His Temporary Mistress(4)

By: Cathy Williams

When he finally did turn his attention to her, she was pinned to the chair by navy-blue eyes that could have frozen water.

Damien looked at her for a long time in perfect silence before saying, in a voice that matched his glacial eyes, ‘And who the hell are you?’

Certainly not the woman he had been expecting. Phillipa Drew was tall, slim, blonde and wore the air of some of the women he had dated in the past—an expression of smug awareness that she had been gifted with an abundance of pulling power.

This woman, in her unflattering thick black coat and her sensible flat black shoes, was the very antithesis of a fashion icon. Who knew what body was lurking beneath the shapeless attire? Her clothes were stridently background, as was her posture. Frankly, she looked as though she would have given a million dollars to have been anywhere but sitting in his office in front of him.

‘I’m Miss Drew... I thought you knew...’ Violet stammered, cringing back because, without even having to lean closer, she was still overwhelmed by the force of his personality. She was sitting ramrod-erect and still clutching her handbag to her chest.

‘I’m in no mood for games. Believe me, I’ve had one hell of a fortnight and the last thing I could do with is someone finding their way into my office under false pretences.’

‘I’m not here under false pretences, Mr Carver. I’m Violet Drew, Phillipa’s sister.’ She did her best to inject some natural authority into her voice. She was a teacher. She was accustomed to telling ten-and eleven-year-olds what to do. She could shout Sit! as good as the next person. But, for some reason, probably because she was on uncertain ground, all sense of authority appeared to have abandoned her.

‘Now why am I finding that hard to believe?’ Damien vaulted upright and Violet was treated to the full impact of his tall, athletic body, carelessly graceful as he walked around her in ever diminishing circles. Very much like a predator surveying a curiosity that had landed in his range of vision. He withdrew to perch on the edge of his desk, obliging her to look up at him from a disadvantageous sitting position.

‘We don’t look much alike,’ Violet admitted truthfully. ‘I’ve grown up with people saying the same thing. She inherited the height, the figure and the looks. From my mother’s side of the family. I’m much more like my dad was.’ The rambling apology was well rehearsed and spoken on autopilot; God knew she had trotted it out often enough, but her mind was almost entirely occupied with the man in front of her.

On closer examination, Damien could see the similarities between them. He guessed that their shade of hair colour would have been the same but for the fact that Phillipa had obviously dyed hers a brighter, whiter blonde and they both had the same bright blue eyes fringed with unusually dark, thick eyelashes.

‘So you’ve come here because...?’

Violet took a deep breath. She had worked out in her head what she intended to say. She hadn’t banked on finding herself utterly distracted by someone so sinfully good-looking and the upshot was that her thoughts were all over the place.

‘I suppose she sent you on a begging mission on her behalf, did she?’ Damien interjected into the lengthening silence. His lip curled. ‘Having discovered that her sobbing and pleading and wringing of hands didn’t cut it, and having tried and failed to seduce me into leniency, she thought she’d get you to do her dirty work for her...’

Violet’s eyes widened with shock. ‘She tried to seduce you?’

‘A short-sighted move on her part.’ Damien swung round so that he was back in front of his computer. ‘She must have mistaken me for the sort of first-class idiot who could be swayed by a pretty face.’

‘I don’t believe it...’ And yet, didn’t she? Phillipa had always had a tendency to use her looks to get her own way. She had always found it easy to manipulate people into doing what she wanted by allowing them into the charmed space around her. Boys had always been putty in her hands, coming and going in a relentless stream, picked up and discarded without a great deal of thought for their feelings. Except, with Craig Edwards, the shoe had been on the other foot and life had ill prepared her to deal with the reversal. Violet was horribly embarrassed on her sister’s behalf.

‘Believe it.’

‘I don’t know if she told you, but she was used by a guy she had been dating. He wanted to get access to whatever files he thought you had on...well, I’m not too sure of the technical details...’

‘I’ll help you out there, shall I?’ Damien listed the range of information that had fortunately never found its way into the wrong hands. He sat back, folded his hands behind his head and looked at her coldly. ‘Shall I give you a rough idea of how much money my company stood to lose had your sister’s theft proved successful?’