares of anyone who might be waiting in his secretary’s outside office.

Idly tabulating the string of idiotic mistakes Phillipa Drew had made in her half-baked attempt to defraud his company, Damien didn’t bother to look up when his door was pushed open and Martha announced his unexpected visitor.

‘Sit!’ He kept his eyes glued to his computer screen. Every detail of his body language suggested the contempt of a man whose mind had already been made up.

With her nerves unravelling at a pace, Violet slunk into the leather chair directly in front of him. She wished she could direct her eyes to some other, less forbidding part of the gigantic room, but she was driven to stare at the man in front of her.

‘He’s a pig,’ Phillipa had said, when Violet had offhandedly asked her what Damien Carver was like. Violet had immediately pictured someone short, fat, aggressive and unpleasant. Someone, literally, porcine in appearance.

Nothing had prepared her for the sight of one of the most beautiful men she had ever seen in her life.

Raven-black hair was swept away from a face, the lines and contours of which were finely chiselled. His unsmiling mouth filled her with cold fear but, in a strangely detached way, she was more than aware of its sensual curve. She couldn’t see the details of his physique, but she saw enough to realise that he was muscular and lean. He must have some foreign blood in him, she thought, because his skin was burnished gold. He made her mouth go dry and she attempted to gather her scattered wits before he raised his eyes to look at her.