His Temporary Mistress(6)

By: Cathy Williams


‘Jail.’ Why beat about the bush? ‘A learning curve for your sister and an example just in case anyone else thinks they can get away with trying to rip me off.’

‘Phillipa wouldn’t last a day in a prison cell...’

‘Something she should have considered before she decided to try and hack into my computers to get hold of sensitive information,’ Damien responded drily.

‘It’s her first offence, Mr Carver... She’s not a criminal... I understand that you won’t be giving her any references...’

Damien burst out laughing. Was this woman for real? ‘Not giving her references? Have you heard a single word I’ve just said to you? Your sister will be put into the hands of the law and she will go to prison. I’m sure it won’t be a hardcore unit with serial killers and rapists but that’s not my problem. You can go visit her every week and she can productively use the time to reflect on the wisdom of a few personality changes. When she’s released in due course back into the big, wide world, she can find herself a menial job somewhere. I’m sure the process of rehabilitation will be an invaluable experience for her. Of course, she’ll have a criminal record, but, like I said, what else could she have expected?’ He reached into one of the drawers in his massive desk, fetched out a box of tissues and pushed it across to her.

Violet shuffled out of her chair and snatched the box from his desk. Her eyes were beginning to leak. What else was there to say?

‘Don’t you have any sense of compassion?’ she whispered in a hoarse undertone. ‘I promise I’ll make sure that Phillipa doesn’t put a foot astray ever again...’

‘She won’t be able to when she’s behind bars. But, just out of curiosity, how would you manage to accomplish that feat anyway? Install CCTV cameras in her house? Or flat? Or wherever it is she lives? As long-term solutions go, not a practical one.’

‘We share a house,’ Violet said dully. She dabbed her eyes. Breaking down was not the way to deal with a man like this. She knew that. Men like him, people like him, only understood a language that was similar to the one they used, the harsh and ugly language of cold, merciless cruelty. He wouldn’t appreciate a sobbing female and he just wouldn’t get the concept of loyalty that had driven her to confront him face to face in his own office.

Unfortunately, being tough and aggressive did not come naturally to Violet. She might have possessed a strength of character her sister lacked, but she had never had the talent Phillipa had for confrontation. ‘And I would never dream of spying on anyone. I would keep an eye on her...make sure she toed the line...’ Easier said than done. If Phillipa decided to try and defraud another company, then how on earth would she, Violet, ever be able to prevent her? ‘I’ve been doing that ever since our parents died years ago...’

‘How old are you?’ The connections in his brain were beginning to transmit different messages now. He stared at her carefully. Her eyes were pink and her full mouth was still threatening to wobble. She was the picture perfect portrait of a despairing woman.

‘Twenty-six.’

‘So you’re a scant four years older than your sister and I guess you were forced to grow up quickly if you were left in the role of caretaker... I’m thinking she must have been a handful...’ For the first time in weeks, that feeling of being oddly at sea, at the whim of tides and currents over which he had no control, was beginning to evaporate.

Wrong-footed by the sudden change of tempo in the conversation, Violet met those fabulous navy eyes with a puzzled expression. She wondered whether this was a prelude to another rousing sermon on the salutary lessons to be learnt from incarceration. Maybe he was about to come out with another revelation, maybe he was going to inform her in that cold voice of his that Phillipa had done more than just make a pass at him. She was already cringing in mortification at what was to come.

‘She went off the rails a bit.’ Violet rushed into speech because, as long as she was talking, he wasn’t saying stuff she didn’t want to hear. ‘It was understandable. We were a close family and she was at an impressionable age...’

‘And you weren’t?’

‘I’ve always been stronger than Phillipa.’ He was still staring at her with that speculative, unreadable expression that made her feel horribly uneasy. ‘Phillipa was the spoiled one. I got that. She was a beautiful baby and she grew into a beautiful child and then a really stunning teenager. I was sensible and hard working and practical...’